Halloween is just about here! This happens to be my personal favorite holiday of the year. As a kid, it meant being able to run around with my siblings and friends and gather more candy than we could possibly eat. We were able to dress up in silly costumes and actually wear them in public. So much fun!
The true meaning of Halloween was lost to me at the time though. The name Halloween is a derivative from the original western Christian Allhallowtide or Hallowmas season. It consisted of All Saints Eve which is now Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. This started October 31st and would go through November 2nd. The long and short of it is that it was meant to be a time to remember the dead. It was believed that the veil between the living and the dead was thinned and in order to prevent being recognized by the wandering souls/spirits people would wear masks or costumes. This is eventually how Trick or Treating came to fruition. It can also be tied back to the Celtic Roots of Samhain. In the spirit of both what Halloween is today and All Hallows Eve, I have put together a list of places that are claimed to still be occupied by the dead.
1. The Most Notorious Haunted House in Ohio – Franklin Castle
Officially called the Tiedemann House but called Franklin Castle by locals. In the late 1800’s, the Tiedemann family moved into the large home and were quickly struck by travesty. Hannes Tiedemann’s mother and one of his daughters passed away within a few weeks of one another. Over the following three years, three more of the Tiedemann’s children passed away, which is when the renovations began. The story goes that Hannes started the renovations to keep his wife’s mind off of the deaths of her children.
By 1895, Hannes wife passed away from liver failure. He remarried shortly after which started the whispers questioning the truth of how she may have died. Which also begs the question about the validity of the children’s deaths as well. Whether there was foul play or not, there are some very unsettled spirits in this beautiful home. In 1968, James Romano and his family moved in and immediately experienced strange things in their new home. James contacted the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society, a local team of ghost hunters, to investigate the Castle and the story is that one of the researchers ran screaming from the home. The Romanos then turned to a Catholic priest for help who refused to bless the house because of what he felt when he stepped onto the property.
Several people have attempted to take on the Franklin Castle and failed. Today it sits in disarray with boards covering the windows hiding the eerie presence within.
2. Belleview Biltmore Hotel Haunting
In 1897, a railroad tycoon Henry Plant built a grand hotel. The history is a little convoluted but there is no denying that this gorgeous hotel has several spirits that roam the halls and rooms. There are too many personal accounts of actual sightings and strange happenings to be denied. One man claims to have heard someone tell him to go f-himself and another invisible presence identified himself as “Walter.” Later he claims to have seen a woman dressed in traditional 30’s attire in a hallway and when he walked to her she vanished. As he went to walk upstairs he heard a woman’s voice say, “Don’t go up there. They are mad at me.”
The electrician for Bellevue Biltmore claimed his tools kept going missing and kept encountering freezing spots, in spring. While working on the Starlight Room he was shoved and told to “get out” by someone who was visibly not there. One man claims that a small boy ran into his room followed by his laughing toddler son and the first boy disappeared right in front of him. Accounts of people being pushed when no one was there, doors closing on their own and countless others are rampant at Henry Plant’s old Hotel.
Unfortunately, the 118-year-old hotel coined “The White Queen of the gulf” has now been demolished to build 28 town homes and 104 condominiums. Preservationists tried for years to save the historical hotel but eventually it was cleared for demolition. The question now is will these new homes be plagued by the spiritual history of the White Queen or will they have moved on?
3. Clay Haus Hauntings
The Clay Haus is now owned by Betty Snider who has renovated the old home and turned it into a family restaurant. Complete with German and American food, homemade desserts and a side of ghosts? Betty, her family and guests have all claimed to have had strange experiences there. Knocks that come from the other side of the fire escape, and people walking down the stairs that disappeared. The Snider family seems to cohabitate well with the other residents. They even claim that they think the spirits are happy that they cleaned the place up. Stop in for some home cooking and see for yourself.
4. The Winchester Mystery House
Born in 1840, Sarah Lockwood Pardee was from a well off family, went to the best school, spoke four languages and played the piano. In 1862, she married the son of the governor of Connecticut and the manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle, William Wirt Winchester. They had a happy life together and then that ended. In 1866, their infant daughter died of marasmus. Sarah went into a deep depression. Fifteen years later her husband followed her daughter in death. The story is that Mrs. Winchester sought help from a spiritualist who told her that her family and her fortune were being haunted by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. She was told that these spirits caused the deaths of her family and that she was next.
She was then told the only way to end this cycle of death was to move and build a house for the spirits. As long as she never stopped building, her life would not be in danger, in fact, building this house to appease these spirits would even bring her eternal life. So she did just that. Mrs. Winchester moved away and promptly began building a beautiful home with people working around the clock to appease the spirits and save her life.
With virtually unlimited resources due to the inheritance she had accrued after the death of her husband, the mansion grew and grew in size and beauty. Upon her death, the mansion was over six acres, contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens.
The house is now open to the public which has allowed for some very strange accounts of supernatural activity. All of the caretakers claim to hear footsteps and breathing in what are visibly empty rooms. Things like doors being locked and unlocked and lights being turned back on as they are closing up the house for the night.
Complete with a ghostly man still working and walking around with his wheelbarrow in the basement, this old mansion surely has one of the most interesting histories and some of the most intriguing lingering spirits.
5. The Haunted History of The Lalaurie House
Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Lalaurie House is known as one of the most frightening locations. In 1832, Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife, Delphine, moved into their Creole mansion in the French Quarter. The family was both respected and admired for the lavish social functions they conducted and their extreme wealth. What was kept from the outside world was the extreme cruelty and mistreatment of the slaves by Madame Lalaurie.
She kept her cook chained to the fireplace. A neighbor noticed the frequency of slaves that came and went from the Lalaurie home without explanation, and she also saw Madame Lalaurie chase a young slave up her stairs with a whip. The little girl climbed to the roof and jump off, to her death. Madame Lalaurie had the child buried in her yard. As more and more stories of things like this circled the Creole society, the Lalaurie family’s invitations were declined and the family was avoided.
Later, a fire broke out at the Lalaurie home and it is suspected that the cook started it. After putting the fire out, the firefighters found a secret barred door in the attic that held behind it the most repulsive deranged acts you could imagine. The New Orleans Bee reported that there were over a dozen slaves chained to the wall, strapped to makeshift operating tables or in cages meant for dogs. Human body parts were scattered around, even human heads in buckets, lips sewn shut and stomachs cut open. The list of extreme psychotic brutality goes on.
Once word got out, a mob formed around the Lalaurie house but the owners were never seen again. The house remained vacant for years. From 1837 through the 2000’s the home has gone through several different owners who have tried to make something of the once beautiful home but were plagued by screams of agony at night and apparitions of slaves that still lived in the home.
In the late 90’s, in the midst of yet another remodeling skeletal remains were found beneath the wooden floor of the house. Who knows how many more small graves are scattered among the home still undiscovered.
With the history of any home built in the 1800’s I would be sure the take measures to make sure it there were no skeletons in my closet, very literally, before buying it. If buying homes with history and some permanent residence is your thing, or you simply want to experience supernatural activity first hand GPR radar and an EMF reader will be your best friends.
After hearing about the gruesome deaths of past residents and chilling accounts of people’s experiences since, you can be the judge. A night in one of these buildings just may make a believer out of you. If not, it is one way to remember the dead and experience something unique this All Hallows Eve.