Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Haunted Houses for Rent...or just to visit

What would you do if you rented a house (or apartment) only to discover AFTER you've moved in, that something horrible happened there?  What if you heard things that go bump in the night?  What if you see shapes out of the corners of your eyes while you are watching your favorite TV show but when you look....there's no one there?

Well, you could move.  However, if you choose to go that route, don't expect your deposit or a good rental reference out of your landlord.  There are a few states that require the disclosure of things such as a murder that occurred on the property or if there have been rumors that the house was haunted.  But only in the event you are trying to BUY it.  I am not aware of any states that require this disclosure to someone who merely wants to rent the property.  I searched for a considerable period of time and could find cases of tenants who sued their landlord over supposed hauntings but I've not found any that were successful.  A tenant might talk the landlord into allowing them to break their lease, but it's strictly up to the landlord.

There are alleged haunted houses whose owners make a mint in advertising them as haunted and renting them out for the night or a month.  Let's look at a  couple of those just in case you're in the mood to plop down a little cash for a good scare.

First, we'll look at a small cottage in Savannah, Georgia called Laura's Cottage.  It's just around 1,000 square feet.  One bedroom with bunk beds in a sitting room.  It sits in a small urban woodland in the heart of the historic district in Savannah and at the time of this writing, rents out for $180.00 per night.

Supposedly, this cottage is haunted by an old black lady named (you guess it) Laura.  She apparently lived in this cottage for over 50 years.  She appears to be a ghost who likes to take care of her visitors.  She's been known to open locked windows, start up the heat and sit with the occupants while they eat their dinner.

Savannah, Georgia is one city that not only takes their haunted houses seriously, but makes a considerable amount of money advertising and renting them.  It's widely believed to be one of the most haunted cities in the country....so it's only natural that I would include more than one Savannah home in my list.

Let's take a peek at the Haywood House.
This house was built and occupied by Alfred Haywood who made his fortune in the ice business and was later the Mayor of Savannah.  While it was built as a single family dwelling, it is not divided into privately owned condo's.  Many say Mr. Haywood himself haunts this beautiful property but since it's actually built on top of the Colonial Park Cemetery....who knows who haunts it?  According to FlipKey, this property can be rented for $125 per night.

What if you don't want to actually spend the night in a haunted house?  Then there are these....

The Doctor John R. Drish house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is scary to look at in the daylight....imagine after nightfall?   Below is what it looked like back in 1911 when it was occupied.

Dr. Drish built this house in 1837 and lived there until his untimely death from a fall down the staircase in 1867.  His widow, Sarah, continued to live in the house until her death in 1884.  After the death of Mrs. Drish, this house changed hands many times.  It was a school, a parts warehouse and eventually a church.  However, it's most notorious function has been that of a haunted house.  There have been reports since shortly after Dr. Drish's death of strange lights glowing in the windows when no one was home.  The towers have reportedly and repeatedly appeared to be on fire over the years.  However, when the fire department gets there....there's no evidence of a fire.  Who haunts this house?  Could it be Dr. Drish?  Or maybe it's one of the many slave artisans who hand crafted this mansion?  No one knows for sure.

In the small town of Demopolis, Alabama sits the grandest plantation house ever built in Marengo County, Alabama and is considered to be the most significant surviving examples of Greek Revival architecture in the State of Alabama.  It's known as Gaineswood.

Gaineswood was built over the span of 20 years and was finished (literally) on the eve of the Civil War. It was designed and built by General Nathan Bryan Whitfield as an open hall log dwelling and sat on a 480 acre plot.  Eventually the log dwelling was enclosed and this mansion now stands in its place.

General Whitfield bought the property from George Strother Gaines who served as the US Indian Agent and actually negotiated the treaty which would allow the removal of the Choctaw Nation beneath an old oak tree on the grounds.

It is said that a former housekeeper who was brought from Virginia to run the house after Mrs. Whitfield died haunts the house.  She apparently likes to play the piano and turns the lights off.

And then there are the haunted hotels.

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas has been called "America's Most Haunted Hotel".  It is said to be haunted by at least eight spirits.  These include a young woman who attended college there in the  1920's or 30's and who died by jumping from the roof.  A nurse who worked in the building when it was a hospital.  A man in a hat and tails believed to be the ghost of Dr. John Freemont Ellis who was a frequent visitor to the resort during its heyday in the late 1800's.  Then there is Michael who was an Irish stonemason and lost his footing while building the hotel.  He slipped off the roof to his death.  Theadora was a cancer victim who came to Norman Baker's resort for treatment and while she died, it is said she never left the hotel.  There is the ghost of a gentleman who wears Victorian clothing and a top hat and lastly Norman G. Baker himself is said to haunt this hotel.  In 2005, the hotel was the subject of an episode of the television show, Ghost Hunters.

The history of this hotel is so convoluted and so full of death, deceit, alleged murders, suicides and the like that it would take 10 blogs to list it all.  I have included a link to their page and an independant page, so you can browse at your leisure.  Suffice it to say, this hotel is a favorite spot for ghost hunters and is a must see for anyone interested in haunted history.

My favorite haunted houses are the vacant abandoned homes that no one really knows the history or who lived there.....or died there.  Just empty forgotten houses that look haunted - whether they are or not.  Halloween is my favorite time to drive through the older neighborhoods in search of these houses.


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