It’s that time of year, the season when nights turn chilly, leaves change hues and our thoughts turn to harvest, the ethereal glow of carved pumpkins and things that go bump in the night. We couldn’t let October slip by without announcing a list of our favorite real-life haunted houses in the United States. (All stone, of course!)
Most Haunted House in Pennsylvania: Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford
The wayside stone tavern
was constructed sometime during the 1760s by Robert Callender, a famed fur trader and scout for General George Washington. During its storied history, the structure served several purposes: as a fort, trading post, tavern and inn and private residence. Public hangings were also known to have occurred on the property. Stories of ghostly encounters were made public in the late 1950s by the Enyeart family, owners who discovered the remains of a Colonial-era man in the basement during a renovation. The remains of a second body were discovered in the 1980s, during a floor restoration project. Tavern guests and staff members have reported sightings of several apparitions, including a wagon master, a horse thief, an officer, a soldier and a forlorn young woman (some say the mistress of Callender, abandoned and forever morning the loss of her lover).
Most Haunted House in New York: Beardslee Castle, Little Falls
Constructed in 1860 by New York lawyer and legislator Augustus Beardslee, this stone castle
, built atop the site of a circa-1700s fortified homestead, is heavily inspired by the design of ancient Irish castles. Now a wedding venue, the former family manse is said to be haunted by the ghosts of French and Indian War soldiers (and their victims), a woman named “Abigail”, who is dressed in white and awaiting a wedding she died the night before, and Pop Christensen, a former owner who, broken and weary from prolonged illness, hung himself in the building.
Most Haunted House in New Jersey: Olde Stone House, Washington Township
The oldest structure incorporated in the Olde Stone House Village, this circa-1730 Jersey brownstone home
sits along Egg Harbor Road, an old stagecoach route to the shore. Originally home to early settlers in the Morgan family, the home is presently used as a wedding, party and meeting venue. Several paranormal research groups have investigated the home and the village over the years, and suggested that the site is haunted by the ghost of a little girl, whose giggle can be heard on rare occasions, and the ghost of a Civil War solider, who walks up and down the home’s interior staircase.
Most Haunted House in Maryland: Jonathan Hager House, Hagerstown
A young German immigrant eager for adventure, Jonathan Hager purchased 200 acres of land in what was then considered Maryland wilderness and built, in the 1740s, his German-style fieldstone home
atop a freshwater spring. A noteworthy citizen for his efforts in settling the area (now known as Hagerstown), Hager was elected to the General Assembly at Annapolis in 1771 and 1773. His homestead, “Hager’s Fancy,” is now owned by the city of Hagerstown and open to the public. The home is believed to be haunted by former owners of the property, and visitors have reported seeing a man dressed in black who paces the porch as well as the sounds of footsteps and disembodied voices on the second floor.
Most Haunted House in Virginia: Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown
Construction of this elegant Classical Revival-style manor home
began in 1794 and continued for three years. Built of locally quarried limestone, the manor was originally home to Revoluntionary War veteran Major Isaac Hite, Jr. (President James Madison’s brother-in-law), his wife and their children. In the early 1800s, the home was sold out of the family and, during the Civil War, was occupied several times. Today a National Trust Historic Site, Belle Grove serves as an educational center and remains a working farm. The plantation is said to be haunted by the ghost of Hetty Cooley
, a former owner’s young wife who was murdered in the 1860s by a resentful servant. She is often spotted, dressed in white and moving silently as she relives the very last moments of her life at Belle Grove.