By Christine Edwards | Photography by Chuck Palmer
Three Eerie Places in Brevard
The Space Coast is home to several haunted locales. Visitors have had unexplainable encounters in Emma Parrish Theatre in Titusville, Ashley’s Restaurant in Rockledge and a historic building that will soon become Brevard’s newest and spookiest brewery.
There’s no conclusive evidence of supernatural activity at these places, but many claim to have had rather stirring experiences. Historic events inside these buildings may explain why objects move on their own, children can be heard playing in empty spaces and rooms turn freezing cold for no apparent reason.
Emma Parrish Theatre
Emma Parrish Theatre is known for more than lively performances. It’s also renowned for theatrics courtesy of long dead inhabitants. Performers share untold stories of inexplicable occurrences in the attic, shop and costume closet that have some afraid to be in those places without trusted company.
Built in 1905, Emma Parrish Theatre was formerly a hotel, saloon, apartment building and silent movie house. A murder occurred long ago in what is now the hallway between the main theatre and offices. Emma Parrish’s youth educator, Melinda Lebo, believes this may have resulted in some harmless residual energy.
“The attic is very creepy,” actress Erica Bargas said.
Melinda shares Erica’s laments. Although she doesn’t share spooky stories with her students, they express the same fears. Melinda has had some peculiar experiences in the playhouse as well, but finds that if she greets the spirits when she arrives, they usually don’t bother her.
Performers have seen their fair share of odd occurrences at Emma Parrish. Unplugged lights have turned on and off on their own, costume pieces have flown across the attic and shadows have traversed walkways in front of the naked eye.
In June of 2011, Psi-Cops performed a paranormal investigation at the playhouse. Loud EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) were recorded during a period when everyone had left the building. Psi-Cops is a paranormal investigative team out of Orlando that research and investigate alleged paranormal activity.
Melinda also notices a lot of unexplainable activity in the shop where sets are built. During the Psy-Cops investigation, faint construction noises were audible although no one was building anything.
A few of the strangest occurrences have happened during daylight hours. Little boy and girl spirits have been seen in the break room and seating area. Some do more than stick around to see the show. During rehearsals for “Chicago” in 2009, crew members witnessed half a row of theater seats flip downward. This startling act was attributed to an older gentleman spirit that calls the attic home.
Melinda is happy to report that the supernatural activity has calmed down in recent years. She attributes this to the playhouse’s series of successful seasons.
Emma Parrish Theatre | 301 Julia Street, Titusville (321) 268-1125 or TitusvillePlayhouse.com
Ashley’s Restaurant is a great locale for a pleasant meal; just don’t drink too much. If you end up having to use the restroom, go in pairs. The restaurant’s staircase, kitchen and women’s restroom have hosted so many sightings of supernatural activity, it’s been covered in four books, one of which is currently being made into a movie.
The haunting story began in November of 1934 when a police officer found the remains of 19-year-old Ethel Allen. Her murder was never solved but she was last seen fighting with her boyfriend in their apartment on the second floor of the building that now houses Ashley’s Restaurant. It’s believed that her life was taken underneath the stairs in the place where the first floor women’s restroom now stands. Ethel Allen is buried at Crooked Mile Cemetery, another spot that is widely regarded as being haunted.
Spirits are thought to attract each other, which may be why so many call Ashley’s home. Patrons also report seeing a child’s spirit as much as they encounter the female apparition that lingers in the women’s restroom. A tall headless man also haunts the premises. He’s rumored to be the spirit of a drunken man who fell asleep on the tracks behind the building and was beheaded by an oncoming train.
The spirits aren’t nuisances, but they thrive on drawing attention. Kitchen fans turn on by themselves. Salt shakers take two-story plunges to the floor and explode upon impact. The employees consider these incidences warnings that it’s time to go home. Ashley’s Restaurant’s owner, Greg Parker, reminds people that there are lots of creaks, cracks and groans at night in old buildings, but unusual noises are often blamed on the spirits.
“Early in 1985, there was a lot of activity,” Greg said. “Things would fall off walls; people tripped and said they were pushed. It’s been quieter lately.”
Patrons can learn more about the strange occurrences at Ashley’s Restaurant by visiting during one of their “Dinner and a Ghost” events every Monday at 6:30 p.m. Hosted by a ghost hunter with a wealth of knowledge about the hauntings at Ashley’s, these dinners never disappoint.
Ashley’s Restaurant | 1609 US1, Rockledge | (321) 636-6430 or AshleysOfRockledge.com
Hell ‘N Blazes Brewing Co.
The 95-year-old haunted building in Downtown Melbourne has been a hardware store, Christmas shop, collectible store and twice been involved in mortuary affairs. The historic building is currently undergoing renovations and will soon reopen as Hell ‘N Blazes Brewing Co.
Angela Lopresti’s family owned the property for 35 years. She affectionately refers to it as “party central for the afterlife.” A group of spirits is rumored to congregate there, many of which are thought to have perished in a plane crash that occurred in Sebastian in 1925. Victims were brought to Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home, which operated out of the building from 1915-1934.
Visitors report hearing piano music playing, footsteps, a ball bouncing and children laughing when no one is around. Cold spots envelope certain areas without cause and employees are constantly finding objects inexplicably moved and rearranged. A heavy column was once dragged ten feet away from its rightful spot in the middle of the night. On repeated occasions, a Christmas ornament found its way off a tree and came to rest upside-down in the middle of the walkway.
Visitors notice the same spirits in the same places repeatedly. Dark shadows and the likeness of a man are often seen at the top of a staircase and breezing past customers toward the back of the store. A number of paranormal investigations have taken place on the grounds and picked up compelling EVPs and recordings.
When it was a Christmas store, customers told Angela that the child spirits loved to unspool the ribbons and play with the glitzy ornaments and decorations. She also heard that they liked to dance and started playing music at night for them.
The building’s new owners, Don and Clare DiFrisco, are just as hospitable with their permanent guests. Clare is commissioning hand carved toy trains and planes for the child spirits.
Angela is confident that the spirits are friendly and protective. Mediums believe they simply like to be acknowledged. Angela would greet them every morning and tell them the calendar date. The DiFrisco family also greets them every morning, but didn’t realize they were carrying out an already established tradition.
Hell ‘N Blazes Brewing Co. | 1002 E New Haven, Melbourne | (321) 821-4052 or HellNBlazesBrewing.com
Some believe in supernatural activity, while others view it with complete skepticism. These three locales may or may not be truly haunted, but they undoubtedly have some of the most intriguing stories in the entire Space Coast.
This article appears in the October 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Living.
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