Eerie noises, doors rattling and bloodcurdling whispers.
These are some of the selling points this time of year at the Deering Estate at Cutler. And while they’re not conventional for a historic, elegant property, the estate’s history draws both skeptics and those curious about the supernatural, especially when Halloween beckons.
While no one has lived at the Deering Estate since the 1980s, the site is rumored by some to be a nerve center of paranormal activity. Archaeological remains discovered on the land indicate a human presence 10,000 years ago, and the Palmetto Bay property is home to a prehistoric burial mound, one of the few surviving in Miami-Dade County.
Hundreds of years later, the estate’s namesake, industrialist Charles Deering, bought an old wooden house, known as the Richmond Cottage, in 1916. He then built the Stone House, a three-story stone mansion, where he lived with his family until he died in his bedroom in 1927. In 1985, when Deering’s last heir died, the state of Florida and Miami-Dade County purchased the property.
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For those interested in learning more about its alleged paranormal activities, the Deering Estate will host a “spookover” on Friday and a ghost tour on Oct. 23.
“There is not a place that has such a wide representation of so many years and potential different sources of paranormal activity,” said Christopher Sanchez, an estate recreation leader. “You have a really broad range.”
Human history is not the only theory behind the estate’s reputation for supernatural phenomena.
“It is said water attracts the paranormal,” Sanchez said. “Since the estate is on Biscayne Bay and on top of a water table, that is another explanation,” Sanchez said.
The Deering Estate staff claimed to notice abnormal occurrences for years, and invited the now-disbanded League of Paranormal Investigators six years ago to lead monthly explorations.
“With the historic house tours, we go through the history and then we share the evidence we have found,” said Brittany Jones, recreation leader. “We have voice recordings and pictures of apparitions.”
Guests, too, gather their own evidence.
“We were on the third floor of the Stone House and one of the faucets in the adjacent bathroom went off by itself,” Sanchez said. “There was obviously was no one in the room that would have done that.”
He says the other house, the Richmond Cottage, tends to have more reports of the paranormal during ghost tours. Built in 1896, the cottage is the last standing structure of the town of Cutler, once a settlement on the property.
“We were there with a tour and we heard the distinct noise of footsteps, but once they reached the door, they stopped,” Sanchez said.
The tours encourage guests to keep their senses open as they take the two-hour tour.
“You think of things jumping out and being very visual, but most of the experience that you have is sensory things,” Sanchez said. “You feel changes in air temperature, those sorts of things.”
At the “spookover,” guests can see things firsthand. They can stay from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. to investigate, and are welcome to bring their own supernatural-detection equipment.
“The ‘spookover’ is aimed at seasoned veterans, and is usually a smaller group,” Jones said.
Skeptics are welcome to attend.
“A lot of people who show up as skeptics, and try to disprove what goes on throughout the night, walk away with different viewpoint,” Sanchez said.
If you go
What: Spookover and ghost tour at the Deering Estate at Cutler, 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay.
When: The next spookover will begin at 11 p.m. Friday; the ghost tour is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 23.
Price: Tickets cost $65 for spookovers and $30 for ghost tours.
For more information: deeringestate.com.