The Paranormal at Home: Hauntings in 50 States – Florida’s Riddle House

Please click here if you would like to read the first article in the series.

Sometimes we become very attached to the places we live in and visit. There is a belief that some people return to the places they were most fond of after death. This is a pleasant thought, but there is a dark side to such attachments. Sometimes, when something tragic occurs, an unseen energy is left behind to forever wallow in that terrible moment. That may be the case with an allegedly haunted location in Florida.

Haunted Florida: The Riddle House

The Riddle House is a rather simple Edwardian style home that was constructed in West Palm Beach in 1905. It served as a funeral parlor for a time before becoming the home of City Manager Karl Riddle in the 1920s. It was known as the Gatekeeper’s College before Riddle moved in.

The building was completely dismantled in the 1980s and relocated to the Yesteryear Village in the South Florida Fairgrounds. The village is a 10 acre area that is the main event of the 17 day long South Florida Fair. The event is usually themed and draws in enormous crowds of over 500,000 people.

Paranormal Activity at the Riddle House

Multiple legends are connected with the infamous Riddle House. One involved a large man called Buck who was said to work at the nearby Woodlawn cemetery. The story tells of Buck’s sudden end after an argument with an unnamed member of the community. People have claimed to see Buck’s spirit wandering the grounds and the porch of the Riddle House where he used to take breaks and eat meals while working. Buck appears to be a rather amicable spirit, he has no anger or vengance and simply goes about his day in the afterlife.

Florida's Riddle House

Photo of the Riddle House
c.2013

The most prominent story associated with the haunted Riddle House involves a man simply known as Joseph who was one of Karl Riddle’s employees. Joseph came to the Riddle House and asked for a job doing maintenance work. He was going through hard times financially, which was impacting other aspects of his life. Despite finding employment, his situation did not improve. Depression and hopelessness finally drove him to hang himself in the attic of the Riddle House.

Many believe Joseph still lingers in the Riddle House. His spirit does not like men and will aggressively attack them. One witness saw a torso hanging in the attic through a window. They thought it was a mannequin but discovered that nothing like that was inside the building.

Another visitor was on the staircase during a private tour when a piece of wood flew down and hit them in the head. They could not figure out where the wood came from. A separate incident involved a maintenance worker who was attacked while cleaning the home. They refused to return after the experience.

Construction crews involved with the relocation of the Riddle House also reported strange happenings. They would arrive in the morning to find all the tools they had left in the attic thrown carelessly down to the ground below it.  Windows on the third floor were found broken on multiple occasions for no reason. Many of the workers became uneasy and progress ground to a halt for six months because they were so shaken up by the activity.

A strange couple wearing 1920s clothing attended the Riddle House’s unveiling in Yesteryear Village. They even approached staff who hung old photos on a display board as part of the event.  Staff tried to find them a short time later because they thought it would make a nice addition to the background if the couple was photographed in their period clothing when the unveiling commenced. The pair was nowhere to be found.  Staff later discovered an old photo that pictured the exact same people who could not possibly be alive today.

Paranormal TV show Ghost Adventures filmed their November 7th, 2008 episode at the Riddle House. Lead Investigator Zak Bagans interviewed Karl Riddle’s nephew John prior to the investigation. John Riddle shared stories told to him by his uncle, who stated that the stairs would creak so loud that it sounded like a chain was being dragged over them. He also mentioned that his uncle had a hard time keeping staff working in the house because of the paranormal activity.

Yesteryear Village staff shared personal stories throughout the episode, including tales of ladders being tipped over or moved to another room. Zak felt that these occurrences could be related to Joseph, who climbed a ladder to kill himself.  Other activity described included unexplained lights, shadows passing by windows and hair being grabbed when no one was around.

The Riddle House Today

The Riddle House remains a popular part of Yesteryear Village. Some of the activity even spread to another building that was added to the village. Staff and visitors continue to report paranormal activity, some of which is repeated relatively reliably. Monthly ghost tours are currently offered.

Have you been to the Riddle House (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.

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