Famous Haunted Houses and Hotels Throughout America

By Kate Maloney

America is full of curious spots, some of which have dark or mysterious pasts. History is said to live on in these places, contributing to legends and modern-day ghost stories. When it's time for Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating, it's common to turn to these old tales for inspiration. However, ghosts know no calendar, and virtually any night could be the perfect time for an eerie sound or unexpected apparition.

Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tennessee

The Bell Witch's name is Kate, and she was the entity responsible for terrorizing the Bell family in their home in rural Tennessee during the 1800s. The family farmed a large plot of land along the Red River. Beginning in 1817, strange noises began occurring, such as knocking, chains dragging, and choking sounds. Kate sought to kill John Bell, and she wanted daughter Betsy to break off an engagement. After John Bell died and Betsy was no longer engaged, Kate stopped appearing.

Lincoln Theater, Decatur, Illinois

The Lincoln Theater opened in downtown Decatur in 1916. The theater was built on the site of the former Decatur & Arcade Hotel, which burned down in 1915. Two guests were known to have perished in the fire, and other guests were never found. Supernatural occurrences have been witnessed in the Lincoln Theater, making people think it may be haunted by the spirits of the people who died in the fire.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky

Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a tuberculosis hospital treating patients in the early 1900s. The surrounding area in Kentucky had been hit hard by tuberculosis, and the residents tried to minimize spread of the disease by treating people at the local hospital. With the high percentage of patient deaths, stories of hauntings became local legends. Ghosts seen include a little girl running up and down the staircase and a woman with bleeding wrists pleading for help.

Moore Home/Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa

J. B. Moore and his family were murdered in their beds on June 10, 1912, in the city of Villisca, Iowa. The murder case has never been solved, which has fueled the stories surrounding this event. People who have spent time in the house report feelings of heaviness in certain spots. Orbs and areas of fog appear at times as well.

Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri

The William J. Lemp Brewing Company was a successful brewery in St. Louis in the late 1800s. William Lemp and his family ran the business, but in 1901, the favored son died mysteriously. In 1904, William Lemp shot himself in the family's mansion, overwhelmed by grief. Three other suicides followed in the house over the years, which has led to the mansion's reputation for hauntings.

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Midlothian, Illinois

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is said to be the most haunted cemetery in the world. Many people have reported paranormal experiences, some even capturing photos of sightings. A woman has been spotted sitting on a tombstone, and others have reported seeing or feeling unnatural presences.

Gettysburg Battlefield, Southern Pennsylvania

The site of the largest Civil War battle has also become the site of numerous paranormal sightings. With about 7,500 men losing their lives on the battlefield and many more wounded, ghost stories are plentiful in connection with Gettysburg Battlefield. People have heard phantom cries and seen apparitions of soldiers wandering the battlefield.

Alcatraz, San Francisco, California

Alcatraz prison, located on Alcatraz Island just off San Francisco, California, has a reputation for hauntings. This was the place where the most hardened criminals came for punishment. Alcatraz closed in 1963, and people can now visit it as a part of the nation's national park system. Legends include strange noises at night that sound like doors opening and closing and men running.

Winchester Mansion, San Jose, California

The Winchester mansion's reputation for haunting dates back to its beginning in 1884. The house was built by Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester, who was the creator of Winchester rifles. Sarah Winchester designed the house herself and included many unusual features, like stairs leading nowhere, allegedly in an effort to confuse ghosts. The legend states that the house has been haunted by the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles.

Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana

Legend states that Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana was built on an old Indian burial ground. Numerous murders were committed in the house, with the shooting of William Winter drawing the most attention. Winter supposedly was shot and died on the staircase, and people report hearing his footsteps to this day.

Bobby Mackey's Music World, Wilder, Kentucky

Bobby Mackey's Music World in Kentucky is said to be the most haunted nightclub in the U.S. A slaughterhouse originally stood on the site, and later, a roadhouse was built there. A woman was killed and her body found in a nearby field, and stories abound about her killers and their connection with the occult. Paranormal activity has been reported in the nightclub.

Old Slave House, Junction, Illinois

The Crenshaw house was a stop on the Reverse Underground Railroad, which was used to take escaped slaves back to the south. This slave jail was reportedly a place where slaves disappeared on occasion, which is the origin of the hauntings of this house.

Congelier Mansion, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Some call the Congelier Mansion America's most haunted house. The legend includes a tale of a secret affair between Charles Congelier and the maid. When Lyda, his wife, learned of the liaison, she killed them both with a meat cleaver. Years later, when the mansion was converted to apartments, inhabitants reported strange sounds in the building.

Aquia Church, Stafford, Virginia

As the site of a murder during the mid-18th century, the Aquia Church has a reputation for paranormal activity. The murdered woman's remains were not discovered until decades later, and people have reported a malevolent presence in the church after dark.

Belcourt Castle, Newport, Rhode Island

Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont built Belcourt Castle during the 1800s. The main floor of the mansion was actually stables for animals, and human occupants of the house lived on upper floors. A series of owners over the generations have reported a feeling of unrest and a "heaviness" within the walls of the castle.

The Devil's Tree, Bernards Township, New Jersey

The locals know better than to try to cut down the Devil's Tree in Bernards Township, New Jersey. The tree's history points to an untimely demise for anyone who has dared to try to do so. Apparently, a farmer killed his family and then hanged himself in this tree, which started the evil aura around the tree.

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It's not difficult to imagine the unpleasant surroundings of this prison, which housed the worst criminals during parts of the 20th century. The prison closed in 1971, but since then, people have heard cackling in cell block 12, and in cell block 4, eerie faces have appeared.

Hotel Chelsea, New York City, New York

This Manhattan hotel is the place where Dylan Thomas died in 1953. Visitors report seeing Thomas' ghost roaming the halls near room 206. Other paranormal events have also been noted, including lights and water turning on and off, bubbles erupting out of drains, and a woman's scream.

Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts

Lizzie Borden was charged with the ax murders of her father and stepmother in 1892, but she was acquitted. The house as it stands today is a functioning bed-and-breakfast, and it is reportedly haunted. Guests have reported being physically pushed in certain rooms of the house. People also report feelings of unusual coldness in the basement, where the murder weapon was found.

Montgomery House Bed and Breakfast, Kalama, Washington

Resting on an ancient Indian burial ground is said to be the cause of the hauntings of Montgomery House Bed and Breakfast. The home is no longer an inn, presumably due to the apparitions and voices that were noticed after dark.

The Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton, New Hampshire

The Mount Washington Hotel is said to be the haunt of a ghost named Carolyn Stickney, who was married to the hotel's owner. People have reported seeing visions of her descending the staircase.

Old Louisville Neighborhood, Louisville, Kentucky

Scary stories circulate about strange goings-on in the Old Louisville neighborhood. Some people have reported hearing cries echo out after dark, possibly from the "lady on the stairs" who paces the steps of the First Church of Christ Scientist. The Witches' Tree is said to be the place where witches once gathered to cast their spells.

RMS Queen Mary, Docked in Long Beach, California

The RMS Queen Mary was the fastest and finest ship of its day, and many celebrities were among its passengers. When World War II erupted, the RMS Queen Mary became a transport ship for Allied troops. One day, the Queen Mary collided with its escort ship, which resulted in the swift sinking of the escort and the loss of more than 200 lives. Legend says that the ship, now a hotel, is known for screams and sounds of tearing metal, which seem to date back to that fateful maritime accident.

The Stickney House, Bull Valley, Illinois

George Stickney was the first man to settle in this area of Illinois, and he and his wife became prominent citizens. They led the community in the practice of spiritualism, including conducting séances. The legend of Stickney's death says that when he died, his spirit was trapped in the house. People today report feeling strange cold spots in and around the house.

The White House, Washington, D.C.

Stories abound of hauntings in the White House. People have reported seeing Mary Todd Lincoln wandering as well as the ghosts of presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Legend even says that Dolly Madison guards the Rose Garden.