Monday, October 4, 2010

Most-Haunted Houses?

It being October and all, everyone wants to get into the spirit of Halloween. Even real estate website has published an article on the country's Top 10 Haunted Houses.

The first house they cite is the Winchester House, located in San Jose, CA, which they claim has been "certified" by the U.S. Commerce Department as being haunted. It is one of two houses in California with that distinction, the other being the 10th house on the list, the Whaley House in San Diego.

This intrigued me that the government was going around labeling houses as haunted, but I could find nothing on the Commerce Department's website. Seems the earliest mention of it (that I could find anyway) was an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1996, which was actually an Associated Press story. Wikipedia even cites this article as the source for the claim. They say in the 1960's Commerce designated it as haunted and their registry includes 29 other places.

As I suspected, it turns out this is not true. According to a blog post on Haunted Jaunts, there is no such listing. They point to another article that appeared in the Tuscon Citizen which debunks the certification story. Interestingly, the Whaley House itself has a link to the PI article on its "In the News" page, which initially made me think it might have been true. If they're including it, then it must be, right? No doubt they're not about to kill a source of possible business for them.

Yet other sources I read cited the certification as being from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Now that I could believe. They're in the business of promoting business so if they came out with a list of "official" haunted houses, that would make sense. Alas, not even the Chamber site has any reference of haunted houses on it. This seems to be one of those stories that continues to grow in the telling.

The second house on the list is the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, MA, and no real introduction is needed as to why it might be haunted. The other houses on the list include:

3. LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, LA
4. White House, Washington, DC (yes, that White House...good ol' Abe Lincoln is said to stalk the halls)
5. Franklin Castle, Cleveland, OH
6. Sprague Mansion, Cranston, RI
7. Chambers Mansion, San Francisco, CA
8. Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, LA
9. Stranahan House, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

The one house Zillow purposely didn't put on the list was the Amityville Horror house in Amityville, NY. As you'll recall from my previous post on the subject, I never did buy into it that the house was haunted. Now I read that the haunting was all just a fiction created by DeFeo's lawyer William Weber and the Lutz family.

The cool thing about the Zillow article is that it links to the listing for the haunted house. The Winchester House (from the descendants of the maker of Winchester rifles), is estimated to be worth some $2.2 million. The Franklin Castle, just $267,000. Wanna make a bid on a haunted house?

Speaking of haunted houses, look for my review (hopefully tomorrow) of the Headless Horseman Haunted Hayride & Haunted Houses attraction that I visited on Saturday in Ulster Park, NY.


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