Southern America’s Most Haunted Places

Southern America’s Most Haunted Places - Photo

Why is The South one of the most haunted places? Did you know that there’s actually a feed, a rather popular one called “Florida Man?” It’s just a Twitter feed that curates and reproduces weird, nonsensical Southern headlines scoured and collected from the news. And boy, they always have a new one. The South, particularly Florida, New Orleans, Texas, and all those places near the Gulf have a gravitational pull that seems to attract folks who live under the idea that magical realism is a state of being one should aspire to. Don’t believe us? It’s the only place where the National Guard has to be called in annually because of Spring Break.

And the South has always been this way. Way before teens and college daredevils made it a municipal ordinance for hotels to have balconies that were either inaccessible or that could allow for kids to safely jump into the pool — if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them — the south attracted all manner of oft kilter individuals. Capone, Ma Baker, Jimmy Buffet, the cast of Cocaine Cowboys, Jim Morrison, Truman Capote, Hemingway, and those are just a few. This was the place where multiple wars against the natives were fought. The area where the Alamo was lost. The region where the CIA pulled all manner of dirty tricks, worthy of a Roadrunner cartoon, on Fidel. This was the place where a whole town was arrested overnight for smuggling bales of marijuana. 

Why is the South so haunted? Because, in those lower latitudes, the party never stops, and no one has the heart to tell the ghosts to beat it cause it’s closing time. 

Most Haunted Places in The South

The Pirates’ House, Savannah, Georgia

If you wandered into this Savannah bar in the 1750s, you’d likely wake up on a ship hundreds of miles offshore. The Pirates’ House was a popular watering hole for sailors, criminals, and all-around desperate men looking for money. Legend says they would drag drunken patrons through underground tunnels and sell them into slavery on the sea (a century later, the same heinous acts occurred in Portland)

The building is a highly-rated restaurant now, with a much cleaner reputation. However, it hasn’t completely shed its past. Staff have seen ghostly sailors and heard boot steps on the wood floors. There’s also a general feeling of being watched as if someone is waiting to grab and haul you away. The haunted bar inspired the book, “Treasure Island,” in which the main character is said to have died in Savannah after drinking too much rum.

St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine, Florida

If you want to see a full-bodied apparition, you’ll want to head down to Florida, where three girls have been haunting the St. Augustine Lighthouse since they were tragically killed in 1873. In 1953, Lighthouse Keeper James Pippin moved from the large keeper’s house to a much smaller property, swearing “the big house was haunted and he would not stay another night in it.”

Around a decade later, a man renting the property said he woke to find a little girl standing by his bedside. When he blinked, she disappeared. Modern-day tour groups have seen them too. Sometimes a little girl will walk along with the group or sit alone on a nearby bench. One blink and she’s gone.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia

This burial ground’s beautiful stonework and landscaping have made it the most photographed cemetery in the country, but its beauty is marred by tragedy and grief. For decades, people have brought toys and other offerings to the grave of “Little Gracie” Watson, hoping to appease her troubled spirit. The six-year-old died of pneumonia in 1889, leaving her parents grief-stricken and childless.

One year after her death, her father commissioned a Georgia sculptor to carve an ornate marble statue that would sit atop her tombstone. It shows the little girl sitting primly in a chair, looking out at the other plots. The resemblance is both striking and spooky. Visitors have reported seeing bloody tears drip from the marble eyes. Gracie’s ghost has also been spotted playing in nearby Johnson Square.

LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana

The history of this 10,000-square-foot mansion in the French Quarter is not for the lighthearted.

Its infamous owner — Madame Delphine LaLaurie — beat, tortured and killed slaves in a room upstairs (later named “the torture room”)

The gruesome acts have made the property New Orleans’ “most haunted house,” and even inspired a season of the FX show “American Horror Story.” No one is entirely sure who the spirits are. Some believe the tortured slaves still linger there, as many guests hear pained moans coming from the old torture room late at night. Others believe LaLaurie herself haunts the property. Phantom footsteps echo through the house, accompanied by strong, negative energy. LaLaurie fled after an angry mob stormed the house. Perhaps karma brought her right back.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, Louisiana

Known as the most haunted location in New Orleans, this cemetery is the burial site of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Laveau died in 1881, having spent her long and successful life treating the rich and famous with natural remedies. Her spirit has been spotted at the cemetery and around the city in the years since.

Legend says she’s still using her powers to help people who visit her tomb. Simply draw an “x” on her grave, turn around three times, knock, and yell out your wish. If she grants it, circle the “x” to signify she helped you, and place an offering of gratitude at the base of the tomb.

Be wary, though. She may be kind and generous to people who believe in voodoo, but non-believers have been attacked near her gravesite.

The Sultan’s Palace, New Orleans, Louisiana

This downtown condo building has a past that seems like it was ripped out of a classic novel.

In the late 1800s, the 3.5-story home was purchased by a Turkish immigrant with a mysterious past and a hoard of cash — so the legend says. He quickly became the Jay Gatsby of the French Quarter, throwing lavish parties while the rest of the South struggled to recover from the Civil War. The glamour, of course, didn’t last.

One stormy night — date unknown — a band of men entered the Sultan’s Palace and slaughtered the Turk and all his guests with bladed weapons before disappearing into the night. The house has undergone renovation after renovation in the years since, but one thing has remained consistent: residents report seeing a man in Middle Eastern clothing moving around at night.

Kehoe House, Savannah, Georgia

This bed and breakfast is known for more than its homemade cookies. Guests often hear or see the spirits of children playing. The Kehoe Family twins are said to have died in the house, though the cause remains a mystery. One rumor suggests they got stuck in the chimney while playing and weren’t discovered until it was too late.

However, the presiding belief is that the hauntings are “residual,” meaning the children who lived there played so often that the sounds are imprinted in the walls, replaying over and over after their deaths.

There has never been negative energy associated with the home. In fact, the inn is a popular romantic spot for honeymooners.

Sweetwater Mansion, Florence, Alabama

Sweetwater Mansion is also known as the Governor Robert Patton House. It is a plantation house designed by General John Brahan, a member of the Alabama Militia and veteran of the 1812 War. The mansion was first occupied by Brahan’s son-in-law, Robert Patton, also a Civil War soldier who later became Governor of Alabama. The construction of the house was finished in 1835. In 1976, the mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are several stories involving paranormal activities around the house. The mansion served as a hospital during the Civil War and later as a county jail.

Many ghost stories and paranormal activities have taken place for many years in and out of the mansion. However, the most frightening apparition involves a caretaker who reported seeing an open casket down in the basement with the corpse of a Confederate soldier inside. She later learned that the body belonged to Governor Patton’s son, Billy Patton, whose funeral was held in the house after being killed in the Civil War. It is believed that Billy’s mom, distraught about his passing, never buried his body and held in secret his decomposing corpse in the downstairs room. Her specter has been seen wearing 19th-century attire lurking around the basement, and her cries are heard late at night in her old bedroom. Female visitors who have entered her room have gotten inexplicably locked inside even when there is no locking mechanism. There is also a “secret room” where disembodied voices are heard, which can only be accessed through a small interior window. Some say that they belong\ to old Civil War soldiers buried inside. Numerous shadowy figures are seen outdoors, and children’s laughter is heard around the house, even where there are no children around. There is also furniture that moves on its own and lights that flickered on and off occasionally.

Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 near natural hot springs. Since its construction, the hotel has passed through several hands. First, it was constructed as a luxurious healing retreat. Then, from 1908 to 1924, the property was used as the Crescent College for Young Women and as a hotel during the summers. Sixteen years later, the property closed its doors due to a lack of funds. In 1937, an inexperienced doctor named Norman G. Baker bought the Crescent and turned it into a cancer hospital. He assured patients that he could cure cancer without surgery or painful techniques. Lots of his patients died from his horrendous treatments, such as drilled holes in their skulls. The hospital closed, and the building stayed unused until 1997, when Marty and Elise Roegnik purchased and restored the Crescent to what it is today. 

Over the years, guests and staff have reported ghost sightings and paranormal activities around the hotel. There is an Irish carpenter ghost who appears in Room 218. It is said to have fallen from the roof during the original hotel’s construction. The spirit turns the lights on and off and the TV set on and off. Other guests have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror and heard screams as if someone is falling from the ceiling. Another spirit of a young woman believed to have attended former Crescent College wanders the halls. She died after being pushed or jumped from the school balcony. Her screams are heard every night. Former cancer patients’ specters are seen throughout the third floor. Gurneys rattling across the floor, washers and dryers turning on by themselves, and phone calls with disembodied whispers at the other end are also some of the other many ghostly activities going on at the hotel. Dr. Baker also appears in the hotel lobby dressed in his white coat. When addressed by guests, he simply vanishes. 

Old Talbott Tavern, Bardstown, Kentucky

Old Talbott dates back to 1770 as an inn and tavern for locals and travelers such as Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James, and French King Louis Philippe. In 1998, the Tavern suffered from a devastating fire that damaged most of its structure. Consequently, the building had to be restored. The Tavern reopened in 1999.

The Old Talbott Tavern holds numerous ghostly stories. One of the most famous stories involves a former employee and the spirit of a man wearing a long coat standing at the top of the stairs. Since it was late at night, no one was supposed to be wandering around the inn. The apparition started to walk and the staff followed it. Suddenly, the figure went through the fire escape door. When the employee opened the door, the ghost turned around, looked back, and laughed hideously before immediately disappearing. The next day, the employee learned that the spirit belonged to Jesse James. Since then, several guests have seen his ghost lurking around his former room. Another ghost is the lady in white who appears to guests in the middle of the night. As guests tried to flee the room, they felt a strong force pinning them to the bed. The spirit also turns the TV on and off and increases the heater to a point where it is too hot to breathe. Other stories involved moving furniture, pots and pans thrown across the kitchen, keys that disappeared, and shadowy figures walking through walls. During the day, guests report hearing footsteps when no one is around, doors that close unexpectedly, and an old piano playing by itself. They could actually see the keys moving.

Chapel of the Cross, Madison, Mississippi

This brick Gothic-style chapel dates back to the 1850s. It was built by Mrs. Margaret Johnstone in memory of her husband, Henry Vick., and was finished five years later. It has a pointed arch doorway, an altar and communion rail, a baptismal font, French stained glass windows, and a pipe organ. Everything about the chapel is a masterpiece. Even though 150 years have passed since its foundation, the Chapel of the Cross continues to spread the Christian faith around Madison’s population. However, not all visitors are around. The living. The chapel and its graveyard share some ghostly stories.

One of the ghosts that haunt the grounds is Margaret Johnstone. She was happily engaged to be married to Henry on May 21, 1859, when he died in a duel two days before the ceremony. Even though years later, she married a minister, Margaret never recovered from her loss, and her spirit still moans uncontrollably on top of her unforgettable love’s grave. Whenever she is approached by the living, she simply vanishes. Child spirits are also seen walking through a locked iron gate and climbing at the nearby tree. Some say the specters belong to children who were buried at the graveyard with their parents. Additionally, there is the ghost of a former caretaker who is believed he murdered his wife inside the chapel. People say he went crazy and chopped off his wife’s head and then hung himself from the chapel plank. Nightly keepers say hearing a strong, ghostly, manic laughter late at night and bloodstains that appeared the next day on the chapel’s floor. The organ can also be heard late at night when the chapel is known to be empty.

The Tennessee State Prison, Nashville, Tennessee

This prison was built by Enoch Guy Elliot and is known as one of the most haunted places in Tennessee. Enoch became the prison’s warden when it opened its doors in 1831. However, the prison became overcrowded, and a new one had to be constructed. The old prison was demolished, and a new one was constructed in 1898, mostly with prison labor. The new structure had 800 micro-cells, made to hold only one inmate and administrative buildings. The inmates’ conditions inside the prison were inhuman. They were forced with dead-silence guidelines, perpetual solitary confinement, and up to 16 daily hours of hard work. Prisoners were excluded from the outside world as they were prohibited from receiving letters from their loved ones. The state prison was known for the use of the electric chair. With the reopening of the Riverbend Security Institution, the penitentiary closed in 1992 and has stayed abandoned since then. Movies such as “Walking the Line” and “The Green Mile” were filmed inside this prison’s walls. Also notorious criminal, James Earl Ray, the man accused of killing Martin Luther King, was a prisoner in the Tennessee State Prison.

Since its closing, there have been hundreds of spine-chilling ghost stories surrounding the grimy building. Even though the property is not open to the public, curiosity has killed the cat! People have trespassed the land, looking for the thrill of experiencing paranormal phenomena. Those who dared to enter the old structure have reported seeing unsettling occurrences. Some have reported the strange noises of cell bars clunking, disembodied voices coming from the old cells, and chilling screams believed to be of those who died in the electric chair. Trespassers have noted that they feel the presence of someone following them as cold air invades their bodies. When I turned around, only Phantom’s footsteps echoed throughout the halls.

The Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida

In 1925, Florida became the hotel’s land boom. Most hotels were spreading toward Miami’s coastal area. In 1926, George E. Merrick and John McEntee Bowman built The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The hotel was known not only for its luxury but also for being the center of glamorous galas, sports, and fashion events. Guests such as The Duke and the Duchess of Windsor, Judy Garland, Al Capone, The Vanderbilts, and most Presidents from the turn of the 20th century stayed at the Biltmore regularly. During World War II, the hotel turned into a military hospital and was named the Pratt General Hospital. After the war ended, it continued as a veteran’s hospital. Then it closed until 1952, when the University of Miami began operations on the property. When UM moved to a newer spot, the land remained unused until 1983, when renovations began and the Biltmore reopened in 1987.

The ghost stories around this landmark began when the hospital closed after WWII. Trespassers reported seeing full-body apparitions floating along the hallways or being touched on the back by spirits dressed in military uniforms. Over the years, other stories such as the apparition of mobster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh started to haunt the hotel. On March 4th, 1929 he was shot and killed by another gangster in his hotel 13th-floor room over a gambling dispute. Guests have reported seeing Fatty’s spirits in his old room. Lights often go on and off in the hallway and inexplicable gunshot sounds are heard among the walls. Known as a ladies’ man, women say that when getting into the elevator, it suddenly stops at the 13th floor and the doors are unable to close. Also, babies’ cries, nurses and army men lurking in the hotel, party noises where there is none, and guests vanishing into thin air are other paranormal activities happening in the Biltmore Hotel.

La Carafe, Houston, Texas

La Carafe is the oldest commercial construction in the city that still sits in its original foundation. The building was built in 1860 for Irishman John Kennedy to operate his bakery. The Kennedy Bakery, as it was called, remained in use for several years and then became a trading post, a hair salon, a bar, and finally, the restaurant that it operates as today. However, this candlelit ambiance houses more than a warm spot for couples seeking a romantic dinner in the city. La Carafe is a hotbed for ghosts and inexplicable phenomena.

Current owners say that the spirit of Sam Houston, an American general and Texas statesman, lingered in the restaurant. He used to enjoy having a few drinks at the bar, and many have seen his presence while sitting at the stools. One guest even witnessed how his drink disappeared before his eyes. The old-fashioned cash register opens when no one is around, and wine glasses are thrown across the bar without explanation. One night, a guest was sitting by the bar talking to a customer. When he turned around to grab his drink, the client disappeared. Another paranormal activity has been the jukebox playing even when no money has been inserted. Another ghostly encounter has been of a former manager named Carl. He has been seen looking through the second-floor window. People sense his presence through a tap on their shoulders and an occasional breath on their necks. Cold spots are also felt in the restrooms as well.

The Gilgrease House, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The original sandstone mansion was built in 1909 by Flower Nelson, a Tulsa lawyer. Looking for a house to live in with his new wife, Thomas Gilgrease bought the mansion in 1913. The house was known as “Toms Place” and “The Little Stone House on the Hill”. It also had a garage and a barn. Gilgrease began to travel around the world while visiting art museums. He had a passion for art. Soon, he started his collection. Unfortunately, his wife filed for divorce. In the meantime, he hired an architect to remodel the mansion to house his art. He remarried, but it ended in divorce again. While traveling through Europe, the house was used as an orphanage for Indian children. Since his art collection kept expanding, he built a museum on his property to house it and opened it to the public in 1949. Unfortunately, Gilgrease’s oil company dived, and he needed to sell his art to overcome his debts. The city of Tulsa granted Gilcrease a bond to pay his debt, and as a sign of appreciation, he deeded them his collection and financed the museum. When he died in 1962, all his art was given to the museum. The house and gardens also became a part of it.

Since Thomas Gilcrease’s passing, guests and employees have witnessed his specter around the museum and former mansion, he usually appears in full body and is known as a harmless ghost who keeps enjoying his eternal stone home. Employees have heard his footsteps throughout the house, observed doors opening by themselves, and weird noises coming from the second floor. Items mysteriously disappear only to appear later in a place where they don’t belong. The spirits of Native American children are also seen running around the gardens of the house, laughing and playing.

Church Street Cafe, Albuquerque, New Mexico

This Albuquerque Spanish-influenced cafe with a New Mexico feel was originally an 18-room hacienda from 1709. It was built by the Ruiz family and called Casa de Ruiz for almost two centuries. It is believed they were the founding family of Albuquerque. Since its construction, only minor restorations have been made until half of the hacienda was damaged by a disastrous flood in 1920. The hacienda remained in the Ruiz family until the last member, Rufina G. Ruiz, died in 1991 at the age of 91. In 1992, the property was purchased by Marie Coleman, and renovations for the Church Street Cafe began. The internal structure was kept as its original one, with its traditional ceilings, walls, antique pieces of furniture, and pictures. The restaurant still holds the original Ruiz Hacienda’s Mexican charm.

However, since restorations started, new owners found out that not everyone was happy with them moving in. The changes were not appreciated by Sara Ruiz, Rufina’s mother, known to be a “curandera” or healer, who loved her hacienda just the way it was. She has been seen lurking in the Cafe wearing a long black dress. Whenever a contractor came to show the plans to Marie, a ghostly voice screamed at her saying “Get him out of here, now!”. Tools would often go missing or moved to strange places, and cement buckets were kicked by unseen forces to scare the workers. After the renovations were completed and the restaurant opened, Sarah tended to drop water glasses, move silverware from the tables, and play with the light switches. Her spirit has also been seen in a complete body apparition, setting tables late at night when everyone has left. Another ghost is that of a prankster who likes to grab waitresses’ buttocks in a playful way. Sometimes when the opening employee arrives at the Cafe, the inside seems as if a ghostly party took place the night before.

The Rosson House, Phoenix, Arizona

This beautiful Queen Anne Gothic-style house was built between 1894 and 1895 for Dr. Rowland Lee Rosson, his wife, and their seven children. It was considered the most expensive house at the time. However, because the house was far from town, the family only stayed for a few months before they moved to a closer place downtown. Dr. Rosson sold the house in 1897 and moved with his family to Los Angeles. He died in 1898 of severe gastroenteritis and his wife in 1911. After the house was sold, it went through different hands until 1971 when its current owner registered the house on the National Register of Historic Places. Later, the Rosson House was bought in 1974 by the city of Phoenix and restored to its original structure. The house then became a museum.

The house has reportedly been haunted since the 1980s when the museum caretaker was murdered just outside by a gunman. Since then, visitors and staff have seen his shadow prowling the house and some have even seen his full-body apparition. Doors are locked and unlocked on their own and footsteps are heard going up and down the stairs. Things are moved by unseen hands. Staff is locked inside rooms when there is no one around and the fireplace emanates heat when it hasn’t been used at all — It’s even ignited on its own.

Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, Alabama

The cemetery was established in 1818. It is known as the largest and oldest graveyard with more than 80,000 graves. Famous people such as military personalities, governors, senators, and important businessmen are buried here. Visitors from around the South travelled to Huntsville to visit this iconic historic cemetery. Its long history has provided several ghost stories and unexplained paranormal phenomena.

Sightings of ghostly apparitions have been recorded by caretakers and visitors in broad daylight. When approached by the living, they tend to disappear into thin air. Strange noises are also heard throughout the cemetery late at night. One of the ghosts that haunt the cemetery is a confederate colonel killed in the civil war. He has been seen sitting beside his gravesite with his head bowed. Another specter is Phillip Flanagan, husband of the Black Widow of Hazel Green. He was poisoned by his wife with arsenic. Witnesses have seen Flanagan wandering the cemetery and coming in and out of his grave. The widow has also been seen roaming his grave at night surrounded by a white light. Another haunted place within the cemetery is the area known as the Dead Children’s Playground. People have reported seeing swings swaying by themselves and ghostly children playing around. Laughter is heard at night when the cemetery is empty. Orbs of different colors are seen floating around the playground. During the day, visitors have heard little phantom footsteps around the park. Since the apparitions, people and their kids avoid passing by the playground at all.

The Allen House, Monticello, Arkansas

This Queen Anne Victorian mansion was built in 1906 by Joe Lee Allen to live with his wife and three daughters. They all were living a happy life until in their beautiful mansion when everything broke to pieces. The mansion held the most horrifying story. The story is centered around Ladell, Joe’s daughter. In 1949, a tragedy outcasted a shadow over the house’s extraordinary appearance. On Christmas 1948, Ladell Allen consumed mercury cyanide and slowly died a week after. After her death, her mother sealed off her bedroom for over 40 years. When the room was finally opened, the new owners found 90 letters involving a secret relationship that led Ladell to commit suicide. Joe died in 1917 and Mrs. died in 1954. Later on, their two surviving daughters divided the house into apartments.

Soon the tenants began to report ghostly sightings and paranormal events. Many have claimed to see Ladell’s spirit standing on a second-floor window believed to be her old closed-off bedroom. Furniture has been rearranged without anyone inside the house. Objects have vanished into thin air and shadows have been floating in the hallways. Sometimes they have appeared in photos taken by the residents. Moanings have been heard throughout the property, believed to be Mrs. Allen mourning for her daughter.

La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The La Fonda on the Plaza has had several names since its opening: “The Exchange Hotel”, “The Fonda”, “The U.S. Hotel” and the “La Fonda Americana”. Its interior and exterior hold a simple yet elegant Spanish/ New Mexican ambiance and decor. La Fonda encloses La Plazuela, a New Mexican cuisine dating from 1922. Since Santa Fe’s foundation by the Spaniards in 1607, the inn had always existed in the same corner for years. The building grew popular among its guests throughout the Civil War, the Mexican/American War, and when New Mexico became part of the United States of America. The property was also used as the town courthouse where many were hung in the hotel’s lobby. Over the years, La Fonda underwent several renovations and expansions and changed owners until 2014. Since then, La Fonda belongs to Jennifer Kimball and Phillip Wise, and his company, Cienda Partners who have led La Fonda On the Plaza to what it is today.

La Fonda is filled with spirits who have made it their home since its foundation. Most of them appear during the dining experience in the main dining room and on the third floor. The ghost of Judge Honorable John P. Slough, shot in 1867 by Captain Rynerson over an argument, has been seen wearing a long black coat wandering La Fonda’s halls, staircase, and main lobby. Another sighting is of a man who killed himself by jumping into an old well in the center of the original inn after gambling all his money away. His shadow repeats his suicide by disappearing into the floor of La Plazuela Restaurant. An apparition of a crying bride is seen in Room 510: The Bridal Suite. She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. Other phenomena such as flickering lights, slamming doors, and things that break without explanation also happened around La Fonda.

Delve deeper into America’s Most Haunted places

America’s haunted history is as vast and complex as the country itself, and this list only scratches the surface.

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