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20 Real-Life Haunted Houses You Need to See

Get your fill of paranormal activity with a haunted house near you.

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The Whaley House: San Diego, California

In 1852, James “Yankee Jim” Robinson was hanged for grand larceny. A few years later, Thomas and Anna Whaley built a house on the spot of Robinson’s death. Soon after, Yankee Jim’s ghost came to stay. He’s known to storm around the house. Today, Mr. and Mrs. Whaley, a young girl and the family dog have also been known to show up at the home in ghost form. The Whaley House was classified as haunted by the U.S. Commerce Department in the 1960s. Check out these haunted house mysteries no one can explain.

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outsideMichael Neil Thomas/Shutterstock

Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California


This Victorian mansion is haunted by the ghosts of everyone killed by a Winchester rifle. To make room for all of the dead, the house’s owner, Sarah Winchester, the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune (and the founder’s widow), continued to add rooms to host the ghosts. The house now has “10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms, and nine kitchens.” Although this may seem silly, if you’ve publicly stated that your house is haunted, you need to disclose that to potential buyers.

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greenDavid/Flickr

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast: Fall River, Massachusetts


In 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were killed by a psychopath with an ax. Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, stood trial for the crimes but was ultimately acquitted. She is now said to haunt the home where her father and stepmother were infamously murdered. Her ghost is said to stop at the top of the stairs and let out a laugh. Today, the house is a museum and bed and breakfast. Every August, the museum stages their annual re-enactment of the gory crimes. How creepy! Here’s how to find out if someone died in your house.

Photo: Courtesy of David/Flickr

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axJason McLaren

Villisca Ax House: Villisca, Iowa


Back in 1912, this home in the small Iowa town of Villisca suffered a heinous crime that left an entire family, including four children and their two young friends, murdered by an ax. No one was ever charged with the crime, but 100 years later, ghosts lurk in the house, crying out for justice. You can book a day tour, or even stay overnight, waiting for the screams of the victims. And, check out these 50 abandoned houses that would look great restored.

Photo: Courtesy of Jason McLaren

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CabinBrineStans

Bell Witch Farm: Adams, Tennessee


John Bell and his family settled and thrived on farm land along Tennessee’s Red River in the early 1800s. However, strange looking animals began to show up on their property, like a dog with a rabbit’s head. Such oddities only worsened into horror, with physical attacks coming from the Bell’s former neighbor, Kate Batts, whose ghost sought revenge. As legend has it, the ghost prevented the marriage of John’s daughter Betsy to a local boy, and is also believed to have killed John. Today, visitors can tour the Bell Witch’s cave and a reconstruction of the Bell’s cabin. You may not want to go to the farm, but perhaps you’re interested in these 20 easy ways to add farmhouse style to your home.

Photo: Courtesy of BrineStans

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homeBrownieCharles99

Amityville Horror House: Amityville, New York


The famous haunted house of Amityville resides on New York’s Long Island. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. inexplicably shot and killed his mother, father, two sisters and two brothers while they slept. He received life in prison, and the house was put up for sale. A couple with three young children bought the house, but soon began to hear strange noises, had swarms of flies invade the house, found cloven pig hooves in the snow, and the young daughter made a frightening imaginary friend. They subsequently moved out 28 days later. If you like horrifying things, check out this creepy cottage pumpkin!

Photo: Courtesy of BrownieCharles99

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Mansion Paul Sableman

The Lemp Mansion: St. Louis, Missouri


This 33-room home built in the 1860s by William Lemp, a successful brewery owner in the Midwest, who ultimately committed suicide in 1904 after his youngest son died. A few years later, his wife died of cancer in the house. In 1922, William Lemp Jr. shot himself in the same room as his father. In 1949, William’s third son, Charles Lemp, shot his dog in the basement, then killed himself in his room. The house was sold and made into a boarding house that year, although reports quickly surfaced of burning sensations and slamming doors. Today, the mansion is a restaurant and inn, and even hosts a Murder Mystery Dinner. Is your door a little “creepy” as of late? Here’s how to stop it from swinging open.

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Sableman

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hotelFotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

The Hotel Monte Vista: Flagstaff, Arizona


Since its opening in 1927 as the Community Hotel, Monte Vista has seen numerous paranormal guests come through. Guests of room 220 have reported the TV changing channels on its own, while others have claimed to feel hands touching them in their sleep. The ghost of a bellboy has also been said to knock on doors and announce “room service.” When guests open the door, no one is there. There’s even the ghost of a baby crying from the basement. Despite all the haunting stories, the hotel says there has been no information to explain the peculiar goings-ons! You may also be intrigued by these 100 super-scary home inspector nightmare photos.

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nightRoberto Michel/Shutterstock

Myrtles Plantation: St. Francisville, Louisiana


Dating back to 1796, Myrtles Plantation is rumored to have been built on top of an Indian burial ground. It’s believed to be home to at least 12 different ghosts. Among the ghosts is former slave Chloe, who had her ear chopped off for eavesdropping. Chloe sought revenge by poisoning a birthday cake that ultimately killed two of the master’s daughters. She was then hanged by her fellow slaves, and today is said to wander about the plantation with a turban covering her ear. Today, you can stay at the plantation to get your dose of creepy paranormal activity. Go to the plantation in October to celebrate Halloween and the fall season, or try out these 100 activities to get in the spirit of the season.

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CrescentBonita R. Cheshier/Shutterstock

The Crescent Hotel: Eureka Springs, Arkansas


In 1937, millionaire inventor Norman G. Baker pretended to be a doctor, turning a hotel into a hospital where he claimed he could cure people’s cancer. His fetish for the color purple motivated him to paint many sections of the hospital purple. Today, the chimneys remain that color—an eerie reminder of the horrifying time when people came from all over the world to have their cancer cured by a fake. In fact, many who were treated there died. Although the inventor was ultimately exposed and run out of town, the property remains an active hotel—haunted by several ghosts. You may also be interested in these 13 ways (or 12 if you want to avoid bad luck) to get through Friday the 13th.

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SutterSmallbones

The Queen Anne Hotel: San Francisco, California


In 1890, the Queen Anne Hotel served as an etiquette school for girls. Today it is a 48-room hotel that is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Miss Mary Lake, the school’s headmistress. Guests staying in room 410, Miss Mary Lake’s former office, have reported waking up to find their blankets tucked tightly around them, or their clothes unpacked. Check out these 11 insane homeowner association horror stories.

Photo: Courtesy of Smallbones

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MansionAltairisfar

Sweetwater Mansion: Florence, Alabama


Dating back to 1835, the Sweetwater Mansion is a plantation house designed by General John Brahan of the Alabama Militia — a veteran of the War of 1812. The eight-room home was first occupied by his son-in-law, Robert M. Patton, a post-Civil War governor of Alabama. The plantation is heavily rooted in paranormal activity, including one witness reporting seeing a soldier in a coffin appear in one of the rooms. There are also regular reports of female visitors being mysteriously locked in one of the home’s rooms. Check out a DIY coffin and 19 other creations to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Photo: Courtesy of Altairisfar

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whitehouseAndrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

The White House: Washington, D.C.


The federal government has hosted some of the most powerful people throughout history, so it makes sense it would come with a little haunted activity. Visitors, staff and White House residents have reported seeing the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams and Andrew Jackson. Among the witnesses, FDR, Dwight Eisenhower and Winston Churchill have claimed to have seen the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. The Obamas even claimed to have repeatedly heard strange sounds and felt a sensation of someone gnawing at their feet in the middle of the night. Check out the incredible history of Jackie Kennedy’s decorating of the White House.

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House Swampyank

The Joshua Ward House: Salem, Massachusetts


This haunted house was built in 1784 and was originally owned by George Corwin, the High Sheriff during the Salem Witch Trials. It was later owned by wealthy sea captain Joshua Ward. Corwin’s remains were housed in the basement, and later moved to a nearby cemetery. Rumor has it that Corwin’s spirit continues to haunt the house. Take a look at these 25 tips for turning a basement into a living space.

Photo: Courtesy of Swampyank

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HouseCricchetti

Franklin Castle: Cleveland, Ohio


The Franklin Castle was built in 1865 for the Tiedemann family. Four of the family’s children died in the home, and owner Hannes Tiedemann was rumored to have killed his 13-year-old niece in a hidden passage and his mistress in the tower. The deaths and murders have made for a home steeped in spooky activity, with visitors of the mansion recalling an eerie woman in black staring out the tower window, small children crying, doors flying off hinges and spinning lights. Speaking of castles, check out these 50 remote ones that will blow your mind.

Photo: Courtesy of Cricchetti

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house Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Woodburn Mansion: Dover, Delaware


This Georgian home dates back to 1790. The mansion was purchased in 1965 by the state to use as a Governor’s residence, but the home has become known for much more than that. It is an active site for ghostly encounters, including the strange little girl who appeared floating in a fountain at a 1985 inauguration, to the Revolutionary soldiers who drink any wine that is left out in the house. Speaking of mansions, here’s what you need to know about the McModern that’s taking over the McMansion.

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spookyRichard Dinda/Flickr

Henderson Castle: Kalamazoo, Michigan


This historic home-turned-inn is swarming with paranormal activity. Visitors claim ghosts of the original owners, Frank and Mary Henderson, creep through the home, as do a veteran of the Spanish-American War, a little girl and a dog. According to legend, these spirits have attempted to communicate to the living through unplugged radios. History buffs will be intrigued to know why old homes have a tiny door leading to the basement.

Photo: Courtesy of Richard Dinda/Flickr

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The Ocean-Born Mary House: Henniker, New Hampshire


The Ocean-Born Mary House was named after Mary Wilson Wallace, who was born on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean in 1720. Mary’s parents ventured by ship from Ireland to Boston. During the voyage, the ship was overtaken by pirates. The pirate captain heard the cry of an infant during the raid, stumbling upon Mrs. Wilson and her newborn daughter. The pirate told Mrs. Wilson he would spare them if she promised to name the baby after his own mother, Mary. One of Mary’s sons, Robert, lived in the home that is now called the Ocean-Born Mary House. Legend has it that the same pirate captain who spared Mary’s ship came back to marry her in her widowhood. He was later allegedly murdered under her roof, and Mary buried the remains under her home, along with his hidden treasure. Her ghost was said to haunt the house in order to protect what she buried. Speaking of pirates, check out this pirate ship tree house.

Photo: Courtesy of derrypubliclibrary/Flickr

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The Biltmore Estate: Asheville, North Carolina


The Biltmore Estate is an infamous and massive home whose original owners, George and Edith Vanderbilt, still haunt the home. While he died in 1914 and she in 1958, their ghosts continue to walk the grounds and laugh in certain rooms. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is the largest home in the U.S. and comes in at a staggering 135,280 square feet.

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Mansion Vlaca2000

The Belvidere Mansion: Claremore, Oklahoma


The Victorian-style Belvidere Mansion was constructed by the Bayless Family in 1907 and now contains two historically furnished living quarters, a bathroom, archive room and gift shop on the second floor. Reports of hazy figures, toilets that flush on their own, random grabbings (when no one is around) and mysterious hot and cold spots have made the mansion just as much haunted as it is historic. If you enjoy fun facts, check out these toilets throughout history that will give you plenty of appropriate bathroom talk for your next get together.

Photo: Courtesy of Vlaca2000

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: livingbylex.com