Whether the measurement is how creepy, unusual, number of sightings, prominence of the ghosts, level of threat from the entities, life that carried on within, or the lives murdered on the property, the debate goes on as to which is the “most haunted”. Although logic would tell us that people would stay away from a dangerous place, hotels and tourist attractions will go to great lengths to advertise their unearthly side to pick up attendance. Whoever can acquire the coveted title as the “most haunted” will see the benefit in ticket sales. This combativeness seems to be most prominent in America whereas in the UK its ancient haunted locations coexist with a larger audience of paranormal enthusiasts. But how can places so different be judged and by what standard?
Although there are many unexplainable reports, pictures and audio recordings, the evidence for the existence of ghosts is as of yet not beyond reasonable debate by skeptics. Thus without the spirits taking roll call we cannot count hauntings by spirit attendance. Some homes have had reported sightings rarely over hundreds of years, others have had numerous over a relatively short time. Some homes have a “hot spot” where strange things tend to happen often, other homes have random happenings in different locations. Some places have had such a horrid history that surely they must be very haunted. Other places are built so creepy that any normal person’s emotions cannot help feeling a “presence”.
We will start with The White House, Washington DC, because of the prominence of the apparitions of Abraham Lincoln and several other past United States presidents and first families that supposedly have been spotted. However the sightings are not that frequent, no horrid murders and no threat to visitors. Along the same line is the current holder of the title “Most Haunted in America” the Whaley House, California, which was once a court house which tried a murderer and hung him outside, further several of the Whaley family also died in the home. Psychics and guests get unusual feelings and a few pictures show anomalies. Perhaps your own grandparents’ house has had equal activities but cannot stand up to the public relation efforts which keep this house on the top of the American list. Likewise the Stanley Hotel, Colorado, is high on the list, however it is hard to find evidence of anyone dying there and the number of ghost sightings increased only after it was used for the fictional film The Shining. McPike Mansion, Alton, IL, had been vacant for so long and was in such disrepair that it became the “haunted house” teenagers dared each other to enter. Eventually its reputation caught up with it as it is now a site for considerable reported paranormal activity.
The quantity of places where gruesome murders have occurred throughout history is numerous, however some homes stand out. The Borden House, Massachusetts, is where supposedly, although never convicted, Lizzie Borden wacked her father and stepmother to death with an axe. Gardette-LaPrete House, New Orleans, was not just a murder scene, it was a statement. The rich Turkish tenant was found by the authorities buried alive in the yard, but only after all members of the large household (including harem, guards, aids, servants and children) were found so brutally dismembered that a body count was difficult. On the other hand, the Sharon Tate House, California, where the grisly Charles Manson Family murders took place in 1969 only had reports of ghosts on the premises after 1996 when the house was torn down.
Topping the list of “so unusual it must be haunted” is the Winchester Mystery Mansion, California, where widow Sarah Winchester built, and continued to build to her death, a humongous home designed to confuse the ghosts of those who died by the Winchester rifle. The Franklin Castle, Ohio, is a sprawling 20 room 4 story mansion designed to look like a castle, with gargoyles and all the other medieval amenities. Perhaps more than a normal amount of residents have died of natural causes in the home in its 150 year history, but rumors of murders are unvaried. The Witches’ House, California, with its odd shaped roof, sloping walls, rickety shutters and haphazard appearance, looks as if it is about to collapse at any moment, however sits in the heart of Beverly Hills next to 4 and 5 million dollar homes. It was actually built with an intended storybook appearance in 1921 as the offices and movie set for a silent film production company and this home which rates high on the creepy scale has never claimed paranormal activities.
In order to discus by number of deaths we need to go large, very large. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky, built in 1910 for the treatment of tuberculosis patients; an estimated 63,000 people died in this building. The deaths were of all ages, slow and painful and there are reports that some unsanctioned experiments were done out of the perceived necessity to cure the disease. The Tower of London, England, has the quantity of victims that only 1,000 years of imprisonment, torture and executions can supply. They also can boast of such dignitaries roaming their halls as Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Henry VI, Thomas Becket, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Countess of Salisbury.
Quantity of paranormal activity and reports conjures up yet other establishments. The Schooner Hotel, UK, claims no less than 60 individual ghostly inhabitants who have accounted for over 3,000 sightings. Its 300-year history in a seaside trading post town can brag of many unpleasant activities in the hotel including unsavory characters, smugglers, suicides, and murders. Borley Rectory, England, still holds the title “Most Haunted House in England” despite it having burned in 1939 and then demolished in 1944. Its early 1900 poltergeist activity include full apparitions and ghostly stage coaches driven by headless drivers. It should be noted that its later reports are in question by skeptics because in 1935 the reverend’s wife may have hidden behind false poltergeist activity to explain scratches she sustained from a love affair, and then a magician expanded the stories to sell books.
Judging by quality of sightings brings to mind Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England, with a long history of full figure phantoms along with the still famous 1936 photo of “the brown lady” on the staircase. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, has been the location for many military sieges as the castle was a point of power to rule from. Reportedly there are shadowy figures still fighting the wars and headless drummers cheering them on.
Then there are the terrifying homes. An example is Amityville House, New York, which was made famous by the near factually true movie Amityville Horror where the house was the site of an insane murder of 6 in 1974. A year later the new owners were chased out with many horrid claims of poltergeist activity. The current owners today claim no paranormal activity and wish the tourists would leave them alone. Most of the locations which have had evidence of direct poltergeist interaction (moving furniture, levitating people, and physical harm) have been limited to one person or one family and ceased to occur after they left the house, which brings to question whether those locations should be included as still haunted.
Above we have examined many of the contenders for the most haunted house. However the questions still remain, on what should that designation be based, and which would be the winner?
By Dr. Paul (Staff Writer for Paranormal-Association.com)
Dr. Paul claims to be a fictional person with 5 paranormal books released. You can read more at Dr. Paul Website
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The author’s intent was to make a fair, critical review of many locations, not to state an opinion on ghosts or put into doubt which locations are haunted.