How can I buy a haunted house?

Do you want to buy a haunted house? You might be able to, if you’re sure that’s what you want.

Weirdly, early in 2013, a haunted house in France was listed at eBay for one Euro.  I missed the listing, so I’m not sure what happened, but the details appeared on several respected news websites in the EU, UK, and US.

So, you may want to set up a Google Alert for “haunted house for sale” or something like that.

In many states in America, anyone selling a haunted house must report that the site has a ghost. So, start by checking the laws of the state where you’d like to live.

One Option: Be Direct

Langdell House, Wilton, NHIf it’s among the states requiring disclosure, visit a few realtors and explain your interests to them. Explain very clearly that you’d like to buy a haunted house. Don’t hint. Tell them directly, and be prepared to explain why.

(Also, be prepared for mixed reactions. So few people want to buy a haunted house, they may think you’re joking. Or that you’re mad. Or that you’re planning Satanic rituals or something.)

Or, Go Subtle

However, remember the practical side of this. Most people don’t want to live in a haunted house. So, some sellers conceal paranormal activity if they can.

If that’s likely, phrase your questions carefully.

– Act as if you don’t believe in ghosts.  Make a big deal over the great location, the swimming pool, or the quality of local schools.

– Casually ask if the house has any “charming legends” or “colorful tales” connected with it.

– Use the word “ghost” carefully. No homeowner wants to be forced to admit his house has the “defect” of a ghost.

Do Your Homework, First

You may need to conduct your own research to find likely haunted houses. Then, see which of them display a “for sale” sign.

In Austin, Texas, I’d look for any brick home built by Abner Cook.  Almost every public building he built — and several private homes — have ghost stories.  However, they’re just his homes built with clay bricks from nearby Shoal Creek.  His all-wooden structures don’t have the same reliable ghosts.

My ley lines maps that (literally) connect the dots between haunted houses. If a house is on one of those lines, it may be haunted. Start with a good ley lines map. Then drive around, looking for realtors’ signs and abandoned houses.

Warning: Some haunted houses are impossible to live in comfortably. They’re rare, and should be avoided.

Go Local

Local ghost hunting teams might be another resource in your search. Often, they’ve been called in to investigate a house that the owners don’t want to sell, but the site has activity they can’t live with.

If the team couldn’t resolve the ghostly problems, you may be in luck.

Even if the house hasn’t been listed yet, you might be the answer the homeowners need. Generally, they don’t want to deal with the challenges of trying to sell a haunted house.

At the other end of the spectrum, a homeowner might try to use the house’s ghostly history as a selling point. When that happens, the sellers ask an unusually high price. That tactic usually backfires. They won’t sell the house, but they’ll have plenty of visitors. For them, it’s a free ghost tour.

After a while, the homeowner usually reduces the price just to get rid of the house. That’s the time to place a realistic bid you’re comfortable with.

Do they ever film ghost stories in really haunted places?

Yes, they do film ghost stories at genuinely haunted (and scary) places. It’s happened many times.

Colonial American windowsThe 1963 movie, The Haunting, used the Ettington Park Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon (England). It’s supposed to be delightfully haunted. The hotel is elegant and reminiscent of the famous movie.

Trivia: That movie’s original — and perhaps haunted — spiral staircase reappeared in the 1999 remake of The Haunting, too.

Another old movie, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, wasn’t exactly a ghost story, but it was chilling. They filmed it at Houmas House, one of Louisiana’s most haunted houses. (I’ve spent the night there and can verify that it has ghosts that appear, day and night.)

Not far away, several movies were set in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, at the edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter. They include Easy Rider and Cincinnati Kid. Producers filmed Interview with the Vampire at other haunted New Orleans locations.

The Hollywood movie set for the original movie, Psycho, was supposed to be haunted. I’m not sure if paranormal encounters happened before, during, or after the initial filming. At night, people were visible near upstairs windows… when there was no floor to walk on, and no possibility of a light near the window, either.

Those may be urban legends, but I heard enough first-person stories to think they might be true.

Session 9 was filmed at Danvers State Hospital, Danvers, MA (USA). The former hospital and the town of Danvers have many ghost stories, often overshadowed by nearby Salem.

The haunted Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, CT (USA) inspired — and later became a set for — The Innkeepers.

I’m sure you’ll find many other movies listed, online. Look for “movies filmed at haunted places.”

Is Disney’s Haunted Mansion really haunted?

For years, Disney’s Haunted Mansion attractions have been connected with ghost stories.

light bulbAmong all of the Haunted Mansion attractions, the one at Walt Disney World has the most haunted reputation. I’ve heard compelling first-person stories from cast members who worked there.

However, in at least 100 visits at both Disneyland (CA) and Disney World (FL), I’ve never encountered anything genuinely ghostly.

For a better answer to your question, ask former Haunted Mansion cast members. Some have websites. Also see stories at TheShadowlands.net and Doombuggies.com.

For the latest ghost stories, ask cast members dressed as Haunted Mansion staff. Most probably don’t know (or won’t admit to) any real ghost stories at the attraction.

You’ll have the best luck immediately outside the Haunted Mansion’s exit. There, some cast members are more chatty than others.

Remember, Disney’s Haunted Mansion attractions’ ghosts are “all in good fun.” That attraction is designed to entertain the entire family. For lurid ghost stories (real or imagined), you’ll have more success outside Disney theme parks.

One more tip: Ask about ghosts at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Some first-person stories from former cast members seem credible and fascinating. That attraction may be even more haunted than the Haunted Mansion.

Don’t overlook Universal Studios’ theme parks in Florida, too. Search online (look for “USF ghosts”).

Look for ghost stories about the Back to the Future attraction, later redesigned as The Simpsons. Some say it’s one of the most interesting haunts in Orlando.

(Warning: Ghost reports from the old Kongfrontation attraction are unreliable. Universal is meticulous about safety for workers as well as guests. Any time you hear a ghost story related to someone who supposedly died at a theme park, raise an eyebrow. Then, fact-check what really happened… if anything. In many cases, the stories are 100% fiction.)

What’s the best haunted house attraction at a theme park?

Unless it’s Halloween, few theme parks feature a haunted house among their attractions.

ghost figure in haunted house attractionTheme parks like Universal (Orlando, Florida) stage haunted houses and scary locations for their Halloween “Horror Nights.”

They can be great if you’re looking for “a good scare.” But, they’re usually more grisly than authentic.

That’s why Disney’s Haunted Mansion is one of the world’s most popular haunted house attractions.

I like the classic style of Gracey Mansion (the real name of the first Haunted Mansion attraction) at Disneyland.

For size and grandeur, the Haunted Mansion at Disney World (Florida) is in a class of its own.  Disney constantly improve and expand the decor, too. I’m always impressed.

If you’re a Haunted Mansion enthusiast, be sure to see the 1963 movie, The Haunting. It inspired many elements you’ll see in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attractions.

For fans of “Hidden Mickeys” at Disney theme parks, learn their locations before you visit the Haunted Mansion.

The Haunted Mansion is wall-to-wall images of ghosts and haunted places. Prepare to be overwhelmed during a first visit.

Also, don’t overlook the first-ever “Hidden Donald.” It’s also at the Haunted Mansion.

Now and then, a theme park tries to introduce a good, haunted house attraction. The balance between “fun” and “scary” is a tricky one, and few attractions can match what Disney has achieved.

Why do some haunted houses require waivers?

haunted? monasterySome haunted sites require waivers due to dangerous areas that visitors must avoid.

The fact is, some ghost enthusiasts take risks anyway. A waiver protects the site owners from lawsuit.

Usually, waivers are designed to create a scarier atmosphere. It’s simply good theater. Consider the waiver and posted warning signs part of the set dressing. It’s performance art.

Fiona's adviceBut… whether they’re “set dressing” or not, don’t ignore those signs. They might just be legitimate.

Haunted houses can be very old, and old houses can have loose or weak floorboards, narrow corridors, and other potential hazards.

Sometimes, liability insurance requires waivers. When you are investigating in the dark, it’s easy to bump into something, trip over a loose carpet, or lose your footing on stairs.

The same thing could happen if you’re wandering around an unfamiliar not-haunted house in the dark.

Take precautions, whether you’re asked to sign a waiver or not. If you see someone stumble on uneven stairs, tread carefully. Old houses and other haunts can present risks like that. That’s expected.

However, if you’re ever hurt at a “haunted” site due to the owner’s obvious negligence, see an attorney.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve signed a waiver. There’s a big difference between an accident, and poor site maintenance.

How much does it cost to go into real haunted houses?

Some genuinely haunted houses — especially haunted hotels, museums, and B&Bs — charge admission.

Note: This is different from commercial, theatrical “haunted houses” that are set up at Halloween.

We’re talking about sites that seem to be haunted by actual ghosts and paranormal activity.

theatre curtain - is that site really haunted?If you’re simply touring a haunted house, the admission price should be consistent with local museums.

Read online reviews before spending a cent.

Some haunted houses charge more for overnights and ghost hunting events, and similar experiences that provide extra value.

If you’re not promised extra value* as part of your visit, be sure you’re comfortable with the price of admission.

Is it a ghost hunting event?

If so, ticket prices should reflect these features:
– The quality of the guest speakers or investigators.
– Food and entertainment.
– How small or exclusive the event is. That is, will you be elbow-to-elbow with beeping EMF meters and swinging dowsing rods? Or, will you be able to conduct research, undistracted, with a small group of people?
– How much individual attention you can expect from the professional ghost hunters.

Is it a simple overnight vigil?

The price should match moderately priced hotels in that same area.

Of course, if the vigil includes a tour and a series of specific experiments — that can produce startling results — you may expect to pay more.

Fiona's adviceIn general, compare the price of any haunted house visit with any similar hotel, museum, or historical home that doesn’t have ghosts.

If admission is considerably higher, be sure you’re getting a good value. Ask ghost hunting friends and read reviews. Weigh them against other, similar haunts you can visit, and your budget.

*No genuinely haunted house can (or should) claim that you’ll have a paranormal encounter. If they are… be skeptical. It might be mere entertainment, not the real thing.

What’s it like to live in a haunted house?

What’s it like to live in a house that’s really haunted? Do people always have to leave their haunted houses if the ghosts won’t leave?

Most haunted houses are benign. I’ve lived in a few.

haunted stairwayGenerally, it’s like living with an invisible roommate. Some ghosts can be annoying.

That’s especially true if the ghost likes to turn lights on and off, adjust the volume on the TV, or turn a faucet on and leave the water running.

I don’t mind ghosts in my house. I do mind any inconveniences they create.

Downtown Houston’s famous ghost

One of the most persistently annoying ghosts haunts downtown Houston, Texas. She is Mrs. Pamelia Mann, one of Houston’s most famous madams.

Many evenings, Mrs. Mann strolls around the Market Square block she once owned.

She visits ladies rooms (toilets) in modern-day clubs and restaurants on that block.

Once in each ladies room, she locks the door so others cannot enter. Then, she vanishes. The staff are not amused, because they have to keep unlocking the door at the request of impatient patrons.

However, the living and spirits of the dead usually find ways to stay out of each other’s way.

Other famous haunted homes

Lantern outside Salem haunted houseAt some locations, such as the Myrtles Plantation, the staff regard the ghosts as friends. Many people who live in haunted houses feel the same way about their ghosts.

I know one homeowner in Salem (MA, USA) who is extremely protective of “her” ghost. Although the first floor of her haunted home is a shop, she won’t allow anyone inside if she thinks they’re looking for her ghost.

That’s a little extreme.

The owner of the Lizzie Borden house seemed comfortable with that house’s ghosts.

TV, movies, and reality

Many TV shows and movies present scary ghosts. Reality is very different.

Once people become accustomed their ghosts (and vice versa), some seem to forget they live in a haunted house.

When I’ve lived in haunted houses, I’ve been unable to forget they’re there. Not for long, anyway. Sometimes, I’ve been startled by an apparition floating across my kitchen. Unearthly footsteps still surprise me when I’m tired, especially if the ghost has been silent for a while.

Despite that, living with ghosts can be easier than living with roommates.  Ghosts don’t steal your food, come home drunk at night, or leave the seat up.

I’m okay with that.

Why is the Lizzie Borden house haunted?

People have asked me why the Lizzie Borden house is still haunted, if — as many believe — Lizzie committed the crime. Isn’t the mystery solved?

Lizzie BordenIf Lizzie actually haunts the house now, I think she would stay even after the crime was solved. Everything that I’ve learned about her points to a quirky personality. She probably likes the attention.

When I visited the Lizzie Borden house, I received very strong impressions. They’ve been confirmed by other psychics, and one Lizzie Borden historian.

However, I’m not sure the house is actually haunted. Not by a ghost, anyway. When I was there, wiring-related EMF issues were a problem. I haven’t been back.

Who committed the Lizzie Borden house murders?

In my opinion, more than one person was involved in the murders. I believe that two were involved. If Lizzie had a clue what she and others were actually doing, I’m not sure she would have participated.

That’s more a mental health issue than an absolution of what she may (or may not) have done.

Also, I think several people went to considerable lengths to prevent Lizzie’s conviction. Close friends did their best to protect her. That may have included murder.

For me, the most intense impressions came from the basement. Those below-ground rooms have a gruesome history. They could have inspired horror stories, even without the lurid murders upstairs.

In addition, the basement has physical evidence best seen with Luminol (C8H7O3N3) or fluorescein and black light. It is not for the squeamish.

Yes, there are logical explanations for that much blood. It’s also a great smokescreen for something more sinister.

My psychic impressions included a maid, someone looking through a window, and a young person who appeared to be a man… but I’m not sure if that was just a disguise.

If Lizzie haunts any one room, it’s probably the room nearest the front door. When you visit Lizzie’s famous house, sit on the sofa if you can. If you’re sensitive to psychic impressions, I think you’ll be impressed.

What are your favorite haunted houses?

My favorites vary. It depends on the current activity at each site.
At the moment, my three favorite haunted buildings are:

  • Falstaff’s Experience/Tudor World (Stratford-upon-Avon, England)
  • The Myrtles Plantation (Louisiana, USA)
  • The Witch House (Salem, MA, USA)

In the United States, in addition to the Myrtles Plantation, I like the ghosts of Houmas House. Both sites are in Louisiana.

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, I always stay at the happily haunted Hotel Monteleone. A good night’s sleep plus some odd encounters and great ghost stories…? It’s an ideal mix.

Also, I dine at Brennan’s Restaurant where the Red Room has an eerie, ghostly history. The restaurant’s food is among the best in New Orleans… and perhaps the world. (Don’t be surprised if you see celebrities at nearby tables. When actors are filming anywhere near New Orleans, they make a point of having a meal at Brennan’s.)

And, based on my ley line research, I spend time in a park on the edge of the Quarter… but there’s no house there, haunted or otherwise.

Salem Inn, Salem, MAI’ve been very impressed by the ghosts of the Salem Inn in Salem, Massachusetts. Also, I’m fascinated by the old pirates’ tunnels beneath Essex Street. Several buildings adjoining it have dramatic ghost stories.

Salem’s Witch House is an interesting case with surprising physical phenomena, even in broad daylight.

In nearby Danvers, I’m drawn to the remains of Rev. Mr. Parris’s home, as well as Whipple Hill (aka Witch Hill) near Endicott Park… but the hill has no “haunted house,” either.

In England, I like the Falstaff’s Experience. I also like Warwick Castle, just a few miles away. So far, Falstaff’s Experience is the most intensely haunted site I’ve been to, anywhere in the world.

Also around Stratford-upon-Avon, I like the Falcon Hotel and Ettington Park Hotel.

York (city) has more eerie and interesting haunts than I can list here. The Golden Fleece is the tip of the iceberg.

And, though it’s not quite a haunted house, I like the Tower of London. Each part of the Tower complex has fascinating ghost stories. Usually, visitors can see physical evidence supporting the Tower’s paranormal history.

As you can see, only a few haunted houses and hotels stand out among my favorites. However, my list of haunted cemeteries, parks, and lakes, and haunted beaches would be a lot longer.

What famous locations have been used for ghost hunting TV shows?

Around Halloween, many TV shows feature haunted locations. As they say, “‘Tis the season!”

eastern state penitentiaryUsually, TV producers choose those sites because they look creepy.

Those places are well-known haunts. Something dramatic (and perhaps scary) is likely to happen at least once during the show.

Those same haunted locations can be great if you’re looking for nerves-of-steel investigation sites, too.

Or, they can be too extreme.

Some haunted locations featured on TV

Here are some of them:
Buffalo Central Terminal, Buffalo, NY
Campbell House, Eugene, OR
Essex County Sanitarium, Cedar Grove, NJ
Fort Delaware, Delaware City, DE
Hill View Manor, New Castle, PA
Letchworth Village, Haverstraw, NY
Moon River Brewery, Savannah, GA
New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, NM
Pennhurst State Hospital (originally named the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic), Spring City, PA
Queen Mary (luxury liner), Long Beach, CA
Sorrel Weed House, Savannah, GA
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (later called the Armand Auclerc Weston State Hospital), Weston, WV
Waverly Hills Sanitorium, near Louisville, KY
West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, WV

On the other hand, if you’re looking for haunted locations near you, visit the nearest public library or large newspaper office. Look through back issues of local newspapers and magazines, from around Halloween. Every year, most periodicals feature local, haunted locations, including some  you can investigate or tour.