It’s strange when you think about it: people spend exorbitant amounts of money every year to scare themselves. In fact, according to fortune.com, Americans were projected to spend approximately $8.4 billion on Halloween supplies in 2016. From costumes to candy to trips to the haunted house, the holiday industry has seen huge growth in recent years. For a few truly spooky souls, however, Halloween means it’s time to take a haunted holiday.. Whether it’s the LaLaurie Mansion or the Villisca Ax Murder House, there are spooky sites dotted all across the country where visitors can attempt to experience the paranormal for themselves. This week, we’re taking a look at four of the scariest places on the map. We’ll explore their histories and decide what home renovation project would have to take place to change the reputations of some of America’s most alarming addresses.
Joshua Ward House
This three-story home in Salem, Massachusetts was built in the mid 1780s by a merchant named Joshua ward. He made one fatal design flaw, however: location. He built his home on land that once belonged to one of the most ruthless men to take part in the Salem witch trials, Sheriff George Corwin. Sheriff Corwin executed 19 men and women during the witch trials, and he supposedly haunts the estate along with two of his victims today.
Rating: Slap on Some Paint. While this home definitely has a history that sounds scary enough, there is little in the way of recorded encounters that have actually taken place at the Joshua Ward House. As far as we’re concerned, this one just needs a fresh coat of paint and a can-do attitude to turn it around.
Villisca Ax Murder House
The site of a gruesome mass murder, the Villisca Ax Murder House is known throughout Iowa and Nebraska for its sordid past. In 1912, eight people, two adults and six children, were murdered and their killer was never caught. Guests can stay overnight and roam the halls, investigate the bedrooms where the murders took place, and peek inside the pantry where many believe the killer hid all afternoon waiting for the family to go to sleep. The Villisca Ax murder website touts plenty of evidence of the home’s paranormal inhabitants, claiming the spirits of either the family members, the murderer, or both, remain in the home.
Rating: Gutter and Window Replacement. This home has a well-recorded history of scary encounters, but it has also seen plenty of updates: replacing the vinyl siding, updating the cellar, and things of the like. Honestly, if someone got rid of all that old haunted junk and brightened the place up with new windows and some aluminum gutters, it wouldn’t be too shabby.
Winchester Mystery House
This house has a doozy of a history. A widow inherited her husband’s fortune after his death. That fortune just happened to be made from Winchester firearms and the widow was Mrs. Winchester herself. After Mr. Winchester’s death, Mrs. Winchester saw a medium who told her to move West and build a home continuously for the souls of all who had been and would be killed by Winchester rifles. So her once 7-story home (now only 4-stories) still sits in the Santa Clara Valley in California. With staircases that lead to nowhere and windows that look into other rooms, the haphazard and continuous remodel is eerie, leading visitors in a lunatic maze. A previously undiscovered room has been found as recently as 2016 as no construction plans were set during the prolonged build. After her death in 1922, the home was sold and turned into a public attraction.
Rating: Total Remodel. This place had a difficult construction and it would be even more difficult to fix it as an outsider. There’s a good chance Mrs. Winchester is the only person who could navigate it well. It would take years of undoing confusing work and rebuilding to make this mischievous mansion livable again.
Arguably one of the most haunted places in the country, the LaLaurie Mansion has a dark history rivaled by few. Madame LaLaurie and her husband were sadists who committed terrible crimes against their slaves in the early 1800s and escaped amid outcry from the surrounding town about their cruelty. The atrocities committed in this home are some of the worst in American history and, while we won’t regale you with the gory details, know that Kathy Bates played a version of Madame Delphine LaLaurie on the popular television show American Horror Story. Any person bad enough to make it onto that show must have been nothing short of a monster.
Rating: Demo Day. This one is terrifying no matter who you ask. Even our exterior experts couldn’t fix up a home with this bad a reputation. This one may just have to take a trip to the boneyard because to exorcise this evil home you’d have to tear it down!
There you have it: four of our favorite haunted homes across the US. Which haunted home is the spookiest to you? From Lincoln, NE to LA, CA, any home is on the chopping block. Let us know what you think in the comments!
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