10 Seriously Paranormal American Haunts

Turns out, it’s fun being dead. Provided you lurk in the right zipcode.

At EcoSalon, we approach shelter with the philosophy that a home is more than just a roof over your head. It’s a refuge – an asylum, if you will – from the travails of everyday existence. Today being All Hallows Eve, that sentiment holds true not just for the living among us, but also for the dead. The undead, even, in the interest of fairness.

Here are ten of America’s most phantom-friendly haunts where a ghost can be a ghost without fear, recrimination and the associated heebie-jeebies.

10. Cell Block 14D, Alcatraz

Reputed to be the most haunted cell block on Alcatraz Island, witnesses claim to have seen apparitions walking the cellblocks; occasionally voices are heard emanating from what was once the cafeteria. Evidently, the food was really that bad.

9. University of Ohio in Athens, Ohio

Being dead anywhere within the city limits of Athens, Ohio is much like being alive in, say, New York City. It’s a real hotspot for the paranormal, home to a headless train conductor, pagan cults, and five major graveyards laid out to form a pentagram. Legend has it that ghosts instructed a farmer named Jonathan Koons to build a “spirit room” in which apparitions could manifest and hold conversations with him beyond the grave.

In a town like Athens, the local insane asylum has its share of ghouls. As expected. But the real action takes place on the college campus, said to be one of The Scariest Places on Earth. Funny, I thought that was high school.

8. The Hampton Lillibridge House

Savannah, Georgia is a lovely place to be a ghost, what with its temperate weather and antebellum charm. There is a plethora of old manses to haunt, too, but the Hampton Lillibridge House is a favorite. Built in 1796, strange phenomena didn’t start occurring until the 1960s. Two workers were killed during a renovation and others claimed they could hear voices, footsteps and pieces of furniture being thrown about. A particularly disturbing report is that at the mere mention of the word exorcism, a female voice could be heard screaming throughout the house.

7. The Battery Carriage House

Charleston is called “Holy City” for all the church spires dotting its skyline, something the dead and undead take very seriously. The city’s most haunted houses can be found in an area called the Battery, locale of the infamous Battery Carriage House Inn. Here, a headless torso with either, a) a macabre sense of humor or, b) a serious axe to grind, appears at the bedsides of guests in the middle of the night. Gullah legend has it that Boo Hags, a type of vampire that wears human skin as a mask and feeds off its victim’s energy while they sleep, have also been spotted in the neighborhood.

6. The Joshua Ward House

The builder of this house made the unfortunate mistake of erecting it on the foundation of George Corwin’s old home, the sheriff in charge of rounding up witches during the 1692 Salem witch trails. If anyone’s going to be haunted by a guilty conscience, poor Sheriff Corwin’s the guy.

5. The LaLaurie House

Physician Louis LaLaurie and his wife Delphine were not very nice people. Inside the walls of their picturesque French Quarter mansion, they tortured their slaves with bizarre surgical experiments and other atrocities, including the murder of a 12 year-old girl. After a fire broke out in the kitchen, fireman discovered several slaves chained to the wall of a dungeon. The LaLaurie’s fled to Paris, but the ghosts remain.

4. The Lizzie Borden House 

It almost feels boring to write about the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, MA, but it bears mentioning. Now a bed and breakfast to the stars, it was the site of an 1892 axe murder, which, I think we can all agree, is the most unpleasant kind.

3. The Winchester House

Silicon Valley – a place associated with sterile, manufactured and thus un-haunted things – is home to one of the most paranormal houses in the nation. The Winchester House in San Jose was built by gun heir Sarah Winchester, who sought the guidance of spirits in constructing her dream home. The result is an officially weird house, sanctioned as “haunted” by the state of California, with stairways leading to nowhere, windows on the floor, doorways opening, and rooms with no entrances.

2. The Whaley House

The California Department of Commerce designated this house as officially haunted, as well, prompted by budgetary concerns, or, perhaps, the research of Professor Hans Holzer. Hans is a professor of parapsychology and is considered the world’s leading expert on psychic phenomena. San Diego’s Whaley House has been host to a myriad of strange and unexplained apparitions, making it “probably the most haunted house in America.” Maybe.

1. The White House

Most ghosts stick around ‘cause it’s personal; for Washington ghosts, it’s political. Abigail Adams, the wife of President John Adams, has been seen hanging laundry in the East Room, long after it’s dried. Many guests, including right-minded political leaders like Winston Churchill, claimed to have seen the ghost of Abe Lincoln. The Queen of the Netherlands was an overnight guest at the White House and allegedly fainted after she saw an apparition of honest Abe.

Happy Halloween, kids.

Images: timekinUSA Today; Justin Masterson; f_iodinea; Battery Carriage Inn; Todds Travel Photos; Jeremy M. Farmer; abbie*christine; Travis S; peyri; Wes

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.