“ARE THESE REAL LIFE HAUNTINGS?” #WeirdDarkness
Find Weird Darkness wherever you listen to podcasts: https://linktr.ee/weirddarkness
Listen to ““ARE THESE REAL LIFE HAUNTINGS?” #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: For some people, living in a haunted house is a dream come true; for others it’s a nightmare. Real haunted house stories are not as rare as one might think – and they are often so creepy, even skeptics can acknowledge that something strange is going on. As for anyone who can say they lived in a haunted house, the idea that ghosts or poltergeists are real is not all that hard to swallow.
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Real Life Haunted Houses” by Jerry Greenfield for Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/e4e6bsev
*** PHOTO of Ghost Room at Ballygally Castle: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5bysus82
*** PHOTO of the Brown Lady at Raynham Hall: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/e2e7p678
*** EPISODE of “The Disturbing Case of the Bell Witch”: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/89mshe3x
“Redditor Haunts” by Michael Gibson for Ranker’s Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3yhhfn8m
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Visit the Church of the Undead: http://undead.church/
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://weirddarkness.com/eternaldarkness
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music provided by Alibi Music Library, EpidemicSound and/or StoryBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and Nicolas Gasparini (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission of the artists.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Trademark, Weird Darkness®, 2022. Copyright Weird Darkness©, 2022.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Thousands of people have testified to experiencing the supernatural at locations all across the world, and the notion of a place being “haunted” is nearly universal in folklore. Many haunted houses are said to be the real deal, complete with ghosts, spooks and weird things going bump in the night. Whether these haunted homes and locations are real or fake, famous or not, they are all full of mystery. Do you believe a location can be haunted? You might after listening to tonight’s show.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
STORY: REAL LIFE HAUNTED HOUSES?==========
Haunted house stories have become a staple of pop culture; you don’t need to look far to see the highway billboards challenging you to spend a night in a haunted house, or horror movies about homes built on Indian burial grounds. But are there haunted houses in real life, filled with the ghosts of former occupants and grisly murder victims? Evidence can go either way, and we only have the word of those who tell of their experiences. These haunted locations are infamous for the paranormal activity that has taken place there.
The White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been the home of every American president and his family since the John Adams administration in 1800. Homes in the US don’t get much more historic, and few are reported to be more crowded with undead souls. According to legend, the first First Lady to take residence in the mansion liked it so much that her spirit remains there today. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, can reportedly be seen hanging laundry in the East Room from time to time. Adams probably doesn’t get much chance to be lonely, as Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison, has also been spotted hanging out in spirit form in the Rose Garden. Madison, who designed the garden during her husband’s administration, allegedly returned to stop work on the garden’s removal years later. That’s far from all of the haunting in this landmark. In the Rose Room, also known as the Queen’s Bedroom, President Andrew Jackson has been seen and heard laughing and swearing. Finally, many visitors and residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue claim to have seen Abraham Lincoln’s ghost walking the grounds. First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Grace Coolidge told of spotting Lincoln’s ghost in the appropriately-titled Lincoln bedroom. As well, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands claimed that, while spending the night at the White House, she heard Lincoln knocking at her bedroom door. (I’m sure it was perfectly innocent…) How real is this though? Most ghost stories seem to indicate that great traumas or intense emotions are what spark a haunting. Ghosts don’t want to hang out just ANYWHERE. They occupy those locations where significant events went down. And it’s hard to think of a more significant place where more dramatic decisions have been made than at the White House. Still, with so many people walking through the White House every day, it seems an odd place for ghosts to be mucking about unseen. And a lot of the stories about White House hauntings are patently absurd, such as when Winston Churchill claimed to have been taking a bath in the White House, only to emerge nude and find himself face-to-face with Lincoln’s ghost.
Rose Hall House is one of the most famous and lavish homes in Jamaica. It was first constructed in the 1770s in Montego Bay, and was most recently refurbished in the 1960s. It is a popular tourist attraction. In 1820, Haitian-born Annie married John Palmer of Montego Bay. John owned Rose Hall at this point, and ran it as a plantation, utilizing slave labor. John died soon after returning to Rose Hall with his Haitian bride. According to local legends, Annie was a psychopath who used voodoo and violence to dominate the men of the plantation. She allegedly manipulated the string of new husbands she acquired over the years, as well as the slaves who worked on the plantation, tolerating them for a time, only to murder them when she lost interest. It’s said that Annie was eventually killed by another powerful magician – a slave whose family member she had tried to curse. Annie was buried in a special grave on the property, and her spirit reportedly remains in Rose Hall to this day. The site, in addition to being a tourist attraction, has been home to seances and other attempts to commune with Annie’s spirit. She has come to be known as the “White Witch of Rose Hall.” But is it true? Almost certainly not. Aside from a book apparently inspired by the house from the 1920s, there’s nothing in the historical record to suggest that Annie Palmer was a voodoo priestess using the house as a homebase for a bloodthirsty rampage. There was a real John Palmer, who had a second marriage to a woman named Annie, but he died soon after the wedding and Annie had to leave the mansion.
Located in San Diego, California, the Whaley House was built over the site where James Robinson (nicknamed “Yankee Jim”) was executed in 1852 after a conviction of grand larceny. A few years after the hanging, Thomas Whaley purchased the land and constructed the home for his family. (Hence the name.) Yankee Jim was a relatively infamous character in the area. Eventually, he and two other men were arrested for stealing a boat, and he was condemned to die. On the day of the execution, Yankee Jim was said to have swung like a pendulum, going back and forth for an hour before he finally died. Thomas Whaley was there to witness it.
After moving into the home built atop the site of this execution, the Whaleys began hearing strange noises, including the sound of boots stomping around the house. Soon enough, the stories spread that the ghost of Yankee Jim was still wandering the grounds, angry about his death sentence. Since the Whaleys and their descendants stopped living in the house in the 1950s, other visitors began to notice strange things. Some reported seeing not Yankee Jim but the ghosts of Thomas Whaley, his wife, and children. Even television personality Regis Philbin has claimed to have seen a spirit in the home. Should we believe it? Beyond first-hand accounts, the most compelling evidence to date of the haunting of Whaley House include a series of photos appearing to show smoke-like apparitions. And we all know how wary we should be of paranormal photography.
BRIEF HISTORY LESSON: Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII of England. Henry grew displeased with her after she failed to produce a male heir (though she did give birth to a daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth, and two stillborn babies). Henry decided he’d prefer to be with his new mistress, Anne Seymour, so he had Boleyn arrested and locked up in the Tower of London. It was there she was executed for several falsified charges on May 19, 1536. Blickling estate in Norfolk was where Anne was born, though the Boleyn family home no longer stands on the grounds. The circumstances surrounding Boleyn’s death have made her a key figure of fascination in British history. Almost immediately after her execution, stories of her practicing witchcraft and even laughing in the face of death started to spread. Even the Governor of the Tower of London, present at her execution, reportedly said “this lady had much joy and pleasure in death.” Each year on May 19, it’s said that a headless Anne Boleyn visits Blickling Hall. Apparently, she’s a nostalgic ghost. According to local legend, Anne arrives each year in a carriage, led by a headless horseman. Though it’s not exactly known where the head of the horseman lies, Anne carries her detached skull along with her for the ride. Anne’s father Sir Thomas Boleyn is also thought to haunt the grounds. There are so many stories about Anne Boleyn’s ghost appearing in various spots all over England, it’s a bit difficult to take any of them too seriously. For example, on Christmas, Anne appears in Kent at Hever Castle, as well as in Essex at Rochford Hall, where her family also spent time. Either Anne is seriously committed to being a ghost… or people are just fascinated by her and thus “see” her in many places.
In Northern Ireland overlooking the sea is the picturesque Ballygally Castle. The castle was built in 1625 by James Shaw of Scotland and his wife. The home remained in the Shaw family until the early 19th century, when it was sold by James Shaw’s descendant, William Shaw. Today, it is operated as a hotel by Hastings Hotel Group. It holds the distinction of being the only occupied residence from the 17th century in Northern Ireland. Perhaps the most notable ghostly “resident” of the castle is Lady Isabella Shaw, the wife of James Shaw. According to one story, after Lady Shaw gave birth to a boy – the prized male heir for Lord Shaw – her husband locked her away in the castle’s tower, separating mother from child. While attempting to escape and steal back her baby, Lady Shaw allegedly fell to her death from the tower. Today, she is believed to wander the hallways and the tower room, occasionally knocking on the doors to random rooms, looking for her child.
Madame Nixon (another former resident), also appears from time to time in the castle, wandering around in a silk dress. There is a room in the castle, located within the turret, that is locally known as “The Ghost Room” (which I’ve linked to a photo of in the show notes) and isn’t rented out to guests. Numerous other ghost stories have circulated relating to the castle. One former manager of the hotel claims to have once set up an elaborate dinner party in an area known as the “Dungeon Room” only to return and find the table in complete disarray. Others have said that, due to all the battles that have taken place on or near the grounds, that the ghosts of dead soldiers still appear to visitors on the property. A variety of psychic mediums claim to have detected restless spirits in various points in the castle as well, with one notably claiming that the hotel had more ghosts occupying its rooms than guests. The place certainly sees creepy. Furthermore, former manager Olga Henry – herself a skeptic when it comes to hauntings – has some pretty creepy anecdotes about guests who received considerable scares. One in particular concerns a guest staying alone, who felt the presence and even heard the noises of children in his room. But alas, it seems that the “Ghost Room” may in fact just be a gimmick. Certain bloggers have stayed in the room and not actually observed anything supernatural. One noted that the Ghost Room is surprisingly modern and not even locked away from the rest of the hotel – which seems like a precaution you’d take if there were actually ghosts around.
When Weird Darkness returns I’ll tell you about a few more famous – or in this case “infamous” real (question mark) haunted houses. I’ll be up to you to decide whether to believe they are real or not. Up next.
Raynham Hall was built in Norfolk, England in 1620 at the behest of Sir Roger Townshend. The home was built in a popular Italian style that would become the rage in England many years later, making Raynham Hall notably ahead of its time, and known as one of the finest stately country homes in the area. The home is also notable for the extensive work done on the house by famous English designer William Kent. Many of Kent’s finest pieces – along with a variety of other artwork he hand-picked for Raynham – can still be found in the home to this day. One of Sir Roger’s descendants, Charles Townsend, married a woman named Dorothy Walpole in 1712. It is rumored that Lord Townsend found out his wife was having an affair and locked her up in the home in 1725, where she died a year later from illness. The first sighting of her ghost, which came to be known as the Brown Lady because of her brown dress, took place at Christmas in 1835, where a guest of the house saw her in the halls. He said she was wearing a brown satin dress and seemed to glow from behind her empty eye sockets. His account led to many of the house servants leaving the house immediately, refusing to return. Numerous notable figures claim to have seen the Brown Lady while staying in Raynham Hall. One of the first and most infamous encounters happened to King George IV when he stayed in one of the home’s state rooms. He claims to have woken up to find the deathly pale lady hovering near his bed. The Brown Lady is the subject of arguably the most famous ghost photograph of all time (which I will link to in the show notes). However, the Brown Lady story does feel a bit like the product of the Victorian fascination with both the occult and sexual moralizing, rather than an accurate account of the Townsend marriage. Still, it’s hard to argue with the seriousness and integrity of some of these witnesses.
In the early 1800s, farmer John Bell and his family moved from North Carolina to Red River, Tennessee (today called Adams, Tennessee). He eventually came to own over 300 acres of property in the area, and became a respected local leader and elder of the town church. By most accounts, strange things started happening on the Bell family farm around 1817, which have been blamed on an entity known as “The Bell Witch” – a subject I covered recently in the podcast. There are several popular stories. Here are a few of the more intriguing variations:
– John Bell found a strange animal on the property that looked like a half-dog, half-rabbit.
– The Bell children started hearing strange sounds, which at times resembled vermin invading their rooms and gnawing at their beds.
– Faint whispering heard around the house that resembled an old woman softly singing hymns.
– The Bells found a vial of unknown liquid sitting around the house. They tested it out by giving some to the cat, which soon died.
Bell grew ill in 1820, by some accounts owing to the stress and terror of believing a witch was haunting him. (In other accounts, John became sick because the Bell Witch had given him some of the strange liquid that killed the cat.) It was said that after John’s funeral, the Bell Witch could be heard laughing and singing in the graveyard. President Andrew Jackson certainly believed it was all true. He became intrigued by stories of the haunting and in 1819 took a trip there to investigate further. Peculiar things started happening almost immediately upon his arrival at the farm, such as the wagon he was bringing suddenly becoming immobile, with horses refusing to budge. However, it’s hard to tell how much of this report is folklore vs. actual history. Most accounts of the Bell Witch come from a 1894 book by journalist Martin Van Buren Ingram called An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch of Tennessee, which was written decades after the events took place. The story has inspired a number of notable pop culture haunted houses and ghost stories. The horror film An American Haunting is a largely fictionalized retelling of The Bell Witch story, though in this version, John Bell is raping his daughter and the Bell Witch is actually a manifestation of her anger and grief.
Borley is a small town in Essex, England, near the border with Suffolk on the eastern coast of the country. In 1863, the location became home to a church (also called Borley) which had a large rectory on the grounds built by its first recortor, Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull. According to later paranormal investigators, there was ghostly activity on the property – some which was connected to tragedies that happened centuries earlier. The origin of the ghostly nun story dates back to the site’s original purpose, as a monastery – a claim that has not been proven by historical records. Supposedly, a monk from the monastery carried on an affair with a nun from a nearby convent. When the couple were found out, the monk was beheaded and the nun walled up inside the cellar, where she died. Reverend Bull’s own family reported seeing the sorrowful ghost nun haunting the grounds in 1900, and the nun appeared to servants, villagers, and others who visited Borley Rectory. After Reverend Bull died, his own ghost was reportedly sighted. In the late 1920s, Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his family lived at the Borley Rectory for a year and experienced a great deal of paranormal phenomena. They invited the then-noted paranormal investigator Harry Price to inspect the rectory. Price claimed to discover violent, chaotic poltergeist activity. Reverend Smith and his wife moved out. The next Reverend to move in was Lionel Foyster, who arrived at the rectory with his beautiful wife, Marianne. The spirit of the rectory appears to have taken a liking for Marianne, singling her out for attention and allegedly even writing messages on the walls for her. (One example: “Marianne please help get.”) Foyster arranged then to have the home exorcized of evil spirits, which is said to have worked for a time. But soon enough, the vengeful spirits returned, attacking Foyster’s child, turning wine to ink, and other horrors. The Foyster family moved out of the rectory shortly after. Harry Price, still intrigued by the strange phenomena happening at the rectory, rented it himself in 1937 and began a series of tests and experiments meant to determine exactly what was happening at Borley Rectory. A year after Price stayed there, the rectory burned down. Price returned to inspect the grounds in 1943 and claims to have found a jawbone that could have belonged to a nun. Harry Price’s team logged a large amount of research and observations relating to their time spent at Borley Rectory, and a number of photographs of spirits came out of the period. As well, a number of the original individuals involved in the Borley legends spoke publicly about their experiences, including Marianne, who suspected that some of the actions credited to the Borley ghost were probably hoaxes or fakes, but still maintained that the house was likely haunted. It’s also extremely unlikely that the story about the ghost nun is accurate, and by the 1930s, this version of events had already been widely discredited. (It’s believed to have come from a popular novel of the time by Rider Haggard.) This obviously hurts the believability of all the later stories, as the un-dead nun trapped forever in the rectory walls seemed to have been the original source of all the other legends. Finally, though a series of exorcisms were undertaken, and Price even found the jawbone amidst the rubble and gave it a proper Christian burial, sightings of ghosts around where the rectory stood continue to this day. What more could this ghost possibly want after centuries of wandering around aimlessly?
The Edinburgh Castle in Scotland that sits atop the famous volcanic “Castle Rock” was constructed by King David I in the 12th Century, and it remained the seat of the Scottish King until the English overtook it in 1650. After that, it endured many sieges and was used as a prison in the 18th and early 19th centuries battles. Today, the site is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, and one of the most iconic images of the country. Or, I should say, “The Legends.” Because of the location’s key significance in Scottish history, there are too many ghost stories circulating about the place to even compress into anything less than an essay. So in brief…
– A ghostly drummer and piper can be heard throughout the castle whenever it is about to be attacked. (Obviously, this hasn’t happened in a while…) Prior to the 1650 siege of the castle by Cromwell’s forces, the drummer was spotted and identified as the ghost of a headless boy.
– The dungeons, where numerous prisoners were held and tortured, are thought to be populated by some restless spirits and visitors can now tour the dungeons to find out for themselves.
While many believe it not to be true, there is in fact, more evidence pointing towards Edinburgh Castle being haunted than almost any other place on Earth. In 2001, a study was conducted on the castle, testing the reactions of people who had never before heard the legends of its haunting to exploring the castle. 51% of the subjects reported experiencing something supernatural in areas that were previously identified as “haunted.” In other areas, only 35% of subjects reported supernatural goings-on. Among the reports were strange shadows and the sensation of something tugging at your clothes.
The Gothic style Crescent Hotel of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is sometimes called the “Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks,” and is often listed as the most haunted place in all of the Ozark Mountains (a location known for its colorful folklore.) The hotel and spa was designed by famed Missouri architect Isaac Taylor and built in 1886. Eureka Springs had recently become infamous as the home of “healing spring waters,” which were believed to have curative properties for all variety of ailments. Tourism to the area also got a boost when a stop on the newly-built Frisco Railroad was built close by. Interest in the resort waned by the turn of the century, after it became clear that the springs – though delightful for holiday goers – didn’t actually help cure anything. It has been run in the intervening years alternatively as a hotel and health clinic, and is currently open as a spa and resort. Rumors and stories about hauntings at The Crescent started as soon as construction began. It’s said that one of the workers – in most accounts, a stonemason named Michael – plunged from the roof to his death, landing in the spot currently occupied by Room 218. Naturally, strange noises have been reported in this room over the years by guests. Most of the horror stories surrounding The Crescent concern the years it was operated by a charlatan named Norman Baker. Baker – who was not a licensed physician – intended to use The Crescent as a clinic for people with cancer. Local legends sprung up around the clinic, however, about Baker’s cruel and gruesome treatments. Baker was arrested in connection with the scheme in 1940 and did 4 years in prison, abandoning the hospital thereafter. But it’s said that the ghosts of his tormented patients still linger there, most famously a nurse named Theodora. There is also a ghostly cat named Morris. The Crescent is a popular location for TV shows and documentaries about ghost hunters, and has appeared on Sci-Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, NBC’s Today Show, A&E’s Haunted Road Trips and elsewhere. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that much of The Crescent’s business depends on the fascination with its haunting, so it’s in everyone’s financial best interests to make sure there are an appropriate number of “sightings.” As well, Baker was never charged with torturing or brutalizing patients, merely with defrauding them.
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is the largest private residence in the United States. The Gothic style mansion house covers four acres within its walls, with 175,000 square feet and 250 rooms under one roof, and sits on a plot of over 8,000 acres of land. Reportedly, over one million people visit the attraction annually. The home was built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895 and remains tied to descendents of the Vanderbilt family. The home was built in a Chateau style inspired by French Renaissance architecture. Following George Vanderbilt’s death in 1914, his wife Edith claimed to still see him and speak with him around the house. (Servants attested to seeing Edith having full conversations with her late husband, though none of them apparently saw the ghost.) Others have claimed to see George’s ghost relaxing in his favorite sitting room on the second floor, or hearing the ghosts of George and Edith conversing late at night in the halls. Other guests have reported seeing an orange cat (sometimes appearing headless), or hearing strange things and feel terror near the indoor swimming pool. Due to the popularity of the Biltmore among tourists, there are dozens of eyewitness accounts and anecdotes about strange goings-on at the estate. It seems, if nothing else, that there must genuinely be some way to explain the bevy of strange sounds people are hearing, particularly by the pool area. Sites like Yahoo Answers even have numerous people testifying to experiences with ghosts at the Biltmore. Plus, unlike most haunted locations that now serve as tourist destinations, the Biltmore downplays the spirit-world connection on their website and in promotional materials. Counter-intuitively, this lends an air of credence to the rumors…
William Wirt Winchester, heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, was happily married to wife Sarah, and in 1866 they had a daughter who lived for less than a year because of ill health. William’s death followed in 1881, plunging Sarah Winchester into a deep depression, and also leaving her with an estimated $20 million inheritance.
In 1886, Sarah Winchester used some of the money to move from her home in New Haven, Connecticut, to San Jose, California, and begin construction on a lavish mansion. The house was constantly under construction, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the next 20 years, until the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Sarah died in 1922. She paid workers to make all sorts of improvements in the home at all hours, day and night, often demolishing one improvement to add another. One particularly befuddling addition was a staircase to nowhere, having been built on the upper floor of the home and ending at the ceiling. It’s estimated Winchester, over the course of her life, spent approximately $5 million on the home or $71 million in contemporary dollars. The spooky story of Winchester House begins before the property was even built. It’s said that Sarah had met with a psychic medium in Boston who told her she was being haunted by the spirits of all those people killed with her late husband’s rifles, and she must move west and build a mansion to house all of these undead souls. Apparently, Sarah believed that, should she ever stop working on the home, the spirits would overtake and kill her. (Other variations of the story say that Sarah believed her husband and daughter had already been killed by these spirits, and building the mysterious home was hopefully a way to make the ghosts confused and keep them from finding and killing her, too.) This would explain some of the peculiarities of the home’s design, and its maze-like layout. The presence of only two mirrors may also play into Sarah’s alleged paranoia, as she believed spirits were afraid of their own reflections. Sarah was also fixated on the number 13, so much of the house’s design revolves around that figure – including the ringing of a large bell 13 times every Friday the 13th. In subsequent years, Sarah herself has become part of the ghostly mythology of the house, with later visitors claiming they have seen her spirit lingering around the property. It seems definitely true that Sarah Winchester was an odd lady who had some kind of fixation with the occult and the supernatural. There’s very little in the way of rational explanations for the “mystery house,” particularly the stairways leading to nowhere and the obsessive “number 13” details. It also is certain that the house holds a certain fascination for visitors, and is definitively creepy. But was Sarah Winchester really being haunted? Tourists have reported many of the now-recognizable calling cards of the haunted house – strange footsteps and creaking floorboards, odd reflections in the home’s many mirrors, faint whispers heard around corners or behind closed doors. And the usual gathering of psychics and paranormal investigators have toured the home, many of them convinced that there is some kind of spirit energy in the place. But nothing concrete indicating a ghostly presence has ever been identified in the house, and its ongoing popularity as a tourist destination is probably enough reason for the rumor mill to continue even in the absence of evidence. Adding more mystery to the already mysterious house, in was reported in October 2016 that a 161st room had been discovered and opened to the public. An attic space containing a pump organ, couch, sewing machine, paintings and other items, the room was apparently boarded up by Sarah Winchester after the 1906 earthquake. She had become trapped in the room, and believed “evil spirits” had caused the widespread destruction.
Once said to have been visited by blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller, The Chandler Estate is secluded deep in the spooky woods of Mount Sinai, New York. Originally built as a resort, it was later turned into an apartment complex. The building mysteriously burned to the ground. For many years, the Chandler Estate became synonymous locally with the practice of Satan worship. Stories circulated about tourists being lured into the area to then either witness satanic cult rituals or be directly threatened by Satanists. (One story tells of a resident who returned home to find a bunch of creepy, devil-obsessed children in his apartment.) One spot, near where the fire escape was once located, seems to be a particular conduit for other-worldly visitors. People who have stood in the spot report experiencing dizziness, blurred vision and difficulty breathing. But the most famous spirit said to occupy the estate is “Mary,” a mental patient who had once been a resident of the boarding house there until her mysterious disappearance. Mrs. Chandler, who was then running the boarding house, claimed that even after the disappearance, she would sometimes see the lights go on and off in Mary’s room, and people thought they saw her wandering the property. Almost assuredly not. The legend of “Mary” may go back to the name “Mary” that was genuinely written on one of the doors in the old estate. But it’s unclear if this ever linked up to a real person named Mary who lived in the apartment, or if she was indeed a mental patient who vanished under mysterious circumstances. Blurry, indistinct photos are the only real “evidence” of supernatural happenings at the Chandler.
In 1832, the wealthy and glamorous Creole socialite Marie Delphine LaLaurie built an opulent mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where she lived with her third husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie. Even by the abhorrent standards of the time, Madame LaLaurie was considered to be exceptionally cruel to her slaves, so much so that nine of her slaves were confiscated by law enforcement (though LaLaurie set up her relatives to secretly buy them back and return them to her). Rumors continued to swirl about LaLaurie, until a kitchen fire in 1834 revealed the terrible truth. Firefighters found the LaLaurie’s 71-year-old cook chained to the stove. The cook confessed she had set the fire on purpose in desperation to avoid being sent to the attic, where she knew terrible tortures took place. When firefighters bust into the attic, they witnessed unimaginable atrocities. Slaves had been chained and subject to terrible, disgusting tortures and mutilations. Madame LaLaurie escaped punishment and fled the house, never to be seen again. Following the Civil War, the now-abandoned LaLaurie house was used for several purposes, including a school, a furniture store, and apartments, but none lasted very long. The mansion was eventually converted into an apartment building, where occupants reported a large amount of supernatural activity, such as the ghosts of former slaves. None of the supernatural stories surrounding the apparently cursed mansion have been conclusively proven, of course, but it is a popular spot for New Orleans ghost tours and is featured in horror film and TV.
The large Myrtles Planation home began in 1796 in Louisiana, by General David Bradford, who had a land grant, but owners in the early to mid 19th century remodeled and built up the mansion. The large plantation house boasts 22 rooms and a veranda that ran the entire length of the facade. There are rumored to be at least a dozen ghosts haunting the property, the most famous of which is that of Chloe, a slave who was sleeping with the plantation owner. Chloe began to fear he was growing tired of her and would soon send her to much more difficult work in the fields, so she intentionally baked a poisoned cake for his young daughters. Her plan was to make them only a little ill, then miraculously cure them and nurse them back to health, earning herself a permanent place with the house staff. Tragically, she miscalculated the dose, and accidentally killed the daughters, as well as the owner’s wife. In punishment, Chloe was hanged. In addition, the home was thought to have been built on an Indian burial ground. These ghosts have supposedly showed up in at least two different photographs. A ghostly girl appeared in a photograph taken in 1992 by National Geographic Explorer. Later, teacher and her students posed for a photo while on a field trip to the Myrtles Plantation, and a little girl’s ghost appears to be visible in the window behind them. Much of the history surrounding house has been found to be little more than tall tales. Though it is claimed at least 10 people have been murdered in the house, in reality, there is only one documented case. In January 1871, an attorney named William Winter was shot in front of the house by a stranger, without explanation and without warning, and died. In addition, a number of people, including children, died in the home of yellow fever, as was tragically common at the time. While filming an episode of the TV show Unsolved Mysteries there in 2002, the crew reported unexplained technical difficulties with their equipment.
The present-day Joshua Ward House in Salem, Massachusetts, is an austere three-story brick house built in 1784. However, the house was built on the site of the former home of Sheriff George Corwin, who signed the warrants for arrests and executions during the Salem witch trials. Apparently, as he died, the accused witch Giles Corey cursed Corwin and every sheriff who would come after him in Essex County. Corwin died at the young age of 30 and his wife had him buried in the basement of his own home so as to prevent anyone from disinterring him or desecrating his grave. In 1981, Richard Carlson bought the building to use for his real estate office. According to one paranormal blogger, “The burglar alarm would constantly go off at night, getting Richard or another employee out of bed to attend to it. Doors would shut on their own and lights would go on and off, activated by unseen hands. In one particularly interesting incident, an employee had two candlesticks on the fireplace mantle in her office. As she unlocked her office one morning, she noticed that the candlesticks were turned upside down on the mantle, and the candles themselves were actually on the floor, one bent in an ‘S’ shape, and the other into a ‘boomerang’ shape, as if they had been melted and manipulated.”
Most frightening, an employee was taking photos of everyone who worked in the office to use as holiday decorations. But when he took a photo of one young woman, a terrifying image of a witch turned up instead. There are other explanations offered for the so-called “witch photo,” but the connection of the house with the Salem witch trials is fact, and no doubt leads to the home’s spooky vibe.
Up next, we move from the more well-known haunts, to the completely unknown ones. Stories from ordinary people like you and me who have had their own personal experience with a ghost, or poltergeist, or something possibly even more sinister. Those stories, when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: REDDITOR HAUNTS==========
Not all haunted locations are as famous as those we’ve already covered. In fact, you’ve likely never heard of a majority of haunted spots – personal homes of no one in particular, aside from the fact that something creepy or terrifying has happened to them there. And people on Reddit are always anxious to share their frights with the world.
From Redditor /u/1LT_0bvious: I was a teenager at the time, and I was instant messaging my girlfriend with my webcam turned on. I had the viewer up, so that I could see myself in the webcam. Behind me, there was the stairs leading up (left of camera view) and the entrance to the living room (right of camera view). My younger sister would typically fall asleep every night on the couch in front of the TV and make her way up to bed in the middle of the night. At one point in my webcam view, I saw my sister leave the living room and go up the stairs. The thing that struck me as odd was that I didn’t hear anything. It was an older Victorian house, so the wooden floor and stairs were loud. Without saying anything to my girlfriend, I got up and looked into the living room and there was my sister passed out on the couch. I sat back down and asked my girlfriend if she had seen anything in my camera. She said, “Yeah, I just saw your sister go upstairs.”
From Redditor /u/lunchesandbentos: One Saturday morning, my husband was on his computer in another room, I’m in the apartment playing with a Tamagotchi app on my iPad when I heard the stereo sitting in front of me click on and a girl’s voice started talking from it. I thought he controlled the stereo from his computer so I ignored it because he often puts on music to work out before class started (he teaches the morning class). I do remember thinking, “What kind of weird indie music is he listening to anyway?” because the voice just said “Hi, my name is (I thought I heard Katie but I’m not 100% sure because I wasn’t paying attention), I am ___ years old… I’m from ____…” etc. I didn’t catch the specifics because I wasn’t really listening, but that went on for about two or three minutes until it suddenly went, “Something’s hurting me.” And when I caught that, I looked up and squinted at the stereo… “Something’s killing me. Something killed me.” At this point the hair is standing on the back of my neck and I’m getting up from the couch to take a closer look. “Please, someone tell my parents, tell the teachers, tell the corrections officer…” at the word “corrections officer” I just bolt into the other room and start yelling at my husband and cursing him out because I was certain he was playing a trick on me. Told him, “We don’t f*cking play jokes about dead people.” And he’s of course looking at me like WTF? When he finally calms me down long enough to get what I heard out of me and what I was accusing him of, he told me it was impossible and led me to the stereo. It’s not plugged in. I thought maybe the stereo picked up the signals from an ebook or something.
From Redditor /u/Nai75: [I] moved from the US to the UK and our parents bought an old, beat up house. It still had lead pipes for the water… Anyway work proceeded on the house whilst we lived there. We started seeing bright lights in the corners of rooms at night. Foot steps on floor boards, the house had carpet. I was about 6 at the time and started getting woken up in the night by a little girl, who would dance on my chest of drawers for me. I was fricken terrified. My mum just fobbed it off as me dreaming. Workmen complained of strange things happening like tools being moved and odd feeling like being watched. After about a year of this my eldest sister’s friend stayed over night. She woke the whole house up screaming, saying a little girl had been in her room, she had apparently pulled her from the bed. The friend left the house and refused to ever come back. Mum decided she might need to do something about it and got some advice. He suggested my mum and the whole family should treat the presences as part of the family. So when we got home we’d shout, “Hi, we’re home, did you have a good day?” Over time the house settled and we didn’t get anymore trouble. We also found out a little girl did die in the house of asthma. My parents still live there and it is a beautiful homely place now.
From Redditor /u/TheToenailCollector: I lived in [a haunted house] when I was a teen, along with my parents… One day I was underneath my truck, which was supported by only a jack, (stupid, I know). I was in the middle of working on it, with no good reason to get out at that moment. Suddenly [I had the] overwhelming urge to get out from underneath. No sooner than I got out, the truck fell to the ground, the jack had slipped. Freaked dad out, he thought I was under it. When mom got home, we mentioned it, and she started crying, sobbing pretty hard. It turns out the previous owner died in the driveway, under a vehicle, in that spot. I would often see moving shadows, and strangely hear music from the upstairs area. The windows of the old house were caulked shut, and blackbirds would often get caught between the panes. We ended up replacing all the windows but we had to break three inside panes to get them out. One of the more disturbing things happened when my mother was cooking breakfast, she turned away to get something out of the cabinet and when she turned back around, all the forks set out were bent straight up.
From Redditor /u/Twigsnapper: My uncle’s house out on a very eastern part of NY was said to be haunted… [The old stableman] and the maid were said to have haunted the place. We always used to joke that you would hear people or things moving at night but since the house is so old, we used to just laugh it off. My uncle’s friend had her and her sister stay over [at] the house one night and the friend noticed a maid bringing towels down the stairs when she woke. She saw the maid again, bringing what looked like a percolator, down the stairs. She was so impressed by my uncle hiring staff (he is a neurologist in NYC, so he had a habit of spending a little bit extra). She went back to bed and woke up later downstairs to see my uncle and his friend just chatting. She asked where the maid went and she thought that the maid was cooking breakfast. My uncle had no idea what she was talking about and asked what she looked like. The sister explained and he laughed. Walked her to the living room and pointed to an old picture. She said that was the woman. My uncle replied, “Yea, she has been dead for about 100 years.”
From Redditor /u/Reyali: I grew up with a cat, Boots, who was just a year my junior. Boots was motivated only by food and spent his later years sleeping on my parents bed until someone came home, then he’d jump off the bed, with a “thunk-thunk” of his front and back paws hitting the ground, and run to his food bowl to beg. He had to be put down when I was 18. My parents moved out of my childhood home during my first year of college. I went back a few times before it sold. Every time, I was certain I felt a cat’s presence. Like, I’d hesitate my step because I was sure a cat just walked under my legs kinda thing. Also, upon walking in, I’d always hear a “thunk-thunk,” like Boots jumping down to beg for food. My mom and I went back for the last day my family would ever be in that home, and I told her on the way what I’d experienced. To my surprise, she had the exact same feeling. When we walked into the house: thunk-thunk. We exchanged shocked glances, and confirmed we both heard it. I went and sat in my empty room while my mom got the final things together, and while my eyes were closed I had to force myself to not pet a cat that I felt walk up to me, because I knew logically he wasn’t there. Before leaving, we stood in the hallway outside my parents’ bedroom… I said I thought Boots was still around, and suggested we take his spirit to the new house. She agreed, so she called out, “Bootsy!” From my parents’ room: “thunk-thunk.” We both heard it. I don’t think he came with us. He never liked car rides. But I hope the owners since us have enjoyed their ghost kitty. He was a good boy.
From Redditor /u/iMostLikelyNeedHelp: [One man ended himself] in the garage and the [another] fell ill and [perished] in his bed in the basement [of my house]. I lived in the basement room and often just felt like I was being watched all the time. The bedroom in the basement has a secret storage room behind a bookshelf with a locking latch. I would always wake up to find the door wide open. It happened so often that I would wake up cold and routinely go shut and lock the latch of the door in the middle of the night. For the longest time I thought it was my dad or step brothers messing with me but it wasn’t. My stepbrother now occupies that room and he says it still happens to him and that he’s even seen it open on its own! There are no air vents or anything so I’ve ruled out wind. Also in the garage, I always see light coming from under the door through the crack only to open the door to pitch black. I’ve heard sounds coming from the garage only to find saw blades clanging together and slightly rotating in their place on the hole storage wall. [I] didn’t think anything of it at first, but when you find [stuff] moving on more than one occasion, it makes you look over your shoulder…
From Redditor/u/fitnurse6: Two weeks before we moved, my dad and I toured our house and I noticed this guy was painting the water heater which I thought was weird but I was 10 so whatever. Anyway we moved in on a Wednesday and my parents let me stay home from school until the following Monday and preoccupied me with coloring books and a new doll house. In my brand new crayons pack, there literally wasn’t a blue crayon, like it was a 64-pack, but there were only 63 crayons in it. One day I went downstairs into the basement and my blue crayon was next to the hot water heater and scribbled on there it said, “Hi fitnurse6 – Kevin.” I was so confused. I started school and my new classmates were like, “OMG do you live in Kevin’s house?! Your house is gonna be haunted!!” It turned out that Kevin was a little 8-year-old boy that lived in our house prior to us and he got hit by a car in the front yard. He would write notes if you left out a pen and paper, open and close doors, adjust the thermostat (the kind where you had to turn a knob), and always turn on Christmas music when it was that time of year. We had a swing set in the backyard and even on the hottest, calmest days of summer, only the left swing would be moving back and forth. We had this cat that I would lock in my bedroom at night and every morning my parents would open the door and let him out, then close it back. One night, I woke up and the cat was meowing at the door and it woke me up, but the door opened and the cat hissed and ran out really fast. I asked my mom the next morning why they didn’t close my door and they said they didn’t open it. The last story is when I was very upset and nearly [ready to take my life] one year during Christmas break, the police just randomly showed up at my house. The policeman said he was patrolling our neighborhood and felt like something was wrong at our house. I’m absolutely certain Kevin had something to do with it.
From Redditor /u/MTSwagger: I watched one of our cats being pulled backwards about five feet by her tail. She was walking through the dining area and suddenly was sliding backwards, as if someone was pulling her by her tail. Only there was [no one there]. She freaked out and tried to run, but couldn’t. I tend to think that was the handy work of a four or five-year-old girl ghost who hangs out and she just wanted to play with the kitty.
From Redditor /u/Economy_Cactus: When I was younger, I used to take naps upstairs but by the time I was eight years old, I absolutely REFUSED to go upstairs. The upstairs had two large closet… They ran from one side of the upstairs all the way to the other side on both sides. It was essentially a crawl space that was maybe 30 feet long. It started one day when a friend and I went crawling from one side to the other with flashlights like kids normally do. Then I saw a girl, sitting there, in the corner acting like she wanted to play with us. I know a lot of people say when they see a ghost they aren’t scared. Just interested. Nope, I was beyond terrified. This girl looked normal, had blonde hair, a nice dress, and seemed friendly. I stayed silent, kept crawling behind my friend and got out of the closet. Told him what I saw in there, he said he didn’t see it, but felt like he didn’t want to go back in. Then my parents would occasionally send me upstairs to get something and when I would get up there I would see the doors swing open. As if they were trying to get me to come inside. I would lose toys and wouldn’t be able to find them anywhere. Suddenly, my parents would be fishing Christmas presents out of the attic and we would find some of my toys in there. I remember being eight years old, my parents are asleep still in the morning and I leashed up my dog to go take on the monster in the attic. My dog, usually up for anything refused to go off the top step into the attic. My parents never believed me with all the weird things that happened in that house. I would get blamed for things that happened all over the house. Leaving lights on, toys all over, things I knew I didn’t do. Well, anyway we move out of there when I was 10. Not a week passes before the new owners call us up and ask if the house is haunted. There daughter sleeps upstairs, she says that she has been playing with a blonde haired girl at night. My parents laughed at how crazy these new homeowners must be. To make an already long story short, the girl started appearing in other parts of the house for them (they kept in contact with us). They would look over while watching TV and see the girl sitting on their daughters lap, etc. They looked up on the computer the past owners of the house, found an old dress maker that lived there and yep, a picture of the little girl wearing one of the ladies dresses.
More true stories from Redditors of personally-experiencing hauntings and unexplainable creepiness are still to come when Weird Darkness returns!
From Redditor /u/ragxdoll: My father-in-law [passed] before my son was born, so he never meet him. When we moved into our new home, my son would often be laughing in the middle of the night by himself. No biggie, kids will play with anything. One day, we were finally putting pictures up in the house and once I put up the picture of my father-in-law, he said “Oh mommy, why do you have a picture of the man that comes and play with me at night?” He had never ever seen a picture of my father-in-law before.
From Redditor /u/munchyz: I lived in an old, haunted house in college. Things got so weird that everyone moved out except for me and one roommate. Here’s a few:
1) I woke up at 3 a.m. because my roommate’s door kept opening and slamming shut. From bed, I yelled for him to stop only to realize I was the only one home that weekend. As soon as I yelled, the slamming stopped, but the hippy beads I had hanging outside my closed door began to sway perfectly, yet violently, against the door frame, for a half hour, while I debated if I should pop out my air condition unit and jump out of the window. I laid in the fetal position in bed [until] it stopped.
2) I woke up at 3 a.m., alone again, hearing the Nintendo in the back porch playing loudly. I figured a drunk kid came in and started playing. I grabbed a bat and walked towards the back of the house as the music got louder and louder. As soon as I opened the door, it was completely quiet, mind you it was loud enough to wake me up.
3) I had friends over and told them the house was haunted. No one believe me so I asked the ghost to do anything to prove it was there. As soon as I asked, all the lights in the house began flickering for about a minute straight. This was the middle of the day, everyone witnessed it.
4) Almost everyone who stayed at my house had sleep paralysis at least once in the house.
5) Every time something spooky happened, the house would smell like old lady, flowery, strong perfume.
From Redditor /u/Imported_Thighs: I used to sleep on the 2nd floor and my sister [slept] in the attic. She used to have sleep paralysis often. Then she moved out and now I have her old room. She no longer has sleep paralysis, but I do.
From Redditor /u/WeeklyPie: I’d come home to the windows on the second floor being open when it was raining. To food containers being open in the fridge that I hadn’t touched yet. The worst was that the “ghost” hated clocks. She hated them. I had antique cuckoo clocks that had worked for 50 years that would just stop. Brand new wall clocks that ate through batteries like it was candy. My watch ended up on the floor one morning, the crystal shattered, even though I knew I slept with it on. The one that [frustrated me] the most was that I got a brand new Kit-Kat clock for Christmas – and the [ghost] threw it off the wall. I was cooking and out of corner of my eye [I] saw the cat freaking FLY. Turned around and it was across the kitchen. Broken. It was brand new!
From Redditor /u/iCountFish: I used to live in a big house by myself. I was there as a hiring perk and to look after the place for my boss who lived out of state, but owned the home, one of those win-win situations. The first couple of months were fine, but when winter came I started hearing things coming from the second floor. (I lived pretty much exclusively on the first floor). It started with little bumps and bangs coming from above where I had my computer set up and progressed to distinct footsteps coming and going across the second floor. I had been up to the second floor to check up on it from time to time and I knew that there were unfinished areas up there. One place always stuck out- an unfinished room that was a sort of walk-in closet for one of the upstairs bedrooms. It was attached to the garage attic (completely unlit). It was open when I went up to investigate the noises. I shut the door and locked it. Two nights later, more noises. Footsteps – leading from unfinished room to the bathroom – then nothing. The worst part… the door that led to the unfinished room would not stay closed or locked. I tried everything. Eventually I pushed the bed up against the door to keep it from opening. That seemed to work. A few months went by without the door coming open, but I would find it unlocked all the time. As time passed I would hear noises all over the house. Mostly footsteps, but the occasional “THUMP” with no explanation. I cannot explain how horrifying it is to hear little taps up and down the hall from the other side of a bathroom door during your morning shower. I eventually moved out, but another employee moved in to take my place. His stay there only lasted about a month. The story he told me is that he was shaving one morning before work and he heard a slam, like someone dropped a heavy stack of books right outside his bedroom door, then heavy footsteps like someone running down the hall. He won’t stay there anymore and no one in the company will live in the house.
From Redditor /u/suspiciouspalmtree: I live in a house built in the 1800s. It’s survived the two World Wars and it’s seen some *stuff* I imagine. One of the previous owners had two sons, who both [ended their own lives]. A lot of strange stuff happens. The animals (dog and parrots) will wake up from their naps and follow something with their heads just as they would follow me if I walked around. Also, before I switched rooms in the house, my brother had a room and he refused to sleep there as he would hear voices. He slept with my parents (he was a child) until the day he got my old room and since then has slept in that room without problems. There’s also a whole floor we don’t use and I sleep in the attic. I pass through that floor to get to my attic (weird explanation, but it’s a weird house) and I have a motion activated light there that goes on as I’m walking the stairs to that unused floor. It also switches on in the middle of the night while nobody is walking under the motion detector. Also, there’s cold spots.
From Redditor /u/coolicidal: I had fallen asleep at night with my fan running, and woke up freezing – I turned it off. Not long after, I woke up hot, and turned it back on. This happened several times. The last time, I woke up hot once again, and the moment I opened my eyes, I heard the pull of my fan and looked up to see it slowly start speeding up. I said, “Thank you,” and fell back asleep.
From Redditor/u/Doctor_Philly: I grew up in a huge 17th-century house… During my nine years living there, I found out: It once was a brothel, it once was a plague-hospital, it once was a normal hospital, it once was a morgue, during WWII it was a German SS post, Napoleon slept there a couple of days (which is pretty cool), and there were three families where multiple murders occurred inside the house… As a kid I saw a lot of shadows, heard a lot of weird noises, the usual. My sister who lived on the third floor came down to my room a lot at night to stare at me (sleepwalking) and sometimes slept in my room and forgot about it the next night. The doors creaked and opened and closed on themselves a lot. Which can happen in an old house due to draft. Now this is all stuff that any kid can imagine due to the suggestive state an old house can give a person; nothing really scary. Also the alarm went off a lot during the night… One time; my parents were in China for business. Me and my brother and sisters slept at other places because my parents were away for quite [some] time. I had to go to hockey practice, but I forgot some gear so me and my friend went to get it. The house was engulfed in darkness [and] very silent. As we walked out of my room, we hear footsteps in the attic. Two of my siblings had their bedrooms there, so I thought one of them was at home. I shouted at them which made the footsteps stop. After 5 seconds or so we heard the footsteps coming closer to the stairs and actually setting foot on the very old wooden creaky steps. One step at a time. I actually felt a “weight” setting foot in front of me. Very strange. But I saw nothing. Nevertheless, we were 12 so we noped out of there. Outside my friend had a total nervous breakdown because he saw some scary face/form that looked like an alien to him. He never set foot in my house again. I credit it all to the creepiness of the house; but that one night with my friend still gives me the chills.