House hunters and ghost hunters alike will be thrilled (and chilled) to hear that Villa Paula — dubbed Miami’s most haunted home by the Biscayne Times — is now on the market.
Listed by ONE Sotheby’s International Realty for $4.5 million, the 2,552-square-foot venue was built as a Cuban consulate in 1926 solely using materials imported from Cuba. Havana architect C. Freira designed Villa Paula to comprise 10 bedrooms, 18-foot ceilings, and charming details like hand-painted tiles and Tuscan columns.
But, for some, the intrigue of the white Little Haiti property lies beyond its physical attributes — and in its supernatural history.
Cuban consul Domingo Milord and his wife, Paula (the home’s namesake), lived in the home for a scant few years before she died from complications due to an amputated leg. Soon after, the home closed as a consulate, and Villa Paula changed hands many times in the following years.
In 1974, Cliff Ensor purchased the then-derelict building and began refurbishing it. That’s when things took a strange turn. The homeowner reported seeing a one-legged woman floating down the hallway, smelling the sudden scent of roses and coffee, hearing piano music and the clack of high-heel shoes, and seeing flatware and silverware inexplicably thrown about. Once, a chandelier crashed to the floor, and three of Ensor’s cats were killed when a gate suddenly — repeatedly — slammed shut.
Ensor held seances to better understand the home’s nature, and one psychic told him that five spirits inhabited Villa Paula. One, perhaps a former servant of the villa, was a young woman seeking the grave of her illegitimate child.
About a decade ago, after Ensor sold the home, Cuban fashion designer Fernando Garcia rented it. He, too, claimed to have witnessed unexplainable phenomena, including the time a windowpane fell to the ground behind him while he was working at his desk. When he got up to examine it, a huge chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling right where he had been sitting. His cat also disappeared from the house, and he regularly heard thumping sounds near the back door.
Then, a groundskeeper who lived in Villa Paula reported that objects wouldn’t stay where he left them and that bulbs in a light fixture once began turning on and off randomly.
Most recently, Villa Paula was used as a gallery, museum, and special event space. The building, part of a four-lot commercial assemblage at 5811 N. Miami Ave., is recognized as a historic structure by the City of Miami.