10 Haunted Houses You Wouldn't Want to Live In

Cleveland's Franklin Castle is considered haunted

By Erika Riggs

Creaking floors, inexplicable cold drafts and eerie sounds usually don't top the list of dream house features.

Unless, of course, we're talking about dream haunted house features.

And surprisingly, most people would at least consider buying a haunted home. According to a recent Realtor.com survey, only 35 percent of respondents said they would never consider buying a home that was rumored to be haunted. Thirty-two percent said they would consider it, and 33 percent said they were on the fence.

Of course, respondents said that if they were to buy a haunted home, they would need a good discount: Twenty-nine percent said that they wanted a discount of 20 percent or more off the purchase price, while 37 percent needed a discount of 21 percent to 50 percent.

Regardless of which way you swing, it's October, and we're serving a roundup of some cobweb-draped places that some wouldn't dare put a down payment on.

Tales of horror, glimpses of ghosts and a bevy of cobweb decor -- it's all here.

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10 Haunted Houses You Wouldn't Want to Live In

Location: San Jose, Calif.

It’s as if original owner Sarah Winchester wanted her home to be haunted. The eccentric widow of William Winchester, founder of Winchester rifles, held nightly seances to gain guidance from spirits and her dead husband for the home’s design. The end result?  A maze-like structure that took 38 years to build and includes twisting and turning hallways, dead ends, secret panels, a window built into a floor, staircases leading to nowhere, doors that open to walls, upside-down columns and rooms built, then intentionally closed off -- all to ward off and confuse evil spirits.

Photo: Flickr/HarshLight

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the location of the Winchester Mystery House. It is in San Jose, Calif.

One of the unfinished rooms in the home is said to be particularly active with hauntings. Sarah Winchester had construction on the home going around the clock from 1884 until 1922, when she died. Perhaps her spirit is always distressed by the parts of the project that were never completed.

Photo: Flickr/plong

A set of stairs to nowhere in the house is one of the creepiest features. It might be meant to confuse evil spirits, but it's definitely confusing us, too!

Photo: Flickr/plong

A window in the floor of the home is a reflection of the tormented mind of Sarah Winchester.

Photo: Photobucket

Location: Cleveland

Franklin Castle has both a creepy history as well as a creepy exterior. Home to Hannes Tiedemann, the house was reportedly the site of many vicious murders. Built in 1864, the home has all the makings of a haunted mansion: stone tower and turrets, gargoyles and wrought-iron fencing, not to mention sounds of babies crying, doors slamming and footsteps.

According to the property history, the home was last sold for $260,000 in August 2011. No word yet if the homeowners are having any eerie experiences.

Photo: Flickr/Pythaglio

At one time, the home had fallen into extreme disrepair, adding to its sinister vibe. Some people reported strange happenings when they were inside, such as eerie orbs of light showing up in photos like this one from 2005.

Photo: Flickr/hearsegirl

One family moved into the home in 1968 after it had been abandoned for years, but they left after reporting several encounters with ghosts. The property changed hands a few times afterward, but nobody stayed long enough to make repairs to the home.

Photo: Flickr/hearsegirl

A fire reportedly set by a vagrant dealt serious damage to the home in 2011. Today, there is talk that the recent buyer who snapped up the home wants to turn it into a three-family dwelling.

Photo: Flickr/That Nikon Girl

Location: Alton, Ill.

Haunted houses? How about a whole haunted city? Alton claims to be one of the most haunted areas in America and is home to McPike Mansion, which is host to a number of active ghosts.

There’s no specific backstory to the ghostly going-ons, but visitors and residents of the brick manse have claimed to be hugged by an unseen woman, hear the laughter of children and see mysterious mists and orbs of light. As far as hauntings go, not too sinister.

Photo: Flickr/Black.Doll

The vaulted wine cellar in the basement of the home is a focal point of paranormal activity. Many unexplainable events have been reported there. According to one account, a group of paranormal investigators were huddled in the cellar when two of them left but said they would return. A few minutes later, the people who stayed behind heard footsteps come down the stairs, cross the basement floor and stop in front of the cellar door. The heavy metal door opened -- but no one was standing there.

Photo: Flickr/Phantasmagoria Photography

People have claimed that things have popped up in photos of the house that weren't seen with the naked eye. In this photo, the photographer claims to see a face in the window of the home, along with a white mist and an eerie orb.

Photo: Flickr/melhudspeth1

Location: Fall River, Mass.

This home was the site of one of the most infamous crimes of all time: the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, allegedly at the hands of Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie. As the nursery rhyme goes, Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave both her father and stepmother whacks. However, Lizzie was acquitted and moved out of the home.

The home of the murder still stands in Fall River and operates as a bed-and-breakfast, where guests report seeing Andrew and Abby wandering about.

Photo: Flickr/dbking

Many guests have reported seeing the ghost of a woman in Victorian-era clothing dusting furniture and straightening bedsheets. Others have reported seeing doors open and close on their own and footsteps crossing upstairs floors -- even when no one else is in the house.

Photo: Flickr/jimcintosh

In one instance, a guest at the inn reported that when he and his wife went to their room, he noticed a nicely made bed as he unpacked their things. When he looked again a few minutes later, the bed had the indentation of a body, and the pillow had the indentation of a head. He ran out of the room to get his wife, but when they returned, the bed was back to its clean and untouched state.

Photo: Flickr/dbking

Location: San Diego

In 1857, entrepreneur Thomas Whaley took advantage of a deeply discounted property in San Diego’s Old Town neighborhood that once held the area’s hangings. He tore down the gallows and proceeded to build his Greek Revival brick home. However, soon after Whaley and his family moved in, they reported hearing heavy footsteps moving about the house. Even after the Whaleys moved out, various tenants reported seeing ghosts and hearing the footsteps.

Today the historic home is a museum and is open daily for tourists to see if they, too, hear and see the ghostly apparitions.

Photo: Flickr/snabby

The first reported paranormal encounter at the Whaley House was with the ghost of James "Yankee Jim" Robinson, who was hanged at the site before the home was built in 1852. Whaley concluded that the footsteps he heard were those of Robinson.

Photo: Flickr/snabby

A former housekeeper at the Whaley House said that a little girl who was visiting waved to a man in the parlor, but no one else around saw the man.

Photo: Flickr/snabby

Location: Savannah, Ga.

This historic home was moved to its current location in Savannah by a local restoration expert. As work began on the house, workers reported odd noises and a male presence. Early on, they discovered a crypt on the building site that was  half-filled with water and covered it.

Despite the rumors of hauntings, the home was finished and was last on the market for $2.2 million in 2011. Although it’s off the market now, there’s no word of a buyer.

Photo: Flickr/bbcamericangirl

A construction worker who went to the upper level of the house didn't return. When his colleagues searched for him, they found him lying on the floor, shaking with fear. The worker said that as soon as he entered the room, he felt like he plunged into ice-cold water and lost control of his body, according to TruTV. A force, he said, was pulling him toward the chimney shaft -- where there was a 30-foot-drop.

Photo: Flickr/Carole.Athens

Location: New Orleans

This Greek Revival home was the site of one of the grisliest murders in New Orleans history. A Turkish merchant renting the home was buried alive in the backyard, and his harem entourage was murdered. Years later, the French Quarter home is still said to be the site of the merchant’s wanderings, and that on certain nights, exotic music and incense from long-ago parties waft from the home.

Photo: Flickr/tessconrad

Location: New Orleans

The LaLaurie House, like many haunted homes, has a pretty horrific backstory. Owned by socialite Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie, the house was the reported setting for vicious cruelty against the couple’s slaves. Reportedly, the slaves were subjected to torturous medical experiments that went on unbeknownst to the New Orleans community until a fire broke out and  neighbors rushing to rescue discovered the gruesome scenes. The LaLauries fled the country due to the backlash, and the home passed through several owners, each of whom claimed to hear mysterious screams and see apparitions of the tortured slaves.

At one point actor Nicolas Cage owned the home, and while he said that he never saw any ghosts, he wasn’t immune to the home’s sinister vibes; he lost the property to foreclosure in 2009.

Photo: Flickr/Reading Tom

Location: St. Francisville, La.

An antebellum home in a voodoo-rich area of Louisiana is the likely place for a haunted home. Built in 1796, the Myrtles Plantation was taken over in 1808 by Clark Woodruff, his wife, Sara, and their three children. According to legend, Woodruff had a relationship with one of his slaves, Chloe, who was jealous of Woodruff’s wife. The story goes that Chloe baked a birthday cake for Sara and the kids, including poisonous oleander leaves in the treat. Sara and two of their children died. Chloe confessed, but fellow slaves retaliated, hanging Chloe and dumping her body in the Mississippi.

Chloe isn’t the only ghost said to haunt the Myrtles Plantation. A Civil War soldier was murdered on the steps of the home, and an ancient Native American burial ground is said to be beneath the house. All this adds up to a home rich in creepy incidents.

Photo: Flickr/ShanLane

Location: San Francisco

Like most haunted homes, there’s a bit of confusion surrounding the true story of the Chambers Mansion. Built in 1887, the home was named after its first owner, silver tycoon Richard Chambers, who lived in the home with two nieces who reportedly hated each other.

When Chambers died in 1901, the nieces inherited the mansion. One reportedly bought the house next door and moved in while the other sister, Claudia, stayed. Claudia was discovered cut in half at the mansion one day, due to a “farm implement” accident. However, a ghost expert has claimed that Claudia was in fact murdered, and still haunts the Pacific Heights home today.

Photo: Flickr/CinnamonChickInSF


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