Historic Winchester Symphony House haunts occupants


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Some say ghosts occupy the Winchester Symphony House. It was built in 1886.

Chris Bonanno

Is a historic and picturesque building in downtown Eau Gallie haunted?

Some will tell you that the Winchester Symphony House, located off Highland Avenue in downtown Eau Gallie and home to the Brevard Symphony Orchestra for more than 30 years, is just that.

The belief that the two-story house, built in 1886, is haunted dates back to a “haunted trail” tour given through downtown Eau Gallie in the 2000s, according to Lesmarie Velez, the BSO marketing director. She says that organizers brought in ghost hunters and a psychic to make readings of the house.

“There is a CD that they have recordings overnight of all the different sounds and things like that,” Velez said.

Since that point, employees have become convinced of a supernatural presence.

“There’s always noise. We blame or attribute so many things to this house, and it’s not just one of us or two of us. It’s everybody that works in this house at some time or another will have a feeling or experience,” said Fran Delisle, BSO executive director. “…. I used to work like at nights or on weekends or whatever and this house made all kinds of noises. What was ever making those noises you don’t know.”

The “ghosts” are relegated to their different areas inside the house, Velez added, with one in particular haunting the building’s second floor, which had been home to the Brevard Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“That’s the recording that will give you chills. You can actually hear a gentleman going something like ‘help me,’ and he’s playing a violin which is even more serendipitous for us,” Velez said.

There’s also reports of a ghost of a little girl who is upstairs as well that can be seen through an upstairs window, though there is no record of her living in the house, Velez adds.

There’s plenty of activity on the first floor too, she said, with a psychic stating there’s a husband and wife ghost couple that travel from the library to the kitchen and administrative office.

“They’re our mischievous ghosts … things tend to disappear when your back is turned and are misplaced somewhere else,” Velez said. “… one day, I just had my lunch out on the table and I turn around just to get a cutting knife from the block. … I turned around and my lunch was there and my silverware wasn’t.”

“Sometimes, papers will be lying places and things like that,” Velez added.

But there’s one ghost story that seems to be most convincing to Velez. She tells a story about how she was talking to Eau Gallie floral artist Link Johnsten, who has since passed away, about the ghosts. He relayed a story of how a psychic went to the house and stated that there was the ghost of a woman in the house that was complaining of discomfort in her feet.

Johnsten told Velez that it was at that point his face went white and his jaw dropped, because decades ago, Johnsten said a lady that cleaned the house also had deformities in her feet.    

“She apparently just roams the backyard up to the steps where Fran’s office is,” Velez added.

The supernatural stories are just part of what makes the house so special, with stories that date back well over a century.

“We’re (the BSO) part of the cultural history of Brevard County and that’s what this house represents too is cultural history of Brevard County,” Delisle said.

The future of the house is undecided at this time as the BSO temporarily moved its operations west to a location off Eau Gallie Boulevard.

The BSO, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary, always welcomes donations. Those interested in doing so should go to brevardsymphony.com.

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