5 Gorgeous Haunted Houses + Their Spooky Histories

If walls could talk, these homes would scream.

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Sometimes, the most beautiful homes are also the most haunted. Stately Southern mansions, vibrant Victorians and even well-cared for Colonials can harbor undead inhabitants and boast spine-tingling tales of ghosts, murder and intrigue. Read on to learn about five of America’s loveliest yet most haunted houses and, if you're brave enough, plan a visit just in time for Halloween!

The Winchester Mystery House

Cupid Fountain

Cupid Fountain

This pretty fountain depicts Cupid.

Photo by: Winchester Mystery House ©Copyright Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House, Copyright Winchester Mystery House

Even with no knowledge of its chilling history, the stately Winchester Mystery House stands out. The quirky Queen Anne-style Victorian, under construction from the late 1800s until the death of its owner in the early 1900s, is made even more eye-catching by its hodgepodge of window shapes, pointed finials, turrets, gables and bold exterior paint. Comprised of over 160 rooms, the gigantic San Jose, California mansion was occupied by Sarah Winchester, widow of William Wirt Winchester (heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune) until her death in 1922.

After an unsettling encounter with a psychic, Sarah feared the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her. In order to evade and confuse the disgruntled spirits, she designed and built her massive home to contain and control those ghosts. A baffling architectural smorgasbord, the house took decades to build and includes many strange details such as trap doors, staircases leading nowhere and Sarah Winchester’s fascination with the number 13, which is echoed throughout the home's design.

The House of the Seven Gables

House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Mass.

House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Mass.

The House of the Seven Gables is one of the oldest houses in the United States, the subject of a famous book by Nathaniel Hawthorne and a well-known tourist attraction.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/kickstand

©iStockphoto.com/kickstand

At a glance, the House of the Seven Gables, or the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, is simple and stunning. The dark clapboard siding provides a lovely contrast to the bright gardens, and the many large, Georgian style windows create an incredibly attractive facade for the Salem, Massachusetts house.

Built in 1668, this Colonial-style home is thought to be among the oldest wooden structures in America and is remarkably well-preserved for its 300-plus years. Some might know this house from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel of the same name or the related movies, but it's also famous for its slew of paranormal activity. Mysterious shadows have been seen in the upper windows, as well as unexplained activity from faucets and lights. Some also say that the ghost of Hawthorne’s cousin, Susanna Ingersoll, who lived in the residence, as well as that of a young boy, still occupy the space.

Ashton Villa

Ashton Villa, Texas.

Ashton Villa, Texas.

Ashton Villa, built in 1858-59, was the first of Galveston Broadway palaces, as well as the first brick house to be built in Texas.

Photo by: Getty/Buyenlarge

Getty/Buyenlarge

Built in the mid-1800s, Ashton Villa is a stately mansion in Galveston, Texas and is the oldest brick home in the state. Built by businessman James Moreau Brown, the structure is a handsome specimen of the Italianate Villa style, with a symmetrical construction, dramatic eaves and ornate wrought iron railings and columns adorning the front balcony.

Ashton Villa is reported to still be inhabited by one of its previous residents, Bettie Brown, daughter of James Brown. Her once over-the-top personality seems unwilling to fade in the afterlife. People report seeing Bettie in the house’s Gold Room and on the staircase. Aside from that, there are reports of fans turning on and off, furniture with a mind of its own and even ghostly piano music that some attribute to Bettie’s sister, Matilda.

Franklin Castle

Franklin Castle, Ohio

Franklin Castle, Ohio

Ohio's Franklin Castle is imposing against a gray sky.

Another Queen Anne Victorian, Franklin Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, has been called one of Ohio’s most haunted locations. The imposing stone structure with its turrets, balconies and intricate stone carvings is at once creepy and captivating. With its imposing appearance, it’s not surprising that this home boasts a doleful past, marked by rumors of murder, an arson attack and paranormal happenings.

The home’s story begins in the late 1800s, when it was built for the Tiedemann family. Subsequent owners and visitors would report mysterious occurrences, such as light fixtures moving of their own accord and the voices of crying children. In addition, there have been more sinister discoveries in the home, such as that of human bones hidden in the tower room. As if that weren’t creepy enough, there are tunnels concealed beneath the house that were supposedly the site of murderous acts committed by the home’s first owner.

Myrtles Plantation

Myrtles Plantation

Myrtles Plantation

Myrtles Plantation has a long front porch made for lazy summer afternoons.

Photo by: Bogdan Oporowski/Wiki Commons

Bogdan Oporowski/Wiki Commons

From the outside, this stately St. Francisville, Louisiana house is the picture of elegance and class. The residence features delicate ironwork on a spacious veranda, hand-painted stained glass and an over 300-pound crystal chandelier. General David Bradford built the home in 1796 after fleeing imprisonment for his involvement in the Whiskey Rebellion. Since that time, it's rumored that the home has been the site of numerous tragic deaths and paranormal occurrences. On more than one occasion, shadowy figures have appeared in the background of photographs taken at the property. Other strange happenings include a piano played by unseen hands, sightings of the ghostly figures of a previous owner’s two children and unexplained handprints on a reportedly haunted mirror. 

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