Inside Pennhurst Asylum, one of the most haunted spots in Pennsylvania. Sean Simmers | firstname.lastname@example.org
There are lots and lots of ghost stories about haunted houses, restaurants, inns and theaters across Pennsylvania. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most haunted spots from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg to Philadelphia -- and everywhere in between.
Legend has it that the ghost of Aaron Burr can be found in this bed and breakfast, which was formerly a friend's home where he sought refuge after killing political rival Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Ghost hunters have reported seeing an apparition on the second floor staircase and feeling their clothes tugged.
"When it's dark and quiet and usually between 8 p.m-10 p.m things happen," she said. "You get used to hearing footsteps and you think someone calls your name and there is no one there."
As the romantic tragedy ghost story goes, Johnny Coyle lived with his mom and dad at the Inn in the 1800s. The girl that he loved (possibly named Emily or Molly) did not return his affection. He ended up shooting the girl and received a verdict of death by hanging for the crime. He is buried on a hill next to the restaurant but apparently he sneaks over in ghostly form spooking servers with his pranks and mischievous behavior. The girl's presence has also been picked up by paranormal investigations.
Standing at the threshold of this ornate Victorian Manor (built in 1888), you'd expect Lurch from "The Addam's Family" to step out from behind a pocket door and lead you to a table. He doesn't, but a professional groomed waiter does seat you in a corner spot in the parlor surrounded by carved hardwood aesthetics and the ghostly spirit of Emma.
"You'll hear someone calling your name and then you realize you're the only one in the building. You definitely feel a presence," said owner Robin Pelligrini. "Emma" has shown up numerous times and even mysteriously appears in amebae form in a staff photo.
Inmate W. A. Culp killed himself in 1907 and proceeded to harass the remaining inmates on murderer's row. The warden was swayed by numerous complaints to move murderer's row to another section of the prison.
Kate Soffel, the warden's wife, aided her inmate lover and his brother in an escape. The Biddle brothers were killed in a shootout three days later, and Soffel lived out her days in prison. She is rumored to haunt the jail.
Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society in 1743, its members including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. A hundred years later, in 1844, his ghost was spotted by a cleaning lady in the society's library. He's also been spotted lounging on the society's steps. His statue at the front of the building has also been said to come to life and walk around the city, according to according to the book "Spirits of '76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution."
While this estate in Chestnut Hill is supposedly haunted by many of its past owners, the most sinister of which is a woman named Amelia who often tricks people into sitting in a "death chair." According to the old owner, George Meade Easby, whoever sits in that chair dies shortly after. He claimed to have known two people, a housekeeper and a cousin, who succumbed to the curse. The house was even featured in the book "Haunted Houses U.S.A."
"Ghost Hunters" stopped at this historical house, which is famous for being the home of Besty Ross – the maker of the American flag. Ross's ghost has been seen crying in the basement. There's also a more sinister spirit about, one that led to a staff member being so frightened they climbed out a window onto a flagpole.
Built in the 1860s, this stately Victorian Hotel and small brewery was home to Alois Bube who died in 1908. The preindustrial brewery (the only one of its kind in the United States) closed in 1917 and didn't resume its microbrewery production until 2001.
Members of the Bube family lived here until the 1960s, however, it's Alois Bube's granddaughter Pauline Bube Engle that never left.
"I can't deny Mr. Bube's grand-daughter stayed at the hotel. She was in her 20s when she became schizophrenic. She'd wander around the building doing mischievous things like jumping out and scaring people," said owner Sam Allen in 2015. "People have said they've seen her wearing a long, white turn of the century dress with her hair in a bun. One of our longtime servers saw an apparition in a light colored dress at the end of the hall in the art gallery."
Cashtown Inn has welcomed travelers since 1815, but its Confederate guests are among the most notable. The inn has named its rooms after generals in the war, including A.P. Hill, Henry Heth and John Imboden. Innkeepers have photos of orbs and other abnormalities appearing in photographs. Ghost hunters and guests have also reported unexplained electrical activity, footsteps of a Confederate soldier's ghost and doors closing on their own.
Dormitories at Chatham have a variety of ghost stories, but the Blue Lady of Woodland Hall may be the most well-known. The hall is rumored to be a former mental hospital where the blue-dressed woman was a patient. She has been seen floating above sleeping students on the fourth floor.
It's tradition to throw a penny onto Benjamin Franklin's grave at Christ Church Burial Ground – an homage to him being credited for the proverb "a penny saved is a penny earned." Franklin's ghost has been reported to be active on the grounds, and, in one case, threw pennies at a nurse in 1976. He also has been rumored to give ladies a pinch in the bum too, according to the book "Haunted Philadelphia: Famous Phantoms, Sinister Sites and Lingering Legends."
The library was built atop a graveyard. Buried bodies were moved to another cemetery when the library was built in 1899, but the rumor is some remains are beneath the library to this day.
Staff and guests report hearing footsteps and seeing items fall off shelves. The Pittsburgh Paranormal Society investigated in the library in 2012, capturing unexplained sights and sounds.
Other deaths in the hollow resulted from two shootouts a few decades later. The ghost of Dead Man's Hollow is thought to be Ward McConkey, who was hanged for the murder of shop owner Robert McClure during one of those shootouts. McConkey maintained his innocence until his death.
Devil's Den on the Gettysburg battlefield is incredibly haunted, with one particular Texan soldier ghost being seen as recently as 2010 according to Mark Nesbitt of Mark Nesbitt's Ghost of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours. More than 2,500 soldiers were killed in the fighting in and around Devil's Den.
Ghosts that are said to haunt this historic restaurant include soldiers, slaves and even an old reverend. Rich in history, Dobbin House served as a way station for hiding runaway slaves, as well as a hospital for those soldiers wounded in the battle of Gettysburg -- so it’s not surprising that so many never left.
There are stories about a frustrated maid, Matilda, who set fire to the hotel and now haunts the restaurant that has taken over the first floor. Workers have reported hearing sounds and feeling like they are being watched.
Martha Jane Poe McDaniel, cousin of Edgar Allan Poe, is rumored to haunt the room where many of her belongings reside.
Among the paranormal activity reported here is the smell of fresh bread near the fireplace (which sounds more delightful than scary) and a cradle rocking.
A tour of Cellblock 3, also called the Hospital Block at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Sean Simmers | PennLive.com. April 26, 2017
The old prison certainly looks haunted, with its castle-like exterior and dilapidated corridors and cells. There isn’t a specific ghost that’s believed to haunt Eastern State, but there have been numerous “experiences” reported, including a locksmith who saw a row of souls locked in the prison. It’s been visited by a slew of television shows including SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” and Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.”
Eastern State is a horror attraction during the Halloween season called Terror Behind the Walls. See what it looks like behind the scenes.
Fort Mifflin, which sits between the Delaware River and Philadelphia International Airport, was commissioned in 1771 and used until the 1960s. It is still an active fort for the Army Corps of Engineers, but it first saw combat in the fall of 1777 when it was captured by the British. It served as a Civil War prison and held munitions during World War I and World War II. It's considered one of the most haunted places in the United States.
One of the oldest buildings still standing in Mechanicsburg, the 1801 tavern has seen a lot through the years, including a murder. The story goes that a cattle drover decided to enjoy a drink or two at the tavern after selling his cattle for $300 cash. The drover began to brag and attracted the attention of at least one nefarious person; he was robbed and killed that night.
But his spirit lives on, at least according to the stories told to Steven Zimmerman, director of the Mechanicsburg Museum Association. The cattle drover's face is said to appear in the upstairs window of the tavern. Screams have been heard coming from the upper floor, terrifying those nearby.
The woman who lived in the tavern before it was taken over by the museum believes that the place is haunted, Zimmerman said. "She says when she was a girl growing up there, they would put things in one place at night and in the morning they would be someplace else," he said.
"She swears there is definitely a ghost in there." It's an assertion the Harrisburg Area Paranormal Society agrees with. When the group investigated the tavern, one of the members was touched by a spirit, and the sound of objects moving and banging was heard, even though no one else was there.
Marie Cahill was an actress who performed at the Fulton Theater and her spirit is believed to still linger there. Sometimes her portrait, which is housed in the backstage dressing room area, is covered in a black shroud prior to a performance. Sometimes that shroud mysteriously falls down.
Cahill is just one of several ghosts rumored to walk the aisles of the theater. Others include a man in a straw boater hat who hangs out in the balcony and a little girl who is dressed all in white.
Gettysburg College is loaded with ghost stories, according to Mark Nesbitt of Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours. Many of the stories of his book series, "Ghosts of Gettysburg," take place at the school - from soldier sightings to people stepping back in time.
One tale takes place in the Pennsylvania Hall (or the old dorm) on campus, which was built in 1837. It was used as a hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. In present-day, two administrators were in an elevator in the hall. Instead of taking the administrators to the floor they wanted to go to, the elevator went to the basement. When the doors opened, they were no longer in modern-day Gettysburg... but in the Civil War.
They watched as Civil War doctors hacked off limbs of those injured. They didn't close the elevator doors and flee, however, until one of the doctors approached them. That's when they fled and sought a security guard. When they returned with the guard, the basement was empty.
The Gettysburg Hotel, established in 1797, is in walking distance to the historic battlefield. Paranormal investigators believe Union soldier James Culbertson's ghost roams the hotel, along with a woman who dances in the ballroom.
On a hill just behind Cameron Street in Harrisburg lies the grounds of the 1851 Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital, the first public asylum in the state. The hospital, commonly referred to as the "City on the Hill," was active until it was shut down in 2006. By then it was simply the Harrisburg State Hospital. Today, several of its buildings lie abandoned, with others used by state agencies.
Reports have emerged of mysterious noises, shadowy figures and moving objects. Two areas in particular are said to be especially haunted: The morgue and the network of tunnels that lies underneath the hospital complex. When the Harrisburg Area Paranormal Society investigated the complex, they caught a photo of a shadowy figure.
When the old Discovery Channel show "Ghost Lab" investigated the hospital in May 2010, they came out with several electronic voice phenomena, including a voice that appeared to say the names "Peter" and "Annie." The crew also captured a voice saying the full name of a woman who had worked at the hospital. For those curious about investigating the hospital, be warned that permission is required to enter the grounds and explore the buildings.
This nature trail is built on Native American hunting grounds supposedly haunted by an old resident. As the story goes, Harthegig's skeleton was found nine years after his mysterious disappearance. Some visitors say they have heard the man's groans and screams at what has been dubbed Spirit Falls.
In addition, a farmhouse in the hollow was built using stones from the waterfall. Visitors report seeing the ghost of Eliza Stranahan, who died in 1901, in one of the windows.
Built in 1777, allegedly on the backs of captured Hessian soldiers, the Hessian Powder Magazine is a stone building whose builders have never quite left - at least according to Mark Nesbitt, writer of "The Ghosts of Gettysburg" series, who says at least one soldier has been seen haunting the museum. Nesbitt isn't the only author who claims the museum is haunted.
Allen Campbell, author of "Ghosts at Carlisle Barracks Army War College," has had multiple haunting experiences. At night, long after the museum has been locked up, he said sounds of moans, groans and clanging can be heard emanating from the building.
There's one tale that does set hairs on end. The way Campbell tells it, a new resident at the barracks heard the sounds coming from the magazine late at night. The doors are normally locked, but when the resident investigated, the first door was unlocked - so he went in.
The second door was shut tight. Peering in through a window at the door, the resident fell down in shock at what he saw. It wasn't the 1990s museum he was looking into, but the late 1700s Hessian Powder Magazine, Hessians and all.
The former Lawrence County Home for the Aged, which also housed the mentally ill and poor, still has some of its old residents. Stories include dozens residents and staff who killed themselves on the premises.
This attraction is a frequent stop for ghost hunters. It's been featured on "Ghost Hunters," "Ghost Asylum," "Ghost Adventures" and other TV shows.
This inn built in the early 1800s housed Confederate soldiers and is named after Brig. Gen. Elon John Farnsworth, who was responsible for the deaths of 65 men during an ill-fated charge. Paranormal activity includes footsteps, shadows in the dining room and spirits yanking on clothes. Farnsworth also hosts ghost tours and hunts for visitors.
This hotel is proud of its paranormal activity, going so far as to profile the "friendly ghosts" on its website. There's town guide Francis Thomas, landlord Mrs. Brong and May Yohe, a singer born at the site who returns to sing in the lobby. But guests looking to increase their chances of spotting something unusual should stay in the Room with a Boo on the ninth floor, where guests have reported seeing mysterious reflections, lamps flashing, wallpaper changing colors and orbs appearing.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It is where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Photographed Feb. 20, 2017. Julia Hatmaker | email@example.com
Independence Hall is one of Benjamin Franklin's chosen haunts. He's been seen examining the Declaration of Independence in the room in which it was signed. Two rangers also spotted Franklin throughout the years – his apparition always accompanied by mist. In one case there was also a musty smell, according to the book "Spirits of '76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution."
The Inn at Jim Thorpe began as the New American Hotel in 1833 after a fire destroyed the hotel that previously stood on the property. Reports of supernatural activity include TVs turning off or on unexpectedly, orbs and shadows in photographs, and people waking up to chairs turned upside-down. More specifically, ghost hunters have reported the spirit of a nurse in room 310 and shadows in the lobby.
The area around Doubleday Inn is rife with paranormal activity according to Mark Nesbitt of Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours. By the Doubleday Inn is an area known as Iverson's Pit, where a brigade of North Carolinians were slaughtered. The pit is the location of the mass grave for the soldiers and is a spot where ghosts are seen today.
This tavern has been a fixture of Bedford since 1762. While it has gained many stories of peculiar activity in that time, no single ghost has made itself known here.
Sightings include a man appearing and disappearing from the bar after the bartender had already locked up, and guests have reported feeling someone's touch when no one is near. The current owner also tells of a door that seems to open and close on its own.
The Jennie Wade House has been featured on "Ghost Lab" and "Ghost Adventures" and is available for ghost tours only from Ghostly Images. Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed in the Battle of Gettysburg, struck by a stray bullet in the back while she was baking bread. It is believed she still haunts the home, trying to finish one final loaf. Supposedly, you can still catch a whiff of the baking bread.
The owner of this bed and breakfast insists it is haunted, and she brought in paranormal investigators to prove the claim. Hauntings Research spent years documenting the activity at Larimer Mansion. They've reported seeing a painting change at least nine times, the spirits of women in period clothing, a Native American man and of Margaret Ann Larimer, who died giving birth.
This historic property was established as a tavern in 1722, and innkeepers say casualties of the Revolutionary War were stored in the basement until the bodies could be properly buried. One of the most common spirits at the Logan Inn is a soldier from the war. Other rumored guests include the ghost of Aaron Burr and the mother of a former inn owner.
Adorable penguins and hundreds of other birds live on the former site of the Western State Penitentiary, sister to the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Stories tell of ghosts belonging to Confederate soldiers who were housed in the penitentiary during the Civil War.
Built in 1846, the courthouse sports a damaged column -- the remnants of an artillery attack from the Civil War.
A woman who works in the building told PennLive about her haunted experiences there. She had arrived at 5 a.m. for work, earlier than usual.
"I had my door open. I was the only one in the building – it was winter, and dark outside – when all of a sudden, all the doors in the hallway started opening and slamming," she told reporter Marijon Shearer.
The woman immediately fled to find a security guard. But when they returned there was no one in the building.
Built in 1854, this building resembles a castle. It was a prison until 1984, but rumor has it some inmates still linger there.
Marlin Hamilton, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician for the county, told PennLive of creepy experiences in the old prison -- including the one time he watched disembodied legs walk down a hallway.
"I saw boots and khaki pants. I didn't see anything above that," he told reporter Marijon Shearer. "When I went out, there was no one there. I would have heard the door if anyone left."
Kathie Spacht was sitting in the end seat at the top row of Oyster Mill Playhouse when she felt something tap her head. She thought nothing of it, but later she felt a tap again — harder. A few minutes later, her head was tapped so hard she got up and moved. No one was around her. Down a few rows, Dave Rowland was laughing. He knew exactly what had happened. she had sat in a seat that was not her own.
The building that plays home to the playhouse was originally a farmhouse, and the ghosts of one of the couples who lived there has stayed around. They enjoy watching performances and have their own seats — the left and right end seats in the top row. When it is occupied during rehearsal or auditions, the ghosts will sometimes do their best to politely get the occupant to leave, thus the tapping.
Rowland and Spacht are active in the theater scene at Oyster Mill in addition to being members of the ghost hunters group PA Paranormal. According to them, the playhouse is haunted by five spirits: The farmhouse couple, a little girl who loves to play in the costume racks upstairs, an angry mill worker (who presumably died in a fire) and a mystery man.
The majority of the theater’s ghosts are curious and regularly poke in to check out the latest productions. For example, during a performance of “Lucky Stiff,” the theater’s sound booth door (a hulking metal contraption) began to open on its own. After, it opened a bit it and shut again. It was not the first time this had happened.
Spacht also saw the little girl in the upstairs of the theater and describes her as having a long blue dress and blonde hair with a bow in it. When the girl saw Spacht, she ran and vanished.
Pennhurst State School and Hospital, originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, opened in 1908 to house mentally and physically disabled patients. It was almost immediately overcrowded and many died because there were not enough staff to handle thousands of residents. The asylum was abandoned in 1987 with many toys, clothes and furniture left just as they were.
It offers overnight ghost tours and investigations for those looking to experience paranormal activity in person. Reported activity includes footsteps, whispers, being touched by spirits and one ghost who likes to lunge at men on the third floor.
A statue of William Penn is said to come to life at Pennsylvania Hospital, taking evening strolls around the hospital grounds. That's not the only paranormal occurrence at the hospital – one of the oldest in the country. According to "The Big Book of Pennsylvania Ghost Stories," Penn would walk the grounds so often that nurses would regularly bring patients out to watch it.
Fans of "The Age of Innocence" will recognize this view, as the 1993 film starring Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfieffer and Winona Ryder was filmed here. Julia Hatmaker | firstname.lastname@example.org
The academy is steeped in history and has its fair share of historical moments including a few presidential visits courtesy of Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland and Richard Nixon. Today it hosts performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet. Not all the academy’s guests, however, are inclined to leave.
Seat cushions have mysteriously become indented, even when no one is there and at least one person has said that they have been pinched.
The zoo is supposedly built atop of an ancient Native American burial ground and has had multiple sightings of specters. It even earned a visit from the "Ghost Hunters" in 2010. The ghosts hang out in the zoo's administrative buildings mostly, including Solitude House (which has a network of tunnels), the Penrose Building, the Shelly Building and the Treehouse.
A woman in a long gown has been spotted multiple times at Physick House. She appears to be hunting for something (or someone) and has been seen in mirrors and peering into the house from the outside. Legend has it that is the wife of Philip Physick, Elizabeth, who —as the story goes – was addicted to opium and banned from the house. Others believe is is former resident Elsie Keith who was terrified of dust and took great measures to ensure the house was dust-free… measures that were undone when Physick House was donated to the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks. That's the theory, at any rate, from "Haunted Philadelphia: Famous Phantoms, Sinister Sites and Lingering Legends."
Numerous ghosts are said to haunt this South Oakland theater, so the stories vary depending on who you ask.
Visitors report seeing actor John Johns, who died of a heart attack in the playhouse in 1963. There's also The Lady in White, an actress who supposedly killed her husband and his mistress on her wedding day. Other ghost stories include the cries of Weeping Eleanor, the diseased visage of Gorgeous George and The Bouncing Red Meanie.
The Marquis de Lafayette is rumored to haunt this Colonial-era home. The house was the home of Samuel Powel, mayor of Philadelphia both before and after the American Revolution. Powel was friends with Lafayette as well as George Washington.
Lafayette isn't the only ghost believed to haunt the place. Benedict Arnold and his wife, Peggy Shippen, has also been spotted according to the book "Spirits of '76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution."
It was a story that was frontpage of the Harrisburg Telegraph and The Patriot for weeks, having captivated the midstate. Powwow doctor Nelson Rehmeyer had been brutally murdered in his home in Stewartstown by three men who claimed Rehmeyer had put a hex on them. The murderers had set a fire around his body, hoping to burn the house down and all the evidence of their crime with it. But the fire never spread and days later the body was discovered. Confessions poured forth shortly after.
While those responsible were brought to justice, it is believed that the witch doctor's house and the area around it, known by many as Hex Hollow, are haunted.
Sachs Covered Bridge is one of the most haunted spots in Gettysburg according to all of our sources (Gettysburg Ghost Tours, After Dark Investigations, Haunted Gettysburg Ghost Tours, Ghostly Images of Gettysburg and Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours). This area, however, is not accessible after dark unless on a tour. Soldiers have been spotted there and there are numerous photos of mists and orbs taken there.
Inside the Senate Library at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. Photo by Christine Baker for PennLive.com.
The Senate Library in the Pennsylvania State Capitol is a quiet room covered in cabinets of centuries-old documents. Senate librarian Evelyn Andrews told reporter Jan Murphy that the library is not always silent.
Every now and then Andrews said she hears a noise that resembles a book cabinet being opened. Perhaps, as Jan Murphy writes, "it is the ghost of Herman Miller, the longest-serving Senate librarian, checking to make sure all the volumes are in their rightful place?"
Commissioned in 1895, the USS Olympia Cruiser has seen its fair share of action, present at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898 and serving in World War I before being decommissioned in 1922. It is the ship that brought the body of the Unknown Soldier from France to the United States. So the fact that it’s haunted is no surprise. Paranormal voices have been heard and apparitions seen on the ship.
Did you know that Washington Square is built atop a graveyard? In the 1700s, the land where Washington Square lies was a potter’s field, home to the bodies of African Americans, suicide victims, prisoners of war and those who died of small pox. According to a letter from John Adams about the grounds, more than 2,000 soldiers were also buried there.
But the ghost who lurks in the square isn’t a person buried there. It’s a Quaker woman named Leah who is devoted to keeping the grounds safe… from bodysnatchers.
Back in the late 1700s doctors used to snatch bodies from the area to use for their lectures and experiments. During her life, Leah would appear in the graveyard at night to scare off any doctor attempting to take a body from a grave.
In fact, according to “Haunted Philadelphia: Famous Phantoms, Sinister Sites and Lingering Legends,” the reason Washington Square came into being was an effort to prevent more body snatching from occurring – rather than moving the bodies they instead put sidewalks and trees up. Leah is said to still haunt the grounds, keeping the bodies that are there, safe.
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