Halloween is just around the corner, and as we start to get excited about the prospect of cooler nights, crunchy leaves, and spicy lattes, we can’t help but get goosebumps thinking about Halloween!
It’s never too early to get into the spooky spirit, and if you’re already tired of the summer heat, you might be interested to learn more about 13 real-life haunted houses from all over the world. Every neighborhood has an old house haunted by creepy legends about former inhabitants, but some stories are much scarier than others.
We’re not talking about the type of haunted house where a high schooler dressed as a ghost jumps out at you. These are the houses and landmarks where you don’t want to be late at night.
Keep reading to learn the spooky stories and creepy history that defines these historic and haunted houses!
4. The Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is one of the creepiest haunted houses in the world, and it’s story is wild.
Sarah Winchester was the wealthy widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester, who founded the Winchester Rifle company. He died of tuberculosis in 1881 and left Sarah a huge fortune. After her infant daughter also died, Sarah came to believe that she was being haunted by the ghosts of all those who had been killed by Winchester rifles. A medium told Sarah that the only way she could appease the spirits of the dead was by moving to California and building a huge mansion for all of the spirits to occupy.
So Sarah moved to San Jose, California, and began constructing the Winchester Mystery House. She hired a team of carpenters to begin constructing the house, and she refused to use an architect — which led to the famous haphazard design of the mansion.
The Mystery House is infamous for its architectural quirks, like staircases and doors that lead to nowhere, windows that overlook other rooms, and stairs with peculiar sized risers. Sarah’s belief in the malevolent spirits that followed her apparently contributed to the strangeness of the house’s design.
Before the earthquake of 1906, the Winchester Mystery House was seven stories high, but the earthquake damaged it so badly that it is now only four stories tall.
Despite this, the house is still enormous and vast with approximately 161 rooms. This is 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, two basement levels, and three elevators.
After Mrs. Winchester’s death, the house was deemed worthless due to the damage caused by the earthquake and it was sold to John and Mayme Brown some years later. According to records from Instant Checkmate the house is now owned by Winchester Investments LLC and is open to the public to visit.
3. The Whaley House
The Whaley House in San Diego was called “the most haunted house in America” by LIFE magazine in 2005. The Greek revival building is located in one of the oldest areas in San Diego, aptly named Old Town, and the Whaley house is filled with a tragic history.
In 1853, Thomas Whaley decided the build his mansion on top of a graveyard — which was probably his first bad decision. Around the same time, Thomas Whaley sat on a jury which sentenced a local bandit, Yankee Jim, to death for stealing a boat. It’s said that Yankee Jim was hung from the gnarled old tree that still sits in the back of the Whaley House.
Yankee Jim was the first spirit said to haunt the house, but Thomas Whaley would endure a series of tragedies inside the house. His daughter, Violet, married a con man who ran away after discovering he would not inherit a handsome dowry from Thomas. Shunned by polite society, Violet eventually killed herself via shotgun in the back of the Whaley property — merely footsteps away from the tree where Yankee Jim is said to have hung.
Thomas Whaley also lost his baby son to scarlet fever, and the family fell into a deep depression. A servant girl named Carrie Washburn lost her life after accidentally breaking her neck running into a clothesline…also attached to the tree.
When the house was left by the Whaley family, it was briefly converted into a theatre. Another local legend states that an up and coming actress was murdered backstage at the Whaley House by a jealous lover.
Now the house is used as a museum, but guests still talk of cold patches of air in the house and strange apparitions that cannot be explained.
2. Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
Psychiatric hospitals from the past are scary enough without ghosts! From lobotomies to reports of unchecked abuse amongst patients to strange experiments, being in a lunatic asylum in the 60s was probably a lot like being in a horror film.
When it comes to bad asylums, Trenton Psychiatric Hospital — also known as the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum was one of the worst offenders.
In 1907, Dr. Henry Cotton became the medical director of the hospital. The sadistic doctor was pretty crazy himself and believed that infections were the cause of mental illness. So he began to remove the teeth of the inpatients. Dr. Cotton’s experiments were barbaric and inhuman — he later began to remove other body organs of patients like testicles, ovaries, gall bladders, and intestines. Many patients died because of this. The lunatic asylum now lies in a state of disrepair, and it is said to be haunted by the poor souls who died at the hands of Dr. Henry Cotton, the butcher of Trenton.
1. Pennhurst Asylum
Pennhurst Asylum is known as the shame of Pennsylvania for good reason. In fact, an expose about the brutal practices of the asylum became a catalyst for changing the mental health industry in America.
Pennhurst Asylum wasn’t just a lunatic asylum. Anyone with a mental illness or disability was disregarded by society and sent to Pennhurst — along with foster kids and orphans.
The abuses were appalling, and the orderlies were highly abusive of the patients. One of the doctors practiced eugenics on the patients. Up until the 80s, it was still in operation and drastically overcrowded. The ongoing public uproar about its practices finally led to Pennhurst Asylum’s closure in 1987.
Even before it’s closure, there were many reports of paranormal activity, and it was said that Pennhurst would forever be haunted by those who died tragic deaths in the hospital. With over fifty years of horror behind its doors, it was said that no other place in America was as haunted as Pennhurst Asylum.
Eventually, new owners took advantage of its reputation as a haunted landmark and opened it up once again for ghost tours and as a Halloween haunted house.