The exquisitely designed house at 5811 N. Miami Ave. in Little Haiti catches your eye as you drive past. It sits among ramshackle homes and overcrowded two-story apartment blocks like a misplaced masterpiece. By the time you turn your head to get a good look, though, it’s too late. The adrenaline-charged traffic spurs you past it and you barely manage a glimpse of the whitewashed, neoclassical gem.
When the home was built in 1926 to house the Cuban consulate to Miami, things were a little different. The neighborhood was still mostly agricultural and the home’s first occupants likely sipped coffee on the white-columned front porch in rural tranquility.
All the building materials for the mansion, and the workers who built it, were imported from Cuba. Ten rooms, two baths, 18-foot-high ceilings, elegantly hand-painted floor tiles, and Tuscan columns are just some of the features Havana architect C. Freira included in the home. Almost six decades later, in 1983, the City of Miami officially designated the structure historic. A second designation, in 1987, amended the original to include the interior and an adjacent lot.
But what really draws attention to Villa Paula is its reputation as Miami’s most haunted home. (read full text Villa Paula and the Ghosts of Little Haiti by Terence Cantarella)