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Key West
Open today: 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Review Highlights
Well maintained fort with interesting history - and Robert the doll

While not very well located (only reachable by car), this fort is worth a visit. Well preserved... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Richmond, Virginia
Kinda Spooky attraction

If you like the Keys and spooky stuff this is a short fun attraction. The Fort has some cool... read more

Reviewed 4 weeks ago
via mobile
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All reviews haunted doll ghost tour civil war key west history gift shop self guided tour on display local history great history neat place taking pictures robert exhibits tower spooky papio dollhouse
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Reviewed June 10, 2009

We went primarily to see "Robert the Doll". My daughters ages 12 and 15 really wanted to check out "Robert the Haunted Doll" after hearing lots about him. The Fort itself just felt creepy the moment we entered. It is run down and old. The exhibits and art are great - lots and lots of history. Robert (the doll) is eerie. Overall, if you like history - GO. If you like haunted places - GO. I took a few pictures and orbs are visible in the pictures.
Worth the admission price!

25  Thank TravelChic214
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2009

this was by far the most interesting place in Key West. On our last day, we got to the airport too early, so we checked our bags and decided to sit in the sun and look at the ocean one last time. We looked over the edge of the parking lot and saw this weird, creepy building. We walked down and decided to take the tour. Wow. It was so interesting. I won't give anything away, but you gotta see this for yourself.

5  Thank JenandDennis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2007

After reading all the hype about Robert the doll I had to visit the East Martello Museum in Key West this past week during my most recent vacation. Although my pictures seemed to come out fine, maybe Robert like me (?), there was still an eerie feeling while walking through the museum. It may sound strange but several times I found myself looking back as if someone was 'watching' me. There were others in the museum but that didn't distract from the fact of that feeling. Also, my daughter, when looking at the photos, sensed something strange in the pictures themselves, but can't really tell if it simply might have been the flash going office. In any event, I would recommend that you take the short time to visit this museum, for $6 admission, $5 with AAA it was well worth the bike ride from Angelina Street (only 20 min)

I would be curious to visit and see Robert again in October, when I see another trip advisor says he is moved.....

20  Thank SarainCT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2006

While staying in Key West with some friends who are in the Navy and based on the key, it was recommended that our family of three go check it out. The lady at the Naval Base said it's one of Key West's hidden gem-type attractions. While I wouldn't go as far as to say it was the coolest thing I saw for 7 days, I would say it was WELL worth the trip. The East Martello Fort is a 2-iron shot away from the Key West Int'l Airport, yet so many people, both locals and tourists alike, seem to pass by every day without realizing it.

Designed after the nearly impregnable coastal Martello watchtowers in Italy, the Fort East Martello was never completed and never saw hostile action. Its outer bulwark and inner citadel with eight-foot thick granite walls built during the Civil War era (1861 to be exact) were a monument to military engineering and could have withstood any amount of bombardment at the time. But the development of explosive shells made these defenses passé.

Today its casemates, citadel and courtyard are home to a vast collection of Key West and Key's artifacts and historical records as well a military memorabilia. The view from atop the central tower affords visitors a spectacular panorama of the Atlantic coast of Key West. In the garden an 80-year-old playhouse provides children with insight into how kids lived and played in old Key West. Inside the galleries are the state's largest collections of painted wood carvings and drawings by Mario Sanchez and the scrap metal "junk" sculpture of Stanley Papio, both of whom are internationally renowned folk artists from the Keys.

It is the best-preserved example of the Martello style of military architecture in the country, and was the last military Fort in the WORLD to use the Martello-style architecture.

The biggest selling point at the Fort though, may be the creepiest thing you'll see while in Key West. Robert the Doll, who's been featured on The Travel Channel among other TV programs, "lives" in a glass display at this Museum. In the early 1900's, a rich man by the name of Dr. Otto lived in Key West, and took several 'servants' (i.e. slaves) from the Bahamas. In what many speculate was actually an act of revenge, a Bahamian servant gave his son, Robert Eugene Otto a doll made of a wire frame, cloth, straw, and most likely, a soulstone. This type of enchantment in some voodoo practices involves a small crystal being placed into an object, thus imbuing it with power by taking a soul of its own. At the time the doll was given to the boy, his sister had recently died, and he was very impressionable.

Eugene immeadiately took to Robert, and gave him his first name and demanded that he be called Eugene from that day forth. Throughout his childhood, whenever something bad would happen or something would be blamed on Eugene, he would say, "I didn't do it. I don't know anything about it. It must have been Robert." ...some question whether this may have happened.

Today, Robert lives quite comfortably, though well guarded, in the Martello Museum. Visitors are welcome to see him, though taking pictures has proven to be difficult. Cameras tend to stop working when pointed at the doll, only to resume normal function outside the museum walls.

Best Times to Visit Robert:
Though Robert is available to take visitors year-round, the best time to introduce yourself, a practice recommended and followed by the museum staff, is during the month of October. During that one month, Robert is taken from the Martello Museum and housed in the Historic Custom House a few blocks down. It is during this time of year that he is said to be most active, and the employees always leave a bag of peppermints in his case with him in an attempt to cajole him into behaving. They swear there are always fewer candies the next morning.

He is still dressed in his white sailor's suit and clutching his stuffed lion, has also reportedly pulled pranks aplenty on those who care for him. A museum employee once cleaned Robert and left for the evening, locking the doors behind him and shutting off the lights. When he arrived the next day, several lights, including the one near Robert's case, were on. Also, Robert was placed differently than when the employee last saw him. Stranger still, the bottoms of Robert's shoes were coated in fresh dust as though he'd been walking around the museum. More than once, employees have reported hearing a sound like someone tapping on glass as they pass Robert's case. When they turn to look, they have seen Robert's hand pressed against the glass.

Just a side note, I'm getting chills as I finish typing this entry at 4:30am EST, but it's pertinent for me to conclude by saying I don't recall actually seeing him move, or his facial expressions change... however, the light fixture above him flickered when my family stood near his display, and stopped flickering after we walked away. On the wall behind him is a wall full of pinned-up letters from previous visitors offering written apologies to Robert for "offending" him during their visit - it is said many people experience from coincidentally inopportune to horrible events shortly after visiting Robert and traking his picture without his "permission." I'll let you all decide for yourself, but make sure you check out the view around you from the Fort roof while you are there, it's pretty cool. Just a few $ will get you in, $2 for students (young and old) or FREE for kiddies 6 and under.

31  Thank CincyScorpio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 9, 2019 via mobile
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Date of experience: May 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KWAHS, Guest Relations Manager at Fort East Martello Museum, responded to this reviewResponded May 14, 2019
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