While almost anyone can enjoy an elaborate, set up “haunted house” at Halloween, nothing is quite as scary as a real haunted house. These places where things really do go bump in the night. Where the strange occurrences can only be blamed on one thing – the supernatural. There are plenty of homes, hotels and other types of old buildings that claim to be home to some unseen spirit world residents, but some have become more famous than others.
Haunted House #1 – The Stanley Hotel
While not a house, this ginormous and posh lodging in Estes Park, Colorado does house plenty of guests during its peak season. The Stanley Hotel opened its doors in 1909 and is still open to this day. Stephen King’s stay here inspired him to write his novel The Shining, which became a movie, set and filmed within the walls of this hotel. Whatever spooked him enough to get to writing about ghosts in the Stanley Hotel seems to still be lingering.
Plenty of claims have been made, and the show Ghost Hunters did not one but two episodes devoted to this place. The general findings seem to involve the fourth floor, where the servants’ quarters were once housed. Though the haunting activity does not seem as sinister as what Mr. King created behind door 217, the reports are mainly of children laughing or being mischievous. The Stanley Hotel does not mind this reputation and does, in fact, offer ghost tours for groups of up to 20 people at a time.
Haunted House #2 – Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Opened in 1910, this construction housed up to 50 tuberculosis patients at a time. Since there was no way to treat this disease back then, this place was meant to be a resting facility for patients to recover peacefully while isolated from the general public. As the disease spread faster, though, Waverly Hills was quickly extended to be able to accommodate up to 400 patients.
There are slightly conflicting stories about whether Waverly ended up being a peaceful place or a location of horrific treatment and death. In many reports, at the peak of the tuberculosis outbreak, the sanatorium was still too small and understaffed and many patients were left dying in corners while new patients were brought in. There is a “body chute” where the dead were dropped down to an awaiting hearse. This method was used to bypass taking bodies of the dead past patients in the hospital.
Aside from the massive death toll from sick patients, it has been documented that at least one, but possibly two, nurses committed suicide at Waverly Hills. There has been much documentation of various apparitions, including photographic, and this was another successful stop for the Ghost Hunters crew. Waverly Hills is open for just ghost tours now.
Haunted House #3 – The Sarah Winchester House
Sarah Winchester was the widow of the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and, to try to get over her grief after losing a child and a husband, sought the guidance of a medium in 1881. She was told that her family and home were haunted and cursed by the spirits of the dead who had died as a result of the Winchester products. In order to not die herself, the medium instructed Sarah to appease the ghosts by continuing to build the home. Sarah would not die, as long as the house was always being built.
Construction of the home she acquired in San Jose, California continued for 38 years, 24 hours around the clock. It is estimated the house ended up with around 160 rooms, from the original 6 it started with, but no one can be sure. Everyone who tries to take a count gets lost, confused and loses track of the room count. There are doors and stairs that lead to nowhere.
This is thought to either be to confuse the spirits or just to have some form on construction going on. Sarah would consult her spirits through nightly séances on architecture plans up until her death in 1922. These same spirits are said to roam the confusing hall ways, possibly now trapped by the construction Sarah Winchester created for them. The Winchester Mystery House is open for tours now.
What’s Real or Not?
It is hard to say what’s fact or fiction when it comes to haunted houses. There are certainly some places that just seem to attract too many ghostly reports to simply write it off. One thing is for sure, real haunted houses for Halloween are a great way to get in the spirit of the holiday.