Ripley’s Be-Skeeved-By-It or Not

When you drive into St. Augustine on San Marco Avenue, you drive past an enormous castle. In front of the castle, there are two very creepy looking Chinese statues, guarding the driveway.

The poured-concrete castle was originally built by Standard Oil partner William G. Warden in 1880. According to the tour guide on the Ripley train, Mr. Warden and his wife had eight daughters. They only had one bathroom.

No one was ever killed in that house.

Believe it…or NOT!

I say that because the old Warden house is now home to the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not museum, a creepy collection of enough bizarre things to gross out a twelve year old boy. There was nothing too skeevy for Robert Ripley, who never met a shrunken human head he didn’t like. He stayed in the building when it was a hotel in the first part of the 21st century. Back then, it was shrunken-head free.

Ripley didn’t actually create the museum. He died in 1949 and a year after his death, the Castle Warden was purchased to house his entire gross collection. Rosaries made of human bones, a drum kit featuring two human skulls fused together and covered with human skin, people with nails through all parts of their bodies, real instruments of torture…there wasn’t anything that skeeved out the talented Mr. Ripley.

If you like to be grossed out, I suggest you check out the museum. If you don’t, I suggest you run through the entire museum (ignoring the carnival music that will bore a hole into your head) and race straight to the last exhibit…the vortex. It’s a small walkway surrounded by swirling lights that makes you completely lose your balance (I closed my eyes halfway down the walk and made it through with no loss of equilibrium). It’s fun to watch your friends stumbling around like drunkards.

At least it isn’t gross.

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