Johnnie Rush, our Chief Business Innovation Officer, has always had a passion for “haunted architecture.” He got his chance to own his own haunted house in 2013 with his restoration of an arts & crafts bungalow on the shores of Lake Minnehaha in Central Florida. The 1925 Craftsman home was built on land reclaimed from an abandoned cemetery when the town was incorporated in 1916. Originally developed as one of the Country’s first master-planned townships in 1884, the region was decimated by back-to-back frosts in the late 1920’s and the entire citrus industry withered. Many homes, including Johnnie’s, were abandoned as residents moved to more industrial cities.
Known to long-time residents as the “Old Hook House,” the abandoned home was the notorious neighborhood “haunted house” and rumored to be inhabited by the ghost of one of the regions first Pharmacists. The local school bus stop was across the street in the 1940’s, and kids told scary stories about the ghostly wails they could hear as the lonely spirit peered at them from the empty windows.
Although Johnnie has never personally seen the ghost, the home was investigated in the 1980’s by a team of television “ghost-hunters” who also brought a Priest along to “cleanse the hallowed soil.” During a recent foundation excavation of a studio building on-site, the Contractor collected hinges, nails and other remnants of the original cemetery abandoned in the late 1800’s. All of these “discoveries” were gently placed back in the ground before the foundation was poured . . . .
As part of the restoration back to the original materials & colors, Johnnie has added his own custom Tiki Bar and has furnished the home with his personal collection of venomous insects, Funeral Home memorabilia and high-tech ghostly “surprises.” Three framed portraits, for example, animate and disintegrate into corpses as you ascend the main staircase. There’s a surprise around every corner, and it’s always Halloween at Johnnie’s house!