CLOSE
Original image
IStock

8 Haunted Houses You Can Buy Right Now

Original image
IStock

In real estate, the only thing more important to buyers than location is whether a property has ever hosted an exorcism. Unfortunately, not all states require disclosure when a home is believed to be haunted. Others, like Massachusetts, compel sellers to admit if something has happened that could result in a “psychological impact” to occupants.

While realtors may not want to get into whether a home has tested positive for blood in the walls, we do. Check out eight houses with haunted histories that you can purchase right now.

1. THE ANN STARRETT MANSION // PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON

As devoted husbands go, George Starrett set a standard. After marrying his fiancé, Ann, Starrett set about constructing a material monument to their romance. Work was completed in 1889 on this eight-bedroom, eight-bath home, which Starrett topped off with a spectacular 70-foot-tall dome tower that features paintings of Ann depicting all four seasons. Used as a bed and breakfast for years, visitors have claimed sightings of a red-haired woman believed to be Ann; others have spotted the couple’s nanny staring back at them from a mirror in what was once her bedroom. Fortunately, the entities appear to be friendly. The house is currently listed as a residential property for $850,000.

2. THE PRIESTLEY HOUSE // CANTON, MISSISSIPPI

Originally built by physician James Priestley in the 1950s, this Greek Revival home stayed in the Priestley family until the 1990s. When new owner Frankie McMillan moved in, she became concerned that Priestley’s wife, Susan, hadn’t gotten the message to clear the premises. McMillan claimed to have seen Susan in hallways and in the bedroom where the woman is believed to have died. The home was restored in 2004 and is listed for $699,000.

3. THE HOUSE ON PLANT AVENUE // WEBSTER GROVES, MISSOURI

From 1906 to 1944, a railroad car salesman named Henry Gehm occupied this 3871-square-foot pad near St. Louis. As legend has it, Gehm had dealings with a circus for transport compartments and somehow came into possession of a bear that he kept tied to a tree in the backyard. The animal’s ghost is now said to haunt the land; prior owner Robert Wheeler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1975 that he heard footsteps in the third-floor study room. If you’re interested in interacting with a paranormal zoo animal, the home can be yours for $500,000.

4. THE MORTICIAN’S WIFE HOME // DUNSMUIR, CALIFORNIA

Built in 1912, this Victorian located in Southern California has one feature not even most haunted houses can boast of: an on-site mortuary. Once the home of a mortician who used it as a viewing and chapel area—and who was later said to have spent weeks there post-mortem because his wife couldn’t bear to part with him—current owner Brad Warner has reported a fireplace spontaneously extinguishing itself and French doors slamming shut. Yours for $475,000.

5. THE SALLIE HOUSE // ATCHISON, KANSAS

How spooky does a house have to be that its current owner recommends it as an hourly rental? Pretty spooky. The Sallie House in Atchison is up for sale at $499,900 and is being openly marketed as a tourist attraction. The rash of ghost sightings, upside-down picture frames, and other unusual activity has no definitive source, though some believe a young woman named Sallie died of appendicitis in the home. In 1992, when the Pickman family moved in, stories of odd scratches on occupants and a ghost’s eerie propensity to return the TV remote to the armrest made the rounds. When they moved out in 1994, the home became a revolving door of paranormal investigators and other brave spirits.

6. THE WATCHER HOME // WESTFIELD, NEW JERSEY

While not haunted by spirits, this $1.19 million home is still struggling with uninvited attention. After a family closed on the property in 2014, they began to get a series of unsettling letters from an anonymous source. “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s,” one message read. “It is now my time. Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?” In addition to a sadistic voyeur, the home also comes with beautiful hardwood flooring.

7. THE AMITYVILLE HOME // AMITYVILLE, NEW YORK

This might be one of the most infamous addresses in history. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. lost his mind and murdered six family members on the premises of 108 Ocean Avenue. In 1975, the Lutz family moved in and promptly reported a series of supernatural occurrences, from strange noises to oozing walls. Their account was turned into a book, The Amityville Horror, and several movies of the same name. Listing agent Gerald O’Nell maintains the accounts were embellished to help DeFeo with his criminal defense. Of the four subsequent owners, he said, “none of them ran out of the house screaming.” And hey, it’s got a sun room. On sale for $850,000.

8. THE MA BARKER HOUSE // LAKE WEIR, FLORIDA

Families surrounding this lakefront property in Ocklawaha probably didn’t think much of the older woman and her four grown sons when they rented a home there in 1934. Weeks later, they found out that the polite “Mrs. Blackburn” was infamous criminal matriarch Ma Barker, who had aided her sons in several kidnapping and robbery excursions. The FBI surrounded the house, firing 2000 rounds of ammunition into it as Ma and son Freddie fired back. By the end, both were dead.

The bullet-riddled home, which was recently up for sale at a price of $889,000, is said to be inhabited by the ghost of Ma, who likes to switch lights on. (Freddie was apparently evicted in an exorcism years ago.) In a strange turn, the owners were able to sell the land earlier this year but not the house itself, which will remain on site until it’s either relocated 800 feet away or dismantled and moved entirely. Marion County is interested in purchasing it and is currently looking for funds to cover the $250,000 asking price.

Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
holidays
6 Historical Methods for Contacting the Dead (and Their Drawbacks)
Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

'Tis the season for getting in touch with the spirit realm. (This applies no matter what month we're in right now; 'tis always high time to get your séance on.) But there are several different ways you can go about it. Do you Ouija? Should you go wandering around a haunted house? No, you should probably pick up the psychic telephone.

Lapham's Quarterly helpfully charted out some of historical ways you could (supposedly) go about contacting the dead, from Chinese Fuji writing—a method that's kind of like a Ouija board, but using a stylus to make letters in sand instead of a board—to past-life regression via hypnosis. The chart lays out how each ghost-whispering concept works, and its theoretical drawbacks. Because there are always drawbacks.

Transfiguration, for instance, lets you see a spirit's face through the body of a medium, but that's a whole lot of hard work for your medium. You can listen for electronic voice phenomena via a recorder, but you have to buy the recorder first. F. R. Melton's 1921 invention, the balloon-powered psychic telephone, was a great option—except when his son George wasn't around to work it. And past-life regression, as you might imagine, holds “potential for new levels of self-hatred." No one wants to find out that their past self was a total jerk.

There are plenty of scientific and cultural explanations for seeing ghosts that don't involve the actual spirits of the dead returning to the Earthly plane, but if you're into the history of the occult, this is a great primer on spirit-conjuring traditions.

[h/t Lapham's Quarterly]

Original image
Michael Tackett - © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.
arrow
entertainment
9 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-Life Events
Original image
Michael Tackett - © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

While most horror movies are complete works of fiction, the genre occasionally offers up stories that are based on terrifying and jaw-dropping real-life events, like the nine collected here.

1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Premise: A supernatural killer stalks his prey while they dream during deep sleep. 

Real-Life Inspiration: Wes Craven based A Nightmare on Elm Street on a series of newspaper articles from the Los Angeles Times about a strange phenomenon where young Asian refugees would mysteriously die in their sleep. It was reported that many would refuse to sleep, citing terrifying nightmares that they feared would lead to death.

According to Craven, the paper "never correlated [the three articles], never said, ‘Hey, we’ve had another story like this'":

The third one was the son of a physician. He was about twenty-one; I’ve subsequently found out this is a phenomenon in Laos, Cambodia. Everybody in his family said almost exactly these lines: "You must sleep." He said, "No, you don’t understand; I’ve had nightmares before—this is different." He was given sleeping pills and told to take them and supposedly did, but he stayed up. I forget what the total days he stayed up was, but it was a phenomenal amount—something like six, seven days. Finally, he was watching television with the family, fell asleep on the couch, and everybody said, "Thank god." They literally carried him upstairs to bed; he was completely exhausted. Everybody went to bed, thinking it was all over. In the middle of the night, they heard screams and crashing. They ran into the room, and by the time they got to him he was dead. They had an autopsy performed, and there was no heart attack; he just had died for unexplained reasons. They found in his closet a Mr. Coffee maker, full of hot coffee that he had used to keep awake, and they also found all his sleeping pills that they thought he had taken; he had spit them back out and hidden them. It struck me as such an incredibly dramatic story that I was intrigued by it for a year, at least, before I finally thought I should write something about this kind of situation.

2. CHILD'S PLAY (1988)

Premise: A serial killer's soul possesses a toy doll and wreaks havoc.

Real-Life Inspiration: In 1909, Key West painter and author Robert Eugene Otto claimed that one of his family's servants placed a voodoo curse on his childhood toy, Robert the Doll. Supposedly, the doll would mysteriously move from room to room, knock furniture over, and conduct conversations with Otto. Robert the Doll was left in the attic until Otto's death in 1974, when new owners moved into his Florida home. The new family also claimed mysterious activities would happen in the house connected to the doll. Today, Robert the Doll is on display at the Custom House and Old Post Office in Key West, Florida.

3. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)

Premise: A young family moves into a house where a murder was committed, and experiences strange and terrifying occurrences.

Real-Life Inspiration: Based on the book of the same name, The Amityville Horror follows the paranormal events that terrorized the Lutz family. In 1975, the family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue where, unbeknownst to them, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. had brutally murdered his family 13 months before they arrived. While in their new home, the family claimed that they saw green slime on the walls and red-eyed pigs staring into their kitchen and living room. After less than a month, the Lutz family moved out of the small town of Amityville, New York.

4. PSYCHO (1960)

Premise: A secretary goes on the run after she steals $40,000, only to wind up in a motel where the innkeeper and his mother are more than they appear to be.

Real-Life Inspiration: Psycho's Norman Bates is loosely based on convicted murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who, during the late 1950s, killed women and unearthed corpses in Wisconsin. He also fashioned human skin into tiny keepsakes and knickknacks, such as face masks, belts, and chair coverings. Psycho's novelist Robert Bloch based Bates on Gein, but changed the character from a grave robber and murderer into a serial killer who dressed like his mother. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs also based their serial killers—Leatherface and Buffalo Bill, respectively—on Gein.

5. THE EXORCIST (1973)

Premise: Two Catholic priests perform an exorcism on a young girl who is possessed by the devil.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Exorcist's author and screenwriter William Peter Blatty based the novel and film on a Washington Post article from 1949 headlined, "Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil's Grip." The article followed Jesuit priests William S. Bowdern, Edward Hughes, Raymond J. Bishop, and Walter H. Halloran participating in the rite of exorcism on a boy with the pseudonym "Roland Doe" in Maryland. According to the priests, they allegedly experienced the boy speaking in tongues, the bed shaking and hovering, and objects flying around during the ordeal. The exorcism was one of three official Catholic Church-sanctioned exorcisms in the United States at the time.

"Maybe one day they’ll discover the cause of what happened to that young man, but back then, it was only curable by an exorcism," William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist, told Time Out. "His family weren’t even Catholics, they were Lutheran. They started with doctors and then psychiatrists and then psychologists and then they went to their minister who couldn’t help them. And they wound up with the Catholic church. The Washington Post article says that the boy was possessed and exorcised. That’s pretty out on a limb for a national newspaper to put on its front page ... But you’re not going to see that on the front page of an intelligent newspaper unless there’s something there."

6. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2007)

Premise: An aunt tortures and abuses her niece, and a neighborhood boy fails to alert the authorities.

Real-Life Inspiration: Based on Jack Ketchum's novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door is based on the murder of Sylvia Likens, a 16-year-old girl from Indiana in 1965. Sylvia and her sister Jenny were left in the care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a family friend, when their parents left town as traveling carnival workers. Baniszewski, along with her children and a few neighborhood kids, locked Sylvia in the basement, where they tortured and abused her until she died of a brain hemorrhage and malnutrition.

7. THE CONJURING (2013)

Premise: Two paranormal investigators help a family who move into a secluded home plagued by weird events.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Conjuring is based on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and their experience with the Perrons, a family who moved into a Rhode Island farmhouse and experienced ghostly and terrifying occurrences in 1971.

"When Insidious came out and was successful the story about the Warrens came to me and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is really cool,'” director James Wan told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. "But I didn’t just want to make another ghost story or another supernatural film. One thing I had never explored was the chance to tell a story that’s based on real-life characters, real-life people. So those were the things that led me to The Conjuring."

The Warrens also had a possessed Raggedy Ann doll that was the inspiration for the spin-off film Annabelle. Allegedly, a demon spirit possessed the Raggedy Ann doll, which is currently on display and under lock and key at the Warrens' Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut.

8. OPEN WATER (2003)

Premise: Two scuba divers become stranded in shark-infested waters after their tour group accidentally leaves them behind.

Real-Life Inspiration: Open Water is based on American tourists Tom and Eileen Lonergan, a couple who were lost at sea when their tour group left them behind while scuba diving near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1998. When the diving company realized the mistake two days later, they organized a search party, but the Lonergans were never found. The only thing that was found was a diver's slate (an underwater communication device) with a S.O.S. message on it that read, "[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!"

9. THE BLOB (1958)

Premise: A mysterious alien life-form terrorizes a small town and consumes everything in its path as it grows bigger and bigger.

Real-Life Inspiration: Believe it or not, The Blob is based on a New York Times article from 1950 titled, "A ‘Saucer’ Floats to Earth And a Theory Is Dished Up." The story followed four Philadelphia police officers who came into contact with a strange gooey material, which is now believed to be "Star Jelly," a transparent gelatinous substance. When one of the officers tried to move the goo, it started to dissolve and evaporate, so there was nothing to show the FBI when they arrived on the scene except a spot on the ground.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios