From cities and hotels to woods and abandoned homesteads, there are countless stories of haunted places throughout the United States.
I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts
If you’ve ever tackled a home renovation project, you’ve probably come across a few questionable things in the walls, floors, or yard. You may have even wondered if you’re potentially unearthing some spooky secrets. Many haunted homes have a sad saga attached to them, and you can learn about some of the best below.
Famous Haunted Places
No matter what, some people hold tight to superstition and belief in the paranormal. It’s why many hotels omit the 13th floor altogether, and simply skip from floor 12 to floor 14. The homes highlighted here provided backdrops for happy families as well as untimely deaths, and their stories are perpetuated by fans of the supernatural.
Whaley House in San Diego, California
In 1852 James Robinson was hanged in San Diego for theft. Years later, the Whaley House was built where Robinson died. His footsteps can be heard treading through the house, and his likeness has reportedly been spotted since 1857. The Whaleys themselves are alleged to be seen in the home, along with their family dog. Due to unexplained cigar smoke and the presence of perfume in the Whaley House, the U.S. Commerce Department officially classified the Whaley House as a historical, haunted structure sometime in the 1960s.
The Molly Brown House in Denver, Colorado
Not necessarily haunted, the Molly Brown House is iconic simply because people are drawn to the history of the homeowner herself. Known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” for surviving the Titanic tragedy, Margaret “Molly” Brown lived in this 1889 home after purchasing it with her husband in 1894.
Known in Denver for her philanthropy, she also got involved in Red Cross relief efforts during World War I. After Brown’s death in 1932, her home fell into disrepair until Historic Denver purchased the home and restored it to its original Queen Anne elegance. Those who now work in the Molly Brown Museum claim to have seen Molly, her husband, and other apparitions in the home. There is also the faint smell of cigar smoke, and reports of furniture being rearranged in the dining room.
The Sallie House in Atchison, Kansas
Usually, when a child claims to have an imaginary friend it’s a harmless phase. Unfortunately, that was not the case in the Sallie House. In the 1990s, renters Debra and Tony Pickman lived in the home with their daughter, Heather. She called Sallie her friend, but the family experienced scratches, marks, and burns on their bodies while they lived in the house. It’s believed that Sallie is a demon who takes the form of a girl to carry out her hauntings, which also take the form of flickering lights, unexplained voices, and making appearances.
Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa
It’s believed that in 1912, an ax-murderer slaughtered eight people in their beds in the small town of Villisca. The perpetrator was never caught, and the house was eventually listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places in the 1990s. Tourists in the home report feeling the presence of the ghosts who still await justice for their deaths.
Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, Maine
This mansion once served as an elegant Bed and Breakfast near the coast. It was formally owned by Captain Nathaniel Lord, and four generations of his family lived here until 1972. Guests of the B&B say they saw the spirit of Mrs. Lord in the home, likely visiting as a friendly ghost who longed for the days of raising her family in the residence. Some believe she also visits because her room has been renamed. Ironically, it was named Wisteria, which means “remembrance of the dead.” Mrs. Lord is often seen in her dressing robe, drifting through the staircase, her former bedroom, and the walls.
Guests have shared that lights flicker in the home when they visit, the jacuzzi in their bathroom turns on by itself, and even the fireplace lights up inexplicably.
Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts
In 1892, Lizzie Borden presumably murdered her parents in their home. Although she was eventually acquitted, there’s little doubt she did the deed. Now, her ghost is believed to haunt the house, which is a combination museum/Bed & Breakfast. If you listen closely, you might hear the sounds of the maid who found the murdered Bordens, the laughing Lizzie at the top of the stairs.
The Captain Bailey House in Brownville, Nebraska
Although Captain Bailey endured hardship in his life (Civil War, death of his first wife and an infant child), he recovered enough to remarry and continue raising a family with his second wife. When his family lived on Main Street in Brownville, they encountered a jealous neighbor who allegedly poisoned the Captain and his wife in the 1880s.
As can be the case with many restored homes, it’s believed that resting spirits are disturbed during renovations. Staff, neighbors, and visitors of the Bailey House have heard doors opening and closing throughout the house, as well as piano music when the house is empty. Lights have been known to flicker inside, and the Captain himself has been seen wandering the house like he still owns the place.
The Death House in NYC
Also known as “The House of Death,” it’s reported that anywhere between 22 and 44 people have died within its walls since being built in the 1800s. Located in Greenwich Village, it is also alleged that Mark Twain/ Samuel Clemens spent time in the brownstone and occasionally returns to visits over 100 years later.
Writer Jan Bartell moved into one of the apartments of the Death House in 1957. She lived on the top floor of the brownstone with her husband, and when the inexplicable hauntings of the home became too much, she recruited ghost hunter Hans Holzer to investigate.
Holzer is known for his investigation of the Amityville Horror House and is an author of dozen of books on the paranormal. However, he was unable to uncover the truth about the strange apparitions, unexplained footsteps, and mysterious odors in the apartment. Jan wrote a book about her time in the Death House, but she’s not the only one who suffered in the building.
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
George Washington Vanderbilt II built Biltmore in the 1800s. In the decades since, the home has been opened to the public and visitors often claim to hear Edith, Vanderbilt’s late wife, calling him by name. Apparitions have been spotted in the house, and secret passageways uncovered.
It’s possible the notariety of the Vanderbilt family, titans of the railroad industry, adds to the interest in their estate and a desire to let their ghosts live on at the property. Visitors to the Biltmore Estate claim to feel paranormal pushes, encounter strange smells, and walk through pockets of inexplicably cold air.
Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio
Built in the 1800s, the Franklin Castle is home to many mysterious deaths. The entire Tiedemann family, with the exception of patriarch Hannes Tiedemann, died while in residence of the home they built. Bones have been discovered in the walls of the house, which is now a private residence.
McCune Mansion in Salt Lake City, Utah
This mansion now serves as an event venue and is known to welcome both invited guests and supernatural party-crashers. In 1900, Alfred McCune and his wife Elizabeth decided to use part of their railroad fortune to build their home on a hillside in downtown Salt Lake City. The family lived in the home until 1920 when they moved to California and donated the home to their church.
From 1920 to 1953, the McCune mansion served as a School of Music, at which point it became a Salt Lake City extension of Brigham Young University. The mansion also served as a dance school before transforming into a wedding and reception venue.
Through its many uses, the mansion has manifested a number of paranormal activities. Music has been heard throughout the home when no one else is there, and doors have been known to be locked and unlocked randomly. Mr. McCune’s spirit is believed to be visiting the home while dressed in black, as is the spirit of a young girl. Small footprints have been seen on the floors, and an apparition sometimes appears in the photos of events hosted at the mansion.
The next time you consider buying or renovating an old home, maybe stick to something a bit newer on the real estate market. These stories show that even with the best of intentions, historical homes sometimes offer more than you bargained for.