Ten of the most bizarre, real-life haunted house stories you’ll ever hear
1 The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri
Start strong with a scary house: The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis. This haunted place is famous for its tragic past and is one of America’s most haunted.
William Lemp, a successful brewery entrepreneur, built the 33-room house in the 1860s. He died in 1904, after Frederick, his youngest son, had died. His wife died from cancer in the home a few years later. In 1922, William Lemp Jr. shot himself in the same room where William Sr. had died.
As if this weren’t enough tragedy, Charles Lemp, William’s third son, shot his dog in the basement and then committed suicide in his room. The house was then sold and turned into a boarding home, where hauntings were reported. Destination America reports that witnesses experienced burning sensations as well as slamming doors.
The Lemp Mansion, a restaurant, and inn which also hosts events, is now open. The inn hosts a Murder Mystery Dinner every Sunday.
2 The Villisca Axe Murder house in Villisca (Iowa)
Josiah Moore and Sarah Moore were killed in their Villisca home on June 10, 1912. The crime was also committed against their four children and two of their friends, who were staying the night. It is considered to be one of the most haunted homes in the country and attracts many people. For one night, guests can pay up to $400+
The Villisca-Axe Murderhouse website states that “Tours were cut short by children’s voices, falling lamps and moving ladders as well as flying objects.” After spending the night, a paranormal investigator was stabbed to death. The website states that “Skeptics are now believers.”
Episode 2 of House Beautiful’s haunted house podcast Dark House tells the full story about the Villisca Axe murder house. You can listen to the episode by clicking here.
3 Jean Harlow House, Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is a great place to hunt for haunted houses. This Bavarian-style home located in Beverly Hills has an especially gruesome past. It was the home of Jean Harlow, an iconic actress, and Paul Bern, her abusive husband. In 1932, he shot himself in his head standing in front of the mirror. There were many rumors that he was not dead. His butler found him and called MGM rather than the police. Many believed Bern was his ex-girlfriend. This suspicion was exacerbated when she jumped off a boat to her drowning death two days later. Jean, who was 26 at the time, moved away after Bern’s death.
But wait–it gets creepier. Jay Sebring, a celebrity hairdresser, bought the house in 1963 and lived there until Sharon Tate left for Roman Polanski. They were close friends and continued to be so until their deaths by the Charles Manson cult. Tate was the same age as Harlow at her death.
Back to the Harlow House when they lived. Tate shared with friends creepy events in the house and even mentioned them in interviews. One example: Tate saw a “creepy little guy” while she was alone in her master bedroom. According to her friends, she believed that it was Paul Bern’s ghost. After seeing the ghost, she was so scared that she ran from the room. She then saw a shadowy corpse hanging in the hallway with its throat cut. Two other deaths occurred in the pool over time, according to stories.
4 SK Pierce House
There are many haunted mansions in Massachusetts, and the SK Pierce Victorian is no exception. Sylvester Pierce was just starting in furniture manufacturing when he built the home for his son and his wife Susan. He was a popular man in town and hosted many famous people over the years in his 7,000-square foot home, including President Calvin Coolidge, Bette Davies, and Norman Rockwell.
Susan became ill just one week after she moved into the house. She died from mysterious bacterial diseases. He married Ellen, a woman three decades his junior, one year later and had two more children. His sons began a bitter feud after Sylvester and Ellen died. However, the Great Depression hit and made it easier for them to make their decision since the furniture company was bankrupt.
Edward, the youngest son, took control of the house and made it a boarding home. According to local legend, it became a hotspot of illicit activities. This included the deaths and murders of many occupants. These violent ends led to many guests reporting every type of haunting possible, including visions of apparitions, flying objects, disembodied voices, pressure, and temperature drops, and much more.
5 Mudhouse Mansion
The Mudhouse Mansion, which is located in Fairfield County’s most extreme haunted houses in Ohio (until recently), has a poor reputation. It is not clear when it was built but most people agree that it was sometime between the 1840s-1800s. It is not possible to visit it like the other abandoned mansions listed on this list. The home was destroyed in 2015, after having been vacant since the 1930s. Lulu HartmanMast was the last legal resident. Jeanne Mast is the current owner.
There isn’t much information available about who lived there and when. Also, abandoned places can spark the dark side of our imaginations, so many legends are surrounding alleged atrocities (and subsequent hauntings). However, the sources aren’t very reliable.
6 455A Sackett Street
Ghostly apartments are not as common as haunted homes. This is because apartments have more turnover and there is a greater chance of someone (or something) being evil living there before you move in.
This was certainly the case at 455A Sacket Street, Brooklyn. A woman who grew up there wrote about her firsthand experiences with unexplained fires and seriously bad energy. She also shared stories of family tragedies and personal suffering. And, the best part? The body of a child was found in the wall, after numerous suspicious sightings in the mirror of a shadow child similar to the one she saw.
You can find her complete account and comments from others who have also lived there to support these claims. I will request an in-person viewing of this location–private balcony or otherwise–if the address is ever found in my StreetEasy feed.
7 Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Arizona
Hotel Monte Vista is home to many paranormal visitors that they just can’t let go of. The Community Hotel was built in 1927. It is named after the townpeople who raised funds to build it. This hotel has a long history of gambling, underground opium dens, and speakeasies. The paranormal activity that haunts certain rooms and halls of the hotel today is what makes it so popular.
Some guests who stayed in room 220 reported that the TV changed channels by itself. Others claimed they felt cold hands touch them while asleep. A phantom bellboy is also reported to knock on doors, claiming “room service,” but guests find no one at the door. The sound of an infant crying down the basement is one of the most common and disturbing encounters. According to the hotel, staff fled upstairs after hearing the crying sound. Although the sounds are real for those who hear them they have not been able to find any information that could explain the phenomenon.
8 Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville (Lawrence)
The Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana, is believed to be on top of a burial ground. It is home to at least 12 ghosts. Ghost stories revolve around the story of Chloe, an enslaved woman who was allegedly caught eavesdropping and had her ear cut off. Chloe, seeking revenge, poisoned a birthday cake to kill two of her master’s daughters. The other enslaved women hanged her, and she is now reportedly seen walking the plantation wearing a turban to hide her ears.
You can also stay on the plantation for $175 per night if you wish to explore it yourself.
9 Hotel Cecil Los Angeles, California
Downtown L.A.’s Hotel Cecil was more cursed than haunted. It got so bad a reputation that it changed its name to Stay on Main. You’ve probably heard of it if you’re paranormal and a fan of true crime. It’s hard to know where to start. There have been so many terrible things that have happened in this area, there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated solely to its violent past. In 1931, the first suicide death was recorded. There were many more in the following years: 1932, 1934, and 1937.
One man was pinched to the wall by a truck sometime in the 1930s. In 1944, a woman killed her baby in the building. The pattern of suicides continued well into the 1960s. A woman fell from the ninth-floor window, landing on a pedestrian and killing both of them. It is worth noting, however, that the suicide victims were killed by their husbands while they were sleeping in the bedroom.
Tenant Goldie Osgood, who was murdered in 1964, has never been found. In the 1980s, Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker”), a notorious serial killer, stayed at the hotel. Jack Unterwege, an Austrian serial killer, also lived there in the 1990s. Many other strange things happened, but Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old traveling companion, died and disappeared.
Lam disappeared a few weeks later. Tenants and visitors complained that Lam had a strange taste. Later, they found strange footage of Lam in the elevator on the night she disappeared. It is difficult to see what she is doing. She may be playing hide-and-seek with someone outside of the elevator or trying to hide from someone, but the doors don’t seem to close. The death was ruled an accidental drowning by authorities, but many suspect foul play because it requires a key to access the roof.
Ten Lui Family Mansion, Taiwan
The Minxiong Ghost House, also known as the Lui family mansion, was built in 1929 in Baroque architecture. It has a tragic history. It is located in the Taiwanese countryside and has been abandoned since the 1950s when the family fled. There are many stories about the family, and the reasons they fled the once beautiful location.
According to local legend, the maid had an affair with Liu Rongyu her employer and she jumped down the well to her death. However, since she didn’t live to tell it, who can say that another family member didn’t push her? She returned to haunt her family until she finally left. It was then occupied by the Kuomintang of China, a group of people who were believed to have committed suicide. This further exacerbated the reputation of being haunted. Many people who have visited the site report seeing ghostly things.