Real Spooky Haunted Houses

Updated on May 03, 2023. 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 people like in the famous 1980s film Poltergeist staring Heather O'Rourke.

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

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Real Life Haunted Houses in History moment please

The Winchester Mystery House

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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
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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

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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

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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"

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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

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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

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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

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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"

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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"

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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.

Gettysburg, Cemetery Ridge

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Fought from July 1 - 3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in the largest casualties of the Civil War. 51,000 soldiers died, were wounded, or went missing. All of the photos here are from July 1863.

Federal casualties

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Because of the bodies left on the field in summer heat, the stench was awful Women of the town put peppermint and vanilla on their handkerchiefs to cover the smell. Some still get whiffs of these scents.

Confederate dead

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Ghostly soldiers are often seen by visitors - marching in line, fighting, or riding horses.


A military caisson & a dead mule

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Animals are said to haunt the battlefield, too. Brigadier General Barksdale's dog, who stayed by his temporary grave even when his body was moved, is said to be seen and heard howling.

The Borden House

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In 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden were found hacked to death in their house. His daughter (and her step-daughter) Lizzie was tried for the grizzly murders.

Lizzie Borden

"Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one."
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Murderess or innocent? The jury found her not guilty after 1.5 hrs of deliberation. Now a B&B, the house still scares people - guests have been known to "run out of house in the middle of the night (in fright)". Although the owner, who lives there, usually has no problems, she also saw a ghostly shadow one night in the stairs. That night, she went and slept in her car!

The Hotel Del Coronado, 1892

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The Del was built in 1888 in Coronado, California. When it opened, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. Celebrities and royalty were guests at the Del.

The Del in 1910

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Despite all of its famous guests, it is a (previously) unknown guest who is the most famous ghost of this hotel. After checking in alone, she committed suicide in November 1892. Without any identification on her, it took police a while to identify her as Kate Morgan of Los Angeles.

Kate Morgan, Hotel Del ghost?

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Since her demise, she has been seen in hallways and on the shore. In her old room (now the most requested room in the hotel!), items move by themselves, lights flicker, voices and footsteps are heard . . .

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.

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?

Looking for more Halloween? Check out these Halloween photos or click "next page" to browse these
spooky costumes best left in history.

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