This time is the one time of year when the macabre is most appealing. We can watch our favorite killers in horror movies, or read about the most notorious from the non-fiction realm. We can probe into the paranormal, and hold our breath for what may, or may not, happen. Whether you believe in ghosts and ghouls, or wave them aside as the fictional fables of bygone centuries, some places on this planet still strike a spooky chord. They are the places that inspire nightmares, panic attacks and revisits. And, with any luck, you may just find something otherworldly. Enjoy the list!
The year is 1824, and a row of showers has been converted into a majestic hotel, known as the Shelbourne. The Shelbourne has featured prominently in Ireland’s history, in that the country’s constitution was drafted there in 1922, and, throughout the years, it was favorite of many celebrities passing through Dublin. Room 526 was where a medium supposedly made contact with the hotel’s permanent resident, Mary. Mary was a little girl who lived in the houses that were converted into the hotel, until her death in 1791 from cholera.
In Victorian times, this was the place to be when you bit the dust. This necropolis was highly fashionable in its time, but sadly, since then, it has crumbled and deteriorated since its neglect due to World War II. The cemetery became a creepy, desolate place, complete with dead trees and twisting ivy. Many stories cropped up during this creepy and dark time in the cemetery’s history. Perhaps this is due to the fact that unsavory and unnatural characters love places such as this. Many ghosts and apparitions call this burial ground home, along with a vampire, a man in a top hat, a cloaked figured and a gray, haggard old woman. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to hear the bells ringing in the disused chapel. Thankfully, an organization known as The Friends of Highgate Cemetery is making progress with repairs and restoration of the historic location.
Washington D.C., United States
This historic theater is located just blocks away from the White House, and was founded in 1835 by William Corcoran, and many other prominent city residents. It has had many famous performers, including Sir Ian McKellan, James Earl Jones, Kevin Spacey, Sting and Tim Curry. Winston Churchill had even spoken there once. However, Tim Curry and Winston Churchill aren’t what make this place terrifying. The actor John McCullough was very prominent and popular in the 1800s, and was touring with a troupe who stopped in at the National. Under the stage was a raceway through which the Tiber Creek flowed freely until the 1950s, when it was enclosed in a storm sewer. The actors found this running water beneath the stage to be a perfect place to wash their clothes. McCullough and another actor (of lesser stature) began arguing. Some say it was over a beauty of an actress the two both had a thing for, or perhaps it was over a role that both men desperately wanted. The reason is irrelevant, really. Shots were fired, and John McCullough lay dead beneath the stage of the National Theater. His remains were reportedly interred in the dirt floor beneath the stage where he died. As you undoubtedly expected to hear, his apparition has been seen numerous times since.
The Princess Theatre
In 1854, the historic Princess Theatre was erected by George Coppin, an actor and manager who was busy running and renovating many nearby theaters in Melbourne. However, this particular theatre was center stage for a tragedy that occurred on March 3rd, 1888. Frederick Baker, known as Federici, was playing the part of Mephistopheles in the opera Faust. A powerful scene of the opera was when Mephistopheles was to dramatically descend into Hell – via the Princess’ trapdoor. Federici’s performance that night must have been extra taxing, because he suffered a heart attack and died by the time he had reached the theater’s basement. The company of actors was gathered afterwards so the bad news could be shared. When they asked when it had happened, confusion set in. The other performers explained that that was impossible, as he had just been seen onstage taking his final bows. To this day a mysterious figure is often sighted onstage, and it even made an appearance for a set photographer during the filming of a documentary there.
St. Andrew’s Castle
This fortification in Scotland has existed, in one incarnation or another, since the 12th century. The castle saw many battles, and, in 1337, it was destroyed by the Scots to prevent its use by the English. By the end of the 14th century, however, Bishop Walter Trail ordered the castle rebuilt. The castle has had a long history, and many historic figures have been in and out for many reasons. But this isn’t a list for them. This castle is home to several apparitions: The White Lady, who walks the castle perimeter or the nearby shoreline. The spirit of Patrick Hamilton haunts one of the towers, where he has a good view of the spot on which he was burned alive. You can also see the ghost of Cardinal Beaton, who was murdered and hung naked from the castle battlements, or you can just look for the woman in the grey veil, who carries a prayer book and vanishes into thin air. Your best bet to witness these supernatural residents is to visit during the twilight hours of October and November.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Florida, United States
This lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida, was built in the 1600s by Spanish settlers. By 1824, it was an official US lighthouse, and was later replaced by the current lighthouse, located about a quarter mile away. The original suffered a tragedy when Mr. Andreu, the lighthouse keeper, fell to his death while painting the tower. When the lighthouse was being built there was a dispute over property and one of the parties involved, Dr. Ballard, is now rumored to haunt the place, along with the ghost of poor Mr. Andreu. Three girls are said to have drowned when the handcart they were playing in fell off the tramway, and now their spirits roam the grounds. The parade of lost souls doesn’t end there, however. When the Keeper’s House was being rented out for apartments, many tenants reported strange noises and seeing a young girl walking around. A keeper in the 1950’s even refused to live in the house, trading his living quarters to a Coast Guardsman stationed on-site. There is the mysterious Man In Blue who haunts the basement, and employees of a gift shop located in the house attributed objects being moved and noises being made to local poltergeist, Andrew. And the tower, itself, is rife with footsteps and disembodied voices. Be wary when you visit this lighthouse. Perhaps you will be its next tragedy!
St. James Theater
Wellington, New Zealand
Some people would gladly tell you that New Zealand’s capital hosts one of the most haunted theaters in the world. The current building was erected in 1912, and if you are given the opportunity to see a performance there, you might meet Yuri. Legend holds that Yuri was a Russian performer who was unfortunate enough to fall to his death from above the stage. Or perhaps he was murdered? Some believe that a fellow Russian performer pushed him. Regardless of the identity of the ghost or its reason for sticking around, plenty of people will attest to its existence. Yuri loves to mess around with the lights, his favorite thing to do being turning all of the lights back on after the theater has been locked up for the night. But Yuri is among friends at the theater. The aptly named Wailing Woman also calls St. James her stomping ground, and cries and moans and, you guessed it, wails throughout the theater. In life, she was poorly received during a performance, which she took to heart, and proceeded to off herself in the dressing room. A boys choir is also at home in the theater – they played their last show at the St. James Theater before setting sail for a tour before the Second World War. Their ship was never seen again. With all the tragic events that have allegedly plagued the theater, it isn’t much of stretch to see why stories of haunting persist to this day.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sometimes, the legends of the ghosts and spirits haunting a location must take a backseat to the horrifying facts. At 8:50 a.m., February 1st, 1974, an air conditioning unit overheated, and started a fire in the high rise. The building was one giant fire hazard, from the desks, to the chairs, to the curtains, even the ceiling. All made from flammable materials. There was only one stairwell and the building lacked fire alarms, emergency lights and exits and a sprinkler system. There were 756 people inside.
The fire made the stairwell impassable above the 11th floor, and despite typical fire protocol, firefighters began evacuating the occupants using the elevators. About 170 people made their way to the roof, in hopes of being picked up by helicopter, but there was no place to land, and the smoke was keeping aerial rescues out of the picture anyway. Of the 170 on the roof, 80 hid under the floor tiles. Only these people were found alive on the roof after the fire was put out. Another 40 people jumped, or fell, to their deaths. The fire burned itself out by 10:30 a.m., allowing police and firefighters to tally the death toll: 179 souls perished in the fire. The building underwent four years of rebuilding, and was renamed Praca de Bandeira after the square it faces. The current building is rumored to be heavily haunted by those consumed by the flames.
Monte Cristo Homestead
New South Wales, Australia
It takes something special to be billed as Australia’s most haunted house, and boy, is this place special. The year 1885 saw the construction of the house by Mr. Christopher William Crawley. The house remained occupied by the family until 1948, and stood vacant until 1963. It is now a museum and tourist attraction where visitors can stop in to witness one of the mansion’s seven alleged spirits. Mrs. Crawley herself is said to roam the chapel where she spent many hours of her life after Mr. Crawley died. A woman in period clothes calls the verandah home. Perhaps she is the maid who was unfortunate enough to fall to her death from the balcony. If you look at the stairs below, you can see the discoloration from where her bloodstains were bleached off. At least three deaths are associated with the second story alone. Two of these deaths include Mr. Crawley’s fatal blood poisoning and a woman who died during childbirth. The place is lousy with disembodied footsteps stomping around on hardwood floors, which is made eerier by the fact that the entire house is now carpeted. Objects move by themselves, and faces are seen peering through second story windows, with no balcony or supports outside. A young stable boy was asleep in his quarters in the stable, and was too ill to get up for work one day. His boss didn’t believe him, and in an act of pure stupidity, set fire to the boy’s bed to rouse him from his ‘illness’. Turns out the boy was telling the truth, and was burnt to a crisp. A mentally challenged man was kept shackled for forty years, until he was found curled up near his mother’s dead body, and was sent away to an insane asylum. And since the Victorian era isn’t the only one ripe for creating ghosts, it would be best to mention that, in 1961, a young man, inspired by the recently released movie Psycho, murdered one of the caretakers (living on the grounds) and carved “DIE JACK HA HA” into the door. The inscription remains to this day.
Chicago, United States
We have all heard stories about ghostly hitchhikers. But have you heard of the most famous one? I’m speaking about Resurrection Mary. In 1934, sixteen-year-old Mary was a regular at the O’Henry Ballroom, which still stands today (although it is now the Willow-brook). She got into an argument with her boyfriend on the dance floor, and left the ballroom. She was walking home along Archer Avenue, and right about the time she was passing Resurrection Cemetery, a car swerved out of control, and struck and killed her. Her family was heartbroken and had her buried in the cemetery she lost her life in front of, still in her dancing gown and shoes. And that is how this story ends. Until five years later, at least….
It was now 1939, and Jerry Palus was yet another regular at the O’Henry. He spotted a beautiful blonde girl across the room, and asked her to dance. They danced the entire night, with the young lady barely uttering a word. He offered her a ride home when the night was through, and she accepted. When they were passing Resurrection Cemetery, she quickly told him to stop and let her out there, instead of taking her to the address she had given him. She disappeared at the gates. The next night, Jerry went to the address that was supposed to be her final destination. The woman said there was no girl that lived there, and he was mistaken. He spotted a picture on the mantlepiece of the young lady he had danced with the entire night. The woman explained that she was her daughter, and that she had been dead for five years. To this day, people see the girl walking along the road. They give her rides, only for her to disappear from the vehicle. Some say they have danced with her, others claim to have even kissed her. On one memorable event, in 1977, somebody even claims to have seen a girl behind the cemetery gate, grasping the bars in what can only be described as a death grip, and screaming in pure terror. The man who witnessed this traveled to a police station. When the authorities arrived, there was no sign of anybody. But the two metal bars she had appeared to be gripping were bent and twisted, with what seemed to be finger marks embedded in them. The bars were removed, and it was determined that such distortion could only be achieved through extreme heat and pressure. They eventually reformed and replaced the bars, but they consistently revert back to the charred and mangled state.