All haunted homes have at least one thing in common (other than ghosts, of course). Be it gruesome murders, tragic misfortune or simply a previous resident not quite ready to move on, all haunted houses have a story to tell.
Here are the curious histories and spooky phenomena of nine haunted homes you can still visit.
Villisca Axe Murder House
In June 1912, prominent Iowa businessman Josiah Moore, his family and two guests were murdered in what is now known as the Villisca Axe Murder House. There were many suspects (including a state senator), but none of them was found guilty of the crime. A number of paranormal investigations and tours have uncovered disembodied voices, moving objects and other mysterious occurrences. The brave can stay overnight in the home. Daytime tours are available but will end after Halloween.
Belle Grove Plantation
King George, Virginia
Guests of Belle Grove Plantation report they have seen apparitions of Union soldiers and interacted with the spirit of a playful young boy named Jacob. Now operating as a bed and breakfast, Belle Grove hosts weekly ghost hunting tours and paranormal events throughout the year, capped by a two-night bash scheduled for Halloween weekend.
Beer baron William Lemp Sr. died by suicide in his family’s mansion in 1904 after losing one of his sons to illness three years earlier. Two of his heirs would later shoot themselves in the same house. William Jr. shot himself in 1922 after Prohibition killed what was left of a once-thriving company. Another, Charles Lemp, died by suicide one room over in 1949. Today, visitors can dine at the mansion (including mystery dinner events), stay overnight, or take a ghost tour to decide for themselves if the ghosts of the Lemp family still reside in the home.
Lizzie Borden House
Fall River, Massachusetts
The Lizzie Borden House was the site of one of Massachusetts’ longest-standing unsolved crimes. On Aug. 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby, were murdered with a hatchet. The younger of his two adult daughters, 32-year-old Lizzie, was the main suspect but was eventually acquitted by a all-male jury after news coverage that doubted an upper-class lady was capable of committing such a heinous crime. Fans of the macabre can take a guided tour of the home to search for supernatural clues that may help solve the mystery.
COVID-19 note: Tickets must be purchased in advance. Each tour is limited to 10 people and masks are required.
Winchester Mystery House
San Jose, California
Sarah Winchester, widow of William Wirt Winchester and heiress to his Winchester Repeating Arms fortune, spent 36 years transforming the Winchester Mystery House into a vast and unusual Victorian mansion. The home has 10,000 windows and 2,000 doors, reportedly intended to confuse the evil spirits lurking in the home. Several tours are available, including a virtual tour you can take from home.
New Albany, Indiana
William Culbertson was once one of the richest men in Indiana during the latter half of the 1800s, and the stately Culbertson Mansion is a testament to his wealth. Tours focus more on the history of the home than any haunted happenings, but staff and visitors have documented many events that can’t be explained. On the list are puffs of cigar smoke appearing out of thin air, lights turning on and off, and ghostly visages roaming the halls.
COVID-19 note: Indoor tours, offered Wednesday through Sunday, are limited to 10 people. Tickets must be reserved in advance by calling at (812) 944-9600.
The Sallie House, once home to Atchison’s town physician, was named for a girl who died during an emergency appendectomy in 1906. Legend has it that the doctor had no choice but to begin the surgery before the anesthesia took effect, and girl’s last memory was of being tortured.
The home has sat unoccupied since the last tenants moved out in 1993. They blamed their exit on several unnerving incidents they had experienced, including fires that sparked out of nowhere, objects moved on their own, and experiencing a chill in the room where Sallie died. If you still need convincing that her ghost haunts the home, you can book a tour or overnight stay.
The Myrtles Plantation
St. Francisville, Louisiana
Myrtles Plantation is billed as one of America’s most haunted homes, with ghost stories that date back to the late 1700s. Like other Deep South plantations, Myrtles has a sordid history with slavery, and the ghost of a girl who is believed to have been enslaved on the plantation has been captured on film. The home now serves as a bed and breakfast and restaurant but also offers tours.
The Whaley House has been the site of a series of deaths. Legend has it the ghost of a man hanged on the grounds can be heard stomping through the halls, and specters of the Whaley family who once resided there have reportedly been spotted as well. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to take a tour: the house is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.