At Ginger’s Place, the spirit of a former burlesque dancer haunts her old cocktail bar. Built in the 1950s, the building now known as Ginger’s was once a dress shop, where mannequins looking out from the windows would draw people in. Today passersby see the face of Ginger Payson staring back at them, the owner who died in 2003. Coins are found around the bar—messages from Ginger— thought to be an attempt at buying her patrons drinks from the afterlife.
Born in Pekin, Illinois, Darlene Edith “Ginger” Payson entered the world of burlesque at a young age. Soon she became a star, traveling up and down the east coast, tantalizing paying customers where ever she went.
Her stunning and sleazy performances gained her a scalding reputation. “The Girl Who Shocked Chicago” and “The Original Shower Girl” were some of the many titles Payson gathered over the years. Most famously, she became “Tiza, The Girl in The Goldfish Bowl” upon reaching Jacksonville, Florida.
This aquatic act involved a large and portable fish tank, with Payson dressed as a mermaid and submerged inside. It became wildly popular around Jacksonville, where Payson eventually settled down. By 1976 she put the burlesque life behind her and, along with her husband Ziggy, purchased Ginger’s Place.
The endearing bar quickly became a local favorite, even if people were just trying to get a glimpse of the famous dancer. In 1988 Ziggy passed away near the bar’s jukebox. Ginger continued to run the business, living in the apartment upstairs until she died in 2003.
She died September 15th of a stroke, 12 days away from her 80th birthday. A date that the returning customers to Ginger Place, now run by her surviving family, will never forget.
After Ginger’s death, odd things began happening around the building. No matter what date the bar’s calendar is set to, it always returns to September 27th, Ginger’s birthday. She could not stay out of the limelight, even in the afterlife! The spirit of Ginger Payson is quite active around the bar that shares her name. She even makes appearances next door at the Rock n Roll themed boutique clothing store and music venue, Star 33.
Coins are found around both businesses in various odd locations, a tell-tale sign that Ginger is nearby and watching. These coins, generally dimes, are believed to be a form of communication. Ginger always enjoyed buying drinks for her patrons and continues to do so from the other side. They have been found in Star 33 as well as if Ginger is letting the Rock n Roll upstarts know that she is the only true superstar in the building.
She is especially fond of her two granddaughters, that now bartend at Ginger’s place. They often feel a tap on their legs when no one else is around. Her apparition has been seen by other employees of the bar.
One bartender remembers pouring a woman a drink. She abruptly asked the man who was staring at him in the doorway. As he turned around, he saw the ghostly apparition of Ginger floating her way to the back of the building. The bewildered customer left just as quickly, her tab waiting on the counter.
A medium visited Ginger’s Place after the activity began to spike. Surprisingly she discovered that there were 13 spirits residing in the building! The location, on the corner of Third Street and Third Avenue, has served many purposes. The area once was used as an Inn in the 1920s. That log cabin is long gone, but it seems the spirits of former tenants remain.
The building served as a grocery store in the 1950s. Tragically three of the owner’s sons were killed in a shrimp boating accident. Days later, their bodies washed up on the beach right in front of the building. It is very likely they, too, remain trapped in the building.
Stop by Ginger’s Place for a drink, and you may get one on the house, paid for by Ginger herself! The city of Jacksonville is full of haunted locations with curious backstories and terrifying endings.
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