There are some very famous old houses that we have grown up on TV, the news, or are famously haunted and I thought that since it’s halloween it might be fun to take a look at those houses and what made them so special. So, for this very special halloween post we’ll be digging into the 6 spookiest old houses in history.
The Munsters House
Though I wasn’t old enough to watch it live I grew up enjoying reruns of The Munsters on Nick at Nite. They were the all-American monster family with Herman Munster, a Frankenstein of sorts, his wife Lily, grandpa the vampire looking patriarch of the family, and a host of other fun characters. Though the show only lasted for 70 episodes from 1964 to 1966 due to low ratings it lived on in syndication.
The famous Munster Mansion is a Seconbd Empire style home located on the backlot of Universal Studios in California.
After sitting unused for about 20 years the house then fell into a state of severe disrepair and by 1987, after having appeared in many films and TV shows including The ‘Burbs, Dragnet and on the TV series Coach starring Craig T. Nelson. In the mid-2000s the 2nd floor was demolished and all of the remaining architectural details on the 1st floor were removed. It was remodeled into a more Dutch Colonial Revival architectural style for the television show Desperate Housewives.
The Adams Family House
Originally built in 1887 for Henry Gregory Newhall the house made famous in the Adams Family was actually only filmed in one episode (the first) and heavily doctored by some movie magic to give it the creepy look we came to love from this super creepy family.
21 Chester Place, Los Angeles, California was the setting of this house. The original owners sold the house in 1911 the Doheny family (a wealthy oil family) and in 1958 when the last occupant passed away she donated the home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who made it a new satellite campus of Mount St. Mary’s College in 1962.
The exterior scenes were filmed there for the 1964 pilot, but they had to be careful to hide the top story of the building which was markedly different in the show due to an oil painting being overlaid on top of the original building.
Sadly, the home was torn down in 1967 to make way for yet another parking lot. I imagine Gomez Adams is rolling over in his grave about this one!
The Hocus Pocus Mansion
Another spooky house is the Hocus Pocus House featured in the 1993 movie starring Bette Midler. The house was where the famous Halloween party took place. The Ropes Mansion at 318 Essex St. Salem, Massachusetts is filled with local history. The two-and-a-half-story Colonial style home was originally built for a local merchant Samuel Bernard, is a national landmark built in 1727.
Purchased in 1768 by superior court justice Nathaniel Ropes who was a loyalist and no friend to his neighbors. In 1774 the house was stormed by a local mob of patriots who had had enough of the Brittish and the loyalists among them. The mob broke out the windows and broke down the door only to find Ropes on his deathbed sick with smallpox. The mob dispersed and he died the next day from the disease.
The May-Stringer House
This next house wasn’t made famous in any movies or TV shows, but rather it is billed as the most haunted house in Florida and one that I have a personal connection to. The May-Stringer House located at 601 Museum Ct, Brooksville, FL is a Folk Victorian style house built in 1855 by John L. May. The property was a plantation and is rumored to have the unmarked graves of more than 50 slaves that worked the property on the grounds over the years.
John Mays died of tuberculosis only 3 years after completing the structure and his wife, Marena, remarried a Confederate soldier after the civil war, but died soon after in 1869 during childbirth. Their child also died at the age of three in the home and guests have told tales of seeing Marena walking about the premises and hearing the cries of a baby.
The house was owned later by Sheldon Stringer, whose family lived there for three generations and expanded it to 14 rooms across four stories.
I did some window and plaster restoration on the building some years ago and was warned not to leave things on top of my ladder because the ghosts regularly liked to knock things down. Not paying much mind I left my hawk of plaster securely on top of the ladder with the grip set into the holes on the ladder so it couldn’t fall unless the ladder itself tipped over.
Despite working completely alone on the property, I heard a crash while gathering my supplies in another room and found the hawk and plaster spilled on the floor and the ladder still upright but moved about 6′ from the wall I had placed it by. That was the last project I did at May-Stringer.
The Psycho House
The 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho is a must see movie that holds up still today despite its 62 year age. The setting at the Bate’s Motel and the overlooking Bate’s Mansion high on the hill created a truly foreboding feel to the film.
The house was built for the film and is still located on the Universal Backlot though it has been moved a few times over the years. Unlike a lot of movie sets which are just a couple sides the Psycho house is actually a four sided building though the interior is not a full house. The interior scenes from the movie were filmed on a studio stage.
Another Second Empire style house (are you seeing a pattern here?) the Psycho house has a big history as a part of the backlot tours at Universal Studios in California.
The Amityville Horror House
On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family at 112 Ocean Avenue with a rifle. The large Dutch Colonial house situated in a suburban neighborhood in Amityville, on the south shore of Long Island, New York became an unwitting piece of this tragedy. This terrifying story was turned into a book and later a series of movies. The address has been slyly changed to 108 Ocean Ave to throw off on-lookers.
Interestingly, the movie was not actually filmed at the house where the crimes occurred, but rather filmed at 18 Brooks Road in Toms River, New Jersey, where the crew built a structure around that house to resemble the original house. More movie magic.
The distinct quarter-moon gable end attic windows have been replaced and the facade has changed over the years making it less recognizable from its appearance in the film. Unlike some of the houses mentioned before this real life horror house understandably tries to hide from sightseers and is still a private residence today recently selling for $850,000.
That’s it for my top 6 spookiest houses. How about you? What houses am I missing? What would you have put at the top of your list of spooky architecture? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.