There is something about the idea of a haunted house (you know, a real haunted house) that is so intriguing. Maybe it’s people’s need to understand and cope with death and the afterlife. Or maybe it is just over-active imaginations and urban legends. No matter what it is, we certainly have a fascination with ghosts and hauntings. Just look at all the ghost hunting shows that have aired in the last ten years, or the perpetual haunted house motif in Horror film and fiction, which I am a huge fan of.
What is it about haunted houses that is so intriguing? Maybe a closer look at some of North America’s most haunted houses will provide a few answers.
10. Lizzie Borden House
Fall River, Massachusetts
The Lizzie Borden House is quite an infamous abode. Most people are familiar with the story, or the creepy rhyme. Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one.
Back in 1892, the home was the setting of the brutal murders of Andrew and Abby Border. Slaughtered with an axe, Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was the prime suspect, however, she was acquitted and the murders remain unsolved. The house now operates as a bed and breakfast, and you can actually stay in the room where Abby Borden was brutally murdered. (No thank you) The current owners have made sure the home is full of period decor and furniture which ups the eeriness. Last year, Country Living magazine published an article about spending the night in the ominous home which is definitely worth a read. To this day, the Lizzie Borden House remains one of the most infamous homes in America. Could you make it through a night here? I know I couldn’t.
9. La Casa de Aramberri
La Casa de Aramberri, or ‘The House of Aramberri’, tops this list when it comes to house that are haunted looking. Hands down. In 1933, a wealthy family lived in the home. One morning, after the father left for the day, men broke into the house and murdered the wife and daughter in a robbery. There were no clues, except for the family’s parrot who kept exclaiming for “Gabriel” not to kill him. Gabriel turned out to be the father’s nephew. Gabriel and two others had committed the robbery and murders and were arrested and killed for their crimes. To this day there are supernatural episodes at the now abandoned house. Reports of the seeing the two women in the windows, or hearing the screams of the mother and daughter appear to be fairly common. I mean the house just looks terrifying.
8. Franklin Castle
Built back in the 1880s, Franklin Castle was built by Hannes Tiedemann for his family. Legend has it the home has so many ornate architectural details because Tiedemann was trying to distract his wife from all the tragedy and death that surrounded them. Tiedemann’s mother, teenage daughter, three infant children, and eventually his wife all died in the house. Over the years there has been a great deal of haunted tales surrounding the house. Since the 1960s stories of crying children, and a lady in black have circulated, and many ghost tours were held there. Now the house is privately owned so we can’t do any ghost hunting of our own.
7. Craigdarroch Castle
Victoria, British Columbia
Located in one of the most haunted cities in Canada, Craigdarroch Castle is quite a stunner. Built in the late 1800s, Craigdarroch Castle was home of Scottish immigrant Robert Dunsmuir. What is interesting about this house is that the current owners do not acknowledge that the building is haunted. However, you can find a treasure trove of stories and rumors about the place online. Like this TripAdvisor review where a family claims to have seen a ghost while touring the grand home. Maybe it’s the gothic turrets and the fact that it is called a castle, but no matter what it is this place definitely gives me the chills.
6. Hager House
The Johnathan Hager House Museum located in Maryland is one of the older homes to make this list. But hey, the older the more haunted right? Built around 1740, the Hager House passed from the Hager family to the Rohrer family, and then the Hammond family before being sold to the city of Hagerstown. Reportedly, several Hammond family members passed away during the 1840s, including three adults and three infants. That’s a lot of deaths in such a short period of time. Thankfully, because the City of Hagerstown owns the house, it has been refurbished to be historically accurate to the time the home was built. Even better, every October, the city puts on candlelight ghost tours of the home. Sign me up!
5. Villisca Axe Murder House
Now doesn’t that name just scream “I’m Haunted”. This un-intimidating family home was the site of one of the most brutal unsolved murders in American history. Back in June of 1912, eight people were found in the home murdered; all of them bludgeoned with an axe. The Moore Family and their two house guests had been murdered, and their killer would never be caught, even though there were several suspects. Over the years, the house has served as the site of many paranormal investigations and has even served as the basis of the 2016 horror film The Axe Murders of Villisca. Paranormal investigators have claimed they hear voices and can even play with the children. To this day, many consider this to be one of the most haunted houses in the United States.
4. Keg Mansion
Toronto’s Keg Mansion has one particularly terrifying ghost attached to it. In 1915, Lillian Massey, who owned the home, died suddenly. Story goes that her maid, stricken with overwhelming grief, hanged herself from the vestibule above the grand staircase. It is said to this day that employees at the Keg Mansion, which is now a restaurant, sometimes see her swinging from her noose. There are also reports of the sounds of children playing and the feeling of something being in the women’s restroom. This house serves up all sorts of spooky sightings.
3. Claudia Mijangos House
This entry is the most recent on this list when it comes to being claimed as haunted. The home of Claudia Mijangos became infamous in 1989 when Mijangos murdered her three children claiming she was compelled to commit the murders by an evil entity that had possessed her. Since the horrendous crimes, locals have claimed to see children in the second story windows, as well as the sounds of children crying. It’s a truly terrible story and one that shook the community. It appears the home is now abandoned with the front fence bricked over with wire placed on top. This house doesn’t just creep you out, it stays with you.
2. House of Death
New York, New York
This unsuspecting New York City brownstone is said to be the home of over twenty ghosts. Twenty! The most famous of these ghosts being the author Mark Twain who lived in the house in 1900. As early as the 1930s there were reports of seeing his ghost around the house. Eventually, the house was divided up into several apartments, which seemed to stir up even more activity. Reports of paranormal activity in the house have included a lady in white, ghost children, and even a ghost cat. Sadly, in 1987 the House of Death was the site of the brutal murder of a child, much like other haunted houses on this list.
1. Lemp Mansion
St. Louis, Missouri
The Lemp Mansion is the haunted house of St. Louis. Considered to be one of the most haunted houses in America, the Lemp Mansion takes the cake when it comes to haunted houses. The house was the home of the Lemp family who founded Lemp Brewery, which was connected to the house via underground tunnels.
The Lemp family had numerous deaths over the years. In 1901, Frederick Lemp (heir apparent to the company) died under mysterious circumstances. Three years later, his father William shot himself in the head in one of the upstairs bedrooms. In 1920, Elsa Lemp, one of the wealthiest women in the city, committed suicide. In 1922, William J. Lemp Jr., who had inherited the company from his father, eventually had to sell it at auction for a fraction of what it was once worth. Shaken by the sale of the brewery, he shot himself in the house. The last lemp to live in the house, Charles, also shot himself in the head in the house in 1949. The house is infamous to say the least.
But that hasn’t stopped the house from becoming a destination these days. Now the Lemp Mansion is a restaurant and inn. This place has it all: you can dine here, sleep here, attend mystery dinner theater events here, get married here, and even go on a ghost tour. In recent years a haunted house attraction has annually set up in the tunnels and caves that run between the brewery and the mansion. With all of that going on, how could this not be number one on this list.