It’s neither the acreage nor the seemingly reasonable price of $139,990 that stand out at this Florida listing. It’s the spirits.
“I’d have to say this is one of the more unique ones that I’ve ever seen,” says the listing agent, Matt Perry. “It doesn’t get much weirder than this one.”
“I’ve been there several times by myself,” Perry says. “I was obviously on high alert. I really just tried to be as professional as I can be, but I never experienced anything.”
However, the moment the listing went live, the entire Multiple Listing Service system in nearby Gainesville, FL, crashed for a few hours.
“My little joke is that the only thing that the spirits have done so far is that they broke the MLS when I tried to bring it live,” Perry says.
Built in 1928, the building was used as a jail until 1968. Often, the prisoners spent the nights alone without a jailer, since a jailer’s residence wasn’t added to the property until 1966.
The prisoners often got a little feisty—which they evidently still are.
“All the big-time and really famous ghost hunter people have been there,” Perry says. “They use trigger items like cigarettes and booze and money, which will really get the spirits going crazy in there.”
There are many videos and audio recordings of conversations and objects moving around when no humans are in the building.
A paranormal enthusiast, Arlene Hale, has owned the property for several years. Perry says that Hale’s husband bought it for her as a present, and that the time has come for her to find someone else to take it over. She took on the task of introducing any paranormal occupants to the agent.
“Before I began doing anything, she insisted that she be the one to take me out there to introduce me to the spirits,” Perry explains. “I went out there with her, and I let her walk me through and explain to them (the spirits) that I had no ill will, that I was going to simply bring them another Arlene—somebody that would love the jail like she did. We’re just switching hands.”
For over a decade, Hale has hosted tours and monthly gatherings for ghost hunters. Perry says he plans to take a few prospective buyers and other listing agents to the next gathering.
According to the listing, the property has eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms—but the accommodations are spartan, to say the least.
“There are actually eight cells, all with plumbing, a toilet and a sink,” Perry says.
Five are upstairs, and the other three are downstairs.
“That’s exactly what they are, they’re the cells,” he notes.
There’s an additional bathroom in the former jailer’s residence, which is more traditional and private.
Perry admits that his first thought when he was approached about listing the property was not pleasant.
“I envisioned myself handcuffed and locked into a cell and being tortured by ghosts. That was probably the first thing I thought,” he says.
After he settled down, he came to an epiphany.
“I started to realize there’s a buyer for everything,” he adds. “I became excited about the possibility of the reach that I could get and how exciting it was going to be to speak to people who had different ideas and different plans. It was a little scary at first, but it just became more and more exciting. Something I never thought I would be compelled by has compelled me.”
Although the building sits on a nice parcel of land, Perry says he doesn’t see the jail being converted into a single-family home.
“I think the perfect buyer for this property is going to be somebody with an incredibly open mind that can see the potential, all while seeing the beauty of what’s there,” he says. “I think somebody that really has a connection to tourism and tourism-related business. Somebody really creative and somebody that understands the draw and the comedy and the entertainment that is involved with a haunted building.”
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