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Most scary stories have a hint of truth to them. We’ve combed through the haunted history of cities across America, sharing only the most chilling tidbits of local folklore. Fact or fiction—you be the judge. Either way, these tales will leave you in a fright!
New York City: 14 West 10th Street Townhouse
When the townhouse at 14 West 10th Street in Manhattan was named “The House of Death”, it officially became the most haunted building in all of New York City. As many as 22 ghosts call it home, and even residents dating back to the early 1900’s have reported supernatural visitors. Built during the late 1850’s, it belonged to James Boorman Johnston, a founding member of the Metropolitan Underground Railroad and the Broadway Underground Railroad. Later on author Samuel Clemens ( also known as Mark Twain) took up residence, and some have reported sightings of the famous author decked in a white suit near the staircase on the first floor. One of the most tragic tales is the one of 6-year old Lisa Steinberg, a young girl who died from being beaten by her adopted father and former criminal defense attorney, Joel Steinberg. The bathroom where Lisa’s body was found has been described as strangely ice cold by recent residents of the building.
Boston: Emerson College’s Cutler Majestic Theater
Every theater major at Emerson College is familiar with the ghosts that frequent the Cutler Majestic Theatre, a performing arts venue at Emerson College. Built in 1903, it was later restored in the 1980’s. Still, several former patrons are seen floating about, such as the former mayor of Boston who died while watching a performance there. Other known spirits include a married couple and their young daughter, both whom visitors regularly see in the balconies of the theater during performances.
Washington DC: Cutts-Madison House
This historic, colonial-style home located in Washington DC is best known as the final residence for former First Lady Dolley Madison. She lived there from November 1837 until her death in July 1849. After former president James Madison passed away, Dolley found herself in financial struggle while also dealing with her grief. She took up shelter at the Cutts-Madison House during this time, and although it’s said that the heartbroken ghost of Dolley haunts several places, she’s often sighted sitting in a rocking chair on the west side of the house where there was once a porch.
Philadelphia: Eastern State Penitentiary
Philly has quite a history, some of it filled with unfinished business. With that said, no other place in the city has quite as much of a spooky past than the Eastern State Penitentiary, the country’s first official penitentiary. It established solitary confinement for the worst of criminals, many of whose ghosts might return to the penitentiary to haunt their tormentors. Regularly, inmates would report sightings of shadowy, mass figures and sounds of screaming.
In 1929 and 1930, Al Capone, also known as Scarface, spent a total of eight months confined to Eastern State Penitentiary. He said he was haunted by the ghost of James Clark, killed under Capone’s orders during the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, while there. Numerous times, Capone was found screaming in the dark, afraid of a man to whom he referred as “Jimmy.” Despite the fact that the guards consistently checked in and around Al Capone’s cell, they were never able to identify anyone or anything in the room.
Chicago: Holy Family Church
The Holy Family Church was one of the few structures to survive the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, and it’s said that the building’s very construction is sacred. Located only a couple of blocks from where the fire began, the building withstood a fire that took out much of the city’s business district. During the erecting of the building in the 1850’s, the altar was set above a stream that ran under the church, a battle ground that’s considered sacred by Native Americans. Today, many parishioners of the church report seeing white apparitions in and around the building.
San Francisco: Octavia Street Park
On the corner of Bush Street and Octavia Street in San Francisco is a little park with a plaque commemorating Mary Ellen Pleasant. Be sure to pay your respects while there, or you’ll face the wrath of this ghost’s hot temper. Arriving in San Francisco in 1899, Mary Ellen was a former slave and indentured servant who went on to open up a restaurant. Frequented by San Francisco’s wealthiest businessmen, Mary Ellen picked up stock tips that resulted in getting wealthy herself. She soon built and moved into a mansion on Octavia Street with her business partner and his wife. But Mary Ellen’s heated personality soon got the best of her, and she was accused of killing her business partner by pushing him down the stairs. Pressured to move out of San Francisco, Mary Ellen soon lost all her savings and died penniless years later.
Los Angeles: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Back in it’s heyday, the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel was the place to be seen for A-listers. The 1927 landmark went through a restoration in 2003, but it’s original patrons still seem to haunt the grounds. Actress Marilyn Monroe frequently stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt and is believed to be responsible for lights and faucets turning on and off on their own. A mirror that used to be in Marilyn’s suite was later moved to the lobby, and we hear that the mirror sometimes reflects the image of Marilyn Monroe to guests and hotel staff as they walk by.
Where are the real haunted houses of your neighborhood? Let us know in the comment section below!