Halloween extra: Seriously spooky properties
By Steve Boudreault, Buildium, Boston, MA
Happy Halloween, everyone! In honor of this creepiest of creepy holidays, Buildium presents some seriously haunted properties for your consideration. The next time you’re inclined to complain about the property you live in or manage, just remember — you could be in one of these. Enjoy!
The Raynham Hall Mansion in Norfolk, England, is most famous for the ghost of the Brown Lady, which was captured on film in 1936 in what is considered one of the most authentic ghost pictures ever taken.
For more than 300 years, Raynham Hall was the home of the Townshend family. In the 1700s, Charles Townshend lived there with his wife, Dorothy. Legend holds that Charles suspected Dorothy of infidelity. In point of fact, Dorothy was once the mistress of a famous politician who was more famous for his dalliances than politics.
Records show that Dorothy died and was buried in 1726, but a popular rumor was that Charles got fed up with his wife’s activities — worrying that his reputation would be ruined — so in reality he locked her away in a remote corner of the house, as good as dead, until her actual death many years later. And so, the tragic Dorothy haunted Raynham Hall, perhaps still looking for a way out.
While staying in Raynham Hall in the early 1800s, King George IV said he saw the figure of a woman in a brown dress standing beside his bed, noting that she was deathly pale and her hair was a wild mess.
Others sightings include:
- Col. Loftus, another guest of Raynham Hall, said he saw a woman in a brown satin dress in the hallway on two occasions in 1835, and that her skin glowed with a light all its own. He also said it appeared that her eyes had been gouged out.
- A few years later, Capt. Frederick Marryat and two friends saw her gliding along an upstairs hallway, carrying a lantern. They ducked behind a door, peeking at the apparition just barely out of sight. As she passed them, Marryat said she stopped, turned and grinned at the men in a “diabolical manner.” She seemed so real and so menacing that Marryat fired a pistol at her, but there was nothing to hit — and it went right through into the wall.
The Stanley Hotel
Built in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley (inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile), this 138-room hotel in the Colorado Rockies is probably best known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s book “The Shining,” which he wrote after staying in Room 217 at The Stanley. The elegant Estes Park hotel is a popular resort and destination for ghost hunters; a ghost tour is even offered to visitors.
Several apparitions and other phenomena have been reported throughout the hotel, including:
- The ghosts of Freelan Stanley and his wife, Flora, have been seen dressed in formal attire on the main staircase and in other public areas, such as the lobby and the billiard room.
- Freelan Stanley has also been spotted in the administration offices. Flora’s piano playing occasionally echoes in the ballroom.
- Disembodied voices and phantom footsteps have been heard in the hallways and rooms.
- Staff and visitors have reported unseen hands yanking at their clothing.
- More than one guest has said they have awakened to find their blankets taken from their beds and neatly folded.
- The Earl of Dunraven, who owned the land prior to the Stanleys, is said to haunt Room 407, where the aroma of his cherry pipe tobacco still can be smelled. A ghostly face has also been reported peering out of the room’s window when it was not occupied.
- In Room 217, where King stayed, housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson was nearly killed by a gas leak explosion in 1911. Since her death in the 1950s, strange, unexplained activity is said to take place in that room, including doors opening and closing, and lights switching on and off by themselves.
- According to hotel staff, Room 418 is the most haunted room, apparently by the ghosts of children. Guests who stay there say phantom children can be heard playing in the hallways at night. One couple complained that the noisy children kept them up all night, although there were no children staying at the hotel at the time. Impressions of bodies have been found on the bed when the room has been unoccupied.
- The ghost of a small child who calls out to his nanny has been spotted on several occasions on the second floor — including by King.
The Sallie House
The Sallie House in Atchison, KS, has earned a national reputation as one of the most haunted places in the U.S. The rather simple-looking painted brick house at 508 N. 2nd St., built between 1867 and 1871, gives no indication from the street of its spooky reputation, but the many experiences of those who lived there testify to its ghostly vibes.
The house was brought to national attention when Debra and Tony Pickman lived there from 1992 to 1994 and had many disturbing encounters, including physical attacks on Tony, which were documented by the television show “Sightings.” It’s called the Sallie house because the daughter of some previous tenants had an imaginary friend named Sallie, and she is believed to be one of the spirits haunting the house. When Tony Pickman drew a picture of a ghost he had seen, the daughter identified it as her friend, Sallie.
The Pickmans experienced quite a bit of haunting, including:
- Wall-hung pictures turned upside-down.
- Strangely melted candles and burnt finger marks.
- Tony’s actual sighting of Sallie on Halloween morning, 1993.
- While napping, Tony heard a woman’s voice say, “Here’s your remote,” as the TV remote control was placed on his chest by unseen hands.
- During the first “Sightings” taping, Tony received three bloody scratches on his arm.
- One night Tony dreamed that he was being pulled out of bed by his wrist by a little girl. Upon waking he found burn marks on his wrist that were much like the fingerprints of a small child.
The house continues to be a focal point for investigations by ghost hunting groups from all over the country, who report strange activity, electronic voice phenomena and other haunted activities.
- 10 of the Most Haunted Homes in the US
- 5 Scream-Free Ways to Prepare Your Home for Halloween
- 20 Best Cities to Trick or Treat in 2012
Steve Boudreault is the interactive copywriter and marketing associate for Buildium, an online property management software company. He is also the managing editor and a regular contributor to Buildium’s industry blog, All Things Property Management.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.