In 1868 the Dominican sisters of St. Catherine of Siena started treating the leprosy inflicted population of Trinidad. In 1920 the government chose to build a hospital, refectory, a bakery, kitchens, storerooms and patients’ cottages on Chacachacare and the were forcibly transferred there from the mainland. There was no running water or electricity and the patients cared for themselves with the help of the sisters who helped to administer painful Intravenous injections.
In 1926, on a hill overlooking Marine Bay, on the south side of the main bay, a new convent and chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary was built for the sisters. In a small cemetery adjacent to the convent ten sisters were buried, many of them within a short time of arriving at Chacachacare. In 1942, 1,000 US Marines were stationed on Chacachacare and built a cable-tram from the jetty to the convent to enable the nuns to transport supplies more easily.
For some unknown reason the Sisters of Mercy left in 1955 and on July 24, 1984 the leper colony itself closed and the remaining patients returned to Trinidad. During the time it had been opened over 2,000 patients had lived and died there.
In the 1990s the Trinidadian Coast Guard started using the old buildings as living quarters and established administrative offices and a security post. Within 6 months it was abandoned due to its reputation as being haunted. The coast guard soldiers felt as though they were held down in their sleep and being pushed up the stairs by an unseen hand.
One of the ghosts is believed to be Sister Mary Luigi, who committed suicide and was buried at the nun’s cemetery. She is reported to be dressed in white wearing lipstick and roams the nun’s cemetery. Boatmen also talk of other “spirits” roaming the area around the patients’ cemetery and another apparition is that of a man wearing a watch who has been seen in the doctor’s house.
If you would like to read a much more detailed history of Chacachacare, the nunnery, and the sisters who served there then you should check out a related article at MiamiGhostChronicles.com