The Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale

Posted by in US Ghost Adventures

The Stranahan House is the oldest surviving building in Broward County, having been built in 1901. Though that may not seem like much, it’s actually pretty old, considering most of the region was developed in the past 25 years. The historic house was established by entrepreneur Frank Stranahan and his wife, Ivy Julia Cromartie, a teacher from Miami. 

The two helped establish the tiny settlement on the New River, which would later become Fort Lauderdale. Initially, the Stranahan House was a public building; the first floor was a trading post, and the second floor was a community hall. Eventually, as the Stranahans prospered, Frank moved his business and made the Stranahan House his home. 

Disaster struck in 1926 when two devastating hurricanes ended the Florida Land Boom and, in turn, his profitable real estate business. Frank couldn’t take the loss. After a failed suicide attempt, he killed himself in the New River, kickstarting a wave of deaths that made the Stranahan House a paranormal hotspot. 

At least six ghosts live in the Stranahan House, including Frank, Ivy, three of their relatives, and the ghost of a young Seminole girl who died on the doorstep. Keep reading to uncover the harrowing haunts of this infamously ghost-infested home. 

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Early Fort Lauderdale and the Stranahan House

In the late 1800s, Fort Lauderdale was just a tiny outpost named the New River Settlement. The tiny town was only accessible by boat until 1892, when the first road through the region was built, which connected Miami to Palm Beach.

A year later, Frank Stranahan arrived in the New River Settlement from Ohio. His cousin hired him to manage and operate a ferry that crossed the New River. After mingling with the native Seminoles, he established a trade network with the tribe, and they gained respect for Frank and his fair business practices. 

Frank eventually saved up enough to buy some land. He moved his business further down the river and, with it, the center of the budding town. The community had grown large enough to hire a teacher, so Ivy Julia Cromartie, only eighteen at the time, was hired by the county school board. She came from Lemon City, a small town near Miami, which is now a part of Little Haiti.

Over the next five months, Frank and Ivy fell in love and eventually married. Ivy gave up her paid position, though she didn’t quit teaching. She became a philanthropist of sorts, helping to educate the Seminole children. She was the liaison between the government and the Seminole tribe when the expansion of Fort Lauderdale forced Seminoles into reservations. Ivy also took part in the movement for women’s suffrage and helped establish Everglades National Park.

In 1901, Frank began building his place of business, called the Stranahan House. The first floor functioned as a trading post, and the second floor was a community hall. He later expanded to include a general store and a bank. After building a new building to run his business out of, he had the Stranahan House renovated as a home for his family.


Death in the Stranahan House

In 1926, two major hurricanes stopped the Florida Land Boom dead in its tracks. The values of his properties plummeted. Markets crashed, and so did his assets. The people who had invested with Frank were ruined as well. As far as he knew, his life was over. Adding to the mess, he was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. Frank attempted suicide, prompting him to be sent to a mental asylum.

Shortly after arriving at his home, Frank succumbed to his depression and drowned himself in the New River. He tied an iron gate to his ankle and jumped in the water, ensuring that he wouldn’t be able to float back to the surface.

Soon after Frank’s death, a young Seminole girl came to see Ivy but collapsed in the doorway and died. Ivy’s younger sister, Pink, later moved into the house when she was seven months pregnant. She hoped that after three failed pregnancies, she would finally have a live birth. But after hearing about her cheating husband, she went into premature labor and gave birth to a stillborn, then died in the hospital. Ivy’s brother, Albert, moved in and, after living a wild life, died after contracting tuberculosis at a party. Ivy’s father, Augustus Cromartie, got very sick towards the end of his life. Ivy took him in, and he died in the guest room shortly after.

Ivy finally passed away in 1971 in an upstairs bedroom at the age of 90.


Ghosts of the Stranahan House

All six people who died in the Stranahan House still dwell inside. The ghost of Frank Stranahan has been seen by a few reliving his suicide, jumping into the New River with an iron gate tied to his ankle. Most of Frank’s sightings tend to be pleasant, as he often appears briefly during tours or community events. 

Ivy is a kind spirit, just as she was in life. She’s been known to look after the staff, especially when doing dangerous tasks like climbing the roof or attic. Ivy remains unseen, but staff can feel her gentle presence, usually a cold hand on their shoulder or the smell of her favorite perfume.

According to the investigators, the young Seminole girl was very friendly when picked up by an EVP. She’s also been recorded singing and chanting on EVP. They say she has a strong sweet tooth, as she’s been known to steal a cany from the front desk.

The ghost of Pink and her stillborn baby “live” in the parlor of the Stranahan House. Visitors and investigators have noted an unseen presence, accompanied by two floating orbs of light. 

Albert is one of Ivy’s brothers and is still just as irresponsible in the afterlife. He’s the troublemaker of the Stranahan House, often knocking things over and making life difficult for the staff. He yells at people he doesn’t like and teases visitors. Albert warms the room up for women and makes it cold for men, and sometimes gets a little too flirtatious with the female guests.

Augustus Cromartie’s ghost is grumpy and is blamed for falling books and cold temperatures in the gift shop, which was his old bedroom. He annoys the staff by moving things around when they aren’t looking. Perhaps he simply doesn’t like being intruded upon.


Haunted Fort Lauderdale

South Florida isn’t just fun in the sun. Besides the constant rainstorms, ghosts, spirits, and a bloody history bring darkness to the beaches. To discover more haunted history and cursed locations that comprise the city’s otherworldly side, book a Fort Lauderdale ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures!