Phantom History House celebrates 1st Halloween

(Photo by Dylan Todd)

Phantom History House — Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ+-owned and -operated bed and breakfast where guests can rest in peace… and quiet — is offering an unparalleled Halloween experience this year. Hosts Steve Blanchard and Tim Hinton have made sure of it.

Located in Westchase, the paranormal-themed, two-story home allows guests to book overnight experiences and enjoy events throughout the spooky season.

This year is particularly special because it also marks more than the B&B’s first Halloween; the haunted holiday will also be its owners’ first as husbands.

The two wed in August, just months after opening their home to those seeking a unique experience. It’s also when they began finalizing Halloween 2023’s décor, mixing concrete to build tombstones for their property, hanging an extensive array of lights and more.

“It’s exciting,” Blanchard says of entering the spooky season. “This is something we’ve envisioned since we came up with the idea for the house. It also makes me a little bit nervous because we want people to love what we’ve built.”

“We’ve been planning for a year, honestly” Hinton adds. “It’s taken us months to do the decorating because of our lights, making the tombstones and buying the giant figures.”

Phantom History House has four 12-foot residents on property, a Halloween trend they embraced early, if not helped set. Two are traditional skeletons while two others have pumpkin heads with other ghoulish features.

Décor skews less toward a haunted house and more toward eerie elegance once inside. Phantom History House offers four bedrooms, available individually or collectively with their own rates, private restrooms and themes.

The first is the Ouija Room, which “pays homage to the spirit board of choice for many who want to contact those who reside on ‘the other side.’” The Cemetery Room has a graveyard mural and “offers a respite fit for the dead.”

The Portrait Room lets guests sleep “under the watchful eyes of numerous people — some living, some who have passed,” framed photos the couple obtained at various antique shops and other means. Those who want to “feel like you’re within a castle’s bedchamber and enjoy your stay as the King or Queen you are” might prefer the Castle Room.

The B&B also has four meeting spaces. Its dining room seats up to 10 people “in an elegant bright space surrounded by gold-framed mirrors” and its Victorian Library features “a large collection of books on every subject and oddities strategically placed throughout.”

The Potion Room “provides an eerie yet elegant gathering space” and the outdoor lanai allows guests “to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather with a view of a nature preserve and serene pond.” These and other spaces serve as the backdrop for Halloween 2023.

Special events began in late September and continue through the end of the month. Each are open to the public but overnight guests receive special discounts and pricing.

“There’s just something about Halloween,” the B&B’s website reads. “The air is crisper, the days are shorter and the nights are filled with spooky stories, folklore and fun. It’s a holiday tailor-made to the theme and vibe of Phantom History House and we’re looking forward to celebrating with you all season long!”

Festivities include Phantom History House’s inaugural Halloween Masquerade Party Oct. 14, billed as their “high-end event of the season.” Masked attendees will enjoy music from guitarist John Demas “and soak up our spooky, festive ambiance as you partake of foods and desserts, wine and soft drinks.”

Ghost tours will be held in the neighboring Oldsmar Oct. 13, 20, 26 and 28. Blanchard will be joined by co-host Ginger Tatarzewski for a historic and haunted tour of the city.

“Oldsmar’s oldest buildings are said to have spectral visitors late at night and residents of the 100+-year-old city have shared their stories of entities and paranormal activity in their homes, which are relayed to guests on this tour,” the 75-minute venture is described. “Put on your comfortable walking shoes, see the haunted sites and hear the haunted tales of Oldsmar during this evening walking tour, which covers just over a mile.”

Blanchard will also be leading VIP tours during Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Oct. 15 and 22. He’s done so for six years and can be requested for those who wish to attend.

At his own home, however, he’ll guide people through ghost stories by the fire Oct. 12, 19 and 27. Participants can expect “tales of local and distant sites where the veil between the human world and the underworld seems to thin.”

The Tampa Bay Sanderson Sisters will also make an appearance Oct. 21. Fan favorite drag entertainers Daphne Ferraro, Chi Chi Lalique and Kathryn Nevets, who have been performing as the witchy “Hocus Pocus” trio for more than a decade, will return to the Phantom History House for a special party. Guests will experience musical numbers, take photographs and “enjoy food, wine, music and ‘just desserts.’”

Additional offerings include a séance on Oct. 28 and a pumpkin carving before then on Oct. 25. Phantom History House promises to “provide the pumpkin, carving tools and handle the messy clean up while you find inspiration in [their] unique setting … to create a memorable Halloween decoration staple.”

Creating a memorable experience is the Phantom History House’s ultimate goal, of course. Halloween is just the perfect extension of that, particularly for those who are LGBTQ+.

“There are many reasons why Halloween resonates with our community,” Blanchard says. “We can dress up, have fun, go to a party and put on a mask to be something we’re not for a day, whereas the rest of the year we’re constantly judged. We’re free to be who we are.”

“I also think Halloween is really healthy, because it’s a time when the whole world gets to laugh at things we’re scared of,” Hinton adds. “Anything goes on Halloween, there are no rules.”

Phantom History House is located at 12603 Corral Rd. in Tampa, Florida. For more information about celebrating Halloween and beyond with or without a stay, call 727-656-0478 and visit

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