Note: This article was initially published on the Orange & Blue Magazine official site in October 2017.
As we embark on October, and Halloween ebbs closer, here are some spooky legends about Gainesville that lean a little more toward the “wild” side of its history.
By Joshua Klafter
Gainesville, the good old swamp. Many have come to know and love the relatively small town over the years for its renowned university, cultural scene and eclectic community. All these things rest on a foundation of a rich and vibrant history. This history, however, is not without its fair share of oddities. Today, we are going to examine some of the wildest tales woven through Gainesville’s past.
The Hippodrome Theater
The Hippodrome – a classic Gainesville hotspot for thespians and film buffs alike. What’s on the back of most attendees’ minds, however, is the eerie entity they believe lurks through the building. The Hippodrome, formerly a courthouse, saw the execution of an innocent man, the wife of whom supposedly searches for his soul on-site to this very day, according to HauntedPlaces.org.
Northwest of the town, you will find a huge funnel extending 120 feet into the ground. Known as Devil’s Millhopper, this sinkhole has become the subject of bizarre speculation among Gainesvillians. Some myths suggest that it leads to a portal to hell, while others warn that it is a void that swallows unlucky travelers, according to WeirdUS.com. Unsurprisingly, none of these rumors have been proven, as it continues to attract students and residents alike, daily.
The Naming of Lake Alice
Contrary to popular belief, UF’s infamous lake wasn’t always named “Alice.” Formerly known as Jonah’s Pond, the name was changed in 1894 for unknown reasons. Rumors about the namesake range from individuals killed by alligators to simply being named after relatives of prominent UF faculty members, Unigo.com says. Although no one knows for sure, the theories seem to get weirder by the semester.
The Haile Homestead
During the 1850s, a tempestuous time in the history of the United States, slaves were used to build the famous Haile Homestead. Abandoned in the 1930s, discoverers found over 12,500 words inscribed on the various walls of the home, altasobscura.com reports. Although no one is quite sure why the Haile family used their walls for reminders and sketches, the house has drawn troves of Gainesville residents and tourists.
Do you believe in any of these folk tales? Have some weird stories of your own to tell? Please let us know in the comments below!