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Haunted Real Estate

Haunted Real Estate

by Chris Petry

You know what they say about ghosts and real estate: location, location, location! Look, it’s the middle of October and we’ve yet to post a blog with an exclusively Halloween-y topic. You probably wondered if we’d decided to buck tradition and skip it all together. Still, you’ve been patient, and much like a restless spirit compelled to roam the halls of a stately manor in perpetuity, your release from uncertainty is nigh. Today’s spooky topic will focus on real life parcels of real estate with ghostly reputations.
Number one, The Amityville Horror House- 112 Ocean Ave, Long Island, NY. This lovely Dutch Colonial became the stuff of legend in the mid-1970s after a trio of well-publicized events. First 23-year-old Suffolk County resident Ronald DeFeo Jr., massacred his family in the wee morning hours of November 13, 1974. Then, a year later, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into the home, only to flee a month later after reportedly falling victim to a barrage of violent supernatural occurrences. A couple years later, Jay Anson’s novel, supposedly depicting the events experienced by the Lutz’s within the walls of the home, was released to considerable controversy. Furthermore, it was adapted into a film starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, cementing 112 Ocean Avenue as one of the most infamous haunted homes in America. Is it really haunted? Who knows. One thing is for sure, the Long Island single family’s dark past has been extensively studied by paranormal investigators, writers, and journalists and both the book and novel have been horrifying audiences for over 40 years.  
The Lizzie Borden House- 230 Second St, Fall River, MA- Come on, you know the old folk rhyme by heart!
Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her father 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her mother 41!
Yes, this lovely Victorian Mansion is the stuff of legend. On the morning of August 4th, 1892, an unidentified suspect brutally murdered Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother with a hatchet. Lizzie was implicated as the prime suspect and both the events preceding, as well as the trial itself, captured the attention of the true crime-obsessed public. Ultimately, Lizzie was acquitted of the murders. However, no other suspects were ever sought, or even seriously considered, and talk of her seeming-escape from justice reverberated through the halls of private residences for the next century. Today, you can visit the house for a day tour or even stay the night as it’s been converted into a successful bed and breakfast. Of course, the owners are well-aware of the home’s murky past and play it up for true crime, horror, and ghost-obsessed patrons. Rumor has it the spirits of the murdered pay regular visits to overnight guests!

LaLaurie Mansion- 1140 Royal St, New Orleans, LA- This eerie mansion, located in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana was the home of wealthy socialite and… serial killer, Delphine LaLaurie. Well, in actuality the original mansion was burned by an angry mob but the reconstructed building is a city landmark, well known for the horrors committed by the Lady of the Manor. She reportedly tortured servants, performed despicable experiments on enslaved peoples in her attic, and fled to France, eluding justice. It’s said the walls of the famed horror house are haunted by the spirits of her hapless victims. In recent years, the house has regained cultural interest because of Kathy Bates’s heavily-fictionalized portrayal of the blood-thirsty killer in the third season of American Horror Story.
Chambers Mansion- 2220 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA- A mansion hotel since the late 1970s, this stately manor, residing in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, checks just about every box on the “Reasons a House Might Be Haunted” questionnaire. Richard Chambers, a wealthy silver miner, commissioned the construction of the mansion in 1887. There he lived with his two combative nieces, who inherited the property after his death. One niece, Claudia, was severed in a farming accident, though some maintain she was murdered by a deranged family member who was kept locked in the attic of the sprawling home. Family trauma? Check. Horrible accident? Check. Secret psychotic family member locked in the attic? Check.
Franklin Castle- 4308 Franklin Blvd, Cleveland, OH- I hope your skin’s on tight because the ghostly apparitions said to haunt this classic Victorian are of the infantile variety. Talk of hidden rooms and passages and the cries of ghostly babies have become staples of the folklore surrounding what many call, “The Most Haunted Home in Ohio.” German Immigrant Hannes Tiedemann commissioned the construction of the home in the early 1880s. His 15-year-old daughter succumbed to chronic illness in the early years and the family would tragically bury three more children over the next few years, leading to rumors of foul play. It’s said today, those children’s spirits still wander the halls of the infamous castle. Luckily, if you’re intrigued by such things, the current owners routinely book guests for overnight stays.
The Winchester House- 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA- I debated whether or not to include this one but, in the end, I gave in. You see, there’s over 100 years of rich mythology and folklore surrounding this admittedly-enigmatic Victorian in Central, California. The problem is, historians have debunked a lot of it over the years. One of the biggest prevailing myths is that Sarah Winchester, the widow of the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, was repeatedly terrorized by the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles. To confuse or misdirect these ghosts, she kept the home under constant construction, building hundreds of rooms. Rather bizarrely, doors were framed for rooms with no floor. Stairwells were erected that ultimately lead nowhere. Today her real motivations are not entirely clear but one must admit, her almost obsessive dedication to renovations as well as the aforementioned architectural anomalies, do create a sense of wonder. This wonder most-definitely contributed to the host of theories and paranormal investigations over the years. If you’re ever in that part of California, take a tour and you can form your own conclusions about the late, certainly eccentric, Sarah Winchester.