The Whaley House

Location: San Diego, California, USA Built: 1857 Status: Open as tourist destination History: The Whaley House was the residence of Thomas Whaley and his family. It also served as Mr. Whaley’s general store, the second county courthouse in San Diego, and the first commercial theater over the years. Thomas Whaley was born October 5th, 1823 in New York, and was…

Lemp Mansion

William J. Lemp attended the St. Louis University, being able to afford his attendance by using the riches brought in by his father. After graduating, he worked at the brewery but went on to form a partnership with a different brewing company. By the 1860s, Adam Lemp had forty breweries in the caves along the Mississippi River. In 1861, William enlisted in the United States Reserve Corps, where he attained the rank of Orderly Sergeant. He eventually married Julia Feickert. Seven years later, William’s father-in-law Jacob Feickert, who had lived in the area all of his life, built a house near the brewery, a property that William would later buy in 1876 to use as an auxiliary office and residence: the thirty-three-roomed Lemp Mansion.

In 1884, the radiator system was installed – only half a decade after radiant heat was patented. An open-air lift was added in place of the grand staircase. A tunnel was added to connect the mansion through the caves to the brewery.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

A portion of land was bought by Major Thomas H. Hays in 1883 and called it the Hays’ family home. Since the home was too far from any sort of school, Mr. Hays opened a local school so his daughters could learn.

The one-room schoolhouse soon had a teacher, Lizzie Lee Harris, to teach at it. Miss Harris, having enjoyed Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, entitled the school “Waverley School.” Mr. Hays liked the name, as it was peaceful-sounding, and he named his property Waverley Hill.

When the Board of Tuberculosis Hospitals bought the land, they kept the name and opened the sanatorium; it is unknown when or why the name’s spelling was changed from “Waverley” to “Waverly.” Waverly Hills Sanatorium opened as a tuberculosis hospital in 1910 and had a capacity of 40 to 50 patients.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a good portion of Jefferson County and Louisville had been infected with tuberculosis, a disease that affected the respiratory system. The swampland of Kentucky had created a large amount of TB bacteria, and much of the area was in danger.

As a measure to contain the deadly disease, a wooden sanatorium standing two-stories high opened. It consisted of an administrative building and two open-air pavilions, each capable of holding twenty patients. Eventually, the hospital was rebuilt after $25,000 in funding was given to create a hospital to take care of cases with pulmonary tuberculosis.

On August 31st, 1912, all of the TB patients in the old sanatorium were transferred into tents so the new hospital could be worked on. Waverly Hills reopened for the treatments of an additional forty patients in December of the same year. In 1914, the hospital expanded to have a children’s pavilion, providing fifty more beds.

The pavilion was used for children sick with tuberculosis as well as the healthy children of patients carrying disease, which caused more problems than solutions. At this point, the sanatorium’s goal was to add a new building each year. Since the wooden building was almost always in need of repair and more beds, construction on a five-story building capable of holding more than four hundred patients began on March 24th, 1924.

By October 17th, 1926, the new hospital opened for more patients. However, streptomycin, the TB vaccine, came around in 1943 and reduced the number of tuberculosis cases. This made Waverly Hills less of a necessity. All of the remaining patients in the hospital were sent to Hazelwood Sanatorium in Louisville.

Due to the lack of need, Waverly Hills closed its doors for good in June 1961. A year later in 1962, the building reopened as Woodhaven Geriatric Center, a nursing home for treating ageing patients with dementia, mobility issues, and mental disabilities. The center closed in 1982 due to patient negligence, which was not uncommon in understaffed and overcrowded hospitals like the Woodhaven Geriatric Center.

Myrtles Plantation

Built in 1796 by General David Bradford, the Myrtles Plantation was known as Laurel Grove at the time. For several years, the general lived there alone until he was pardoned for his role in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1799 when President George Washington ordered that Bradford be executed. The rest of his family was living in their Pennsylvania home at the time. He later moved his wife, Elizabeth, and five children to the Myrtles Plantation.

The general died in 1808. Clark Woodruff, who was one of Bradford’s law students, later married Sara Mathilda in 1817, who was Bradford’s daughter. The two took care of the plantation for Elizabeth. Later on, they had three children, who were named Cornelia Gale, James, and Mary Octavia. Clark Woodruff and Mary Octavia moved to Covington, Louisiana after the death of Elizabeth Bradford in 1830. They left behind a caretaker for the plantation.

Four years later, Woodruff sold the plantation, land, and its slaves to Ruffin Gray Stirling. Woodruff passed away in New Orleans in 1851. Stirling and wife Mary Catherine Cobb began to remodel the house, nearly doubling its size. They also renamed it “The Myrtles”. They had nine children, five of which died young. Stirling himself died in 1854, leaving the plantation to his wife. In 1865, Mary Cobb hired William Drew Winter to help her manage the plantation as a lawyer/agent. Winter eventually Mary’s daughter, Sarah Stirling. They had six children, and one of them, Kate Winter, died of typhoid at the age of three.

Even though the Winters were forced to sell the plantation in 1868, they bought it back in 1870. A year after buying the house back, a man (suspected of being E. S. Webber) shot William Winter on the front porch of the Myrtles and died within minutes. Sarah remained at the plantation with her mother and siblings until she died in 1878.

The plantation was passed on to Stephen, one of Mary’s sons, two years later when she died in 1880. Being heavily in debt, Stephen sold it to Oran D. Brooks in 1886. Brooks sold it in 1889, and the house changed its owners many times until being purchased by Harrison Milton Williams in 1891. In the 20th century, the land was owned by several people. A few of the owners noticed odd happenings at the Myrtles. The place is known as “one of America’s most haunted homes”, as it is home to at least twelve spirits. It is claimed that a total of ten murders occurred in there, but historical records only suggest the one that William Winter was victim of.

Lincoln Theater

Located on North Main Street in Decatur, Illinois, the Lincoln Theater is one of two grand theaters still standing in the city today. Opening in 1916 with a massive stage and a large number of seats, it featured high balconies, mezzanines, basements, and sub-cellars. Prior to the theater’s construction, it was the site of the Priest Hotel.

In 1860, W.S. Crissey opened the Priest Hotel, even despite it was owned and operated by Franklin Priest. Twenty years later, the building was taken over by Riley Deming, who renamed it “New Deming”. It was purchased by Augustine Wait in 1892, and she renamed the hotel “the Arcade Hotel”.

In 1900, he remodelled and expanded it, and again renamed it – this time calling it the Decatur & Arcade Hotel However, a horrible fire broke out in 1904 that destroyed the building. The hotel was rebuilt on the same spot only a short while later. On April 21st, yet another fire raged through the hotel, this time killing two people and damaging the adjacent buildings.

The fire is believed to have been caused by some oily rags left near the hotel’s boiler, as one of the watchmen found them smouldering, attempted to put them out, but was forced to stop when thick smoke made it impossible to see. The flames quickly spread throughout the rest of the hotel, and the fire department came within minutes.

The hotel was covered with smoke so thickly that firefighters could not enter, and they were forced to simply pump water on the building since they could not see the flames. By the time it was extinguished, nothing but ruins remained. The neighboring structures, the Bachman Bros. & Marine Co. furniture store, the YMCA, the First Presbyterian Church, and the Odd Fellows Building, were salvaged, but part of the hotel’s wall had collapsed onto the furniture store, though not much was lost.

The sole casualties were that of William E. Grahm, an engineer from the Decatur Bridge Co., and C.S. Guild, a traveling salesman from New York. They were the only bodies found in the wreckage, though it is assumed that there were other victims in the blaze, as the guests were never found.

The already-devastating fire could have been much worse, though, if it were not for the rain that helped extinguish it. The hotel was never rebuilt, and the Lincoln Theater was built in its place. However, the spirits of those who died in the fire still haunt the grounds even though the hotel is gone.

Since the initial disaster, Decatur has suffered from a large number of fires, and several buildings have been destroyed because of them. Designers of the theater made it “absolutely fireproof”, being aware of the danger fire held in the town. Built in 1916 by Clarence Wait, the Lincoln Theater’s plans were designed by Aschauer & Waggoner, an architectural firm. The firm also designed the adjacent buildings, such as the Odd Fellows Lodge and seven small stores on Main Street.

The grand opening for the theater was on October 27th, 1916, which attracted some of Decatur’s finer citizens. The first show present at the theater was George M. Cohan’s stage comedy called Hit the Trail Holliday, which starred Frank Otto. Speeches by Clarence Wait and Mayor Dan Dineen were given that night as well. Guests said that each of the 1,346 seats delivered a great view and incredible sound.

During the first years of the Lincoln Theater, it was used for stage shows, vaudeville, local productions, and Decatur High School graduations and plays. Several famed actors and actresses appeared at the theater as well, including Ethel Barrymore, Al Jolson, Ed Wynn, and Jeanette McDonald.

One of the ghosts that is said to haunt the theater is known as “Red”, who supposedly worked in the backstage of the theater. Although he seemed happy with his job, he actually wanted to be an actor himself. His life came to a tragic end when he fell off a catwalk during one of the shows and hit the stage, horrifying the audience. Now, visitors have claimed seeing and/or hearing Red. Sightings include odd shadows above the stage, whispering, or seeing his misty apparition.

Bobby Mackey’s Music World

Bobby Mackey’s Music World is a nightclub currently owned by country singer Bobby Mackey. It has been dubbed “the most haunted nightclub in the USA” by Mackey. Urban legends and folklore say it is the “gateway to hell”. One of the nightclub’s resident spirits is Pearl Bryan, whose body was found in a field several miles away from the club. Rumor has it that Bryan’s murderers were Satanists who cursed the location and vowed to haunt everyone involved in the prosecution of the case.

Another ghost is that of Johanna, a 1930s dancer who got pregnant when she wasn’t married. She committed suicide in her dressing room in the Latin Quarter Club (now Bobby Mackey’s). Although there is no record of it, it is believed that she killed herself after her father murdered her lover, who was a singer at the club.

While both tales are merely rumors, there are some who believe in the connection to the place while others don’t. According to Bobby Mackey, the site was a slaughterhouse in the early 19th century that was later demolished to build a roadhouse. He purchased it in 1978.

St. Louis Cemetery #1

There are three cemeteries in Louisiana named “St. Louis Cemetery’. The first and most famous one opened in 1789, replacing the St. Peter Cemetery as the main graveyard in the city after it was redesigned after a fire in 1788. The Saint Louis Cemetery is located on the north side of Basin Street, eight blocks from the Mississippi River, one block from the inland French Quarter border, and it borders the Iberville housing project.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, and it has been active ever since it was founded. For the most part, those buried in the cemetery were part of prominent and well-to-do New Orleans families, particularly Creoles. In the early years of the St. Louis Cemetery, it was divided into three sections: one for Catholics, one for non-Catholics, and one for “Negroes”, what they may have been referring to as slaves.

By the late 18th century, St. Peter Cemetery began to fill up, and the town’s development had gotten to a point where it surrounded the graveyard, not allowing it to expand. Because of this, the Cabildo wanted the cemetery far away from the center of the population to ensure contagion and disease did not spread from the cemetery into the people.

Since New Orleans had swampy and below sea level terrain, any higher ground was extremely valuable; since the living could benefit from it, a graveyard could not be put on the land. The Cabildo chose a swampy site on St. Louis Street – a decision they would come to regret.

On August 14th, 1789, a new cemetery was created under the Spanish Royal Decree. It was located 40 yards behind the Charity Hospital. A canal was built adjacent to the cemetery in 1796 as a way to transport goods and drain the swamp. The first burials were done in such a way that the graveyard was not organized whatsoever, and it quickly became a maze of tombs and aisles.

Originally, bodies were buried below ground, but, a rise for the cemetery’s use came up, and the dead had to be in tombs above ground on top of the already buried. Since it was built on a swamp, the St. Louis Cemetery was subject to flooding often. Sand and shells were added to the site in order to fight the rising waters.

In 1816, the Macarty Crevasse’s waters flooded the cemetery so badly that it temporarily had to close, and burials needed to take place across the river. By the early 1800s, New Orleans had grown greatly, while the cemetery had remained the same and was in the way of further expansion.

Many Americans, mostly Protestant, came into Louisiana after the Louisiana Purchase, and the impending statehood. The problems were fixed in 1822 when the city created a new site in the Faubourg St. Marie that would be used as a Protestant burial grade that would later be called Girod Street Cemetery.

In 1923, St. Louis Cemetery #2 was built to alleviate the first cemetery. St. Louis Cemetery #1 remained in use, but the richer Creoles and Benevolent Societies were buried in the second cemetery, as they received the more ornate tombs. The first cemetery began to shrink as New Orleans grew. The pyramidal Varney monument, for instance, was once at the center of the site, but with the city’s expansion, now is at the entrance.

During the late 1800s, the surrounding area of the cemetery had become mostly residential. In 1898, “Storyville” was created using the sixteen square blocks, including the cemetery. It lasted until 1917 when the Navy ordered that it closed. In the mid-20th century, many significant changes started to take place.

In 1930, the construction on the Municipal Auditorium began, and the canal was filled by 1938. Storyville’s remains were destroyed for the Iberville Housing Project that came in during the 1940s. Louis Armstrong Park was created in 1976 in order to rehabilitate the area. The St. Louis Cemetery had gotten a bad reputation of being an extremely dangerous site, and the people avoided it. The place became neglected and overgrown as a result.

Now, the cemetery is a tourist destination that has been deemed safe for tourists. The Save Our Cemeteries Organization, which runs both non-profit and commercial, offers tours for a fee to raise funds to help preserve the cemetery. Acclaimed Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is said to haunt the cemetery, often seen with a snake around her neck. The cause for the other hauntings in the cemetery is the fact that thousands of bodies are layered upon one another in a small block.

Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa

A gruesome and disturbing event occurred over the course of the night of June 9th, 1912 known as the Villisca Axe Murders in the town of Villisca, Iowa. In total, there were eight victims, six of them children, two of them guests. All of them died from severe blows to the head with an axe. Although there is a long list of suspects, the crime remains unsolved to this day.

The Moore family, who were some of the victims, was rather large consisting of Josiah, the father, aged 43, Sarah, the mother, aged 39, and their four children, Herman (11), Katherine (10), Boyd (7), and Paul (5). On the fateful day of June 9th, 1912, Katherine Moore invited her friends Ina (8) and Lena (12) Stillinger to spend the night at the Moore household (now known as Axe Murder House).

That evening, the family and two friends attended church, and returned home between 9:45 and 10:00 p.m. The next morning at about 7:00 a.m., neighbor Mary Peckham became worried when she noticed that the Moore family hadn’t come out to do their daily morning chores. She knocked on the door, but nobody answered. When she tried to open the door, she found that it was locked. She called Ross Moore, Josiah Moore’s brother. When Moore received no response when he knocked on the door, he pulled out the house’s spare key.

Mary Peckham was instructed to wait on the front porch while Moore was to investigate. He, upon opening the guest room, he discovered the bodies of Ina and Lena Stillinger, who appeared to be hit in the head by means of an axe. Moore hastily ordered Peckham to call Villisca’s primary peace officer Hank Horton, who arrived quickly. Horton investigated the house and discovered that the entire family and the two friends were murdered via axe. The axe belonged to Josiah Moore, and it was found in the guest room where the Stillinger sisters were found.

Doctors estimated that the murders took place just past midnight. The killer(s) began in the master bedroom, killing both Josiah and Sarah while they were sleeping. Similar to the Lizzie Borden case, the face of Josiah had been hit so many times by an axe that both of his eyes were missing. The killer(s) then proceeded into the childrens’ room, where he/they took care of Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul with the same infamous axe.

The killer(s) then continued downstairs to the guest room to claim their final victims, Ina and Lena. Some investigators believe the two sisters were asleep during the time of the brutal murders, while others think that Lena attempted to fight back, as a wound was found on her arm probably from resisting. A number of suspects were compiled:

Ohio State Reformatory

The Ohio State Reformatory (also known as OSR and Mansfield Reformatory) is located in Mansfield, Ohio and is noted as one of the most haunted places in the world. Work on the prison began on November 4th, 1886, when the first cornerstone was placed.

The campaign to build the prison had been a long one, running from the end of the Civil War up until 1884, when the state legislature approved the prison’s creation. It was to serve as an intermediate step between the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster and the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus.

In order to purchase thirty acres of land for the prison, the city raised $10,000 to continue building. For $20,000, the state had acquired 150 acres of adjoining land. The chosen site had served as one of two Civil War military camps. The celebration of the prison’s construction was massive, with guests such as former President Rutherford B. Hayes, Senator John Sherman, Governor J.B. Foraker, and General Roeliff Brinkerhoff (who led the prison campaign). November 4th, 1886 was declared “Mansfield’s Greatest Day” because of the building of the Ohio State Reformatory.

Levi T. Scofield, an architect from Cleveland, was hired to design the prison, which would cost about $1.3 million to build. Scofield based his designs after sketches of Old World castles in Germany. It wasn’t until 1896 that the prison was able to accept prisoners, as financial problems caused several construction delays.

On September 17th, 1896, the prison officially opened, and 150 inmates were transferred from the Ohio Penitentiary into the Ohio State Reformatory. The Columbus Evening Press wrote about the event, and described the prisoners as if they were celebrities. Many of the prisoners had even been given cigars.

Being moved from the Penitentiary to the Reformatory via train, crowds watched as the prisoners were unloaded into OSR directly into their cells. However, the prison was still far from being finished, despite being open. The inmates were sent to work on building the sewer system, and they built 25-foot stone walls surrounding the 15 acre complex.

In 1908, the east cell block was completed. Due to the fact it was an intermediate prison, it held young, first-time offenders, as well as a few famous inmates. Some of the convicts would later go on to perform bigger crimes, including one prisoner, Henry Baker, who would go on to pull off the famous Brink’s robbery of 1950.

On November 2nd, 1926, a paroled inmate returned to the Ohio State Reformatory and shot Urban Wilford, a 72-year-old guard, outside of the west gate in an unsuccessful attempt to help a friend escape the prison. Philip Orleck, the gunman, was arrested two months later, and he died in the Ohio Penitentiary’s electric chair a year later.

Six years later on October 2nd, 1932, Frank Hanger, age 48, was beaten with an iron bar to death during an escape attempt made by twelve inmates. In 1935, inmates Merrill Chandler and Chester Probaski were found guilty of the murder, and were killed on the electric chair.

When it first opened, OSR was considered the best prison of its kind. However, it began to gain criticism for its overcrowded conditions from as early as 1933. A research group made up of educators and penologists investigated the prison in the same year, and called it “a disgrace”, particularly taking note on the fact that the reformatory had no rehabilitation for the inmates.

Ohio State Reformatory’s darkest day was July 21st, 1948, when two former inmates kidnapped the prison’s farm superintendent, John Niebel, his wife, and his 20-year-od daughter from their home and murdered them in a cornfield off of Fleming Falls Road.

The two killers, Robert Daniels and John West, got trapped two days later in a roadblock near Van Wert. West died in a shoot-out and Daniels was captured. The Niebel murders were a part of a two-week crime spree that involved West and Daniels killing six people. Daniels confessed to the murders, stating that it was merely an act of revenge. He died in January of the following year via electric chair at the Ohio Penitentiary.

Arthur Lewis Glattke, who was the superintendent from 1935 to 1959, was respected by professionals and inmates alike. He was appointed directly after his work on the Martin Davey political campaign. In order to keep inmate morale high, he played music throughout the cell blocks.

One fateful day in November, 1950, Arthur’s wife, Helen Bauer Glattke, accidentally discharged a handgun while reaching into a jewelry box in the family quarters. Three days later, she died of pneumonia because of the accident. Arthur died in his office on February 10th, 1959 of a heart attack.

One of OSR’s prisoners went on to become a celebrity. Gates Brown from Crestline, Ohio served in the prison from 1958 to 1959 for burglary, but he went on to play for the Detroit Tigers from 1963 to 1975. He earned a reputation as one of baseball’s best pinch-hitters.

Another prisoner was already famous when he was sent to prison. Kevin Mack, who was the star running back for the Cleveland Browns, served a month at the prison during 1989 for drug charges.

Forty years later in the 1970s, a nine-member evaluation team came to study the vocational programs offered at the Ohio penal institutions. They recommended, replacing the OSR with several smaller institutions that would hold no more than 500 inmates.

The prisons deterioration came to a head in 1978, when the Counsel for Human Dignity, which was a coalition of civic and church groups, filed a federal lawsuit on the behalf of 2,200 inmates at the prison. The suit stated that the prisoner’s Constitutional rights were being violated since they were forced to live in inhumane conditions.

In 1983, the lawsuit was resolved, resulting in a consent decree in which the prison officials agreed to improve the conditions while prepping to close the cell blocks by December 31st, 1986. The closing date was extended by the court due to the construction delays of the Mansfield Correctional Institution.

The final years of the OSR somehow attracted movie makers, as only then did movies start using it as a location. Celebrity actors started coming to the prison, such as James Caan, Elliot Gould, Diane Keaton, Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russel.

The prison remained in operation up until December, 1990, when the federal court shut it down with the Boyd Consent Decree. A number of “extra” buildings were demolished afterwards. In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society (MRPS) was formed in hopes of restoring the prison for recreational use. The prison then turned into a museum, and tours were added to help fundraise for restoration projects.

At six tiers high, the East Cell Block is the world’s largest free-standing steel cell block. The prison is haunted by many of the inmates, a few guards, and the wife of one of the superintendents, Helen. Over 200 inmates and guards died at OSR.

Stanley Hotel

Freelan Oscar Stanley (mostly often called F.O. Stanley), the co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, suffered from tuberculosis and came west to Estes Park, Colorado after his doctor suggested him to do so. The doctor arranged for Stanley and his wife, Flora, to live in a cabin there for the summer.

The couple were instantly in love with the area, and Stanley’s health improved incredibly. Being so fond of Estes Park, they decided to open a luxury hotel called the Stanley Hotel. It was built on land from the British Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who had come into the area in 1872 on a hunting trip.

Dunraven built a hunting lodge, a cabin, and a hotel for his guests and illegally homesteaded up to 15,000 acres. He tried to create a private hunting preserve, but it was unsuccessful. Eventually, Dunraven was kicked out of the area after he tried to scam people out of land, money, and possessions.

Construction on the Stanley Hotel began in 1907, and it was going to be a summer resort featuring running water, electricity, and telephones. It only lacked heating, which was not going to be much of problem due to the season of operation.

The hotel opened in 1909 and received a lot of tourism. After the Stanleys were done living in the summer cabin, Flora wanted to live in a home like the one they had used to live in at Maine. They built one about a half mile away from the hotel.

Years later, Stephen King came to the hotel after suffering from writer’s block. Attracted by its eerie appearance, he ironically visited the place on its last day. There, he gained inspiration for his novel The Shining after he got lost in the many halls.

When it comes to hauntings, there have been a large number of reported cases, most of them taking place in the ballroom. The Stanley’s kitchen staff have reported hearing a party going on in the ballroom, but, when it is checked, they find it to be empty.

Another case is that people have heard someone playing the ballroom’s piano even when no one is sitting there. The phantom virtuoso is believed to be the ghost of Flora Stanley, who avidly played it during the hotel’s operation.

One apparition is said to be a man who stands over the bed before running into the closet. He is also known for supposedly stealing guests’ jewelry, watches, luggage, and belongings. Other reports of this ghost have said that people see him in the middle of the night standing over them, and he vaporizes away.

SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters was invited to investigate the Stanley Hotel for paranormal activity. The manager gave them a tour of the allegedly haunted places. Some of the phenomena were explained as being a natural occurrence, such as wind and pipes.

However, the ballroom incidents could not be explained with any logical conclusion. When it came to the incidents such as children running and laughing, they claimed that it was most likely kids on the next floor. Believers dispute this with the logic of how could the sounds be from the floor above if it sounds like it is on the same floor as them.

The strangest occurrence was when a table jumped two feet into the air. Ghost Hunter Jason Hawes stayed the night in the room where the ghost burglar was reported. The bed moved, the closet doors unlocked, and a thick glass by the bed cracked from the inside.