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7 historically haunted houses to visit (or even stay over) in the US

‘Tis the season to embrace all things scary. And for those who are not faint of heart, Halloween is the perfect time to visit a haunted house.

We’re not talking about those cheesy, man-made attractions where zombies jump out at you (although, those can certainly be fun, too). We’re talking about the real homes across America that have a history of stories involving ghosts and paranormal activity.

Ready to send some shivers down your spine? Here are seven real estate properties that will most definitely give you the creeps, from a historical home that’s supposedly haunted by Thomas Jefferson to a Gothic mansion that's claimed to be haunted by a woman dressed in black.

1. Market Square Tavern, Williamsburg, VA

Located in Colonial Williamsburg, this home is said to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. And guests have claimed they’ve seen Jefferson’s ghost in the home where you can stay overnight. According to Lonely Planet, one guest reported that he'd heard someone say, “Goodnight, Tom” and a chair scrape across the floor “as though someone had stood up to offer his departing courtesies.” Creepy!

2. Joshua Ward House, Salem, MA

Once the site of Sheriff George Corwin’s jail in the 1680s where accused witches were executed during the Salem Witch Trials, this home is now a hotel called “The Merchant.” According to the official website, it is said to be haunted by some of the victims of Sheriff Corwin. One in particular is a woman sporting wild, black hair who appeared in a photograph taken by a former tenant.

3. LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, LA

This home in the French Quarter once belonged to socialite Madame LaLaurie in the 1800s. Now, it has the reputation of being one of the most haunted houses in New Orleans, according to Haunted New Orleans Tours. A fire supposedly broke out in the kitchen, which led firefighters and townspeople to discover a torture chamber in the home's attic. LaLaurie was forced to flee the city after an angry mob ransacked the house. Since then, many have claimed to see ghosts in photos and hear screams of agony coming from the empty house. The home is privately owned now so no one is allowed in, but you can still try and spot paranormal activity from the street.

4. Amityville Horror House, Long Island, NY

#amityvillehorrorhouse

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This 3,600-square-foot home has five bedrooms, three baths and peaceful water views, but there’s a scary feature: It’s the site of a tragic mass murder in 1974, when a man shot his parents and four siblings (the event inspired books and movies like “The Amityville Horror”). It’s not too scary for some, however, as the home was sold last year after being on the market for $850,000.

5. Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, MA

Another home where a gruesome murder took place is this crime scene turned hotel. In 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found axed to death in the house and his daughter, Lizzie, was tried but eventually acquitted for the crime. The home is now a bed and breakfast where you can stay in the "John V. Morse" room where Abby Borden was murdered — it’s even decorated with crime scene photos, according to Lee-Ann Wilber, manager of the inn.

“I always say it’s a nice, old Victorian house that has issues,” she told TODAY Home. In the last 13 years, she said she’s seen lights go on and off and furniture switch places. While she slept in one of the rooms, she said, she saw a rocking chair move from the left side of the bed to the right.

6. The Wythe House, Williamsburg, VA

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg #wythehouse #wythehousegarden #colonialwilliamsburg

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This home once belonged to Thomas Jefferson’s law professor George Wythe, a very prominent man and also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. According to Leigh Jameson, creative lead of Colonial Williamsburg’s Official Ghost Walk, people have seen a ghost-like woman on the property through the years. She’s shown up standing behind someone in a mirror, and one guest even fainted after spotting her walk into a wardrobe before dissipating.

7. Franklin Castle, Ohio City, OH

Located on the west side, #franklincastle was built in the 1880s by the wealthy Hannes Tiedemann. Though he was rich, Tiedemann’s life was not a happy one. His immediate family members, including his 15-year-old daughter, his mother, and three additional infants died in this house. His wife could not handle so much death, especially those of her children. In order to distract her, he constructed the castle’s elaborate turrets, prominent gargoyles, and increasingly large network of rooms. Nevertheless, his wife suddenly passed away, causing him to sell the house. After Tiedemann sold the property, it spent several decades as a German cultural center. It wasn't until around the 1960s when the tales of hauntings picked up. Residents reported surging electricity, the sound of babies crying, and a mysterious woman in black gained steam. In 1975, it was said that human bones were found in a closet. However, it is believed the bones were planted by the new owner, who was looking to put the place on the map, as we quickly started offering ghost tours of the property soon after. Tales of Franklin Castle have grown more numerous and fantastical throughout the years. You now hear of an axe murder, a mass shooting of Nazis in the basement, and the alleged hanging death of Heidemann’s illegitimate daughter. Many stories supposedly took place in tunnels below the house (though no tunnels are found under the house). "Franklin Castle has changed owners many times in recent years, including a stint as the home of Michael DeVinko, known better under his stage name Mickey Deans and as the last husband of actress Judy Garland. After a fire, it laid abandoned for several years, before the current owners purchased the place in 2011." The home is no longer open to the public. The gates are locked and there is a Private Property sign at the entrance. Though one cannot explore it from the inside, the outside is still creepy enough. #hauntedhome #hauntedhouse #hauntedmansion #ghoststories #ghostsofclevelandpast #cleveland #ohio #hauntedcleveland #hauntedohio #atlasobscura

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This gorgeous Gothic mansion certainly looks like a haunted house. Built in the late 1800s, it’s said to have been the site of about seven deaths through the years. “Residents have been witness to lights turning on and off by themselves, doors opening and closing of their own accord, disembodied voices echoing from empty rooms and objects mysteriously moving about,” said William G. Krejci, author of Haunted Franklin Castle. “Many have also been witness to unexplained vaporous mists, as well as seeing an apparition of a woman in black and a girl in white, who are believed to be the wife and daughter of the original owner.”

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    Courtey of The Myrtles Plantation

    The Myrtles Plantation

    Haunted destinations

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  • Alcatraz

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    Alcatraz

    The former maximum security facility on an island in San Francisco Bay was once home to Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. It is no longer used as a prison, but visitors and tour guides have claimed to hear screams, slamming cell doors, and footsteps.

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  • Amityville house

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    Amityville house

    The house at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York, gained infamy in a best-selling book and several movies. Former owners reported creaking noises, voices, the music of a full marching band in the middle of the night, foul odors, and a black, shapeless apparition.

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  • Bran Castle

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    Bran Castle

    Bran Castle, Dracula's castle, in fog, Transylvania. Bran Castle is alleged to have been the seat of Vlad III - a cruel Romanian ruler better known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. Notorious for brutal impaling his enemies, the character of Vlad III inspired Bram Stoker to write his famous horror novel Dracula.

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  • Paris Catacombs

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    Paris Catacombs

    In the 1800s, Paris's cemeteries were coming dangerously close to being filled, so some bodies were moved to tunnels that had been dug beneath the city by workers quarrying for building materials. Bones and skulls are stacked up throughout the Catacombs, and visitors have reported strange voices.

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  • Hotel Chelsea

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    Hotel Chelsea

    A familiar haunt for artists and bohemians in the Chelsea district of New York City since it was built in 1883, the Hotel Chelsea still puts up guests today ... if they don't mind sharing accommodations with the reputed ghosts of former residents Dylan Thomas, Eugene O'Neill, and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious.

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  • Eastern State Penitentiary

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    Eastern State Penitentiary

    Located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, this prison was designed to encourage solitude, supposedly helping prisoners open themselves up to God. But it is said that many went mad instead ... which may explain the eerie noises that have been reported since it closed.

    AP
  • Edinburgh Castle

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    Edinburgh Castle

    This ancient stronghold overlooking Edinburgh is one of Scotland's most popular tourist attractions. It is reputed to have many ghosts, including a drummer who only appears when the castle is about to be attacked, and a piper who disappeared in the tunnels underneath it.

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  • Hotel del Coronado

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    Hotel del Coronado

    In 1892, a young woman checked into this luxury hotel on California's San Diego Bay to meet her husband. He never arrived, and a few days later, she was found dead on the hotel steps. Since then, guests and staff have noticed the pale figure of a young lady in a black lace dress....

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  • Inverary Castle

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    Inverary Castle

    It is said that the ghost of a harpist who was hanged in 1644 for peeping at the lady of the house can be seen wandering this castle in western Scotland, and can be heard playing every day in its library. The castle is home to the 13th Duke of Argyll today, but sometimes opens its doors to brave visitors.

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  • New Orleans

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    New Orleans

    he Big Easy's French Quarter is well-known to tourists for its hot jazz and spicy food. But New Orleans is also the historic center of voodoo traditions that African-Americans brought to Louisiana during the days of the slave trade. Although those customs were suppressed by slave owners, they linger on today.

    AP
  • The Myrtles Plantation

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    The Myrtles Plantation

    Now a bed and breakfast, this antebellum estate northwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been called "America's Most Haunted Home." Reported phenomena include an oil portrait whose features become animated, a "bloody handprint" on the adjacent wall, and doors that open and close by themselves.

    Courtesy of The Myrtles Plantatio
  • Petzow Castle

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    Petzow Castle

    This 18th-century castle near Potsdam in eastern Germany is a hotel and restaurant today ... but its corridors harbor a dark history involving murderous barons.

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  • Point Hicks Lighthouse

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    Point Hicks Lighthouse

    In 1947, the keeper of this historic lighthouse on the eastern coast of Australia mysteriously disappeared. Afterward, many visitors have claimed to hear his hobnail boots at night, and it's said his ghost continues to keep the tower's brass doorknobs polished to this day.

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  • Salem, Massachusetts

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    Salem, Massachusetts

    The location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, dramatized in Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible," is today a mix of important historical sites, New Age boutiques, and witch-kitsch attractions. The Salem Witch Museum claims to be the most visited one in town.

    Corbis
  • Sleepy Hollow

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    Sleepy Hollow

    This picturesque village 30 miles north of New York City was immortalized in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Washington Irving's classic tale of schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and the fearsome Headless Horseman. Irving implied that the apparition Ichabod saw was a fake, but a number of visitors also have claimed to see the Horseman, supposedly a Hessian trooper whose head was carried off by a cannonball during the Revolutionary War.

    Corbis
  • Stanley Hotel

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    Stanley Hotel

    This neoclassical hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, was the real-life inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's "The Shining." It is named for Freelan O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, whose ghost has been reported visiting its billiard room and bar. Guests also complain about children playing in the hallways at night ... even when no children are checked in.

    Rob Lee
  • Tower of London

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    Tower of London

    The ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, just two of hundreds of victims executed on Tower Hill over the Tower of London's bloody 900-year history, are among many that have been seen in what is called England's most haunted building. Legend has it that in 1816, a guard died of fright after seeing an apparition of a bear approaching him.

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  • The White House

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    The White House

    America's most famous residence is the setting for a number of ghost stories, some of which have even made it onto the official White House Web site. The spirit of Abigail Adams supposedly continues to do laundry in the East Room, while the ghost of Dolley Madison has been reported looking down upon the Rose Garden.

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  • Forks, Washington

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    Forks, Washington

    Michael Gurling, right, of the Forks, Wash., Chamber of Commerce, talks about the bonfire location on a beach in LaPush, Wash., that is portrayed in Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful vampire-themed "Twilight" books and movies.

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  • Pfister Hotel

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    Pfister Hotel

    Built in 1893, the Pfister is the most regal address in Milwaukee, having hosted every U.S. president since William McKinley and scores of celebrities. But rumors abound that late at night, the spirit of hotel founder Charles Pfister, who died in 1927, arrives to check in. Some guests report hearing strange noises and having paranormal experiences.

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  • Gettysburg

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    Gettysburg

    Re-enactors leave the field at dusk on the fields in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, site of the bloody Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Union and Confederate armies suffered 46,000 to 51,000 casualties in total in the battle.

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  • The Waverly Hills Sanatorium

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    The Waverly Hills Sanatorium

    The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a local landmark in Louisville, Kentucky. The vacant building has become an attraction for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts, who insist the building is haunted by former patients.

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  • Winchester Mystery House

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    Winchester Mystery House

    This is an aerial view, taken in 1994, of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif. The house, a maze of 160 rooms built by a firearms heiress to fend off pursuing ghosts, has been given national landmark status.

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  • The Alamo

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    The Alamo

    The Battle of the Alamo happened in 1836 as part of the Texas Revolution.The Alamo became one of the Lone Star State's most historic sites. A quick online search can return hundreds of results about how the area is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of fallen soldiers.

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