Real Spooky Haunted Houses

Updated on Oct 29, 2020. Originally added on Oct 30, 2017 by Kathy Pinna
When you think of Halloween the first things that probably come to mind are costumes & candy, but don't forget about haunted houses. Growing up there was always that one house on the block or in your neighborhood with a spooky history or a creepy neighbor that parents had their children skip during trick or treating.

Haunted houses are usually associated with being inhabited by spirits or deceased persons. Sounds coming from strange locations at odd hours, mists or 'shadow people', unknown voices and more are often thought of as being signs that a house is haunted. The cause? Parapsychologists attribute hauntings to the aftereffects of violent or tragic events in the building's history.

Discover the history behind these haunted houses and visit the sites to learn the stories behind some of these places and their real ghosts.

A personal note: My grandmother told me that her father (who grew up in Wales) said that "every house in Wales had a ghost." When he was young, he used to sit on the stairs and watch a ghost go up and down past him every evening. Does your family have a ghost story?

Real Spooky Haunted Houses

The Winchester Mystery House

Winchester House

Sarah Winchester was married to the heir of the Winchester Arms Repeating Company. He died in 1881 and had been preceded in death by their only child in 1866. The story goes that she was told by a psychic that her family was cursed by the spirits of the people that the Winchester gun had killed. The only way that she could be saved from the curse was to keep building and building and building on her house. She had carpenters working on her house in San Jose 24/7 until she died but she was always the architect of the building strategy. On February 2, 2018, a movie of the life of Sarah will was released with Helen Mirren playing the title role. There have been many, many reports of ghosts being seen and strange noises being heard in the Winchester Mystery House.

The Mystery House

It's just a few blocks from our office
Winchester Mystery House

Move West and build a home. If construction ever stopped on the home, she would die. So she moved to San Jose and started building in 1884. Construction didn't stop on her house until she died in 1922. (A personal note: the "spooky" side of the Winchester house has taken over in popular culture but having visited there since I was a child (for over 6 decades), the house itself feels like the work of an agoraphobic. It seems as if Sarah was afraid to go outside her home so she kept creating more space to allow her to roam. Of course, this wouldn't rule out haunting - as a ghost, she could still be afraid to move on!)

Sarah Winchester on the grounds of her house

Sarah Winchester

Sarah built a seance room in the house. To this day, multiple reports of hauntings (by staff and visitors) occur: ghostly figures, banging doors, footsteps, cold spots, voices, organs playing on their own . . . and much more!


The Bird Cage Theater

Bird Cage Theater, Arizona

Located in Tombstone AZ, during the height of the silver boom (1881 - 1889), the Bird Cage originally offered "respectable" entertainment for the people of Tombstone.

"The wildest, wickedest night spot between San Francisco and New Orleans"

Corner of the Bird Cage Theater, Arizona

Quickly, the entertainment changed to cater to the tastes of miners. The long bar was imported from Philadelphia. A large painting of an exotic dancer was hung across from the bar. Boxes ("cribs") by and above the stage were built to give privacy for miners entertained by prostitutes.

Some of the "entertainers" at the Bird Cage

the old Bird Cage Theater

Wyatt Earp met his 3rd wife, an entertainer/prostitute, at the Bird Cage. They were married for 43 years. It is said that 26 people were killed in the saloon.

Large painting near the bar

Backstage at the Bird Cage Theater

Featured in many tv shows about the paranormal, people have seen ghostly figures of prostitutes and cowboys in hats. Sounds of laughing, yelling, and music have been heard at night and some say they have been pushed by unseen forces.


Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay

First a lighthouse, then a fort, then a military prison, then a federal prison . . . Alcatraz has a long history. As a federal prison for 29 years, Alcatraz held some of the most notorious robbers and murders of the '30's, 40's, and '50's.

Cell Block "A"

North end of Cell Block  "A", Alcatraz

Some of the prisoners held at Alcatraz were Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Mickey Cohen, "Doc" Barker, "Whitey" Bulger and "Creepy" Karpis.

Another view of block "A"

Cell Block "A", Alcatraz Island

Ghosts, cold spots, whispering heard from cells, the sounds of sewing machines and musical instruments, cell doors shutting . . . these and more have all been reported.

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