October is the spookiest month of year, full of ghosts, goblins, haunted houses, and scary stories. If you like scary stories, here are 5 haunted places in the United States – and WorldStrides visits them all!
The White House, Washington, D.C.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., is the most famous address in the country – and it may be the country’s most famous haunted house! Presidents, first ladies, and staff have reported numerous unexplained noises and even actual apparitions of the White House’s former residents.
Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the most frequently spotted ghostly presence. Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge, was the first to say she had actually seen Lincoln’s ghost. According to her, Lincoln was standing in the Oval Office, looking through a window at the Potomac River. Sightings of Lincoln were most frequently reported during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Psychics called in to investigate have said Lincoln’s spirit remains to be on hand in times of crisis.
Other ghosts sighted at the White House? Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, David Burns, the original owner of the ground the White House was built on, Andrew Jackson, and Harry Truman.
Ellis Island, New York City
Over 12 million immigrants went through processing at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. While it was a place of overwhelming positivity for many, it also has a sad history. More than 3,500 people died on the island, often from illness. Between 1909 and 1911 alone, 420 people, 85% of which were children under the age of 13, died in quarantine.
Employees have reported hearing the sound of children’s voices from the museum’s Great Hall, and doors often open and close on their own. During a visit to the island, Youth Conservation Corps worker George Duran heard the sound of furniture moving in the Great Hall. Believing he was alone, he went to greet his unexpected visitors, only to find the room completely empty.
The George Wythe House, Williamsburg, VA
George Wythe was a prominent lawyer, professor, and original thinker, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He is known for his contributions during the Age of Enlightenment, and for mentoring Thomas Jefferson. At the age of 80, Wythe was poisoned in his home by a relative. While buried in Richmond, it is believed by many that he returns to his home in Williamsburg every year on the day of his death to press a cold hand on visitors’ foreheads.
Wythe isn’t the only ghostly resident of the historic home, however. Ann Skipwith, a frequent visitor of the home, died during childbirth. It is said that she and her husband argued one night over his indiscretions and she returned to the residence with only one shoe. Reports say visitors can hear her awkward footsteps running up the stairs at night.
Alcatraz, San Francisco
Located on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary and its grounds have been called one of the most haunted places in America. In fact, Native Americans feared evil spirts they say they encountered on the island long before the prison was built Mark Twain described it as “being as cold as winter, even in the summer months.”
Prisoners, rangers, and visitors have reported a variety of ghostly activity, from whispering in cells and locked cell doors shutting, to figures in hallways, cold spots, and even the sound of musical instruments and sewing machines. Cell blocks A and B are known for eerie whispering, while C-Block is said to be haunted by the spirit of inmate Abie Maldowitz. D-Block is considered by paranormal investigators to have the most activity in the prison, where four of the 42 cell blocks are considered haunted.
The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA
The House of the Seven Gables, also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, named after the two families who lived there, was built in 1668 by the Turner family in Salem. It is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. After one of the Turner sons lost the family fortune, the Ingersoll family purchased the home. Susan Ingersoll, Nathanial Hawthorne’s cousin, lived in the house until she was 72 years old. He visited her often, and his experiences at the house inspired him to write The House of the Seven Gables.
These days, visitors claim to see Susan Ingersoll’s ghost roaming the hallways and peering through windows. There have also been reports of a boy haunting the attic area. He can be heard running around and playing with toys. Many visitors and employees also hear strange sounds and claim the toilets sometimes flush on their own, and the faucets turn on and off by themselves.
Interested in traveling to any of these historical towns with your students? Learn more about our educational trips!