Haunted Ybor: Teatro on 7th, Revolve and the Don Vicente Inn

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[image-1]Teatro


Popularly believed to be the cause of a long-ago kitchen fire that claimed the lives of a handful of workers, this beautiful Ybor restaurant has long been host to a variety of luminescent paranormal events.


It's not just the frequent tourist photographs showing light flooding out of ceramic chandeliers that contain no light source whatsoever, or the reports of disembodied footsteps from the staff:  the owner recalls closing up alone one memorable night. She stepped out into the foyer and turned to lock the doors only to discover that the entire row of candles she'd just extinguished along the center of her restaurant had somehow burst back into flames.


Revolve


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Ybor's trendy clothing swap has a secret tenant.  If you see him, you might not notice his curious period clothes in a shop stuffed to the brim with eclectic clothing choices.   He likes to duck between the racks and antagonize the newer shop girls who aren't yet familiar with the literally disappearing boy.


The employees seem fond of their resident ghost, even when he occasionally messes with the music selection or beats his hand against the computer keyboard, repeatedly punching in the letter "L."


After all, he's just a kid.


Don Vicente Inn


[image-3]Stepping  into the luscious atmosphere of the Don Vicente, one would never suspect that the building was originally a turn of the century clinic struggling under the weight of Ybor's entire Spanish-speaking community.


Chrissy's plan was to descend into the cellar of the hotel, which is now a trendy underground lounge with a full bar and big leather booths.


She produced a thermometer, a digital tape recorder, and a compass to take paranormal readings of the cellar that she describes as, "one of the creepiest places I've ever set foot in."


One would never guess that concealed behind the bricks at the back of the room is perhaps one of the darkest secrets in Tampa Bay.


As legend has it, the Gonzales clinic was home to a gifted doctor by the name of Avellanal who had both a wonderful reputation as a doctor, and a violently unstable schizophrenic son.


After being kicked out of the clinic for his unsavory ways, Avellanal Jr. took up residence across the street from the clinic in Ybor's high-end brothel (which housed both FDR and Churchill in its time).  He was, however, using his nights to impersonate his father and convince the the working girls to come up into his rooms where he could conduct sadistic and ultimately fatal "experiments."


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Though Junior was obviously a complete psychopath, he was no dummy. He knew about the secret tunnels winding under Ybor's streets and the incinerator in the basement of the clinic, meant for disposing of amputated limbs and the like.


With the aid of a mysterious Spanish nurse, he disposed of his victims in that incinerator, which sits fully intact behind the bricks in the basement of the Don Vicente.


It's not Junior who's been caught lurking around the basement of the hotel, though.  It's the Mystery Nurse: silent, stern, and still wearing a traditional Spanish fan in her hair. Be careful rounding corners, because she's been known to make sudden nose-to-nose appearances.


We caught several drops in temperature in the middle of the room. Chrissy (who was politely ignoring how wimpy I am), encouraged the cold spot to make contact in any way possible. To tug her scarf or whisper its name. It would've made a hell of a story, but I must admit with marginal relief that we didn't encounter the Nurse that night.


Though I cannot possibly recount the entirety of the paranormal knowledge I took in on this tour (including but not limited to ghosts of mobsters frequenting a local bar, and an apartment that has led its last six tenants to suicide), Ghost Party exists to do just that.


Each location on the tour has been thoroughly researched and tailored to create an hour or two of optimal intrigue and history while you walk around the cobbled streets of Ybor City.


Tours run most days of the week, and should be scheduled by appointment at 813-404-9275.  Tickets are $15 per adult, $10 per child, and a special rate of $9 per child if the tour is a family group.

It was appropriately cold and blustery the night I met Chrissy Koplenik in Centro Ybor to talk about the paranormal goings-on in one of Florida's oldest and most infamous neighborhoods.

Chrissy owns Ghost Party Paranormal, a company that has been offering guided tours of Ybor's most haunted areas since 1996.  Her customized tours range from historically informative vanilla to recording-ghost-voices-in-a-dark-cellar scary.

Because I was feeling more adventurous than I actually am (I regularly keep myself awake in terror from reading horror movie synopses on Wikipedia), I asked for the full treatment.  So, with a set of investigative tools and Chrissy's expert knowledge of the area, she took me around and let me in on some of the area's creepy little secrets.

What follows are my three absolute favorites.  If you want more, you'll have to call Chrissy yourself, and have her or one of her expertly trained guides take you around on a dark, windy night of your own.

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