This is a guest post by William Collins.
Since I was eleven years old, I’ve been keeping expansive lists of haunted houses. It started out on a yellow pad, moved to a journal that I rewrote and reworked over the years and now has been gradually transferred to series of lists on my flash drive.
Over the years, I’ve worked on adding locations from books, paranormal TV shows and websites on to the list, each time taking a bit of time to update or correct the info and convert it into a standard format (no abbreviations, no counties, no extraneous info…) with a tag that gives me the main source of reference. I’ve mentioned it a lot to other paranormal enthusiasts, but I get the impression that not many people are that impressed by the task because there are so many haunted house lists on the Internet. Most of them are formatted directly from the Shadowlands website; I mean it’s so obvious. The exact same typos and misinformation are still present, but a few sites are as innovative enough to create entirely new lists showcasing locations on a theme, often mentioning new locations, new activity or new information, such as, yes, God, it’s true, addresses, photos and history.
One of the things I like most about working on my haunted house list is getting to learn about forgotten moments of history only known from being connected to haunted locations. A good example is Patty Cannon, a Maryland woman who kidnapped and abducted blacks and Free Men to sell as slaves in the Deep South. How about a skirmish between Indians and Dutch settlers in a Delaware neighborhood? In Washington, Dr. Linda Burfield-Hazzard, who ran a sanitarium at the turn of the century and tried to cure her patients by starving them. What about a modern boy’s camp haunted by the ghost of Indian Chief Philip known for the Historic King Philip’s War?
For any serious haunted house buff, the best way to learn about a new place to find ghosts may not be searching the Internet or buying the next new book on haunted houses. It may be easiest to just ask someone, “What are your favorite haunted locations.” I’ve been asked it a few times, and in my case, the list almost always varies, but the list almost always stays the same. Here is my personal top ten haunted house list in no particular order.
1. Ellis Middle School – Hendersonville, Tennessee
How cool is it to be into ghosts while you’re a teenager in high school and then hear that some of your friends are attending a haunted high school in your own hometown? That’s what it was like for me. The Berry Family was one of the founding families of my town, and in the 19th Century, they owned a huge parcel of property that was made smaller by the creation of Old Hickory Lake in the Twenties and then sub-divided into neighborhoods in the Forties. One of the last known family members, Nannie Smith-Berry, according to legend, did not want a school built on the property, and after her death, the night cleaning crew reported hearing footsteps in the building, formerly Hendersonville High School, but now renovated into Ellis Middle School. Other people heard the disembodied footsteps as well, and others saw shadows in the windows of the upstairs library. At the height of the stories, the TV series, “That’s Incredible,” was going to do a story on the hauntings, but passed on it for other stories. Since then, the location has not had much notoriety or a serious investigation. It is also possible the renovation drove away the ghosts away, but as any ghost hunter will tell you, renovations usually stir them up. Even if you can’t visit the location, the Berry Family’s original home, Rock Castle, is a local landmark, and while not as haunted as the school, it has a few stories to tell.
2. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – Hollywood, California
Marilyn Monroe is considered one of the single most iconic faces to come out of Hollywood. Her death signaled the end of Hollywood innocence, and what is more intriguing than hearing it might still be possible to meet her since her possible accidental suicide, if but as a spirit at the old Hollywood Roosevelt, the site of the very first Academy Awards. The hotel was built exclusively for movie stars, and Marilyn’s ghost is said to haunt the swimming pool area in a bathing suit and the lobby, often pausing to check her make-up in a corner mirror. The ghost of Montgomery Cliff also haunts the hall outside his old upstairs room where he blows a bugle to rehearse his role in “From Here To Eternity.” In a Halloween special, “In Search Of Haunted Hollywood,” hosted by John Davidson, a group of researchers discovered a cold spot in the old ballroom confirming the location was full of ghosts.
3. Pink Palace – Los Angeles, California
Jayne Mansfield was not just the mother of TV actress Mariska Hargitay, and one of Hugh Hefner’s most favorite pin-up stars, but she was also one of Hollywood’s most under-appreciated actresses. Jayne was a struggling actress who wanted to be accepted and who tried to be like Marilyn, but was more like the Anna Nicole Smith of her time. Beautiful and animated, she was often taken for granted by others who knew how to exploit her, and that’s what makes her life that much more tragic. Since her death in a 1967 car accident, several people have seen Jayne’s ghost in the halls of her Beverly Hills home and even sunbathing on the grounds. It has also been rumored a few later tenants fell under a curse, and that one would-be actress living there tried turning herself into Jayne until screams one night ordered her out. Ringo Starr tried to paint over the pink walls, but the pink paint kept returning. Engelbert Humperdinck lived there afterward, but, sadly, sold it to a developer who knocked it to the ground, removing forever all chances for a paranormal investigation of the site and destroying one of the last mortal links to Jayne Mansfield.
4. Franklin Castle – Cleveland, Ohio
What I love about this house is the sheer chilling tales to come out of it. I sometimes call it Tiedemann Castle after the German family who built it, but it is usually named for the fact that it rests on Franklin Street. Several tenants have tried living here including a group of Socialists who used it as a meeting hall. Rumors of missing children and human bones in cupboards speckle the known history, and one tenant reportedly received a phone call from a ghostly little girl in the middle of the night. The place possibly has more atmosphere than anywhere else, but the modern history is even more convoluted. A new owner was trying to restore it, but doubts into property rights and record of ownership better off explained elsewhere have delayed restoration and potential investigations.
5. Brookdale Lodge – Brookdale, California
If there is one location that deserves to be visited by “Ghost Hunters” or by the “Ghost Adventures” team over any other location, it is the Brookdale because of the sheer number of stories to already come out of it. Barely examined on “Sightings,” the lodge was built over a creek that pours through its dining room and is haunted by a small girl who drowned there. Apparitions, sounds, footsteps, poltergeist activity, a jukebox that comes on by itself, legends of Mafia ties – what this place lacks in presence it makes up with in intensity. The Klinge Brothers of “Ghost Lab” might say it is possibly so intense because of the energies of the creek going into it, but I’m saying it’s that haunted because it is that much more fascinating!
6. Highfield Hall – Falmouth, Massachusetts
A location where multiple ghosts are seen moving up and down the staircase? You’ve got my attention. That totally beats the locations where one ghost walks down the staircase then waits three months to do it again. Built as a summer home by the Beebe family in 1878, this chilling atmospheric location appeared in “Ghosts Of Cape Cod” on Travel Channel in the Late 90s and still lurks in my imagination as the setting of so many fictional haunted house stories.
7. McPike Mansion – Alton, Illinois
If you were to picture the atypical haunted house, it would look like this place! It has the derelict conditions, the unkempt yard, the deserted interior and it has the ghosts! First featured on “Scariest Places On Earth,” it was named as one of “Most Terrifying Places In America” and revisited on “Ghost Caught On Tape.” Rumor has it and so many local locations are haunted because the stones in them came from a haunted prison in the area. How many small locations get to appear on that many TV shows without the names Waverly, Myrtles, Winchester, Whaley or Eastern State in the name? If I hear any more about those locations, I’m going to scream, but McPike, I cannot stop hearing enough about it.
8. O’Hare House – Greencastle, Indiana
I sometimes refer to this location as the Winters-Lambert Place after the two photographers that caught chilling photos of ghosts here. On “Ghosts Caught On Tape,” the two men revealed photos of strange lights here and my favorite most terrifying image, the image to out-do all ghost photos, the spectral bride in a window who after being computer-enhanced, looked more like a skeleton wrapped in a sheet. The location was even updated on “My Ghost Stories” on BIO, which revealed the owner of the property leveled the place to keep paranormal researchers out of it, quite possibly the most despicable thing in the world to do. I don’t know who I have more sympathy for: the researchers who lost the chance to visit the place, or the ghosts of Mary O’Hare and her relatives driven homeless by their cold-hearted landlord. Maybe when he passes over, they’ll get the chance to kick his ass.
9. Poveglia Island – Venice, Italy
What is it that I like about this place? Hmmm, could it be the place is reported to be so haunted that locals believe it is cursed and don’t even like to talk about it. Uh, no… I’d say their feelings about the place are more about its past as a former leper colony. Could it be the fact that “Scariest Places On Earth” exaggerated this place up the hilt to terrify a family from North Carolina? How about the fact that when Zak Bagan and his “Ghost Adventures” crew came here that they got EVPs in ghostly Italian voices? Maybe… but I think the reason that this is the only foreign location on the list is the fact that like a lot of haunted house fans that I have a past as a closet urban explorer and seeing that many deserted structures in one place brings out an urge to want to explore it. Well, maybe if “Ghost Hunters International” has a spare seat on the plane… preferably right next to Kris Williams…
10. An unidentified deserted hotel
A deserted mountain hotel off the beaten path where ghosts of former guests wake the living, and it’s not the Stanley Hotel? This location intrigued me from the first time I read about it, but apart from weak memories of location photos from a long forgotten book, I still have not been accurately identify it to my satisfaction. All I recall images of a wooden hotel resort surrounded by trees that was reported to have gone bankrupt and was sitting abandoned except for the ghosts. Was it in Colorado? Montana? Utah? California? Was it even west of the Mississippi? All I know is, when I find it again, I’ll know it.