Investigation Team: Dave Miller, Shane Miller
Date: April 2010
Fort East Martello Museum is a Civil War Fort on the east side of Key West with many exhibits, ghost stories and one famous exhibit of Robert the Doll. The stuffed toy is 40 inches tall and belonged to a boy named Robert “Gene” Otto. Gene grew up in Key West in a family of doctors, but he chose to become an artist. As an adult Gene called his house the “Artist’s House”. Shane and I took photos of the Artists House (photo #2) during a ghost tour. Gene was strange and after his marriage to Anne, Gene still talked to the doll. Gene would paint in the attic and Robert always sat in the attic with him, often placed to look out the only window. Many times, neighbors swore that the creepy doll moved its head and was looking at them. Gene eventually died, Anne moved away, and the house was rented to tenants. Anne was disgusted with the doll, and Robert remained in the attic. Renovation contractors and tenants who encountered the doll after Gene’s death reported strange happenings including the doll giggling, it’s head, body or legs changing positions, and moving across the room to a different location all on its own. On the second floor they heard movement and a child’s laughter as if someone was walking across the attic. In 1994, the doll was donated to the Fort Museum where it remains today.
During the museum tour we took photos of the scary doll which was enclosed in a glass case. A sign warned patrons not to shake the glass or say something negative to the doll. The doll’s face has deteriorated after 120 years so that it looks somewhat like a burn victim (Photo#4) The display next to the doll had dozens of letters from patrons from across the USA saying that when they visited the museum, they did say something negative or mocked the doll and felt that they were cursed as calamities of some sort happened to all of these people. Although I do not believe in curses, the doll and the display are very eerie looking. The museum also has great historical, war and other displays. Shane stands beside (Photo#5) an old horse-drawn hearse display.