Children's laughter echoes faintly in a childless house. A car door slams loudly, even though it seems to be locked. A piano key plinks repeatedly while the bench remains unoccupied.
Sounds like something you've seen in a movie, right?
Try real life. And it can be your real (albeit scary) life if you're feeling brave enough to buy one of these six "haunted" houses. Just beware: You probably can't use your ghostly guests as a contract contingency.
The Priestley House was built by Dr. James Priestley, Canton's first postmaster and one of its earliest doctors, around 1852. Both he and his wife, Susan, died in the home.
In 2002, the owner claimed something (perhaps the ghost of the doctor or his wife?) was terrifying his family, according to the Unexplained Files, a blog written by the creator of the short-lived haunted house TV show of the same name.
The owner said he saw the figure of a woman standing near a doorway, and descendants of the Priestley family reported seeing her as well.
Other ghostly happenings include a piano playing on its own, "hot spots" in the room where Susan died, and candles falling out of their holders. Not cool. But a lovely home, no?
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This Pennsylvania estate may indeed be charming -- if you can look beyond its purported ghostly past.
First, there's the tale of Henry William Stiegel, who bought the land in 1760 while expanding his iron furnace company. Stiegel was in serious debt by the time the expansion was completed and was forced into debtors prison for a year. Upon his release, he was allowed to work again for the forge, but under the guidance of his nephew George Ege, who built the mansion on the property in 1774. (Still with us?)
Broke, humiliated, and angry, Stiegel would routinely storm through the back door, slam it behind him, and stomp upstairs to his third-floor room -- until he died in the home in 1785. It's said you can still hear him slam the door -- even though it remains latched -- and stomp up the stairs.
Another story involves a young female ward under Ege's care -- and her lover, a clerk. The clerk asked Ege's permission to marry the girl, but Ege told the clerk he needed a better job. According to legend, the clerk ventured out on horseback to find his fortune. When he returned to Charming Forge and stood up in his stirrups to greet his would-be bride with the good news, it spooked the horse. The clerk fell, his neck was caught in the reins, and his head was torn from his body. Yes, you read that correctly.
Rumor has it the unlucky, headless clerk still wanders the grounds and the young woman weeps in an upstairs bedroom.
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The Ann Starrett Mansion was built by George Starrett for his wife, Ann, in 1889. The lavish 5,796-square-foot mansion was a testament to their undying love, and the Starretts loved the house -- in fact, you might say they still do. The couple died more than a century ago, but people claim their ghosts remain. Don't worry: They're friendly ghosts.
A redheaded woman has been spotted wandering the halls but "doesn't do anything, just keeps the place warm and cozy," Edel Sokol, the current owner of the mansion (which is now a bed-and-breakfast), told Peninsula Daily News.
Other sightings include a male ghost -- possibly George -- who also doesn't interact with guests. However, still another ghost, the couple's strict nanny, is said to keep up her old duties turning off lights, watching the night staff, and sometimes even thumping visitors on their forehead if they insult the house. OK, maybe this ghost is not so friendly after all.
To be perfectly transparent (get it?), we'll go ahead and say it: This house is amazing!
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Price: $9.95 million
The Schweppe Mansion was built in 1917 as a wedding gift from Laura Shedd's parents to her and her husband, Charles Schweppe.
Twenty years later, Laura died of a heart attack. Four years later, servants discovered Charles' body in his bedroom with a bullet in his head and a note stating, " I've been awake all night. It's terrible."
The house remained vacant for 46 years after Charles' death. Legend claims that the ghosts of the tragic couple and their servants wandered the halls, and a single window in the master bedroom remained spotless while the others were dusty and covered by cobwebs.
The mansion underwent a renovation in 1987, and it's unclear if it's still haunted by its former owners. Wouldn't you like to find out for yourself?
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Price: $4.79 million
The basement of this extraordinary 1927 Frank Lloyd Wright home, called the Sowden House, is rumored to be the killing ground of Elizabeth Short, aka the "Black Dahlia," in 1947. The prime suspect was the homeowner, Dr. George Hill Hodel, who fled to Asia to avoid prosecution. He died in 1999.
Even Hodel's son, Steve, believes his father murdered Short -- by cutting her body in half -- in this house. Sometime in the early 2000s, Steve Hodel searched the basement with a cadaver dog and claimed the canine had picked up the scent of human decomposition. The case remains unsolved.
People have reported seeing shadows of severed bodies and hearing voices and chains dragging.
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Price: $1 million
The Pillars Estate, built in the 1880s, is no stranger to poltergeists. Over the years, workers and residents have sworn they heard and saw ghosts of children and a woman in white with a parasol. It's unknown who haunts this 13,286-square-foot mansion, but the spirits began making noise after recent renovations.
Apparently the ghostly kids like to play hide-and-seek with guests, and someone repeatedly strikes the same piano key in the parlor.
Some people just can't stand change.
Feeling spooked? Try building your own (virtual) haunted house -- and watch it come alive!