Halloween & Creepy Things
By: - at June 21, 2013

15 Fascinating Stories of Haunted Houses

It seems that anywhere there is history there are haunted houses. Ghost stories both terrify and comfort people by giving them a hope of life beyond death. However, they also open you up to the possibility of the unknown and malevolent forces. Sometimes it's houses or places that seem to become haunted after an extremely violent or strange event. There are times where nothing in particular happens at all but those who claim to see spirits are drawn there. Many famous haunted houses are open to the public these days, and ghost tours are a popular pastime all year round. Below are 15 famous haunted houses from the United States and other locations around the world.

15)  Winchester House  (San Jose, California)

Winchester House

The subject of many different movies, stories, and myths, the Winchester House is one of the most famous haunted houses in the world. These days the Grand Estate is a tourist attraction that sports restaurants, tours, and a gift shop. At its core, the Winchester House is the result of agoraphobia, paranoia, and vast wealth. The Winchester family was famous far before Sarah Winchester embarked on the $20,000,000 project that was her house. She was the heiress to the Winchester Gun Fortune. Winchester's guns were renown for their ease of use and dependability; they were called "The Gun that Won the West."

According to the house’s website, the Winchester family was perfectly normal while Sarah's husband and daughter were alive. The problems began with the death of Sarah's infant daughter in 1866. Her depression worsened in 1881 when her husband passed of tuberculosis. Eventually Sarah consulted a spiritualist who told her that her family and her wealth were being haunted by the ghosts of the people that had been killed with Winchester weapons. She was told by this spiritualist that if she moved west and began building a house as tribute, these vengeful ghosts would be appeased. There was an added caveat that if Sarah never stopped construction on the home she would never die.

Haunted Winchester House

When Mrs. Winchester moved to the west, building began on what would be the most ambitious project of it's time. There are those who say that she had nightly seances to understand the desires of the spirits and guide construction. Many rooms were remodeled numerous times. Some were sealed off completely while others were changed numerous times. There are stairs to nowhere in the Winchester House and doors that open up into walls. In her quest to attract good spirits and avoid bad ones, Mrs. Winchester was a woman possessed. She is rumored to have slept in a different bed every night, up until her death in 1922.

14)  LaLaurie Mansion  (New Orleans, Louisiana)
TrueTV and the History Channel make it clear that the LaLaurie Mansion was nothing short of a torture house that was run by Delphine LaLaurie. The scariest part of the violent crimes is that no one would have noticed had it not been for a fire that raked the property in New Orleans in 1834. Respondents found bound slaves and evidence of torture and extreme mutilation of many different people.

Haunted  LaLaurie Mansion

The fire was started by one of LaLaurie's slaves who stated that she would rather burn to death than continue on as she had been. She was chained to the stove by the ankle. Most of the torture and killings happened in the upper room where inspectors found people suspended by the neck and dismembered. Though LaLaurie was married, it is suspected that most of the cruelty was at her hands and most of the first person accounts speak of her to be a horribly cruel person.

These days the LaLaurie Mansion is a speaking point on many New Orleans ghost tours. Costumed guides will speak about screams that can be heard from the house and connecting properties. The stories that they tell range from as factual as possible to something out of a snuff movie. Regardless of how the information is spun, the result is a chilling story of human cruelty.

13)  The Amityville House  (Amityville, New York)
It's almost impossible to have a haunted house list and not discuss Amityville. Countless stories, books, and movies have all revolved around one of the most famous haunted locations in the world. The sheer level of violence involved in the murders that took place over the evening of Nov. 13, 1974 have given rise to legends and conspiracy theories. The simple fact of the mater is that there is literally no explanation for what happened. There is no clear reason as to why six people ended up shot execution style in their own home. News reports stated that it was a bloody massacre.

The Haunted Amityville House

What we do know is that there was one surviving member of the DeFeo family from that house, Ronald DeFeo Jr. Police were quick to collar him with the murder of his entire family, though there are still those who are unsure if this was true. Rumors of abuse and dirty dealing swirled about the DeFeo family. Though he originally blamed the murders of his family on a hit man, he swiftly admitted that he was the one that killed his entire family. DeFeo claimed at the time that he heard their voices plotting against him and this gave credence to his insanity plea. DeFeo is currently in prison for the Amityville murders and at this time is unlikely to be released.

Amityville House During Winter

Since the time of the killings, the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville New York has been rumored to be haunted. The most famous of the families that lived there are the Lutz family who only managed to live there for 28 days before they claim to have been pushed out by unexplained and menacing hauntings. While there was a lot of noise about the house for some time after, these days the Amityville house sits quietly. The last time it was for sale was in 2012 and there has been no word of any strange or frightening activity.

12)  The Home of Lizzie Borden  (Fall River, Massachusetts)

Haunted Home of Lizzie Borden

"Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks. And when the job was nicely done, she gave her father forty-one." Back in 1892, a young woman's father and stepmother were brutally ax murdered in their home. The reason that this particular house has garnished so much attention is that the murders seemed to have happened in near silence in a very short amount of time. Between 10:45 and 11:10 am, Andrew Borden was killed with 10 to 11 ax strikes to the head. Though there was a maid in the house, she didn't hear anything until Lizzie called for her, claiming someone had killed her father and fled. Shortly after discovering Andrew Borden's body, his wife, Abby's body was found upstairs. She had been killed by the same hatchet.

The house remained empty after the murders and rumors began flying around that the spirits of both Abby and Andrew have never left. Because of the violence and the strange silence of the deaths, it is also rumored that the occult could have played a role in their deaths, however these claims have never been substantiated. The home ended up getting bought and sold many times and was finally reworked into a museum and tourist destination. The website explains that you can tour the house from 11am till 4pm EST. As well as being a museum, the house has also been converted into a Bed and Breakfast. Many people have tried to prove that the house is haunted, however, other than first person accounts, no one has managed to find any solid evidence of a haunting.

11)  The Chelsea Hotel  (New York City)

Is The Chelsea Hotel in New York City Haunted?
By Beyond My Ken (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

New York City is known as a haven for artists of all stripes. Many of them came to the Chelsea Hotel at some point in their lives. Dylan Thomas, the prolific poet and drama writer who penned "Under Milk Wood" was staying at the Chelsea when he fell ill and died of pneumonia in 1953. More famously, punk rock figure Nancy Spungen was found killed by a single stab wound to the abdomen in 1978. Though her boyfriend, Sid Vicious was at first accused of the crime he died of an overdose before it went to trial. Since then, however, there has been a great deal of speculation to the death and it is assumed that she was in fact killed by a drug dealer, not her boyfriend.

A book was written about the Chelsea Hotel in the 1960s that was simply called the "Chelsea Affect." The book discusses the mood of the 1960s and the sorts of people who came in and out of the famous hotel. Since its rise in popularity among people not connected to the entertainment industry many different ghost stories have popped up. Most notably, it is said Spugen can be seen and heard inside her old room.

A Junior Suite at the Chelsea Hotel:
Chelsea Hotel - Junior Suite
By Historystuff2 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10)  The Moore House  (Villisca, Iowa)
The Moore family was brutally murdered in the evening of June 9, 1912. Their house was located in the town of Villisca, Iowa. Eight people were killed in the massacre, six family members and two visiting friends of the younger girls. The room where they were staying had evidence that one of the girls was attacked while she was awake and everyone else had already died. The murders are still considered a mystery. Hundreds of people were questioned during the years, but none of the accusations or suspicions led to any indictments or arrests. There are still many theories swirling around the event to this day.

Haunted Moore House

Like the home of Lizzie Borden, the Moore House is now a place to visit, stay overnight, and go ghost hunting. The website lists many different sorts of packages. Many people have claimed to hear children screaming and the sounds of people whispering at their ears while they are staying in the house. Though the children were mostly asleep when they were killed, the most common thing that people claim to hear or see is children dashing back and forth.

9)  The Purdue Union  (West Lafayette, Indiana)
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana is one of the nation's Big Ten universities. While they haven't had the best football record of late, you're likely to hear about their Engineering department and Veterinary school. If you stick around campus enough, you'll be able to hear some of the local legends that surround the campus. There are haunted library stacks, rumored ghosts in dorm rooms, and the iconic Union.

Haunted Purdue Union
By Poco a poco (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Purdue Union is one of the first places you visit as a student. The tour usually centers around where to get your ID and showing you the scaled down model map just inside the main doors. What they don't show many people lies just past the bowling alley on the basement level. Purdue has many buildings that are connected via a strange system of underground tunnels. These days most of the tunnels are closed off and you are unable to use them. Most of the ones that are still in service go from the parking garages to the Union.

The Purdue Union Fountain
By Quinn Thomson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Depending on whom you ask, these tunnels served many possibly nefarious purposes. From bomb shelter to tunnels for secretly transporting things for the underground nuclear power plant, students have theories as to why they are there and if they are still being used. Many students also claim to see the ghosts of construction workers or suited men wandering around below the Union.

8)  White House  (Washington, DC)

Haunted White House

The Capital of the United States, not surprisingly is known as being an extremely haunted location. From pets to past presidents, people have claimed to see any number of ghosts about the grounds and in the White House itself. Though because of the fact that the president lives there, it is uncommon for ghost hunters to get the run of the place. History has given us many different chances to have a haunting at the White House, so that doesn't stop people from claiming to have seen famous ghosts roaming around. The second president of the United States, John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams are among the many presidential ghosts. Abigail is said to be seen often heading towards the East Room. At the time she lived in the White House she used that room to do laundry. Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, and Abraham Lincoln are also said to be frequent ghosts that catch visitor's eyes.

The halls below the White House are famously haunted by cats, dogs, and guardsmen. One of the most commonly seen ghosts of the White House, according to "Animal Hauntings," is one of a marmalade mouser. This little cat is said to be taken for a living cat before it slinks off through a brick wall. Other accounts of the feline claim that it slithers unnaturally when it "walks" from place to place under the White House. Famous pets are also included in animals that are heard or seen about the grounds. There has never been presidential talk of the assumed spirits, however.

7)  Mansfield Reformatory  (Mansfield, Ohio)
There are countless shows and books about the Mansfield Reformatory, previously known as the Mansfield Penitentiary that became such a violent place. These days you can take a tour and even stay overnight in what is called the most haunted location in Ohio. Tours are available May 1 through September 1 and they have many different nights available for ghost hunts.

Mansfield Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio
(WT-shared) 2old at wts wikivoyage [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of ghost documentaries have been made about the Mansfield Reformatory, of them many have returned with what they claim is proof of hauntings, spirits, and energy balls called orbs. People who stay the night have stories of being talked to, touched, and seeing people dash in and out of rooms. Even if people don't come away with any experiences to talk about, most of the reviews of the experience are quite positive.

The Mansfield Reformatory also turns into a very popular haunted house attraction every October.

This place has creepy abandoned jail cells:
Creepy abandoned jail cells

6)  Hexenturm Witches Tower  (Salzburg Germany)
Moving away from the United States to Salzburg Germany, you will find the Hexenturm, or Witches Tower. This building is a literal tower prison that was used to house many different prisoners. It's most common use, however, was to hold people suspected of witchcraft. According to various historical websites, there are many reported instances of torture that happened in the prison; the persecution of those suspected to be witches had a long history in Salzburg. Hundreds of people were put to death during the time that the tower was in use. There was a suspected coven of witches run by a young man called Jakob Koller that were all burned at the stake. This is possibly the most commonly reported haunting as well.

By Oppeneiger Alois (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-at], via Wikimedia Commons

Koller was a young man who was reportedly leading the coven of over 160 people. Though he escaped death, the rest of his company did not and they were all burned. When people visit the tower it is not uncommon for them to report that they can smell things burning or hear screams and sobbing. Tours around the tower will explain where different people were held and how they were ultimately put to death. The region and town around the tower consider the period rather deplorable, though they do not hide that it happened.

5)  Wolfegg Castle  (Wolfegg, Germany)
Still in Germany there is a town called Wolfegg. The castle there was home to the family Waldburg-Wolfegg and is still owned by them to this day. The main castle is quite large, but has a history of damage. In 1578 there was a fire that destroyed much of the building, requiring it to be rebuilt. In 1646 Swedish troops descended on the castle. Once it had been looted, it was then set ablaze again. Castle restoration was slow afterward. This castle is not generally open to the public as it is still home to the Wolfegg family. However, tours can be arranged occasionally.

Wolfegg Castle in Germany
By Photo: Andreas Praefcke (Own work own photograph) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The fires are the major cause for the suspected haunting of the castle. One source claimed to have heard horses screaming outside where the stables used to be. It is also supposedly common for people to smell something burning. Temperature fluctuations have been discredited due to the nature of airflow in a building such as a castle. The family does not speak much on the issue of hauntings, though it may come up from time to time if you are able to get a tour.

4)  Lac La Biche Mission  (AB, Canada)

Lac La Biche Mission
By Kayoty (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Moving along to Canada, you can find Lac La Biche. It's one of oldest communities within Alberta and sits on the shore on Lac La Biche, where it gets its name. The community spans 45 acres and has its own museum. Due to its age, it has a long history and numerous ghost stories surround the homes and other buildings there. Originally founded as a Catholic mission turned trading post, the site has many stories of the people who passed through.

The mission to bring Christ to others was taken very seriously in the late 1800s. Lac La Biche's ghosts are typically around the church, the nun's residences and the church itself. Guests claim that the spirits are re-enacting things that they did in life, such as chores or prayer. Many of the hauntings seem fairly harmless in nature and the most common occurrence is orbs in photographs.

3)  Dragsholm Castle  (Zealand, Denmark)
Dragsholm Castle in Denmark was built in 1215. During the 1500s to the 1600s the castle was a prison for nobility. Today Dragsholm Castle is a hotel that has tours and a restaurant. The castle supposedly has three major ghosts: White Lady, Grey Lady, and the Earl of Bothwell. These ghosts all have different emotions that they invoke on those that claim to have seen them, ranging from comforting to downright menacing.

Dragsholm Castle

The Grey Lady was said to have come to the castle for medical treatment. After she was healed she returned to the castle as a way of looking after the castle. Those who see her say that she is comforting and that she seems to only be checking in.

By contrast the White Lady seems a bit more threatening. She is forlorn and is thought to be the daughter of one of the castle's owners who fell in love with someone who was not nobility. This angered her father to the point that he had her walled up inside the castle where her body was found in the 1930s, wearing a white dress. Those who claim to see her also claim that she makes them feel very sad, as though they suffered a great loss.

Dragsholm Castle

Earl of Bothwell is claimed to be seen riding in the courtyard. He was Mary, Queen of Scots' third husband. During his incarceration in the 1570s he was in solitary confinement. Rumors state that while he was imprisoned he went totally insane.

2)  Leap Castle  (County Offaly, Ireland)
In Ireland there is the Leap Castle. Unlike other haunting stories, this one is rumored to be a curse that was placed upon the family and their holdings. Around 1513 there was an attempt to seize the castle. The attempts continued for about five years. The death of one of the leaders of the family threw the family into a tailspin. A pair of brothers were in a bitter disagreement that lead to one's death. This interaction is where most of the haunting activity seems to stem from.

Leap Castle in Ireland

During rites being held in the castle chapel, one brother broke in and killed the other one with a broadsword. The chapel has been renamed the Bloody Chapel since. People claim that they hear arguing, fighting, and screaming from within. There are also rumors that some ghosts roam the halls of the buildings that are dressed in soldier’s uniforms from the 1500s.

1)  Franklin Castle  (Cleveland, Ohio)
Back in Cleveland, Ohio there stands Franklin Castle. Next to the Mansfield Reformatory, it is said to be the most haunted building in Ohio. Originally the castle was home to an inept doctor who kept the bodies of people that he had killed in a back room of his keep. It is rumored that these ghosts are heard screaming or crying throughout the castle. Another ghost that is seen is that of a man who was rumored to have been ax murdered in the front room. Other ghosts include Nazi apologists who were gunned down in a political dispute. However, the most prominent ghost is Karen.

Franklin Castle in Cleveland Ohio
Photo by Christopher Busta-Peck

Karen was the daughter of one of the house's owners. It is rumored that she stepped in-between her father and her lover during an argument and was subsequently killed. Her father then hung her body in an attempt to make the death appear to be a suicide. Her ghost is seen through the castle, though mostly in the stairway that she is suspected to have died in.

Final Words
If you are interested in visiting any of the haunted locations listed above, make sure that you book far in advance. The Mansfield Reformatory, for example is almost entirely booked up a year in advance for most of its ghost tours like other great ghost tour locations. Even if you are not open to the supernatural, the events and tours can be educational events and are made to keep your interest. However, many of these historically haunted locations are also closed to the general public. Some seem to have ridden out their haunting, such as the house at Amityville.





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