What would you do if you thought your house was haunted? Would you call a medium? Call an exterminator? Move? Like, I would move. I don’t mess around with that stuff because I’m a big, ghost-believing baby, but apparently, 1/3 of Americans have considered their homes haunted. And just like, kept living there. Y’all are brave.
But there is definitely a difference between the occasional weird sound and a severely haunted house. In honor of the spookiest month of the year, I bring you five, real-life haunted homes from across the United States, so you know where to never, ever visit. Most of them became allegedly haunted as a result of at least one traumatic event, though there are a few in which folks just seem really determined to stay on this here earth forever. As ghosts.
I wrote this list in a coffee shop in the daytime and still scared myself. Just so you know. So brace yourself and do not, and I mean do not, read this before bedtime.
LaLaurie Mansion (New Orleans, LA)
Fans of American Horror Story may recognize this horror-filled home — and unfortunately, the character Madame LaLaurie, portrayed by Cathy Bates in the third season of the series, is based on on a real woman of the same name.
The mansion is said to be haunted by the ghost of a 12-year-old girl who was seen being chased onto the roof by Madame LaLaurie and ultimately jumped to her death, as well as by slaves who were found in the attic following a fire in 1834. Locals were so horrified at the discovery of this “torture attic” that they formed a mob and chased Madame LaLaurie out of the city. Upon further investigation, at least two bodies were found buried on the mansion’s grounds. The New Orleans serial killer was never seen again, though local lore says she made it to Paris, where she died in a boar-hunting accident.
The now-restored home is a famous landmark in New Orleans, where visitors have reported hearing screams, feeling nauseous, and seeing the 12-year-old girl running across the roof at night.
The Grove (Jefferson, TX)
Touted as “The Most Haunted Place in the Lone Star State,” The Grove has ghost stories going back to the early 1900s. One of the more recurring apparitions is a woman in white, said to be the original owner of the home, Minerva Stilley. While the house remains, for the most part, unchanged since its erection in 1861, there was a one-room addition in 1870. Minerva always appears through the wall of that addition, where there originally was an entrance, and has been seen by neighbors apparently inspecting the added-on room from the outside.
The current owner, Mitchel Whittington, has witnessed chandeliers swaying in the absence of wind, mirrors inexplicably crashing from the wall, and flickering lights, in addition to several sightings of Minerva. He’s also been locked out of the house while working there alone. When he looked through the window, he saw that someone had used the deadbolt.
The Whaley House (San Diego, CA)
A little suggestion from me to every person: if you witness someone being hanged, maybe do not then choose to build your family home on the exact spot that the hanging happened. Just, like, a tip. Because that’s literally what Thomas Waley did in 1856, and while his house is still standing, it’s also considered to be one of the most haunted houses in the country. So there’s that.
“Yankee Jim” Robinson, a local outlaw, was hanged for grand larceny in 1852 in San Diego, CA. Following the construction of the Waley home, family members reported hearing heavy footsteps throughout the house. Lillian Waley, the youngest daughter who lived in the house until 1954, maintained that it was the ghost of Yankee Jim.
Over the years, a number of visitors have reported seeing both Thomas and Anna Waley, especially children, who are apparently more sensitive and open to supernatural energies. Thomas is seen on the top landing above the stairs, while Anna prefers the garden.
Villisca Ax Murder House (Villisca, IA)
In case the name didn’t give it away, a lot of murders happened here. With an ax. In the summer of 1912, the six members of the Moore family — Josiah, Sarah and their four daughters — were found bludgeoned to death, along with two friends who had been spending the night. No one was ever convicted of the murders.
Visitors to the home, which is now open for tours and overnights (…WHY would you do that?!), have reported cold spots, falling lamps and ladders, and hearing children’s voices late at night.
The Cranberry Book Barn (Plymouth, MA)
Not ALL haunted house stories are bad — sometimes they’re nice! And involve animals! The Cranberry Book Barn is a converted barn attached to a 1792 home in Plymouth. In the 1950s, the house was inhabited by a man who was known to keep his mistreated black dog chained up in the barn. Neighborhood children would sneak the poor pup treats while the owner was out.
When the barn was turned into a bookstore in the early 1990s, the owners, who had a dog of their own, noticed the presence of a second dog that would trot around the store and disappear into glass display cases and bookshelves. The Book Barn dog ghost is now well-documented, with a number of sightings over the years. The children who used to feed the dog, now adults, have given descriptions that match up with witness accounts of the bookstore ghost. When the home was sold several years ago, the friendly apparition, who is most active when the owner has a dog of their own, was even used as a selling point.
Bottom line? If you choose to spend your Halloween (or any given day) visiting a haunted house, be careful. But also take pics of ghosts if you come across them, because we totally want to see.