Nothing says Halloween like an old-fashioned ghost story — and we have ten of them about real-life haunted houses around the world. Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, these chilling tales reveal a fascinating history about each property’s former residents and the cities themselves. The homes are also wonderfully creepy to look at. Get into the Halloween spirit by learning about these haunted abodes, and feel free to share your own ghost stories, below.
Winchester Mystery House
San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House, built and owned by gun magnate widow Sarah Winchester until 1922, claims to be a haunted location. “There have been numerous reports of paranormal activity, by both guests and employees. Psychics have said that there are three spirits currently residing in the mansion,” the estate’s website indicates. The depressed widow once consulted a medium, who claimed that her family and fortune were being haunted by the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles — including soldiers and Native Americans. The medium advised that the only way to keep the restless spirits at bay was to build them a house. “As long as construction of the house never ceased, Mrs. Winchester could rest assured that her life was not in danger.” From 1884 until her death, Winchester used her inheritance to fund the ongoing construction. The house contains 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, two basements, and three elevators. Spirit sightings and other phenomenon have been frequently reported.
The Amityville House
In 1975, the Lutz family moved into a Dutch Colonial house on 112 Ocean Avenue in the suburbs of Long Island, New York. They moved out after only 28 days, leaving all their possessions behind. The home was the site of a murder just thirteen months prior. Ronald DeFeo, Jr. shot and killed his family (six people). The Lutz’s claimed they were terrorized by paranormal spirits while they lived there, but numerous people have come forward throughout the years claiming the story was completely fabricated and that the Amityville haunting was a hoax. The debate continues to swirl. The documentary My Amityville Horror was released earlier this year and centered on one of the Lutz children, Daniel, who supported his parents’ story and made claims of possession and telekinesis. The house still stands today, although it’s iconic quarter round windows have been altered. The Lutz’s story was turned into a popular horror film, The Amityville Horror.
St. Francisville, Louisiana is the site of the Myrtles Plantation, built in 1796. Now a bed and breakfast, the Antebellum property has been dubbed one of the most haunted locations in America and is said to be home to a dozen or more ghosts. Reports of multiple murders on the property have been investigated, concluding that only one (the murder of William Winter) is actually on record. Rumor has it that the plantation is built on top of an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground. The home’s most famous ghost, a former slave named Chloe, still wanders the property. Reportedly, Chloe was the mistress of the Myrtles’ former owner, and she poisoned the family. The facts of the story have been disputed, but visitors and ghost hunters claim to have photos and other physical evidence that proves otherwise.
Monte Cristo Homestead
Pioneer Christopher William Crawley built Australia’s Monte Cristo Homestead in 1884 on top of a hill, overlooking the town of Junee in New South Wales. The family lived there until 1948, but their happy home life wasn’t without tragedy. Crawley died in 1910 from an infected carbuncle on his neck, and it’s said that the distraught Mrs. Crawley only left the house twice during the next 23 years. Several accidents, deaths, and strange incidents, including the murder of a caretaker and the imprisonment of a mentally challenged man, have made the homestead a curious attraction.
Unexplained footsteps, apparitions, the appearance of phantom coaches and human skulls, poltergeist, and other terrifying occurrences have been reported at the site of the Borley Rectory over the years. The spooky Victorian mansion, considered the most haunted house in England by many, was home to several rectors (and their families) from 1862, until a fire in the late 1930s. The wife of one clergyman, Marianne Foyster, claimed to be the target of spirits during the family’s stay there, but the stories were disputed once it was discovered she was having an affair with one of the rectory’s lodgers. Even after the home was demolished in 1944, reports of ghosts continued. The hauntings at the Borley Rectory are still investigated to this day.
The Bélmez Faces House
There are many faces at the Pereira family home in Bélmez de la Moraleda, Spain — but none of them are human. Since the 1970s, residents have reported the mysterious appearance (and sudden disappearance) of faces on the concrete floor of the home. The ghostly images have been studied, photographed, and documented (the mayor of Bélmez even ordered the floor to be removed for research at one point), but no conclusive opinion has been reached on the matter. Some believe the images are thoughtographic phenomenon — the ability to “burn” an image onto a surface with the power of the mind. Others say the faces are a forgery or simply a chemical reaction. Despite those claims, visitors and investigators flock to the home in droves.
Montego Bay’s Rose Hall has a storied history, filled with tales of a white witch named Annie Palmer. Legend has it that Annie, an English woman who spent most of her life in Haiti, was introduced to witchcraft and voodoo by her nanny. She later used her powers to murder three husbands, until she was murdered herself by a slave named Takoo. Johnny Cash even recorded a song about Annie called “The Ballad of Annie Palmer.” The home’s underground tunnels are haunted by Annie, and her spirit is frequently called forth during séances in the 650-acre mansion.
Overlooking Ballygally Bay in Northern Ireland is the Ballygally Castle (now a hotel), which hails from the 17th century. “I’m sort of very skeptical about the whole supernatural thing and ghosts. But the more I stay here and work here, the more I think there’s definitely something in this hotel,” one of the owners said in 2003. The picturesque property is home to many ghosts, but the most active spirit is that of Lady Isabelle Shaw (a friendly spirit), wife of Lord James Shaw, who built and lived in the castle until 1799. The Lady is said to have fallen from the top of the tower after being locked inside by her husband, but many believe she was pushed.
Edinburgh Castle, a fortress in Scotland that was a residence until the 17th century, was the site of many battles. Where there is war and bloodshed, there are angry and restless spirits — and the castle is considered one of Scotland’s most haunted locations. Visitors have reported phantom people and animals, as well as the spirits of prisoners (many reportedly roam the dungeon). In 2001, the castle was the site of one of the largest scientific investigations of the paranormal, but researchers could not find a rational explanation for all their findings.
Chaonei No. 81
No one wants to go near Beijing’s Chaonei No. 81 — a three-story French Baroque-style house that has been abandoned for years. Properties in the area sell for millions of dollars, but the Chaonei remains untouched for a reason. The Qing imperial family built the mansion, which was later occupied by a Kuomintang official whose wife hung herself from the rafters after the Communists invaded the city. Many dispute the legend, but the Chaonei’s ghostly aura frightens locals and continues to inspire scary stories.