In 1852, the Armed Occupation Act proposed a deal: families were encouraged to go to Florida, build a dwelling and farm on the land, then after 5 years the government would officially sign the land over to you. As seen on an 1847 land survey, the land that the May-Stringer House stands on was given to Richard C. Wiggins as part of the Armed Occupation Act after he fulfilled these conditions, but he did not stay. By 1852 he sold the land to John L. May and his family. May built the original four rooms of the house that currently stands on May Avenue. John May, however, did not get to live in his home long, passing away a mere 3 years after it was built. Following his death May’s widow, Marena, remarried. Her now husband was Frank E. Saxon, recently returned from the Civil War. Saxon was a man of the town, he had been Postmaster General, was involved in various positions in local politics, and had served in the Civil War.
While living in the house Frank Saxon and Marena May had a child, Jessie. Sadly, Marena passed away in childbirth. Even more tragically, Jessie passed away when she was only 3 years old. Unfortunately, the records that would have contained her cause of death have been lost over the years, but Jessie is still said to be present in the house as a ghost. Often, when paranormal investigators, such as the Brooksville Paranormal Investigation Team investigate, they focus on Jessie’s room. Frank Saxon, over the course of the next few years remarried and built a home for his new wife, Tallulah Hope. Hope had told Saxon there was too much tragedy in the May house for her to remain there. It is probably around this time that the home was sold to Dr. Sheldon Stringer.
Dr. Stringer added 10 rooms onto the original 4 rooms for a grand total of 14. During his time as owner of the house Dr. Stringer ran his medical practice out of the house, using pocket doors to be able to separate his office from the family areas of the house. The last Stringer to live in the house left around 1945. In this intervening period we do not really know what went occurred in the home. According to the docents at the May-Stringer House, the building was converted into apartments for a few years, then was abandoned and damaged by the homeless. At some point a couple, the Hensleys, purchased the home with the intent to tear down the house and turn it into a medical complex. The founder of the Hernando Historical Association, Virginia Jackson, felt that this would be a tragedy. So, Jackson pursued the Hensleys until they sold the property to the Historical Association in 1980. From there, it took many years for the local Brooksville community to restore the May- Stringer House. But, 17 years later the house was restored, open for tours, and was able to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Every item in the museum has come to the Historical Association through donation, most of which have come from the residents of Hernando County.
Today, the museum remains open for tours through most of the week, with special events on holidays, the most popular being Halloween, when the house is transformed into a haunted house. Additionally, the May Stringer House offers ghost tours regularly, which are booked for months in advance. For its normal daily tours, docents will take you through the house with some of the rooms set up similar to how they would have been in Dr. Stringer’s time. For example, one room is themed to be a medical office, another is a typical Victorian parlor. Other rooms are designed to fit a certain collection of items, such as the Brooksville history room or the telephone and communications room. The ghost tours take guests through the lore of the haunted history of the May Stringer Home and the items within. The museum also gets its fair share of televised investigations, the most recent being Kindred Spirits, who looked into the story of the ghost said to haunt the attic. Whether or not the ghosts are truly present, the May Stringer House contains a wide range of historical artifacts and knowledge.