9 Best Haunted Houses In The U.S.
Lauren Nowacki12-minute read
August 17, 2021
Content warning: violence, murder, suicide, slavery
For some, Halloween isn’t about pumpkin carving, costumes and candy; it’s all about the horror. Many of these scare seekers look for the pop-up, commercial haunted houses to get their yearly dose of terror and dread between the dark walls where monsters and ghouls lie in wait.
Other Halloween attractions, such as haunted hayrides, are a great way for people to experience thrill and terror in a safe and controlled environment. The characters can’t harm you, there are real humans under the masks and the experience is over before you know it.
In real haunted homes across the United States – especially the most haunted houses in America – the scary stuff doesn’t just happen during the spooky season It can feel never-ending.
Some hauntings, in fact, have been going on for decades. In these homes, spirits rearrange furniture, knock items off shelves and fill the halls with sounds of footsteps, whispers, laughter and screams.
The Most Haunted Houses In America
Are you intrigued by these kinds of homes? If so, you’re at the right place. We researched several homes in the country and listed what we think are the most terrifying ones. Read on to learn about these haunted places, their stories and the reasons their previous owners can’t seem to leave.
Even the most skeptical reader may be spooked by this list of real haunted houses – if not by the homes themselves, perhaps by some of their horrifying histories.
9. The Kreischer Mansion | Staten Island, New York
Built in the mid-to-late 1880s, the Kreischer Mansion is a beautiful 2.5-story Victorian home in the Charleston neighborhood of Staten Island, New York. It boasts several original features, including ornate chandeliers, Victorian wallpaper and Stick Style architecture. It’s also the crime scene of one of Staten Island’s most infamous mob murders.
In 2005, the home’s caretaker and mob associate, Joseph Young, was hired by the Bonanno crime family to kill another associate, Robert McKelvey, at the home. Once the gruesome deed was done, the body was incinerated in the furnace on the property. Surprisingly, this isn’t the only dark story from the home’s past. Edward Kreischer, the original owner’s son, is believed to have died by suicide in the home, and a cook is said to have been killed in the home as well.
Current residents have reported hearing slamming doors and footsteps and seeing apparitions in the home. There have been similar claims in the past, including accounts of loud banging and pictures thrown from the walls. Could this haunt be the cause of ghosts?
How To Get Haunted
The home has been used for several purposes, including a failed restaurant, a recording studio and even the site of a concert series. You may have also seen it on TV, as it was used as a filming location for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
As of June 2021, the Kreischer Mansion is listed for sale for $7.4 million. The current owner, Isaac Yomtovian, has proposed a plan to build 48 condominiums for “active adults.” The mansion would be preserved and used as a community space to socialize and eat.
8. 1 Laveta Place | Nyack, New York
This Nyack, New York, home isn’t just believed to be a real haunted house; the New York Supreme Court has legally declared 1 Laveta Place a haunted house. In the popular 1991 case, home buyer Jeffrey Stambovsky wanted out of the purchase upon learning the house was haunted – something the seller, Helen Ackley, didn’t disclose. The Court ended up declaring the house officially haunted and ordering the disclosure of the haunting to any future buyers. Some could call it a haunting contingency.
Apparently, that didn’t bother some people, including a few celebrities. Over the years, the house has been home to film director Adam Brooks, singer Ingrid Michaelson and rapper Matisyahu. And while it’s known to many Nyack inhabitants as the “Ghost House,” there haven’t been any sightings of the bed-shaking, American Revolutionary poltergeists that Ackley publicly reported during her time in the home.
How To Get Haunted
The “Ghost House,” as it’s called, just sold in March 2021 for $1.8 million. Perhaps the advertised “soft river light [that] forms a perfect sanctuary to nurture the creative spirit” is making up for the legally recorded haunting.
7. Lizzie Borden House | Fall River, Massachusetts
Home to the infamous unsolved double murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, the Lizzie Borden House is named after Andrew’s daughter and the prime suspect in the case, Lizzie Borden. While she was acquitted of the charges against her, many believe it was Lizzie who killed her father and stepmother with a hatchet on August 4, 1892.
How To Get Haunted
Today, the Lizzie Borden House, located in Fall River, Massachusetts, has been turned into a haunted hotel that hosts tours and overnight stays for brave guests. The owners restored the home to look as it did at the time of the murders.
They also make a point to display the actual crime scene photos from the day the bodies were discovered. Visitors can take one of the daily tours, attend a “Paranormal Night” or spend the night in one of the rooms of the house (including the very room where Abby was killed).
6. Villisca Ax Murder House | Villisca, Iowa
Just as its name suggests, the Villisca Ax Murder House is named after the gruesome ax murder of the Moore family and two overnight guests on a quiet night in 1912. Among the eight killed, six were children. To this day, the crime is unsolved.
How To Get Haunted
In 1994, the Villisca, Iowa, home was purchased, restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s now open for day and overnight tours. Visitors of the home have reported feeling cold spots and hearing children talking, giggling and screaming.
For some visitors, the scariest thing about staying overnight could be going a full night without certain comforts. The home remains without running water or electricity.
Those who are curious but too afraid to visit the home in person can find several YouTube videos of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) recordings and guests playing ball with the Moore children.
5. Lemp Mansion | St. Louis, Missouri
The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis was home to the Lemp family, who built a brewing empire by introducing lager beer to the city. While amassing a fortune, the Lemp family experienced a series of unfortunate events after moving into the mansion in 1876.
After the mysterious death of his favorite son in 1901, William Lemp himself died by suicide in the home just 3 years later. When Prohibition caused the Lemp brewing dynasty to come to an end, Lemp’s other son, William Jr., also died by suicide in the same place as his father.
Another 27 years later, Lemp’s third son, Charles, became the Lemp family’s third victim of suicide when he died in the mansion as well. It’s also believed that William Jr. had an illegitimate son who was kept in the attic and also passed away in the home.
How To Get Haunted
Today, several members of the Lemp family are said to haunt the property, which has been turned into a restaurant and inn. The haunted mansion now hosts overnight guests, weddings, holiday events and mystery dinner theaters. Those who are interested in the paranormal can attend a haunted tour or go on a ghost hunt through the home with a real paranormalist.
4. The Pink Palace | Louisville, Kentucky
Unlike the rest of the haunted houses listed here, the Pink Palace didn’t start out as a home. Instead, it was originally built as a gentlemen’s club in 1891 and became a private home a few years later. In 1910, the local pro-prohibition chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union set up their headquarters. When they learned it used to be a brothel, they painted the home its famous pink color “to wipe the house’s slate clean,” according to historian David Dominé.
Another way in which this home differs from many others on this list is that, as far as we know, nobody died there. The spirit who haunts this home is thought to be a previous owner who acts more like a protector of the home and its inhabitants.
Known as “Avery,” this spirit is said to manifest just before disaster strikes. One story involves Avery appearing just before a fire broke out in the kitchen. Another tale states that Avery once appeared to a woman taking a bath. In her fright, she jumped out of the tub moments before two robbers threw a cement block through the bathroom window just above the bathtub.
How To Get Haunted
The Pink Palace now serves as a six-bedroom single-family home in Old Louisville, where it’s estimated to be worth nearly $700,000. If you’d like to see the haunted home, you’ll have to wait to buy it.
3. The Whitney | Detroit, Michigan
The Whitney is a historical Detroit gem – and one of the most haunted buildings in the Motor City. It was built for Flora Whitney, the first wife of David Whitney, a lumber baron who was also said to be the wealthiest man in Detroit. Construction of the home started in 1890 and wasn’t completed until 1894.
Unfortunately, Flora passed away before the home was finished, and she was never able to see it in its full grandeur – a fact that many believe has bothered her spirit after death. Mr. Whitney was the first person to pass away in the home in 1900, but he wouldn’t be the last. In 1917, his second wife, Sara, also passed away in the home.
“This is where the history gets a little more interesting,” said Tony Muzzi, General Manager for the Whitney, which now serves as an upscale restaurant, dessert parlor and lounge.
According to Muzzi, after Sara’s death, the medical society moved into the building, which then served as a tuberculosis ward and hospice over the years. Due to this, “Quite a few individuals have passed away in the home,” Muzzi says.
With so many different deaths in the home, who exactly is it that haunts the mansion?
“That’s a loaded question,” says Muzzi. “I don’t know. There are definitely children in the carriage house, and they can be heard through multiple EVPs. We also know there is a woman’s presence that is definitely felt in the third-floor bathroom.”
The staff may not know who exactly haunts the mansion, but they’re pretty sure they understand why.
“We know they are here to protect the home,” says Muzzi. “You look through all of the trials and tribulations Detroit has experienced and this mansion – arguably the most ornate building in Detroit – has somehow survived it all unscathed.”
While the intentions of the spirits may be good, they still frighten the people who visit and work in the home. While one guest saw the apparition of a woman having a coughing fit in the bathroom, others have seen a floating light, heard sounds of a woman humming or recorded children’s voices in the carriage house where the Whitney children used to play.
One of Muzzi’s most notable experiences is when he heard the piano playing one night while he was alone in the haunted mansion, a story he’s shared on Travel Channel’s Most Terrifying Places in America.
How To Get Haunted
For those who are truly intrigued by the mansion’s hauntings, the restaurant hosts a paranormal dinner tour every first and fourth Sunday. This includes a Historical Champagne Tour, five-course dinner and a paranormal expedition that includes a presentation of findings from the restaurant’s in-house paranormal investigations team. Of course, you can also visit for dinner or a drink, walk around the restaurant and get more information from the staff.
“I would always encourage people to check it out for themselves. Come in for dinner or a cocktail or happy hour and talk to the staff. They have cool stories of their own, too,” says Muzzi.
2. The Winchester Mansion | San Jose, California
Also known as the Winchester Mystery House, the Winchester Mansion resides in San Jose, California. It was owned by Sarah Lockwood Winchester, widow to William Wirt Winchester of Winchester Rifle fame.
As the story goes, following the death of her 6-week-old daughter and the loss of her husband to tuberculosis years later, Sarah was told by a psychic that to protect herself from vengeful spirits, she must build a home for her and the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester Rifles. Along with the command was one catch – the construction of the home could never end.
So, in 1886, Sarah moved into an eight-room farmhouse and began a construction project that would end up spanning 36 years. Guided by the spirits, Sarah designed and oversaw the construction, which went on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year until her death in 1922.
When construction ceased upon her death, the result was a sprawling, labyrinth-like mansion with roughly 160 rooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces, 13 bathrooms and 10,000 windows. Unique features of the home include a staircase that leads to nowhere, a room with no floor or ceiling, windows in the floors and doors that open to nothing – all in an attempt, they say, to confuse the spirits that live there. Of course, there’s also the recurrence of the number 13. There are 13 windows in the 13th bathroom, plus closets with 13 hooks, 13-paneled ceilings and 13-step stairways.
Do spirits really live in the bizarre home that was built for them? According to the U.S. Commerce Department, there’s at least one spirit that resides there. Why else would they certify the home as haunted? And those who have experienced paranormal activity inside the mansion agree.
Staff and guests have claimed to feel taps on their shoulders or see the ghost of a man pushing a wheelbarrow in the basement. Others have experienced the feeling of being watched. Some say the victims of the Winchester Rifle haunt the home, while others say it’s Sarah Winchester herself.
How To Get Haunted
See for yourself by taking one of the daily tours the haunted mansion offers. There’s also a new fully immersive Halloween attraction happening now through November 2. The event, known as “Unhinged,” features a haunted house–like walkthrough of the home, light shows, midway games outside, desserts and Halloween-themed cocktails throughout the event.
The Most Haunted House In America
1. The LaLaurie Mansion | New Orleans, Louisiana
If you’ve spent any time in New Orleans, you may have heard of the LaLaurie Mansion – it’s arguably one of the scariest homes in America. A popular stop on city ghost tours, the French Quarter house is said to be the most haunted mansion in New Orleans due to its former notorious owner, Delphine LaLaurie, who horrifically tortured and murdered several enslaved people in the home.
While many of the truly macabre stories of LaLaurie’s treatment of her captives have been exaggerated over time, it’s true that she brutally tortured them – and there’s proof.
The first public incident happened in 1833 when she chased one young Black girl with a whip until she fell off the roof and died. LaLaurie was fined and forced to “forfeit” nine other enslaved people in her home. She later “repurchased” them and snuck them back into the home.
LaLaurie continued to torture them until April 1834, when a fire in the home uncovered her true cruelty. The fire, believed to have been started by an enslaved person in an attempt to escape, had uncovered several people chained in a room, beaten and starved to near death.
Onlookers were so distraught at their condition that they attacked the residence itself, damaging the interior and stripping it of its spoils. LaLaurie, who was never charged for her crimes, escaped to Paris to live out the rest of her life.
The paranormal activity reported over the almost 200 years since the fire includes claims of phantom footsteps, moans and screams, feelings of negative energy and physical attacks. The home is also believed to be cursed since previous owners – most notably, actor Nicolas Cage – have experienced bankruptcy, insanity and even death.
The home was last purchased as a private residence in July 2010 for nearly $3 million. Its interior is off-limits to the public and paranormal investigators alike.
The Bottom Line: Check For Signs Of Haunting
Whether these stories intrigue you enough to want to purchase a haunted house of your own or terrify you enough to take all measures to ensure your next home is spirit-free, here’s how to check for a possible haunting when buying a home:
- Google the address of the home and see if any suspicious headlines pop up.
- Work with a real estate agent who is a local expert and who may know a little more about the history of the area. A good agent will prioritize your needs, so make sure to tell them exactly what you want in the home – or what you want to avoid.
- Talk to the neighbors and see if they know anything about the home’s history.
- Ask the seller’s agent if they’re aware of any deaths, criminal activity, paranormal happenings or any other troubling events in the history of the In most states, they’re obligated to disclose any information they know, but only if they’re asked about it.
- Read the disclosures carefully. While they may not specifically say the home is haunted, you may be able to read between the lines.
- Walk through the home. You may experience paranormal activity firsthand or be able to detect negative energy. If you feel uneasy, trust your gut.
Is your home giving you the spooks? Find out how to tell if your house is haunted.
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