Haunted house attractions are entertaining on Halloween, but have you ever considered stepping foot inside a home haunted by real ghosts, spirits and otherworldly apparitions? We’re not talking about your kind of weird neighbor Dirk, who wears a burn mask, striped sweater and fedora once a year to scare the kiddos with a plastic knife covered in ketchup. We mean business! We’re talking about actual houses (and other buildings that were originally built as homes or small inns) that are reportedly legitimately haunted.
OK, you caught us. We didn’t physically go to any of these places because we’re big giant fraidy cats. Instead, we did a little digging and found a bunch people who reported paranormal happenings in residences across the nation. You may even recognize some! Take for example the uber spooky Amityville House, which inspired “The Amityville Horror” book and films. Rumor has it that in 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in this house. A year later when George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved in, they experienced hellish supernatural activity and — well, you know how the rest goes.
Scared yet? Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there’s no denying that these accounts are terrifying and otherwise unexplainable. If the dead aren’t to blame, who is? You might want to reconsider your stance on who — or what — is causing such a fright at these 13 houses in America that might legitimately be haunted.
Matt Sulem and Taylor Rock contributed to this article.
Savannah, Georgia, is arguably the most haunted town in America, so it’s no surprise that its home to numerous spooky houses. The Foley House Inn stands on the very spot where a home was destroyed by the Great Savannah Fire of 1889 and a new one was built in 1896. Legend has it, one night a suspicious boarder attempted to strangle Ms. Foley. Unable to scream, she beat the attacked over the head with a candlestick and inadvertently killed him. In exchange for free rent, a guest disposed of the body. Years later, Foley confessed to the murder on her deathbed, but never revealed the location of the body, and most people dismissed the claim. During a renovation in 1989, human skeletal remains were discovered in the walls, and ever since, guests have reported seeing a man wearing a top hat in the garden at night, hearing strange noises, and feeling sudden rushes of air.
Established in 1810, this bed and breakfast is steeped in Civil War history. When it housed Confederate soldiers during a three-day battle, one of them accidentally shot Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade, a 20-year-old civilian, whose spirit is now said to haunt the place. Take advantage of ghost stories in the cellar, ghost walks in the cemetery, and even a ghost hunt with professional equipment in order to see if the stories are true. The inn also offers an outdoor beer garden for guests — probably to help them forget their fears and get some sleep at night.
V.O.Hammon Publishing CO. /Wikimedia Commons
Hull House was made famous by Jane Addams, who opened it as a settlement house for European immigrants arriving to the U.S. With many ghosts said to haunt the house (including that of Charles Hull’s wife and the numerous people who died there at various times), the most fantastical legend told is of a baby thought to be born with the devil in him after the father said he would rather have Satan in his house than a picture of the Virgin Mary. The baby's mother dropped him at Hull House where Addams tried to baptize him before locking him in the attic. Addams herself spoke of one of the front bedrooms being haunted, saying she and a friend once saw a “woman in white” ghost there, which was later seen by a group of girls using the room as a dressing room for the adjacent theater.
Jared Coffin House/Yelp
With a name like “Coffin House,” we’d be disappointed if this place wasn’t haunted. Originally built in 1845 by Jared Coffin (one of the most successful ship owners during the island’s prime whaling days) as a home for his family, this building — now an inn — is said to be haunted by the ghost of Coffin himself. He is rumored to appear in room 223, and guests of room 609 have also claimed to see an apparition of a little girl. Other ghosts are also believed to roam the halls and rooms of this historic property, including that of an old man who sometimes sits near fireplaces when a fire is roaring. But hey, at least the hotel has a great restaurant in Nantucket Prime. You may leave scared, but you won’t leave hungry.
“Lizzie Borden took an axe / And gave her mother forty whacks / And when she saw what she had done / She gave her father forty-one.” You probably know the story, but did you know you can actually stay in Lizzie’s former house, and sleep in the room where her parents were murdered? (Don’t worry, the sheets were washed.) The B&B can be rented by the room, by the floor, or even the entire house. Oh, and by the way, there have been numerous reports of apparition sightings, cold spots, and even screams, cries, and the sound of Lizzie laughing — so sleep tight.
The story of the “Blue Lady” precedes even the Story Inn's current owner. Accounts of seeing the ghost in the former Garden Room (now the Blue Room) have been written in guest books for years, noting that if the room's blue light is turned on, a woman (thought to be Dr. George Story's wife) will appear with hypnotic blue eyes. If you smell cherry tobacco, she's already come and gone. The Inn is now a bed and breakfast, so don’t just take our word for it — go see for yourself.
After the former owner of Stranahan House, Frank Stranahan, drowned himself in the river outside of his home during the Great Depression, people have claimed to see his ghost wandering around the property. Years later, the sister of Frank’s widow also passed away in the house due to bleeding from prematurely giving birth to a stillborn baby. In all, six entities are said to haunt the house. Now open for public tours, this home gives unique insight into the history and culture of the early 1900s, as well as the chance to spot one of the ghosts, which are often seen moving about, randomly changing temperatures of the rooms, and rearranging objects and furniture.
Ever see "The Amityville Horror"? If so, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that the film’s story was based on a real haunted house in Long Island, New York. (Well, actually it’s based on a book by the same name — but that is based the actual house.) On Nov. 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in their Ocean Avenue home. A year later, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into the house and claimed to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena the entire time they lived there. These incidents involved a priest hearing “get out!” when he arrived to bless the house (he later allegedly experienced a fever and stigmata on his hands), the house was constantly plagued with flies even though it was wintertime, a mysterious red room was discovered behind shelving in the basement, cold spots and odors appeared where no wind drafts or piping existed, green slime oozed from the walls, a crucifix revolved on the wall until it turned upside-down, there were numerous sightings of demonic pigs and other figures, George saw Kathy suddenly transform into an old woman of 90, and all sorts of door slams, banging noises, windows opening and closing, and mysterious music from unknown sources. The Lutz Family lasted 28 days before moving out.
Paul Sableman/Wikimedia Commons
After the untimely death of his son, Frederick, due to heart failure in 1901, and the passing of his best friend (also named Frederick, and the owner of the Pabst Brewing Company) in 1904, the namesake of William J. Lemp Brewing Co. shot himself to death in his home on Feb. 13, 1904. In the next few decades, three of his children would die in the same way. Daughter Elsa killed herself in her own home in 1920, and William J. Lemp, Jr. (in 1922) and Charles Lemp (in 1949) both did so inside the house. According to local legend, the mansion is still haunted to this day and was even featured in a Life magazine list of America’s most haunted houses way back in 1980. One spirit, nicknamed “the monkey-faced boy,” is said to be the ghost of William’s illegitimate son, Zeke, who was born with Down syndrome and hidden away in the attic. Today, the house is a restaurant, mystery dinner theater, bar, inn, gift shop, and museum.
This antebellum plantation was established around 1796, apparently built on an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground (always a good start). Since then, numerous mysterious illnesses, poisonings, and murders have reportedly occurred at the house — including that of William Drew Winter, an attorney who lived at the house from 1865 to 1871. He was shot by a stranger, staggered into the house, and died trying to climb the stairs. Visitors and employees say they still often hear his dying footsteps. Another of its most famous legend concerns “Chloe,” purportedly a slave girl from the early nineteenth century, whose image was “captured” in a photograph in 1992. Additionally, guests have woken up completely tucked into their beds, furniture has moved on its own, a grand piano has played by itself, and handprints have inexplicably appeared in various places.
On the evening of June 9, 1912, six members of the Moore family and two houseguests were brutally bludgeoned to death with an axe in the Moore residence in southwestern Iowa. A lengthy investigation yielded numerous suspects, but no one was ever convicted of the crimes. Since there was no closure, the ghosts of the eight victims still reportedly haunt the grounds. Don’t believe it? Visit the house yourself and see. As the website states, “for history buffs, the faint-of-heart, schools, or clubs, the Villisca Axe Murder House is open for daytime tours.” However, to truly experience it, guests are invited to bring their sleeping bags and pillows and spend the night inside.
Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock.com
Not long before Thomas Whaley built his dream home in San Diego, the property was the sight of a gallows, where many of the ghosts that haunt the house today were hanged. Today, Whaley House visitors claim to hear heavy boot steps in the attic and say they’ve seen ghosts of “Yankee Jim” Robinson (who was hung on the property in 1852) and the Whaley family and their dog wandering the home. Even television personality Regis Philbin claims to have seen the spirit of Anna Whaley.
Once the residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, this Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion was plagued with spirits from the very beginning. As soon as construction commenced in 1884, the property and mansion were claimed by many (including Sarah Winchester herself) to be haunted by the ghosts of her deceased family (both her husband and daughter experienced untimely deaths due to tuberculosis) and those killed with Winchester rifles. Legend has it, a spirit medium advised Winchester, a Connecticut native, to move west and continuously build a house to appease the angry spirits — directions she followed. The result was a seven-story mansion that workers labored over day and night, haphazardly adding expansions wherever she pleased. There are now 160 rooms (including 40 bedrooms), two ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, more than 10,000 panes of glass, two basements, and three elevators. It is currently open for tours, with tickets starting at $26 per person. Scared yet? We triple dog dare you to step foot inside the most haunted house in your state.
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