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With Halloween right around the corner, what better time to tell the tale of our stay at the (possibly) haunted Artist House in Key West.

Key West, Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Robert the doll

Let’s first start the story by rewinding back a few years (before I met Ryan) where a girlfriend and I were enjoying a long weekend in Key West. On this girls trip (one of many) we decided to do a walking haunted tour through Old Town. If you’ve never done one, I highly recommend it. It’s an entertaining and spooky way to get a history lesson of the island.

There were ten ghoulish stops on this tour, but the one that stuck with me and frightened me the most (I couldn’t sleep that night because of it) was the Artist House.

Why was this house so terrifying to me? Only because the most demonic doll of all time happened to live there (he now resides at the East Martello Museum). I never heard of Robert the doll until this tour. Have you? If not, I’m about to tell you the eerie legend.

Robert the doll, Key West

The Haunted History of the Artist House

The story goes, that in 1904 the doll was given to a four year old child who lived in the house, Robert Eugene Otto. He received the handmade doll from a servant girl that was of Bahamian decent. Legend has it, the Otto’s did not treat their servants well, so as an act of revenge, the servant girl cursed the doll with black magic before she gave it as a “gift” to little Robert.

Robert Eugene Otto became so obsessed (or maybe even possessed) with his new friend that he named the doll after himself and started going by his middle name, Eugene (Gene). Eugene dressed Robert in a sailor suite that he once wore and took the doll with him everywhere. He even made a special room for the doll in the attic.

If that wasn’t strange enough, his parents would hear Eugene up stairs talking to Robert, and they would hear two distinct voices. One was Eugene’s childlike voice and the other was a croaky, much lower voice.

With Robert the doll in the home, more mischief began to happen. House hold items were being found as if they were thrown across the room and Eugene’s toys were breaking more frequently. When his parents would scold him for what was done, Eugene would say “Robert did it!” If this scenario sounds familiar, it should, since Robert the doll is the inspiration behind the horror movie classic, Chucky.

There have been reports that Robert the doll can move on his own and change his facial expressions. If you are brave enough to visit him (we aren’t) at the East Martello Museum in Key West, make sure you ask Robert for permission to take his picture.

Guests from the museum have reported stories of bad things happening to them when they were disrespectful to the doll.  The only way his curse can be broken is if you write him an apology letter. Many are on display along with him at the museum.

Though Robert no longer lives at the Artist House, there have been rumors of the supernatural kind. Former resident, Anne Otto (Robert Eugene’s wife) is known to still haunt the bed and breakfast as she walks up and down the staircase in her wedding dress.

If you’d like to read more about the strange happenings of Robert the Doll, click here.

Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Key West

Robert and Ann Otto

Now fast forward to Ryan and I’s trip.

Our Artist House Experience

It was the first weekend of November, right after all the Fantasy Fest body paint had been washed off for another year, we decided to take a trip down to mile marker zero on the Key West Express.

Since our travel dates were so close to the recent festivities, we were having a difficult time finding a room.

I will never forget coming home from work one evening and Ryan saying “The only availability I can find is at this bed and breakfast – THE ARTIST HOUSE” (insert suspenseful music here).

WHAAAT?! I exclaimed. “Do you know the history of that house?!” Ryan was clueless and with a blank look mixed with a tad bit of confusion due to my excitement, he let out a simple “no”.  As I told him the story of Robert the doll and the possible hauntings, he was still not that impressed. I learned the supernatural world does not intrigue my better half as it does me.

So we booked a room and here’s what we discovered.

The Artist House is a historic Colonial Queen Ann style home built in the 1890s. You will soon feel as though you’ve traveled back in time when your foot crosses over the threshold.

Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Key West

artist house, Key West, Bed and Breakfast

Our room, The Garden Room was once the library. It was cozy and full of character. Carlos (who I believe was the manager), was gracious enough to give us a tour of the other rooms and even the door to the attic where Robert once lived.

The Artist House, Key West, Bed and Breakfast

Artist House, Key West, Bed and Breakfast

Key West, Bed and Breakfast, Artist House

During our stay, we never saw another guest until it was time for breakfast. It was like they came out of nowhere, almost like lost spirits who only appear when mimosas are present (my kind of ghosts).

Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Key West

Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Key West

Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Key West

Robert the doll, Key West, Bed and Breakfast

Artist House, Bed and Breakfast, Key West

Key West, Artist House, Robert the doll, Bed and breakfast


I have to say, our stay at the Artist House was not as scary as I anticipated it to be. We didn’t experience any supernatural sightings. It’s a charming and delightful little bed and breakfast that I’d love to visit again.

If you’re looking for accommodations in Key West, give the Artist House a try. You can book a stay at the Artist House here and it will save you a little money. Let us know if you experience any paranormal activity during your stay.

Never Stop Exploring

Castaway Crystal


P.S. – Leaving soon? These recommended links below will help you save money and book your trip:

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About the Author: Castaway Crystal

I'm a beach bunny hopping from island to island with camera in hand. I love experiencing all the Caribbean has to offer and sharing it with you! Conch fritter connoisseur, animal and nature lover, and RumShopRyan’s salty first mate. To learn more, visit our About Us Page.