Stranahan House Haunted

Monday 4 October 2010: i didn’t know this. I saw this on zillow with other haunted houses, and since this is convenient and close by, it’s a good haunted house to know about for a Halloween visit.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Elmschrat)

Stranahan House

The Stranahan House was one of several structures built between 1893-1906 along the New River in Fort Lauderdale, FL, by Frank Stranahan (photo).

Frank arrived in 1893 to operate a barge ferry across the river. Soon, he was running other businesses: a trading post, post office, bank and hotel.

He married school teacher Ivy Cromartie and built her a home right on the New River in 1906, the Stranahan House, which still stands today as the oldest remaining structure in Broward County.

Frank and Ivy were considered Fort Lauderdale’s First Family.

This is also where Stranahan’s story turns grim. He suffered from depression and his mental health could not endure a hurricane that devastated his businesses, or the financial effects of the Great Depression.  Stranahan committed suicide on June 23, 1929 by strapping a large iron gate to his ankle and throwing himself into the New River.

There are many reports of Frank Stranahan’s ghost in the Stranahan House, as well as the ghost of Ivy Cromartie. Other ghostly presences include six family members and the apparition of an Indian servant girl near the back of the home. The Stranahan House is now open to public tours.

And then there are a whole series of ghost videos. here’s one and will take you to the others.

Birds South Florida

Thursday 9 September 2010

Thought this would be a good place to put this.

Nice, isn’t it?

My mom had a black swan that she’d talk to. Pauly, he came with the farm. It was a sad day when he died…

My sisters bought my parents two white swans, for their anniversary, I think, but they flew away. Life is short!

So many wonderful things about living here. It’s 6:30 a.m. and the birds aren’t awake yet. Wonder what I will hear this morning?

Summer is here

Saturday 27 June 2009 And that’s a good thing!

Here are some adventures I’ve had this spring… To think I thought I had to go to Chartres to walk the labyrinth! There are two right here in Delray Beach and they are based on the Chartres Labryrinth.

At the Duncan Conference Center, you can enjoy them at your liesure, or be part of monthly guided meditations.

These two were envisioned by retired Duncan Center director, Father Steve Fregeau, and were designed by landscape artists, Steven and Michele Benner. A labyrinth, they say, is a symbol, a tool, a passion, or a practice, which can provide gentle relief, meaningful purpose and quench the desire for calm, insight and peace. I walked the labyrinths on World Labyrinth Day, May 2, as part of a worldwide effort to create a “rolling wave of healing labyrinth energy in unison as the earth turns.”

Actually, it was a very peaceful and centering experience. Different from a maze, a labyrinth has no forks in the road or confusing dead ends. A unicursal, the path never crosses over itself and culminates in only a singel cul-de-cac — its center — where “walkers” are invited to rest awhile, meditating, centering, quieting, before taking the same path out.

I learned that on life’s path, I cannot get lost. It may turn and seem confusing at times, but the way is distinct, and like Theseus, the thread is there, and all you have to do is walk along.


Friday 24 April 2009 – We took a day trip to Sebring this winter. All of us enjoyed the day, and we had fun taking photos at Highlands Hammock State Park.

bug mirror roots



The park was established in 1935, and is one of the four original state parks created by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is part of Florida’s Statewide Greenways and Trails System.









On 9,250 acres, It has a dense, subtropical jungle of hardwood trees, cabbage palms, ferns, bromeliads, orchids and other airplants.

Due to the diversity of the plant communities, many varieties of wildlife are found here including Whitetail Deer, River Otters, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red Shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls and Swallow-tailed Kites. Florida Panthers, Bobcats, and Bald Eagles may also be seen on occasion. I, however, only encountered a spider…

Back to Homestead

This past Saturday, we toured the Nike site in the Everglades. This is one of four in the area, and each site has two components — a command center as well as a launch area. The launch area includes three launch pads, each with a building large enough to contain three missiles, along with a bunker. A fourth building on the site was used for assembling the missiles.


After touring, we decided to hike a short path, before heading home. The Everglades was crawling with critters!

Looking for Utopia

Tuesday 9 December 2008 – I am.

For many northeners, South Florida is the next best thing to Utopia, especially in the dead of winter.  Heating up those bones after being chilled to the bone is a wondrous experience! At least, that’s what my visitors at my vacation rental,Travelers Palm, tell me.

At the turn of the 20th century, one group headed to Florida to establish their Utopia. You can still visit the site — it’s an easy drive and on the west coast of Florida.

OK. Maybe the facilities aren’t exactly five stars luxurious. But, I have to say, Koreshan had something to do with the stars in a way. Go see for yourself — here’s the site.

Here’s the real deal according to this Utopia — We live inside the globe, rather than on it.

Now a state park in Estero, Fl, the Koreshan Unity Settlement was founded by Dr. Cyrus Teed, who brought his followers to Estero in 1894. This settlement was to be the New Jerusalem, a Utopia, where members lived communally working for the good of all.

Here’s how Dr. Teed, in charismatic fashion, proved his viewpoint that we live inside our Earthly globe rather than on it. He said, take a look at the horizon; you can clearly see that it actually curves upward – wow. I never saw that!
His followers believed that he was immortal, so, when he died, they laid him out on the banks of the Estero River, waiting for his awakening. After several weeks, his remains were placed in a bathtub, just in time to be washed away by a hurricane. I guess you could say that he did, at least, make a clean getaway in the end.

Nike Missile Base in Homestead

Thursday 27 November 2008: I went with my friend, Carol, on an overnight photo shoot to Homestead Miami. We were on a mission, so to speak. I had visited a Nike Missile site years ago, and wanted to return for photos. I had only a general idea of where it was. Thanks to our Bed and Breakfast hostess, whose exhusband had worked on one of the Nike sites, we were able to locate it.


Since this was spur-of-the-moment, it was too late to get permission from the state, and we wondered if we would get arrested for trespassing.

Carol, who is the smart one, brought some cash for bond money, just in case. As it turned out, though, the place is a favorite spot for paint ballers and, at its entrance, was a hot dog stand!

Our mission for this day’s “shoot” was to photograph derelict buildings… Here is a link —

And a short bit about the Nike Missile Program — During the height of the Cold War in the mid-1950s, the U.S. Army began building the bases, which were to be the last line of defense against an enemy air attack. Rings of these bases, or batteries, were built in rural farmland around major metropolitan areas. The bases had two sections, separated by a half mile and sometimes in different towns. One section was the Control Area with radars and computers, a mess hall and administrative building. The other section was the launch section, where missile components were received and assembled. Once assembled, the missiles were fueled and stored in underground magazines. Both sections had barracks. The bases were guarded and operated around the clock.

There were two models of Nike missiles. The Nike-Ajax and the Nike-Hercules. The Ajax were 34 by 4 feet, with speeds up to 1,600 mph at 70,000 altitude. The Hercules reached speeds up to 3,200 mph at 100,000 feet, and could shoulder nuclear warheads.

The program was deactivated in 1974, but continued in some of the Florida bases through the 1970s.

I’m not sure that touring and photographing a missile site is for everyone, but we enjoyed the outing, as we visited other picturesque (non-missile) South FLorida sites as well. For those of you who have made a reservation at my vacation rental in Lake Worth and want to go on this day trip, I suggest that you make an early start and get there before the paint ballers. It’s also a good idea to call the State Parks and Recs ahead to ask for permission to visit the site.


16 December 2008 @ 7:45 pm

What was the location where the Nike Missile base was where the photos were taken?

Charles in Atlanta

Check out that link! As of today, the Nike Hercules missile base located in the Everglades is offering guided tours!

The site I visited originally is near Krome Detention Center.

jeff huggins
14 May 2009 @ 10:09 pm

Its been awhile but me and some friends used to ride 4wheelers out to the homestead site around 98,99.I have old papers from there that we found,mostly old blue prints,don’t know what they are but I thought they were interesting.I looked at the base on google maps and it looked like most of the buildings were torn down exept the missile silo,the last time I was there we went down in the missile silo,we went down about 150ft and could see the bottom 15 to 20ft of the bottom was was very interesting out there and hope to return one day.

Charles in Atlanta
28 October 2009 @ 5:14 pm

The pictures are th former Nike site (D Battery) that is now the Krome Avenue INS Detention Center. It is located on US 27 (Krome Avenue) a couple of miles south of US 41 (Tamiami Trail)west of Miami. It was built in 1965 following 21/2 years in a tent following the CUban Missile Crisis. The only missiles there were the Nike Hercules of which 25% were nuclear-tipped. The photos are of the Administration area where the administration, mess hall, and domrotories were, and the IFC radar area.

About a mile closer to US 41 is the INS Detention Center whch was the launch area. The missiles had to be several thousand yards away from the missile tracking radars so it could keep up with it and update the calculated trajectory in comparisom to the incoming aircraft or missile.

The second missile site that has been referenced is A Battery which is located in Everglades National Park another 15-20 miles south and west outside of Florida City. It is open for tours January through March effective Janaury 2009 on a scheduled appointment through the park.

For further information on these and the other Nike sites in south Florida, and a bit of history of the Cold War in south Florida, go to

Charles D. Carter
Nike Historian

13 March 2011 @ 12:22 pm

I don’t see any reference to the site on SW 216th Street and 207th Avenue or to the site on 87th Avenue just North of Black Point Marina. How come?

robert Pilla
25 August 2011 @ 6:58 am

I just photographed the towers at the 216th street site. I am not certain what they are yet but local legend say this was a Niki Missile base. Both Battery A and Battery B were temporarily located near Florida City prior to be combined in their base in the Everglades.

All the information states the two Batteries were say they were locates 8 miles South and West of Florida City in a tomato field. So I am thinking these 4 towers are for something else. The property is currently being used as a church and I am going to try and gain access for better photos of the remaining structures.

The Two Towers

robert Pilla
25 August 2011 @ 11:02 am


The site is at the corner of SW207th Avenue and and SW 216th Street.

I have gotten word back that this was “Either C or D Battery, 3rd Battalion, 68th Air Defense Artillery”. You can see comments on the photo here:

The site is owned by a religious non profit group and I am going to write them a letter (no email address or phone number) to attempt to gain access to the site without trespassing.

You can look through my flickr account for other abandoned and interesting stuff around Miami.

robert Pilla
25 August 2011 @ 12:04 pm

If you are planning a trip to the site North of Black point, I am afraid there is not much left there:

While the basic road structure is there, everything else is bulldozed.

here is a good site for some reference points:

Also, To be accurate the missile base you shot above is not in Homestead. It is west of Miami and designated as HM-95. Homestead is another 20 miles south. This base is now “shut down” The DOD is really picky about anyone going in there now.

However, Look at this one in Key Largo, HM-40 B Battery:

If you want a long Bike ride:

Addison Mizner in Palm Beach

For Joanne de Guardiola, a South End house on Lagomar Road — designed by noted society architect Addison Mizner in 1924 — presented an opportunity to own a piece of architectural history.

It also demanded a creative and extensive renovation that ended up winning the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s 2012 Ballinger Award, which is given annually to honor historically sensitive construction projects at large estates.

See photos here

De Guardiola, a self-described “serial renovator,” was intricately involved in what turned out to be an intricate project at the house, which she shares with her husband.

“Roberto and I bought it more than 10 years ago as a third vacation house. We’ve always loved Palm Beach and Mizner, and we renovated it with our children and our parents in mind. But now, it’s just the two of us, and we want to do a bit of downsizing,” she says.

As such, their five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home — with two half-baths and 9,714 square feet of living space, inside and out – has been offered for sale through broker Christian J. Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate for $16.95 million.

The house will be sold with a deeded oceanfront parcel, which isn’t contiguous with the main property. In all, the land measures nearly an acre.

“It’s a wonderful home for a young family,” Joanne de Guardiola says. “It has a 60-foot pool — we could sit in the cabana and watch our children play — and it’s on almost an acre, so our son could play football and soccer. It’s a great location. We have the most gorgeous stretch of beach and fabulous views.”

About a mile south of the Southern Boulevard traffic circle, the property is one house west of the Lake Worth Lagoon on a quiet cul-de-sac. The three-story home’s interiors and exteriors blend seamlessly together, a testament to the thoughtful collaboration between de Guardiola, architects Raphael Saladrigas and Leah Cohen, and the landscape team — landscape architect Mario Nievera and designer Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design.

De Guardiola, an interior decorator, worked at the Parish-Hadley studio before opening her own firm in New York City. She recently completed refurbishing her family’s yacht, Highlander, the iconic 150-foot yacht previously owned by Malcolm Forbes.

Architect essential

The renovation project, she said, is a testament to how an architect can pinpoint problems and create solutions. But how it came together is somewhat challenging to explain.

“When we bought it,” she explains, “the inside was OK, but outside, the way the land had been chopped up was dreadful.”

She’s referring to the home’s history. Here’s the background: Mizner’s Mediterranean-style house, originally constructed for John Magee, presided over a 6-acre, ocean-to-lake lot. Magee sold it to Edith Rea, who commissioned several additions, and two years after her death in 1951, the property was subdivided into several homes.

The de Guardiolas’ home, one of the cut-up buildings, ended up occupying a sort-of a zigzag-shaped parcel. The home’s focal-point living room was tucked into a corner just a few feet from the property line, a problem that the de Guardiolas remedied by purchasing the adjoining lot.

That way, they could work in arcades, a courtyard, loggias and terraces around the home to achieve cohesiveness as well as a beautiful sense of entry.

“Raphael made the house its own entity with terraces and a covered loggia,” she notes. “It looks like it was always meant to be.”

To give a general idea of the floor plan: The foyer, gallery, media room, kitchen and dining room with an adjoining terrace courtyard are on the first floor. One approaches the home either through the gardens by the pool, or from the cul-de-sac on the home’s west side, where stairs lead to an arcade between the cabana and courtyard that culminates at the front door.

Inside, an elliptical stairway ascends to the second-floor living room, library and guest bedroom suite, with doors in the living room opening to a partially covered balcony.

Continuing up the stairway to the third floor brings one to two guest bedroom suites, and then, up a few more steps, to the master suite.

Mizner touches

Mizneresque features include French doors, Cuban-tile floors, hand-painted tiles, beamed and coffered ceilings and graceful columned archway. But the pièce de résistance is Mizner’s original – and stunning — Roaring ’20s dining room, which was repurposed at the time of the subdivision to serve as the living room.

“Its proportions are perfection,”de Guardiola says, “as well as its original folded-linen paneling, which we took down and restored; the Cuban tile floor; the oversized Mizner fireplace; its 14-foot ceilings, and its views over Lake Worth are wonderful. It’s a beautiful room.”

The home’s captures attractive views from most rooms, but from the third-floor master bedroom, the vistas are spectacular. “You can see all the way down the coast.”

As a point of inspiration, she refers to Mizner’s charming vias off of Worth Avenue. Her house, she says, captures a similar feeling, with its brick walkways, covered areas, courtyard and terraces.

“I love Mizner’s structures, the way he beautifully blended interiors and exteriors. We used his original designs as our guiding light,” she says. “He got his architecture right, and his rooms are well proportioned with graciousness and warmth.”

– Written for Palm Beach Daily News. Read the article here

Not the yacht owned by Johnny Depp

But Johnny Depp would probably like it

If like Johnny Depp, you share a similar eye for beauty when it comes to yachts (not pirate ships), here’s one that might appeal, the 160-foot Clarity, built by Bilgin that launched in April 2015 and debuted at the 2015 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show.

“Whenever people see a classic boat, they always assume it’s Johnny Depp’s,” said Bobby Ball, who served as owner’s engineer for Clarity’s refit (Depp’s yacht, Vajoliroja, renamed Amphitrite, by the way, was just purchased by JK Rowling).

Classic Gentlemen’s Motor Yacht

Some yacht owners, like Clarity’s, are enamored by classic gentlemen’s motor yachts of the 1930s. In addition to Amphitrite, for example, a couple others capture attention, Ball said. “Sycara IV is for sale.” The 151-foot yacht was built by Burger in 2009. And while Clarity was not based on any specific classic yacht, Nero was a point of inspiration, though Nero, built by Corsair Yachts in 2008 is 295 feet and Clarity’s owner was looking for something smaller.

Clarity’s owner, “a British gentleman who lives in the Bahamas, went to Istanbul in 2014 looking to build a boat,” Ball explained. “He wanted something different; he was tired of big white-triangle-shaped boats, that when you pull in to the marina, there are four more tied up just like it.”

Originally, though, the owner had in mind a more modern boat, but when he saw Clarity, which was already 60-percent completed at the time, he just fell in love with it, Ball said.

After buying it, the owner did make quite a few improvements, which is when Ball got involved, fine-tuning lines, and changing configurations.

“Part of my inspiration came from the experience I have working on boats. I wanted functional, but at the same time, I tried to make it look good,” Ball said.

For the first couple of months on the job, Ball went backwards, undoing some of the work already completed.

“The original crew quarters was in the bow, forward of the superstructure and master stateroom. We moved the crew aft on the lower deck.

“We cut the superstructure on the main deck, extending it two meters. When we did that, the master stateroom could absorb the crew area, which became the master head.

That translates to a split-plan master stateroom, with the bedroom and office on the main deck, and the bathroom on the lower deck. Also on the main deck are the salon and galley.

This new configuration allowed for two new entrances to the crew area: one from the galley and the other from the guest corridor. Originally the only access to the crew quarters was through a foredeck hatch.

On the upper deck is the pilothouse, captain’s cabin, and an upper salon with double doors that completely open to the aft deck where there is a bar, lounge area and day head.

On the lower deck, in addition to crew quarters, are three guest staterooms and a full-beam VIP stateroom. As such, the yacht can take ten passengers in five cabins, and there are crew quarters for eight.

“The yacht had really beautiful lines, but I was shooting to have great spaces to entertain. In addition to the bar on the upper salon deck, we opened that salon up. Also, we wanted a lot of great observation areas, so forward, there’s a seating area, and keeping the side profile looking nice, we kept low seating up there with sun beds, but we made sure it was still a full walk-around so people would be comfortable. To enjoy the view”

Interior decoration, fabrics and furniture designs was done by Christine Coffey of Coffey Park Design, Portsmouth R.I., and Bilgin manufactured the cabinetry and most of the furniture,” Ball said. “You’ll see a lot of dark satin mahogany woodwork and there’s zero gold on this boat. It’s all polished chrome and stainless steel. We wanted bright and shiny, and even though it appears to be an old boat, we wanted crisp rather than gold which we felt aged the boat.”

They also used beautiful local marbles. For example, “the forward salon wall by the dining table is back-lit agate and looks like sliced geodes, and we tied that in with the bar top on the bridge deck,” Ball said.

Mechanically, Clarity has two 700 hp C18 Caterpillars, a low fuel burn of 25 gallons an hour, and a full-displacement hull with a bulbous bow. The yacht cruises at 10 knots with top speed of 14 knots.

It has two Koehler 50 KW three-phase generators, an 1,800-gallon-per-day water maker, Echomar type 2 waste treatment system and silver ion water sterilization system, and hydro-marine hydraulic systems for the wenches. Interior galley equipment is all stainless-steel by Seamans.

Clarity is the second yacht in Bilgin’s Classic 160 series, featuring a stylized funnel, mast and bowsprit. The first, M&M (renamed Timeless) was launched in 2012. Clarity’s owner enjoyed the building process and wants to build another, possibly a little larger yacht. Clarity is offered for sale, $17.9 million through International Yacht Collection. Call Katya Jaimes at 646-369-4562.

Click here for the shorter version at the Palm Beach Daily News