Key West FL is home to one of the most haunted objects at one of the most haunted sites in the state, Robert the Doll at the Fort East Martello Museum. Come Explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.
Building the twin forts known as East Martello and West Martello began in 1862. The construction was slow due to yellow fever outbreaks and continuing tension between the locals who were pro-Confederate, the slaves, free blacks, and the Union Army, all of who were involved in building the forts. There were continuing setbacks from 1863 - 1865, including a devastating hurricane in 1865. A year later, construction halted on both forts, leaving them unfinished. Even though unfinished, the forts were used throughout the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II as radio stations, storage units, and barracks for soldiers stationed in Key West. After World War II, both forts fell into a state of disrepair. In 1950 U.S. Navy granted permission for East Martello to be restored and operated as a museum. It opened to the public in 1951.
The history of the museum is not as pertinent as one of the contents within its walls, where many say it brings in almost a sinister type of haunting. We are speaking of, no less than, Robert the Doll.
His story began in the early 1900s when Eugene Robert Otto, a young boy, was given a one-of-a-kind handmade doll. It was gifted by a servant that worked for his parents in their home. The doll was named Robert by Eugene and became very attached to it.
The home where Eugene and his family lived in, today, is called the Artist's House located in Key West. While Robert the doll appeared to be like any ordinary cloth doll, it did not take long for Robert was involved with strange and almost terrifying events. The first of such happenings occurred one night when Gene, then only ten years old, awoke to find Robert the Doll sitting at the end of his bed staring at him. Moments later his mother was awakened by his screams, accompanied by the sounds of furniture being overturned in her Eugene's bedroom. Although the little boy kept desperately calling for help, she was not able to get past the locked door. Finally using a wrench to open the door, she saw poor Gene curled up in fear on his bed. And, yes, Robert the Doll was still sitting at the foot of the bed.
"Robert did it," were the only words little Eugene could have the nerve to speak. These were the same words that later, many times throughout his childhood, he would repeat when something strange, mysterious, or destructive would happen.
This was not the only isolated event involving this prankster of a doll. Gene Otto died in 1974 and when a new owner moved into the house on Eaton Street, their ten-year-old daughter was delighted to find Robert the Doll in the attic. But her delight ended soon when she claimed that Robert was alive and that the doll wanted to hurt her. She awoke often in the middle of the night screaming in fear and told her parents that Robert had moved about in the room.
Many believe that the origin of Robert’s evil lies in the one who originally gave him to Gene Otto – the servant who worked for Gene’s parents. This woman was supposedly mistreated by her bosses and to punish them it is believed that she cursed the doll with Voodoo and Black Magic. That might explain the many mysterious and frightening experiences people have had with Robert the Doll; but if so, wouldn’t the haunting end when the owners died? No one really knows for sure.
Today, the doll is kept safe within a glass display at this museum. Apparently, this does not stop this "creature" from inflicting fear and discomfort to the museum staff and visitors.
Robert The Doll continues to taunt and scare those who come to view him – especially guests to the museum who attempt to take photos. Many have reported their cameras becoming inoperable when they tried to take a picture of Robert, only to begin working again when they left the museum. Staff members report that the doll's facial expressions change and some even hear demonic giggling. Some even have claimed to see Robert put his hand up to the glass.
Robert the Doll and The Artist House, where the story the film is based on took place, have been featured in various American TV shows including The Discovery Channel "Would you Believe It", William Shatner's "Weird or What" as well as the Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum".
This property, as part of our network, has been added for they may have history, validation or folk tales of having spirited activities. Please take caution in approaching and visiting these locations, since courtesy, respect, and caution should be a top priority in every Haunted Investigator's style. Also do realize, some of these places may have permanently closed, changed ownership and/or names, or just are not available for your visits. Please respect this.
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