Four famous haunted houses

If the Travel Channel has taught us anything it’s that people love a good haunted house, even when it’s not Halloween. Here are four of the best.

Franklin Castle

4308 Franklin Boulevard | Cleveland, Ohio

With its conical turrets and stone gargoyles gazing down from the roof, the Franklin Castle in Cleveland looks exactly like how you’d expect a haunted mansion to look. Built in 1881 for a German immigrant named Hannes Tiedmann, the house would see its share of tragedy over the years. Four of Tiedmann’s children would die in the castle, raising suspicions that something was amiss in the home. There are also tales of murders that happened in the home, including a young servant girl whose ghost is said to appear in the windows of one of the turrets. After the last of the Tiedmann family died in 1908, the home would be abandoned for the next 60 years. In 1968 a new family moved in and complained of hauntings, going so far as to perform an exorcism in the house. The home would change hands a few more times over the years, and be badly damaged by a fire in the late-1990s, but it was recently sold and the new owners are in the process of converting it into a three-family dwelling.

Villisca Ax Murder House

Villisca, Iowa | 508 E 2nd St.

Eight people, six of them children, were hacked and bludgeoned to death in this home on the night of June 9, 1912, a grisly crime that remains unsolved to this day. The Moore family home is a quaint prairie house, with its welcoming front porch and a rustic barn off to one side — not the sort of place you’d expect to be the site of a multiple homicide. The home’s present owners — who run it as a bed and breakfast — like to play up its gruesome past, welcoming guests with a sign proclaiming it the “Villisca Ax Murder House” in blood-red lettering. For those brave enough to spend the night, $428 can get you a room in the house. For the faint-hearted, the owners also offer a daytime tour for $10.

Myrtles Plantation

7747 U.S. Highway 61 | St. Francisville, La.

Allegedly built on top of an Indian burial ground in the late 18th century, the Myrtles Plantation has a long and storied history. According to legend, a slave woman named Chloe laced a birthday cake with poison to kill her abusive owner, but killed two other members of the house, instead. Hung for her crime, the story goes, she continues to haunt the home to this day. Eleven other ghosts are said to inhabit the plantation, including the spirits of civil war soldiers, the victims of Chloe’s poisoning and a man murdered in the home. Like many other famous haunted homes, the plantation now functions as a bed and breakfast, offering rooms and tours for ghost hunters.

McPike Mansion

2018 Alby St. | Alton, Ill.

A majestic mansion built in 1869 for horticulturist George McPike, the long-abandoned home has fallen into a state of disrepair. Over the years, thieves and vandals gutted the home, which only enhanced its spooky appearance. Ghost hunters have made frequent visits to the house, looking for the spirits of former owner Paul Laichinger, and one of the home’s servants, both of whom supposedly haunt it. There are tales of apparitions appearing in the windows of the empty home and rumors of spirits dwelling in its cellars. Recently, the home’s owners have tried to restore the house to its former glory, but the high cost of repairs has stalled the project.