One Sunday when we lived in Jacksonville, Wayne wanted to go exploring. I had been reading my Haunting Sunshine book and had just finished the section on the Herlong Mansion.
“Want to go to Micanopy?” I asked.
I had no idea how to pronounce Micanopy. Maybe I was saying it wrong. I spelled it for him. That didn’t help.
“Where is it?”
“Perfect. It’s a nice day to take a drive.”
THE DAY HAUNT JAUNTS GOT ITS NAME
So we hopped in his truck and away we went in search of Micanopy and the Herlong Mansion. I wish I could remember now if it was 1999 or 2000. All I know is that it was right at the beginning of the first of our haunted day trips around Florida.
In fact, this was the excursion that Wayne dubbed our explorations “haunt jaunts.” Or, I should say, him wanting to do a day trip somewhere and me tricking him into taking me some place allegedly haunted.
I brought the book along to re-read the story of the Herlong Mansion as Wayne drove. He groaned when he realized what book it was.
“Let me guess. This mansion you’re so hot and bothered to see has a ghost, doesn’t it?”
“Why do all of our trips anymore have to be haunt jaunts?”
“I dunno,” I shrugged. “It’s just interesting to me.”
“So what’s the story behind this one?”
THE HERLONG MANSION
The Herlong Mansion was built in the 1840s. It started as a small house. A family from South Carolina moved to Micanopy in 1910 and into the house when the mother inherited it. This family was the one who added on and turned it from a “cracker style” pine farm home into the Greek Revival mansion it became.
There were six kids in the family. When her mother died, she left the house to all six children (Inez and her siblings, who were all grown by then), but with the condition they let their dad live there as long as he wanted.
Inez was the oldest daughter. By the time her father died, Inez’s husband had also died. He left her with enough money to buy out her siblings. But that caused a riff between them.
She set about restoring the house, which no one had kept up. She was working in what had been her sister’s room when she died of a heart attack.
THE STORY OF INEZ’S GHOST IS BORN
A new owner bought the house and set about completing the restoration Inez had started. Those workers were the first to encounter Inez’s ghost. They worked by day and spent their nights sleeping in the parlor. They only spent three or four nights though before they demanded a hotel room at the owner’s expense.
You see, as they tried to sleep, they heard footsteps and a door opening and closing on the second floor. When they investigated no one was there. The owners thought they were being foolish so they decided to spend a night in a room on the second floor. They locked their door that night –only to find it unlocked and wide open the next morning.
Needless to say, they let the workers have their hotel room.
INEZ THE LOCAL CELEBRITY
We didn’t get to stay in the Herlong Mansion. When we visited, we walked the grounds and I ventured up on it’s verandah. What I have never forgotten was seeing a gorgeous wooden staircase as I peeked into the front foyer.
Before I left, I took a brochure. I took one last wistful glance at the inn and wished we had enough money to spend a night there. (This was back when day trips were all we could afford.)
We didn’t see Inez, but that didn’t stop Wayne from continuing to look for her when we went into town.
And when I say “town,” I mean that generously. Micanopy is small. Or was. Things could have changed in the last 12 to 13 years. But when we visited the main street only had a few shops. One of them was an ice cream parlor.
We stopped in to get cones, and that’s when Wayne thought he’d be smart and try to embarrass me.
“So can you believe my wife dragged me down here to look for a ghost?” he asked the girl helping us.
“Oh, yeah. Inez! Are you staying at the mansion? We’re pretty proud of our haunted house.”
Wayne’s big plan backfired. This time the joke was on him and I got to smile in smug satisfaction. Some places love their ghosts as much as I love traveling in search of them.
MORE PHOTOS OF HERLONG
Our jaunt to Herlong was before I became fanatical about making sure I had a camera on me wherever I went. I thank Carolyn of the Herlong Mansion Historic Inn & Gardens for providing me with all of the pictures in this post, even though she really doesn’t promote the inn as haunted. I respect that and admire her honesty. As well as her generosity!
Below are some pictures she shared with me. I thought they were fun, and especially like that they decorate the inn for Halloween.