Fort East Martello Museum
3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd
Key West, FL 33040
Tel: 305-296-3913

By  Mike Miller  Updated June 8, 2024

Robert the Doll "lives" in the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West.  The museum is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is within a Civil War fort built in the 1860s.

Robert The DollRobert The Doll

The museum includes collections from the Civil War, exhibits about the wrecking and cigar making activities in Key West, and many imaginative metal sculptures by Stanley Papio.

There are many other interesting things in the museum, but the most fascinating of all may well be Robert the Doll.

Robert is a handmade doll in a sailor suit created sometime around the turn of the twentieth century. 

He was originally brightly painted, but the paint has faded over the more than 100 years of his "life."

Fort East Martello MuseumFort East Martello Museum

Robert was the boyhood companion of Robert Gene Otto, known as Gene, who lived with his family in Key West. Some people say the doll was given to the boy by his Jamaican nurse.  

Gene bestowed his first name of Robert on his beloved doll.  Gene and Robert were always together and people could hear them having conversations in two different voices.

Gene grew up to be a well known artist and designed the gallery at Fort East Martello Museum.  His Key West home was known as the Artist House and is now a bed and breakfast.

Painting by Robert Gene OttoPainting by Robert Gene Otto

Gene died in 1974 and over the years many people reported seeing strange things happen in his home. 

They would hear footsteps in the attic, giggling coming from an unknown source, and Robert would sometimes seem to move from one place to another without anyone seeing him do it.

Other people were positive they could observe changes in Robert's expression depending what was being said in his presence.

Robert The Doll Closeup With Fan MailRobert The Doll Closeup With Fan Mail

Robert was finally donated to the museum in 1994.  The museum staff swore they noticed a shift in energy in the old fort soon after Robert moved in.

People would report their cameras wouldn't work, smart phones went haywire, and other devices malfunctioned.

Robert gets a lot of fan mail and is visited by psychics, ghost hunters, mediums, and the curious public like you and me. 

He even gets letters from people asking his forgiveness in case they have offended him in some way during their visit to the museum. 

We believe you should visit Robert, but be sure to treat him with respect.

Learn more about Robert The Doll and how and when to visit him at the Fort East Martello Museum website.


Here are some comments people have made after visiting Robert the Doll in Key West, Florida:

"That was one of the creepiest things I've ever seen in my life."

"I swear that doll's eyes followed me the whole time I was in the room."

"I'm not superstitious, but I wouldn't want to cross that doll."

"I got chills just standing next to it."

"I had nightmares after seeing that thing."

"I can't believe people keep sending letters and gifts to this doll."

"It's like there's something evil emanating from it."

"I don't know why anyone would want to own a cursed doll."

"I had to leave the room after a few minutes, it was just too much."

"I'm never going near a haunted object again."

There are many other haunted places in Florida.


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