It’s that time of year again when the leaves start to change color, the air becomes cooler, and pumpkins start appearing on doorsteps. That’s right, it’s Halloween! And what would Halloween be without ghosts, goblins, and ghouls? If you’re looking for a good scare this year, then you need to check out some of the scariest real haunted houses across the country. We’ve put together a list of some of the most Haunted Houses in America to get you into the spooky spirit!
Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California
According to legend, this rambling Victorian mansion that sits on a busy street in San Jose, California, is haunted by the ghosts of everyone ever killed by a Winchester rifle. In order to appease all of these unhappy spirits, the house’s owner, Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune, continued life-long renovations in order to make more space for the dead. From 1886 to 1922 construction seemingly never ceased as the original eight-room farmhouse grew into the world’s most unusual and sprawling mansion, taking up over 24,000 square feet and including 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 160 rooms, 52 skylights, 47 stairways and fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens.
These renovations created an unescapable labyrinth with halls leading to dead ends, staircases to nowhere, sloping floors, and doorways off of the top floor leading to a direct drop into the yard. Since Sarah’s death in 1922, the home has been open to tours for those willing to risk walking among the Winchester ghosts.
Bell Witch Cave: Adams, Tennessee
In the early 1800s, John Bell bought a tract of farmland in Tennessee, along the Red River. Bell moved his family onto the farm where they thrived until they began to see strange creatures wandering around the property, most notably a dog with the head of a rabbit.
Things only got worse for the Bell family after this, as they were attacked by unseen forces, mostly targeted at John and one of his daughters. They experienced physical attacks, heard unexplained noises, and even spoke with the “entity”. In at least one account, the spirit identified herself as the Bells’ former neighbor, Kate Batts, who was exacting revenge from beyond the grave for some unknown slight. The entity is blamed for the prevention of the daughter’s marriage to a local boy as well as the death of John Bell.
The farm and cave are available for tours from May through October
The White House: Washington, DC
The White House may be home to the president, but it is also rumored to house many illustrious ghosts within its storied walls. President Ronald Reagan once entertained dinner party guests with stories of his dog barking at invisible specters and his daughter waking to a transparent figure looking out the window of the Lincoln Bedroom. It may have been President Lincoln himself, returning to his former home in the hopes of reuniting with his wife and son. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly encountered Lincoln’s ghost as well, while he was taking a bath.
Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, were known to hold seances in the White House. In hopes of contacting their son, Willie, who died of typhoid. They never contacted their son, but they did claim to speak with the former President Andrew Jackson, who was loitering in what was once his own bedroom.
According to The White House Historical Association, President William Henry Harrison (the first president to die in the White House) continues to take residence within the walls. It’s not just former presidents who haunt the halls of the highest office in the U.S., however — Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison, is said to visit the gardens she helped plant; and Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, is known to do her laundry in the East Room.
The White House is open for public tours, free of charge.
The Sallie House: Atchison, Kansas
This unassuming home in Kansas is rumored to be the dark lair for a demon who takes on the form of a little girl.
In the early ’90’s, new renters Debra and Tony Pickman were struck with fear over strange happenings in the house, including flickering lights, apparitions, possessions, disembodied voices, and strange scratches, marks, and even burns on their bodies. These occurances were believed to be the doings of the ghost of a young girl named Sallie. Former renters Bobby and Colleen Humbard, and their young daughter, Heather, also reportedly saw and heard Sallie while living in the house, however, Heather claimed Sallie was her imaginary friend.
That said, it became apparent that Sallie wasn’t just a harmless ghost. Theories began to arise surrounding her oppressive presence in the house, alongside evidence of satanic rituals previously preformed in the basement, suggest that Sallie was not the young girl she pretended to be, but was a demon disguised as one.
The house offers self-guided tours and even overnight visits for those brave enough.
Biltmore: Ashville, North Carolina
George Washington Vanderbilt II built his stately vacation home in the 1800s. Since then, it has gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the country.
While nothing terribly nefarious has happened on the estate, the home’s former owners seem to remain quite active in the afterlife. After Vanderbilt died in 1914, his estate passed on to his children, who decided to open the home up to the public, which was when the paranormal activity began.
Visitors have claimed to hear a woman’s voice, possibly Vanderbilt’s wife, Edith, calling his name, and some say they’ve spotted some ghostly apparitions. Biltmore also has numerous hidden doors and passageways around the estate, which add quite a lot to the estate’s mysterious feeling.
The estate offers both guided and self-guided tours.
The Castle: Beaufort, South Carolina
The most recognizable antebellum mansion in all of South Carolina is also the state’s most haunted.
Construction of The Castle began in the 1850s, however, before it was finished, it was commandeered as a Civil War military hospital. The ground of the estate served both as the hospital and as the morgue, and it is rumored that there are countless bodies interred on the home’s grounds. Supernatural sightings that the home began after the war finished and construction began again, however, the most notable ghost that meanders around the grounds is not one of a confederate soldier, but the ghost of the French jester, Gauche, who came from France in the 16th century. Gauche has been known to wander the grounds in full sight of gardeners and visitors alike, and he was also known to join a young resident of the home for tea parties.
The Castle is privately owned, but opens occasionally for tours and events.
Joshua Ward House: Salem, Massachusetts
You can’t write a blog about haunted houses without including Salem.
This brick mansion, built in 1784 for prominent merchant Joshua Ward, sits on the site where High Sheriff George Corwin (a major figure in the Salem Witch Trials) once lived. Corwin was known for his cruelty towards condemned prisoners, including rumors that he tortured these individuals in the basement of his home. The most notable instance of his cruelty was in the case of 81 year old Giles Corey, whom he piled stones upon until he died.
There are many ghosts who are said to haunt the premises today, including Corwin and Corey, who has garnered the nickname “the strangler” after reportedly strangling visitors to the home.
Tickets and visitation information is available through the Salem Witch Museum.
These are just a few of the many Haunted Houses across America that are worth checking out this Halloween season. So whether you’re looking for a good scare, or just want to explore some of America’s history, be sure to pay a visit to one (or all) of these Haunted Houses. Just be sure to bring a friend…