Ringling School of Art and Design

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Once the “Bay Haven Hotel,” the Keating Center building of Ringling School of Art and Design is believed to be the “haunt” of a young girl who hanged herself there years ago. She appears walking down the hallways of the building. Some art students say she swishes their paintbrushes around in their rinse cups when they’re not looking.

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    Geographic Information

    2700 N. Tamiami Trail
    Sarasota, FL
    United States

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    27.360211553863977, -82.54719114338513
    Sarasota County, Florida
    Nearest Towns:
    Sarasota, FL (1.9 mi.)
    North Sarasota, FL (2.0 mi.)
    Kensington Park, FL (3.1 mi.)
    Desoto Lakes, FL (3.6 mi.)
    Whitfield, FL (3.7 mi.)
    Siesta Key, FL (4.0 mi.)
    Southgate, FL (4.3 mi.)
    The Meadows, FL (4.8 mi.)
    South Sarasota, FL (5.2 mi.)
    Bayshore Gardens, FL (5.2 mi.)


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    1. I attended Ringling in 1979 and left around 1982. I was in the girls dorm, second floor, my room was right in the middle of the hallway. The first encounter I had, I saw a full body apparition of a girl, long dark hair, dressed oddly for the time as she had on long shorts, bobby socks and an over sized sweat top. She was in my open doorway then she vanished. I saw her again in the bathroom at night although that time she was just a shadow, but again, full figure female (we had private bathrooms then and I was alone). Things in our rooms would turn on and off, we could hear the sounds of sobbing coming from the fire escape at the end of the hall, knocks at your door then open and find nobody there (the hallways were so long there would not be time to escape view that quickly). Once, some heavy text books flew off my shelf as I lay in bed. They scattered across the floor with such force, it was as if someone had taken their arm and swiped the shelf. At Christmas, we had a big tree in the lobby. Late at night a cold breeze (again, this was Florida and we did not have air conditioning in the building), anyway, a cold breeze would tunnel thru the lobby and make the Christmas tree swing a bit and all the ornaments would shake and tinkle like bells. That was really unnerving and a couple of the girls noticed it often enough that they got pretty scared. There was a room at the end of the hall on my second floor, the last room on the hall right next to the fire escape, that stayed pad locked from the outside. We assumed it was used for storage. We could hear what sounded like furniture moving in there even though the room was padlocked from the outside. A couple of us girls got together one night and went down to the bottom of the fire escape where we heard the sobbing. No one was there and as we turned to ascend the stairs back up to the second floor, we heard shifting noises behind us…I can’t explain it, but whatever invisible was down there was moving. We ran up the stairs shrieking! Anyway, there were two very old maids at the time that told us a girl had hung herself in that fire escape stairwell in the 1960’s. I knew then that was the girl I’d seen who was oddly dressed. They also told us she lived in that room that was now padlocked next to the fire escape and that the school did not put any girls in that room anymore. Finally, there was a dorm mother that lived in that old building year round. Mind you, she was alone all summer there (creepy). Anyway, my best friend across the hall was struck in the face one night, while alone, in her room, by an invisible hand. It was enough to make myself, the girl who was struck and another girl go to the dorm mother to ask what was wrong with that place. She let us into her apartment and we noticed there were crosses, a huge Bible on the coffee table, lit candles on the mantel, and I noticed a sort of religious shrine on the mantel as well. We told her about the oddities and she admitted that the dorm was haunted. We asked how she could possibly stay there all summer alone and she said when she’s alone there, she can hear furniture moving in the unoccupied rooms. She said she just lights her candles and prays and it stops. She didn’t seem to be too afraid and thought it a part of everyday life around the place. She was surprised my friend had been harmed and didn’t ever remember of an incident when someone was hurt buy the entity. I felt it happened because this particular friend had expressed loudly that she did not believe in ghosts while the rest of us were sharing our stories. I felt a chill run down my spine when she loudly proclaimed her non-belief and I think she was “made a believer” by whomever or whatever struck her that very night. The dorm mom told us the building had been a hotel back at the turn of the century. A grand place where only the wealthy came. Some silent film stars of the era stayed there. Then prohibition came and some gangsters began bootlegging there and it soon became a bit run down and there were even some “ladies of the night” living there (brothel). Eventually, the Ringling’s bought the place, cleaned it up and turned it into an art school, using the old hotel for the girls dorm. We think that because of the bad past the place had with such colorful characters, the place has an assortment of ghosts walking the halls. It’s been 35 years since these incidences took place but I still remember vividly these things happening and more that I cannot possibly find room to include. I had a room there, slept there nightly, attended school there but I tell you that even all these years later, I would not spend the night there again. Never again. I think “she” would remember me and I’m too afraid to risk her attaching to me or something. Truly, this place is haunted. If you have been a student there in the past or are one now and have stories too, please share as I will be visiting the site to read them!

      • Hi! My sister went to Ringling from ’79 to ’82, and I went there from ’82 to ’83. I was on the side of the dorm that was haunted for about a month or so, until I moved in with a friend elsewhere. I didn’t have anything specific happen, but the air always felt “thick” to me in my room. Dark, somehow. I was happy to leave that room.

    2. Carol Darling RSA `67  |  

      I attended Ringling from 1964 to l967, and lived in Room 9 which is at the right side of that long hall way, on the second floor, at that stair well. Apparently this is the locked room? I knew the 2 old black maids, one was named Dorothea. The dorm mother at my time was Mme Renee Dulin, widow of James Dulin a former instructor. We always heard about the lady ghost, but myself and friends never had an encounter at Ringling. But Ive had many ESP and spirit encounters, ever since.

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