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Paranormal Idol

You know them, you love them, and you sometimes get a little tired of them. You love hearing about the ghosts experienced by people at these locations, but they’ve been so over-exposed by those paranormal TV-series on Sci-Fi Channel, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and all the others that you probably don’t pay much attention anymore.

It’s the Hotel Del Coronado and the Whaley House in San Diego. It’s the Winchester House in San Jose and the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. It’s Eastern State, it’s Waverly Hills Hospital, it’s the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the Lizzie Borden House, the Myrtles Plantation near New Orleans, Louisiana and oh, look! Yet, another investigation at Alcatraz again for Frank Morris and the Anglin Brothers or whoever making the noises there.

It’s the same over-exposed locations again and again and again and again. You know where I’m going with this. Even the Mythbusters have been to Alcatraz! You know the legends and hauntings by memory. You’ve got the witness testimony memorized down pat. They’re the over-exposed haunted houses. At least one of them are going to pop up again when you switch on Haunted Travels or rent that paranormal documentary at the video store.

It seems that celebrity status extends to the afterlife. It seems to have reached a point where you get the feeling Thomas Whaley, Lizzie Borden and even the Bell Witch must be giving autographs wherever ghosts go on vacation. In some ways, they’re like actors and celebrities. You never know where they are going to appear and they shun the ghost-hunting paparazzi. If only the notorious presence at Amityville wasn’t so mean and nasty – he must come off as the Sean Penn of the afterlife.

Could you imagine a paranormal version of American Idol auditioning little known and obscure ghosts auditioning to be the future stars of tomorrow? I could. It would be set at the Stanley Hotel, and the judges would be famous ghosts from those over-exposed locations. The judges would be Thomas Whaley, Kate Morgan from the Del Coronado and at least one British ghost from across the pond to be blatantly honest and just a bit vicious. I have heard the spirit of Benny Hill has been seen at his old Thames TV Studios, but he was so private in her personal life that I doubt he’d want to participate. How about the ghost of King Henry VIII? I’m sure he’d like to get away from all those ex-wives angry with him. Now, I’d like to introduce the contestants:

There are countless obscure haunted locations in the United States and abroad, and I wanted to reveal my favorites. They’re locations of heartbreak and sometimes even a bit of comical intent. They’re the locations haunted by the stars of yesteryear like the Hollywood Roosevelt in California where Marilyn Monroe still checks her reflection in a mirror and Montgomery Cliff marches back and forth outside his room blowing a bugle and practicing his lines for one of his movies.

They’re locations of fear and terror like the Grant Corner Inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico or locations where the ghosts of history walk like the White House where Abraham Lincoln attended séances held by his wife and would later return after death to wake up his predecessors. Lincoln had more surviving ex-presidents during his term than any other president. Maybe he thought he’d get to do the same, and in some way, he has met more of his predecessors than any other former president.

The first Paranormal Idol contestant I want to tell you about is Madame Mineurecanal. In life, she was a great Creole lady, but for some reason or another, she committed suicide along with her dog in her New Orleans home on Constance Street. I don’t know if the house still exists in the post-hurricane city, but after death, her spirit was witnessed several times with her dog ascending from the stairway to her attic by the children who lived there afterwards. The children of the later tenants had minimal encounters with her, and she slapped one cousin across the face for offending her. Whether her ghost still walks the location where she once lived is one question I’d like answered.

I’d also like to tell you the story of Florence Wright, a young beauty who had her portrait painted by an obscure painter named J. Wells Champney. Her spirit attached itself to that painting and became known for haunting the Haw Branch Plantation near the hamlet of Amelia Plantation where she is joined by numerous ghosts as well as by the artist of her picture. Champney died in a crashing elevator in New York City, and such a sound has been heard at Haw Branch. Other ghosts to the area create screams in the night, the scent of fresh oranges where there are none, the sound of humming and the visage of a floating lantern from beyond the house.

Located in Naperville, Illinois, the Dodd House was once haunted by a dark spirit with no eyes. When they lived here, Jayme Dodd and his wife Christine heard groaning from under the porch, had an attic light that came on by itself, watched windows shake violently and had objects constantly vanishing. Rumbling noises came from under the house and a dark hunched over figure moved across a wall. On one occasion, a sulphurous-smelling white mist appeared and crept across the floor and began to surround the Dodds. After a short period of time, the Dodds made like the Lutz family and departed the house, skipping the obligatory sensationalistic exploitation and movie deals.

Chicago dentist Dr. Kevin Cassidy worked from his home, which is another favorite case of mine. At the time in 1980, it was a 98-year old eleven-room stucco structure, and it was supposedly haunted by two spinster maids named Greta and Jane. One room stayed so cold that water for his dog froze over in its bowl. One night, Dr. Cassidy felt the sensation of someone sitting by his side on his waterbed. Flickering lights frightened his secretary and gave her the feeling she was being watched. At other times, the TV switched itself on and off and chairs shifted positions. A psychic named Tony Vaci, known for helping the Chicago police, has visited the location as well as a Catholic priest to try and exorcize the ghosts. No update to this tale to tell if he was successful.

The next ghost I’d like to visit is the ghost of an unidentified murder victim near San Antonio, Texas. It seems that in 1987, two security guards named Gabriel Contrras and Ray Agosto doing their rounds at an unidentified industrial complex were terrified by unearthly screams from out of the night and the female apparition of a murdered woman. As yet, no updates as to who the woman was or if her murder has been solved.

Actress Susan Richardson from that old Seventies TV-Series, “Eight Is Enough,” once shared her San Fernando Valley home with a ghost. She described it as a tall, skinny, bent-over old man with a white beard, and even named him “Blue Ice” because he was surrounded by a cold aura of blue light. The spirit may have come with an antique sofa to her home because when she sold the sofa, “Old Blue Ice” never appeared again. I hope he is happy where he is now. Maybe Susan can share her experiences with Neve Campbell and Mena Suvari, two other actresses who reportedly once lived in haunted houses.

Mark Miles knows all ghosts are not necessarily hideous. He shared his mansion in VeVay, Indiana with a sort of sexy young female spirit. She was a tall, brunette figure in a black Victorian dress with a high collar. She was harmless, but a little mischievous, opening shutters, turning off lights and hiding the tools of workmen restoring the structure. According to a local historian, she was the spirit of a young girl who tumbled to her death while trying to ascend the stairs in her wedding dress.

In Lebanon, Oregon, the ghosts aren’t willing to share the place. Dan and Joan Brunson were driven from their home along with their children by a female apparition in a long white gown. Sometimes preceded by the scent of strong perfume, the female ghost disturbed the family as they tried to sleep by shaking beds, creating odd noises and gliding through the house.

The ghost of Hattie Martindale was a bit worse in that she hated men. She lived in a Georgian Colonial on a bluff overlooking Center Street in Kirtland, Ohio. Her father took seventeen years building the house, finishing it in 1830, but Hattie lived in the house by herself until her death hating men after her future husband vanished with her younger sister. Recent tenants have experienced the lights flickering for no reason at all, and Margaret Haller noticed something was tearing up all the pictures of her husband. Hattie also seems fussy on where things should be in the house. When Margaret moved some pewter candlesticks to another room, Hattie moved them back to the fireplace mantle.

It still breaks my heart that Jayne Mansfield’s Pink Palace in Beverly Hills has been leveled. The location of was one of the few vestiges left behind by an actress known only for copying Marilyn Monroe, but Jayne was no dumb blonde. She had a 164 I.Q. but she was taken advantage by people she thought she could trust. As the Anna Nicole of her day, her wealth was greedily pounced on by human vultures. Jayne had been killed in a car accident while driving from Biloxi to New Orleans in a tragedy where her children, Mariska and Miklos, in the back seat survived with only minor injuries; today, Mariska is a rather popular actress in her own right. It was long claimed that Jayne was decapitated in the crash, but she wasn’t; her wig was merely knocked off her head. Jayne’s ghost reportedly visited her mother that night, and then returned to her home where she sparked all sorts of stories and rumors. One young man supposedly rode to his death on a motorbike from the property, and Mama Cass Elliot allegedly choked to death on a sandwich after buying the mansion. The story is fake, though, but however it happened, the “Mamas and the Papas” singer did pass away after acquiring the pink mansion. One girl living there believed she was possessed by Jayne and tried to become her, but Jayne didn’t like that and ordered her out of the place. Ringo Starr tried unsuccessfully to paint over the walls, but the pink kept returning. Engelbert Humperdinck purchased the place next and his guests said Jayne’s ghost looked better in death than she ever did in life, head and all.

One of the most incredible ghostly photographs came from another of my favorite locations – a deserted mansion near Greencastle, Indiana. Two young men exploring the house looking for the lady in white haunting it took numerous pictures of white shapes and orbs here before they caught the image of a figure in an upstairs window. As they used computer trickery to better fine enhance the spectral image, their spectral bride turned into a skeleton draped in white. Sadly, the structure the picture comes from no longer exists.

And then there is the old house in Detroit, Michigan haunted by an old lady lurking in a back room off the kitchen. The names of the house’s owners have been varied, but the story basically stays the same. The decomposing face of the old woman has terrified everyone who has tried to sleep in the room. The odor of rotting flesh and the persistent sign of a body buried on the property has been described, but no one has bothered to try and excavate the property to find a possible errant corpse. You’d think an enterprising person would have located this gray wood-frame house on Martin Street by now.

So there you are, twelve of my favorite haunted locations. They’re just as interesting or fascinating as any other famous site over-exposed by the media but not famous yet. Maybe someday we’ll hear more about these locations, but until then, they will remain just a few of the world’s more obscure haunted locations.

William Collins
William C. Uchtman has spent much of life listing haunted locales from across the world. He is the author of “Volunteer Ghosts,” a book dedicated to listing obscure haunted houses in Tennessee. He is also the creator of the Collinsport Ghost Society website (The Collinsport Ghost Society, a fictional ghost society for fictional haunted locations from television and the movies. He also maintains or is affiliated with the following websites: * The Nitpicker Society for Dark Shadows * The Official Guide to the Mythological Universe * Unsolved Mysteries Wikia * The Our Gang Wikia * The Marvel Appendix

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6 thoughts on “Paranormal Idol

  1. I have to agree about all those places like Stanley Hotel, Eastern State Pen., and others like that, are totally overexposed. It seems like every ghost hunter show has been to these places. Not that I don’t like watching them, it is always interesting to find out the history and haunts of places I never heard of. I enjoyed reading some of you favorites.

  2. I own the house where Madame Mineurecanal resides and am glad to say it remains untouched by hurricanes. Travel channel did a story on it for Dead Files; the episode was White Widow

  3. Oh my goodness! What an honor to have you stop by and share this with us, Nola. THANK YOU for letting us know it was not affected by the hurricanes, and even what episode to find it on the Dead Files! How wonderful!

  4. My parents bought the Martindale homestead from Timothy Martindale’s nephew in the mid 60s. Our family lived in the main house till 1971. As children, we were thrilled and frightened at the same time to be living in a haunted house. Can’t say I ever witnessed Hattie visually but felt her presence was there!

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