Hotel Blanche is a historic hotel located in Lake City. Built in 1902, the hotel was once considered a luxurious place to stay, full of posh furniture and amenities. The hotel was the first building in Florida to have an elevator.
One of the oldest hotels in Lake City
Many famous figures stayed at Hotel Blanche, including Johnny Cash and Al Capone. Capone would stop here fairly often when traveling between Chicago and Miami. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Today, the building no longer functions as a hotel. The first floor is occupied by various businesses. The second floor has rentable office space for temporarily and long-term business solutions.
The third floor not only remains empty, but is blocked off entirely. Lake City residents and former hotel guests believe the third floor is where the hotel’s ghosts stay. Even the elevator, which still operates, has been blocked off so people cannot take it up to the third floor of the building.
Edward, a local businessman, once hired out some office space on the second floor while he was getting his company underway. “Every day I was grateful that my office at Hotel Blanche was merely temporary,” he admitted. “I can’t imagine having a permanent set-up in that God forsaken building.
A unexplained encounter made me break my lease
“I didn’t want to rent there at all, knowing the rumors and history of the hotel. But I got a monthly rental rate I just couldn’t refuse. So, reluctantly I moved in, and was already starting to develop the funds necessary to move to a more permanent location elsewhere.
“I remember the day it all started…The sound of running footsteps above me, running from one end of the hotel to the other. It’s not as if the sound itself was strange,” he said, shaking his head. “But just knowing that it was highly unlikely that anyone was actually up there…it still chills me to the bone.
“I looked around the office space, and people were still hunched in their cubicles, crunching numbers, writing up reports. They had all gotten so used to it, but I thought it was positively maddening. I knew I never would.
“The following week I started preparing for taking on a business partner. There were a lot of hoops and the like to jump through, and I was staying at the office quite late. It was a Wednesday night, and I was the only one left at the office,” he recalled.
“I heard laughter above me. It was so clear, so real, I thought to myself ‘there’s no way that that was some spirit—somebody has finally managed to break in!’ As a renter of the building, I felt it was my duty to find the trespassers and report them to the authorities,” Edward nodded with thinned lips.
“I went to the main hallway. I tried to flip the light switch, but the bulb must have burned out, so I fished out the lighter I had in my suit pocket. I looked all around for a broken window, or some other evidence as to how they snuck into the building.
“I moved the flame around, and I saw several women moving away from me. They were so faint looking. I jerked my hand in surprise, which caused my lighter to go out,” he said, moving his hand as if to swipe something away.
“When I lit it up again, there was nothing there.
“I’m sure many people will say it was just a shadow effect from the lighter, but I strongly disagree. There are ghosts in that building, no doubt about it. The next morning, I packed up my things, broke my lease agreement and found another office space to rent in Lake City. When I told them I was breaking the lease, they took it in stride. I guess that happens a lot.”
212 North Marion Street
Lake City, FL