As Halloween season quickly approaches, thoughts turn to the supernatural, the undead, and the downright creepy. But, really, regardless of the season, is there anything scarier than a haunted house?
From coast to coast, homes that boast a little paranormal activity abound, attracting curious ghost-hunters who hope to catch a glimpse of someone or something from the great beyond.
There’s still time to plan a spooktacular road trip. Let’s take a look at some of the most legendary haunted houses you may want to check out this season. Read on if you dare.
1. Amityville Horror House
What took place inside this Long Island estate is so chilling, it inspired a book and multiple films. In 1974, six members of the DeFeo family were found shot to death inside this stately home. Ronald DeFeo Jr., 23 at the time of the brutal killings, was later convicted of murdering his parents and four siblings. Though the home sold a year after the grisly killings, the new owners quickly moved out citing unusual odors, sudden, unexplainable cold drafts, and a ghost that took appeared to be a half-demon-half pig. But despite all that bloody history, the five-bedroom waterfront home has had numerous owners since. It was back on the market in 2016, listed at $850, but sold in February of 2017 for $605,000.
2. Myrtles Plantation
This otherwise-attractive plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana is considered to be “one of the most haunted houses in America.” Since it was built in 1797, the sprawling southern estate has been home to multiple owners as well as countless deaths and murders.
Today, visitors have an opportunity to take a day or evening tour, or even stay over at the bed and breakfast for a chance to sample a side of the occult with their coffee and pastries. Legend has it that in addition to ghost sightings, a grand piano has been known to play sans musician, and furniture has rearranged itself. Definitely intriguing.
3. The Joshua Ward House
The Joshua Ward House at 148 Washington Street is a Federal style brick home that sits on the land once belonging to Sheriff George “The Strangler” Corwin. Corwin was the High Sheriff of Essex County, Massachusetts, during the Salem Witch Trials. He was known to strangle the accused by an old English method of “tying neck and heels” in which the victims’ bodies were forced into hoops, necks roped to feet until blood gushed out of their nose and mouth. Well hated, Corwin carried out the arrests of the accused and the executions at the gallows of those condemned during the trials. Corwin also pressed to death with rocks Giles Corey, an 80-year-old farmer, who refused to stand trial for witchcraft. Corey’s last words were “Damn you, Sheriff, I curse you and Salem!” Four years later, at age 30, Corwin had a fatal heart attack and died. His family, fearing his body would be dismembered by an unruly crowd, interned his body in the cellar. They also did so because Phillip English, a wealthy merchant who was arrested by Corwin in 1692 tried to put a lien on his corpse until he was reimbursed for the damages suffered at the hands of Corwin during his imprisonment. Today, the house is a recently opened Bed and Breakfast called “The Merchant” and notably one of the most haunted houses in New England with many claims of ghostly encounters.
Located in Salem, Massachusetts, one of the most haunted locales in the United States, the Joshua Ward House has earned a reputation for inhabiting the spirit of none other than George Corwin, the High Sheriff during the Salem Witch Trials. Corwin, aka “the Strangler,” is said to be responsible for the gruesome killings of more than a dozen men and women he suspected of practicing witchcraft. Legend has it, Corwin’s body was buried in the basement of the three-story Federal-style brick house. Visitors say Corwin and the ghost of one of the warlocks he killed at this location haunt this home.
4. The LaLaurie House
New Orleans’ French Quarter is home to the LaLaurie Mansion, where a socially prominent couple, Dr. Louis and Delphine LaLaurie, lived with their daughters during the 1830s. It was inside this three-story Creole mansion that Delphine reportedly tortured slaves, causing one to jump to her death.
The house, which was owned by actor Nicolas Cage from 2007 to 2009, is said to be haunted by screams of terror emanating from the ghosts of Delphine’s slaves.
If this tale sounds familiar it may be because it was popularized in the TV show “American Horror Story: Coven.”
5. The Lemp Mansion
Life magazine named the St. Louis-based Lemp Mansion one of the America’s most haunted houses in 1980. Built in the 1860s, it was the home of brewing magnates who had a history of suicide in the family. In fact, three are said to have died inside the home, which currently houses a restaurant where murder mystery dinner theater takes place. Paranormal tours are offered as well.
6. Franklin Castle
This Queen Anne-style Victorian is known as the most haunted home in Ohio. While he lived there, Hans Tiedermann, a German immigrant, lost multiple children under mysterious circumstances. Despite the charm of the exterior, the Cleveland-based home is said to be filled with spirits.
7. The Lizzie Borden House
Located in Falls River, Massachusetts, the Lizzie Borden house is where, in 1892, Borden was believed to have murdered her father and step-mother with an axe in their home. Though she was acquitted, Borden was never able to shake her reputation as a cold-blooded killer. Those who are brave enough can visit this home, now a bed and breakfast, and stay in the room where the couple slept or the room where Borden’s step-mother was found after the grisly murder.
8. The Kreischer Mansion
This Staten Island, New York home has been the site of multiple deaths, including a suicide and a murder. The otherwise-charming Victorian is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who died within its confines. Despite its history, the home, set on five acres, was listed at $9.5 million in 2016. Ghosts included.
9. The Logan Inn
This Bucks County, Pennsylvania inn reportedly receives frequent visits from its most famous ghost, Emily, the daughter of a previous owner, who lived in room 6 and died in that very room as well.
Capitalizing on its haunted history, the inn hosts monthly dinners featuring a medium who delivers messages from beyond. Intrepid guests can spend the weekend and even sleep in room 6 where visitors have noted the scent of smoke, which could be attributed to the military men who once stayed there during the 1700s, and flowers, a favorite decoration of Emily’s.
10. Winchester Mystery House
Filled with dark passages and spider web windows, this home in San Jose, California has had millions of visitors pass through its spooky hallways. Guests can take part in a Friday the 13th flashlight tour or a Halloween candlelight tour and see if they discover any of the phenomenons that have made the house infamous with mystery lovers and fans of unique architecture alike.
11. The Whaley House
This Old Town San Diego-based home is said to be among the most haunted in the U.S. as it’s the site where a northern criminal named Jim Robinson was hanged. To this day, he’s said to haunt the home, which you can tour — if you’re feeling brave.
12. The Octagon Museum
Built in 1799, The Octagon House is also known as the Colonel John Tayloe III House, for whom it was built. Tayloe lived there with his 15 children and wife Ann Ogle Tayloe who had offered the house to the French consulate in the hopes of sparing it from destruction at the hands of the British during the invasion of Washington in August 1814. After the burning of the White House at their hands, President James Madison and his wife, Dolley moved into the Octagon and paid the Tayloes rent for their six-month stay. During that time Madison himself and his wife both agreed the house was already very haunted even though it was just over a decade old. Of course, Dolley is said to haunt here (along with everywhere else in Washington) holding her famous ghostly receptions which she was so fond of in life. She is also supposedly most often seen in the front hall and drawing room, and the smell of lilacs is noticeable whenever her ghost is present.
Known for its innovative architecture and beautiful but haunted spiral staircase, the Octagon Museum in Washington D.C. is said to be haunted by at least two ghosts. One is believed to be Dolly Madison, while the other is the daughter of a colonel who fought with her father about her love for a British soldier and fell to her death in that famous staircase.
13. Culbertson Mansion
Located in New Albany, Indiana, this stunning mansion will have you swooning over that Mansard roof, but what lurks inside? Well, for starters, there are occupied coffin in the cellar. Creeped out yet? Even scarier, lightning struck the property’s carriage house in the 1880s, killing everyone inside. Those who lost their lives are said to haunt the place ever since.
Brave souls who aren’t frightened by ghosts can rent the space for balls or even tea parties. Or, simply take a tour and revel in the architecture and perhaps the supernatural.