spooky stuff this Halloween? Look no further than haunted houses throughout the U.S. — and not the kind that advertise a fright night or come with a hayride and jack-o’-lanterns.
There are places throughout the country that are said to be filled with real ghosts (
not the decorative kind) from real deaths, and genuinely mysterious happenings.
Not only that, but these houses are still functioning as homes. While many frightening homes, such as the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, were built for residential purposes, many with legends attached go on to
become tourist attractions. At the Winchester Mystery House, for example, the original owner is said to have kept on building wildly in fear of ghosts and death, according to the house’s website. Stairs go nowhere. Doors open, but there are no rooms within. You can’t buy the Winchester Mystery House, though. You can only visit.
What are the most haunted houses in the U.S. still in private hands? Here are the top five.
1. The Joshua Ward House — Salem, Massachusetts
For the first one, look no further than Salem. That’s right, site of the 17th-century witch trials that resulted in the deaths of many accused witches. While the Joshua Ward House was built in 1784, much later than the witch trials, it was built on guilty land. It sits on property once owned by George Corwin, one of the inquisitors at the Salem witch trials, known for torturing people into confessions of witchcraft.
The ghost of Corwin himself is said to walk in the house, along with Giles Corey, one of his victims. But the most unique ghost is the Black Lady, who reportedly shows up when pictures are snapped — in place of the person whose picture was taken. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
2. The “Amityville Horror” House — Amityville, New York
You’ve undoubtedly heard of the book and movie “The Amityville Horror.” It drew inspiration from the terrifying backstory in this house, which faces the water on Long Island. In the mid-1970s, the son of the then-owners, Ronald DeFeo Jr., killed his entire family with a gun here — his parents, two brothers and two sisters. He claimed that voices emanating from the walls instructed him to do it, but that didn’t stop his conviction for the murders. He’s serving life in prison.
But the horror doesn’t end there. The new owners moved out within a month. Why? Well, they claimed they heard strange noises, suffered an infestation of flies, claimed to have seen cloven hoof tracks in the snow and heard the opening strains of a marching band. A priest tried exorcism of spirits, but was reportedly unsuccessful. This house was on the market again fairly recently. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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3. The House of Death — New York City
Think this is a tiny townhouse on a West 10th Street in New York’s Greenwich Village? Think again. Multiple ghosts have been spotted over the years, and as many as 22 recorded deaths occurred on the property. They all lived or died at this otherwise attractive location. Author Mark Twain lived at the address for a brief period of time, and his spirit is said to visit occasionally.
The most recent death to occur at the property was in 1987, when six-year-old Lisa Steinberg was beaten to death by her father. The tragedy has become a part of the house’s narrative as a site for many who have met their demise. (Thinkstock)
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5. 10050 Cielo Dr. — Los Angeles, California
The house at 10050 Cielo Dr. in Los Angeles was the site of the murder of actress Sharon Tate and several house guests, committed by followers of ex-convict and cult leader Charles Manson. According to eyewitness reports, the neighboring house, known as the Oman House, has been a site of paranormal activity since that time, with lights flickering and voices heard. The owner of the Oman House has been deeply involved in tracking ghost activity related to an alleged paranormal vortex between the two houses.
In the early 1990s, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor rented the house at 10050 Cielo Dr., called it “Pig” and filmed videos and recorded music there. Are there ghosts in the background of “Gave Up,” the video he recorded? No, but guilt might be. Reznor later related in an interview with Rolling Stone that he met Tate’s sister, who accused him of callously ignoring the history behind the nickname he gave the house. The house was torn down in 1994, and a new house now stands in its place with a different street address. (AP Photo)
Could you handle
living at a haunted property? Better make sure you have nerves of steel and can avoid paranormal activity in some of the scariest places in the United States.
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5 of the Most Haunted Houses in the U.S. originally appeared on usnews.com