The world of the paranormal can fascinate and horrify – especially when the sightings are documented and the specters are real. Haunted houses stand in an eerie presence across the country – maybe you even have one near you.
If you just can’t get enough stories of urban legends, check out the lore that has been freaking out people for years. Horrific tales abound with many of them steeped in local history.
Check out 13 real haunted houses you should visit. They’re not for the faint of heart or the timid, though.
A simple wooden house used to stand at the current site of Reindeer Manor in Dallas, Texas. James Sharp, a wealthy oil pioneer, leased the house to a family of Swedish sharecroppers. Early on a morning in 1915, lightning hit the house and the sharecropper family died in a house fire. Sharp rebuilt the house, but this time he poured significant money into the project to build a luxurious family home that could not be destroyed by fire. The home he designed features concrete, steel and brick materials. Unfortunately, Sharp died before construction finished. He was shot, although no one knows whether it was self-inflicted or whether his mistress did the deed.
The surviving Sharp family went on to occupy the house and prosper for a short time, until the Great Depression hit them hard. The master and mistress of the household – James Sharp’s son and daughter-in-law – became obsessed with the occult, trying to lift a curse they felt was on the house. Eventually, both master and mistress were found dead in the house, leaving no heirs. Since this time, various people have tried to remodel and renovate the house, but every attempt has failed. The house was vacant and uninhabitable until 1974 when it was purchased and transformed into the Haunted House at Reindeer Manor.
People have reported strange noises at night in the house as well as unusual lights in the windows. People also report cold spots and specters floating in the air.
This home, located in St. Francisville, Louisiana, was built in 1797. Its unfortunate history includes many strange deaths from both murder and illness. People report unsettling occurrences such as furniture moving, a piano playing, strange handprints, photographs changing and even jewelry disappearing.
3.Winchester Mystery House
Located in San Jose, California, the Winchester Mystery House is a Victorian mansion with a spooky history. The home sports secret passageways and even a special séance room for contacting spirits.
It’s currently called “Anthony’s Fine Dining,” in Atlanta Georgia, but the Pope-Walton house did not always stand in this spot. In 1967, the house was moved painstakingly from Wilkes County Georgia (117 miles east of Atlanta) to its present location. In 1797, Wiley Pope began building this house. Work continued for decades with generations of family contributing until the Civil War interrupted it. Wiley Pope’s pregnant granddaughter and a single slave girl were occupying the house during the Civil War. When Sherman marched his troops through Georgia, the troops spared the house because of the baby in residence. Wiley Pope finally completed the house in 1891. Members of the family lived in the house until it was eventually sold, moved and converted into a restaurant.
Odd sightings and strange noises have dominated the house to such an extent that restaurant workers avoid being in the house alone at night. Lights on the second floor mysteriously turn on after people turn them off. Chains rattle, bells sound, children laugh and singing can be heard. Footsteps often climb the stairs and people have heard dresses rustle, whilst seeing nothing.
No list of haunted houses would be complete without mention of the Amityville Home in Amityville, New York. This home belonged to the DeFeo family, of which six members were found murdered in 1974. The oldest son was eventually convicted of the murders. A short time later, another family bought the house. The Lutz family tried living there, but abandoned the home because of the extreme paranormal activity they experienced.
6.The White House
With its long and distinguished history of occupants, the White House has numerous reports of paranormal activity. People report seeing the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Abigail Adams in the halls and bedrooms of the White House. Even the Obamas have reported unusual noises and strange occurrences in the night.
7.The Joshua Ward House
Located in Salem, Massachusetts, the location of the Salem Witch Trials, the Joshua Ward House sits quietly. George Corwin, owner of the house, was the High Sheriff during the witch trials. When he died, his remains were placed into the basement of the house. Although the remains are now tucked safely away in a nearby cemetery, legend says that he still hangs out at the house.
8.The Driskill Hotel
The Driskill Hotel, located in downtown Austin, Texas, was built in 1886 by a wealthy cattle baron named Colonel Jesse Driskill. After economic setbacks, Driskill had to sell the hotel in 1888. The hotel went through many other owners, but it remained an opulent and upper class hotel frequently used for inaugural balls. Lyndon Baines Johnson even used the Driskill hotel as the White House Press Corps headquarters when he was in Texas and he had a suite reserved permanently for his use. Ghost stories about the Driskill Hotel abound. One legend involves the death of a Senator’s little girl. She was chasing a ball down the hotel’s grand staircase and fell. There are numerous reports of the sounds of a bouncing ball down the staircase and a child’s laughter.
Another legend tells the tale of Colonel Driskill, who is hanging around the hotel to this day. Apparently, he was not ready to sell his beloved hotel, so he hasn’t left yet. When people notice his presence, it is usually accompanied by the smell of cigar smoke and he often turns bathroom lights on and off.
A jilted bride from the 1990s is also said to remain at the Driskill hotel. After the groom cancelled the wedding, she took his credit cards and hit the stores for a shopping spree. She then returned to her room with her packages and several days later, they discovered her body. She shot herself in the stomach. Guests have since seen a specter with arms full of packages entering room 29.
The Tiedmann family built the Franklin Castle in 1865. Sporting real gargoyles from the towers, the inside of the home is just as scary. History includes tales of death in the house – four of the Tiedmann offspring died there. People now report a woman peering out from an upper tower window, hearing children crying and seeing doors take flight from hinges.
10.The Whaley House
This spooky house, located in San Diego, California, is now a museum. Reportedly, the Whaley family, as well as a dog and even a thief hanged there years ago, still occupy the residence.
11.The Spy House
Located in Port Monmouth, New Jersey, the Spy House -- also called the Seabrook-Wilson Homestead -- was built in 1648. The house has a rich and varied history spanning 350 years. Currently a museum, in the past it was an inn, a bordello and a tavern. Pirates and other specters have set up residence in the house.
12.Queen Anne Hotel
Opening on February 15, 1890 in San Francisco, California, the Queen Anne Hotel’s first name was Miss Mary Lake’s School for Girls. This was the place where the young women in San Francisco’s high society came to prepare themselves for future societal roles.
The building changed hands through the years, becoming a gentlemen’s club and then a girl’s society lodge. In 1980, a private company bought the building and worked extensively until 1995 to renovate it. At this time, it reopened as the Queen Anne Hotel.
Legend spins a tale of Miss Mary Lane haunting the hotel because she was unhappy about selling the building to the gentlemen’s club. She is said to float in hallways, wander stairways and spend time in her room – suite 410. Guests have heard her tapping, playing the piano and she even primps in the mirror.
Investigators have found sealed off hallways and doors, experienced cold spots in hallways and seen shadows in guest rooms.
13.The LaLaurie House
With a rich southern history, the LaLaurie House was built in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1832. The house is said to be is haunted by former slaves and servants and even the specter of Madam Delphine Macarty LaLaurie herself. People have heard unsettling screams and shrieks emanating from the home.
Good luck settling in for the night after touring one of these real haunted houses.