The Don Vicente Inn
April 28, 2022
The historical district of Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City was established in the late 1890’s by Cuban National Vicente Martinez Ybor, as the location for his business endeavor of manufacturing high quality, hand rolled Cuban Cigars. Ybor’s cigar business model was so successful that Ybor City became widely known as Cigar City. With the expanding workforce came a need for more housing development for the workers. To remedy the housing need, Ybor commissioned architect Francis J. Kennard to design the building of The Ybor City Land and Improvement Company in 1895; at an estimated cost of $35,000.00. With humble intentions in mind, Vicente Ybor could have never guessed the gruesome events that would manifest inside the walls of The Ybor City Land and Improvement Company, making it one of the most haunted buildings in the state of Florida.
Dr. Jose Ramon Avellanal was a prominent figure and physician in Ybor City and the Head Physician at the Centro Espanol Sanitarium. In 1903 Dr. Avellanal bought the property and converted the building into the Bien Publico Clinic that served the people of Ybor City from 1903-1939. Dr. Avellanal was a very influential figure around Ybor City and lived in a fine home with his wife and son Jose Luis Avellanal. Despite Dr. Avellanal’s great work and contribution to the Ybor City and the Tampa Bay Area as a whole; it is his son Jose Luis that history remembers and all for terrible reasons.
Jose Luis was a highly intelligent child and was able to study science and technology independently and recreate what he had learned. His most well known experiment is when he was able to build a functioning electric chair and to verify that it worked properly, he strapped a neighborhood boy in it and turned it on. The homemade electric chair did in fact work and Jose Luis’ victim did not die, but was left permanently disfigured. This boy is one of many children that Dr. Avellanal would take into his care due to the injuries inflicted on them by his son. Jose Luis loved power and control over others. In his youth Jose Luis shot a 10 year old boy in the eye with a BB gun, beat up, and over all looked for ways to hurt other children. Due to Dr. Avellanal’s influence in the community, Jose Luis was never disciplined and a lot of these events were not recorded. It took several hours of research to verify the electric chair incident and the only source found about it was the June 15, 1983 issue of The Tampa Tribune newspaper.
Dr. Avellanal and his wife did their best to handle Jose Luis on their own. First, trying to send him to boarding school, where he spent a great deal of time in solitary confinement yet Jose Luis’ violent urges continued. Later as an adult Jose Luis was put up in an apartment by his parents in El Pasaje, where he would collect stray cats off the streets and freeze them. It has been said that Jose Luis also kidnapped young women and froze them as well. Later on Jose Luis began posing as a physician (sometimes as his own father) and surgeon to perform medical experiments on men and women. When his victims inevitably died he would hide their bodies in the basement of Bien Publico Clinic.
These horrendous events being contributed to Jose Luis have never been brought to a trial, however due to Dr. Avellanal’s past actions of paying off families and officials to cover for Jose Luis, it could very well be in the realm of possibility that officials looked the other way. Now, that means that these poor souls never received justice or proper burials. Jose Luis lived out his natural life a free man, only getting into trouble for petty crimes and fraud and still posed as a doctor, plastic surgeon, and even a Lt. General for the Mexican Army.
Dr. Jose Ramon Avellanal died July 25, 1927 and the Clinic was taken over by Dr. Nestor A. Portocarrero. In 1939 the practice was bought out by Dr. A.A. Gonzalez and renamed the A.A. Gonzalez Clinic and remained in serving the community until it closed in 1980. For eighteen years this once busy establishment remained empty and abandoned until 1998 for the purpose of renovating the building into The Don Vicente Inn; the remodeling took two years and was open for business in 2000. It was at this time the pain and chaos of the past was realized by the new building owners, staff, and guests.
Billy Morrison, guitarist of Camp Freddy, stayed at The Don Vicente Inn as a guest and Tweeted on August 27, 2012: “Staying at the Don Vicente in Tampa...and this s**** is HAUNTED!!! Google it - I’m telling you I’m seeing s****!!!”
It seems after Morrison tweeted this out, he was disturbed enough by what he experienced to never revisit or explain exactly what he experienced that night. It could be possible that he was staying in the infamous Room 305; which was said to be one of the most active rooms in the building. Guests would report the lights flickering on and off and no amount of maintenance could fix the problem. Also, these same visitors stated that they would wake up from a deep slumber, only to find the full body apparition of a young man standing at the end of the bed. Also, audible footsteps could be heard pacing up and down the hallways, with no obvious source of said foot steps.
The basement of The Inn seems to be a cesspool of dark paranormal energy. The staff of Vicente Inn have frequently encountered a Spanish speaking nurse that for reasons unknown cannot leave the basement. It is unknown how or why she remains within the walls of The Inn. Perhaps the most terrifying of all is that some staff and guests believe that they have had a close encounter with none other than Jose Luis Avellanal himself. Even though he died of natural causes February 11, 1982, it could be possible that due to his evil deeds conducted in Bien Publico Clinic trapped his soul with those he killed. These days The Don Vicente Inn is now full of residential apartments, as The Inn closed its doors May 28, 2015.
No matter what renovations have been completed, the exchange of hands, and businesses that have operated, its bloody past has refused to be forgotten. This kind of history and events are not only reserved to The Don Vicente Inn; the Tampa Bay Area is littered with notorious and haunted locations up and down the beautiful, sandy coastlines. It has been said that Tampa is the damndest city this side of Hell. The Don Vicente Inn and many other buildings live up to that reputation. With the bizarre reputation of the State of Florida and its residents; the endless cycle of paranormal occurrences is unable or unwilling to end.
Katrina The Good
A Little About Katrina the Good: Katrina is an aspiring and talented writer with a passion for blogging. As the resident blogger for The Spirit Realm Network, she focuses her talents on a variety of thought-provoking topics, everything from the Paranormal to Cryptozoology. By day, Katrina can be found working on the frontlines as a health care provider fighting the battle on Covid. The Spirit Realm Network is proud to have her as part of the network and we all look forward to many more thought-provoking articles from her.