This is perhaps the question that only people fascinated with ghosts and ghost stories ask. The country actually has many, some are even tourist attractions and historical landmarks, which many people hope to buy cheap flights and affordable deals to just pay a visit. Some of the spookiest places in America used to function as hospitals with medical doctors, schools, hotels, courthouses, and theaters. Discover how they came to be known as a haunted place by reading on, and at the same time, get a good scare while you do it…
Calcasieu Courthouse – New Orleans, Louisiana
Calcasieu Courthouse is just an ordinary old beautiful building from outside when you see it in the city of Lake Charles in Louisiana. But it’s far from being ordinary, as the building is said to be haunted to this day. As the story goes, a former female escort, Toni Jo Henry was tried for robbing and murdering a man named Joseph P. Calloway in the courthouse. Because of her innate charm, lawyers had to go through three trials before a jury finally convicted her with a death sentence. Many years after Toni Jo Henry’s death by electrocution, some people report that they often smell burning hair, plus she reportedly makes life difficult for employees of the courthouse.
New Amsterdam Theatre – New York City
To understand the haunting of the New Amsterdam Theatre, you must be familiar to the story of an actress named Olive Thomas. She was a beautiful woman who started as a chorus girl then became a silent-film actress. When Thomas went on a ‘second honeymoon’ to Paris with her husband Jack Pickford, she never returned to America alive. Thomas accidentally ingested mercury bichloride liquid solution that caused her early demise. Her ghost is said to wander around the theatre where she used to perform, carrying a blue pill bottle, often appearing exclusively to a few people.
Crescent Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
If Crescent Hotel’s history is not creepy, then we don’t know what is. The property was used in many different ways; as a junior college, a young women’s conservatory, and a luxury resort. But the strangest of all was when it was turned into a hospital by its owner, millionaire Norman G. Baker, who posed as a doctor that specialized in cancer cure. When his fraudulent activities were discovered, he escaped but many claim that his spirit has returned to haunt the place, along with eight other ghosts.
Devil’s Tramping Ground – North Carolina
If you drive your car 50 miles south of Greensboro towards the North Carolina woods, there you’ll find a place people call the Devils Tramping Ground. The specific place is called so because nothing grows on the mysterious circle, not a tree or plant. Locals came up with a legend that the strange circle is where the devil dances and stomps on each night. Furthermore more, whenever people placed belongings on the circle at night, they can be found thrown out of the circle the next morning.
Dock Street Theatre – Charleston, South Carolina
Probably a hefty business loan helped the owner of the Dock Street Theatre to rebuild the Planters Inn on the property after it was destroyed by fire. Perhaps the hotel business was not profitable back then that led to the inn becoming switched back to a theater. Many people have reported of different ghost sightings, the most famous of them is that of Nettie Dickerson, a female escort who, according to stories died in the hotel after being struck by lightning. Many said her ghost is seen in a red gown with crazy eyes.
The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, Colorado
Many people are fascinated by ghost stories, which is why many businesses capitalize on this, such as the Stanley Hotel. Hotel deals are offered to guests that include ‘ghost tours’. The hotel became notorious as a haunted place after it was used as the setting for the Stephen King novel-turned-movie, The Shining. That alone has lured many visitors to the hotel. But aside from ghosts that were seen in the movie, people claim of ghost sightings and phantom piano music playing at night.
Gettysburg Battlefield – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The Battle of Gettysburg is considered the bloodiest battle during the American Civil War because of the number of casualties that occurred here. The battle took place in what is now called the Gettysburg Battlefield, the borough composed of 4 acres where military engagements happened. Because of the untimely demise of around 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, the place is believed to be haunted by their souls. Many said they saw apparitions, while others claim to have heard phantom cries of wounded soldiers.
Winchester House – San Jose, California
There are those who look at the Winchester “Mystery” House as some sort of a product of futuristic architecture, but most would agree it’s more of a Victorian-inspired fun house because of its weird construction. Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester, a rifle magnate, had house built with not even a master building plan or blueprint. Although her husband died of tuberculosis, she believed a seer when she told her that her husband was killed by the ghosts of those who died because of the Winchester firearms. Thus she got doors made that open up to brick walls and stairs that led to ceilings, all to mislead the vengeful spirits that wouldn’t get her. Today, the property is owned by Winchester Investments LLC, and functions as a tourist attraction. Some claim the third floor of the house is the most haunted, where phantom footsteps and disembodied voices can be heard.
Hotel Monte Vista – Flagstaff, Arizona
Hotels are the last places people would want to be haunted, since they’re supposed to be places for rest and relaxation. If you are planning a trip to Arizona, better stay away from the Hotel Monte Vista, because they reportedly have mischievous ghosts around. There are said to be ghosts of women who try to suffocate men in their sleep, disturbing cries of an infant that can be heard, and the ghost of room 210 who loves to hang raw meat from the chandelier. True Grit star John Wayne was said to have had paranormal experiences during his stay at the hotel.
Lincoln Park Zoo – Chicago
There is a whole different kind of tour happening at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and it doesn’t involve animals. We are referring to ghost tours! In case you don’t know, the zoo is one of the oldest ones in America, since it was founded in 1868. However, prior to becoming a zoo, it was the city’s burial grounds. Some of the reported haunting activities in the Lincoln Park Zoo includes apparitions of people dressed in Victorian outfits, the Lion House white lady, flickering lights, disembodied voices, and phantom footsteps.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast – Fall River, Massachusetts
One of the most famous haunted places in America is the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast located at Fall River, Massachusetts. It is the location of two murders, said to have been perpetuated by Lizzie Borden. The victims of the ‘axe murders’ were Lizzie’s father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby Borden. Although acquitted by the court after defense lawyers pinned the murders on her, she was still ostracized by society. Some, who have stayed at the bed and breakfast, as well as its staff members have reported seeing apparitions in Victorian-era clothing, hearing footsteps in the hall when no one’s around, and even weeping sounds.
Masonic Temple – Detroit
When you see the Masonic Temple in Detroit, it’s hard not to get creeped out by its Gothic facade. It is said to have a thousand rooms, 16 floors, hidden staircases, hidden floor compartments, and secret passageways. Ghost stories related to the Masonic Temple include sighting of a man who climbs the stairs up to the building’s rooftop. People believe it’s the ghost of the building’s architect, George D. Mason, who was depressed and leapt to his death because of bankruptcy.
Mizpah Hotel – Tonopah, Nevada
Perhaps hotel deals are available if you want to stay at the Mizpah Hotel, which was renovated and reopened in 2011 by its new owners. You can stay in it if you have an affinity to old hotels and ghost stories. The Mizpah was first opened in 1907 and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. It’s well-known resident ghost is the so-called ‘Lady in Red,’ who wanders the hotel leaving pieces of her broken pearls on pillows and murmuring in the ears of men. Legend has it that the ghost was of a female escort who was murdered out of jealousy on the fifth floor of the hotel.
Moon River Brewing Company – Savannah, Georgia
It’s hard to imagine a brewing location frequented by medical doctors years before, but this is what happened at the Moon River Brewing Company, because it used to be a hospital for yellow fever patients during the Civil War. The place is now famous for being one of the most haunted places in the country, maybe because it witnessed many deaths. Some of its famous ghosts include a ‘Mrs. Johnson,’ an angry spirit called Toby, and an unnamed woman dressed in period clothing.
Pine Barrens – New Jersey
Pine Barrens is a vast place in New Jersey that is composed of one million acres of land. During the colonial period, the place thrived, with its residents having sizable bank accounts. When people discovered coal in Pennsylvania, residents of Pine Barrens left and the villages they established turned into ghost towns. The place is said to be the home to a creature called the ‘Jersey Devil,’ the thirteenth child of a certain Deborah Leeds, born in 1735. Well, at least, that’s according to the urban legend.
Pittock Mansion – Portland, Oregon
One of the haunted places on this list that people would be interested to visit is perhaps the Pittock Mansion in Oregon, because the ghosts that have been reportedly staying in the place are not angry spirits at all. They are said to be of Oregonian pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock, who built the Pittock Mansion, which is considered their dream house. Ideas of the design of the house, including its windows and flooring, were provided by the couple. Even after death, people say their spirits still linger here.
Queen Anne Hotel – San Francisco
The establishment now known as the Queen Anne Hotel was built in 1890, originally intended to be a school, specifically an etiquette school for girls. The word ‘etiquette’ sure needs to mentioned, because the ghost that frequents the hotel appears to have them. Some guest have reported their blankets tucked around them closely when they wake up, while others claimed their packed bags got ‘unpacked’ and neatly arranged during the night. The most haunted place is room 410, with its resident ghost being the former headmistress of the school, Miss Mary Lake.
Eastern State Penitentiary – Philadelphia
Lying on a good mattress is perhaps the last thing to happen in a prison, especially at the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was notorious many years ago for their one of a kind solitary confinement. The Gothic-style prison is said to have been built in 1829, and when it was opened, prisoners there stayed in their gloomy rooms alone, ate and exercised alone, and when they had to be transferred, a hood was placed on their heads. Reports of hauntings are abound, such as whispers that can be heard, and apparitions of former inmates wandering through the corridors. One of the well-known prisoners of the Eastern State Penitentiary was the gangster Al Capone.
RMS Queen Mary – Long Beach, California
RMS Queen Mary used to be a luxury ship until it was purchased in the late 1960s and turned into a hotel that is still open today. For a brief period of time, it also served as a war ship during World War II, which maybe one of the reasons why paranormal activities surrounding the place have been reported. Owners are certainly taking advantage of this, with twilight tours and séances available for guests to participate in. Some of the famous ghosts include little children who have drowned in the pool, the ship’s engineer, and a lady in white.
San Fernando Cathedral – San Antonio, Texas
It’s not clear if San Fernando Cathedral is haunted at all, because reports of ghost sightings started only after human bones with tattered military uniforms were unearthed here back in 1936. But many people claim the San Fernando Cathedral, considered to be the oldest church in Texas, is a place only the fearless can visit at night. Orbs appearing in photographs, shadowy figures, and a man dressed as a monk wandering the place — these are just some of the paranormal happenings at the church that people reported.
St. Augustine Lighthouse – Florida
When you see a lighthouse, you’d be reminded of romantic stories, not scary ones. But the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida is said to have regular ghost visitors, even if an estimated 225,000 people visit the place annually. Some of the place’s otherworldly guests include ghosts of three young girls who drowned while playing in a cart in the ocean near the lighthouse, as well as the apparition of the lighthouse keeper who died from a fall while painting the facade of the tower.
The LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans, Louisiana
The LaLaurie Mansion used to be a place filled with laughter and enjoyment, because the owner, Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, held many ritzy soirees at the mansion. Well, at least that was what people thought of the place, until the 1834 fire that started in the kitchen, destroying most of the kitchen cabinets, furniture, and appliances. Upon inspection, local police found mutilated bodies of slaves at the mansion’s attic. LaLaurie was able to flee to France, escaping imminent prosecution. But according to people, her spirit returned to haunt the place, along with her victims whose screams can be heard at night.
The Shanghai Tunnels – Portland, Oregon
Human trafficking has been happening for hundreds of years, but it was probably worse now before than today. The Shanghai Tunnels is one of the places notorious for human trafficking activities. Apparently, swindlers had trap doors set up at saloons, and when unsuspecting men became too intoxicated, they deposited them in it and lead them through the underground tunnels to be drugged and imprisoned until they are ready to be sold as slaves in ships. The practice is called ‘shanghaiing’ because they ships they boarded sailed to East Asia. Ghosts of those people who died while captive in the tunnel are said to haunt the place.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum – Weston, West Virginia
What happened at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum during the 1950s seems to come straight out of a horror movie. Building contractors designed the asylum to house it’s 250 patients, but the number is said to have reached around 2,400 by the 50s. Because of overcrowding, patients were forced to live in inhumane conditions that eventually led them to commit violent acts, attacking staff members and even starting fires. Although it has shut down, many ghosts of those who died in the asylum still linger. Ghost tours are available if you’re into that kind of stuff, and you may even experience the paranormal up close and the condition of the place.
Whaley House – San Diego, California
The Whaley House has been called as the ‘Most Haunted Place’ in America. But before it gained notoriety, the house was considered the best in the area in San Diego called Old Town. It was the first brick house in the place built by Thomas Whaley, one of the early settlers in San Diego. Part of it became a courthouse, and others a theater, and general store. When the Whaley family moved in, they said that they heard heavy footsteps they believed belonged to the criminal James “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was hanged in the courthouse after being found guilty of stealing a boat. Many members of the Whaley family died in the house, including Violet Whaley, Thomas’s daughter, who committed suicide. Reports claim many ghosts roam the house, including some of the Whaley family.