The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 24, 2012

Surreal estate

— What’s scarier than selling a home in the off-season? The lingering surreal estate market — the most spirited homes for sale in the U.S., as listed on’s annual ‘Top Ten Scariest Homes For Sale’ list.

This year’s list has some ‘spooktacular’ options that will raise the hair on the backs of the necks of even the bravest souls! Homes for sale where you might find yourself sitting down to breakfast with Ma Barker and her ghostly gang, or haunted inns where you might be the only guests counted among the living.


1. The Sowden House, Los Angeles, Calif.

December 21, 2012 has rumors swirling all around it, most involving the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, didn’t have the end times in mind when he designed this ‘Mayan Revival’ styled home for his friend John Sowden in 1927, or the end of the life of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia murder.

This Hollywood home is where the movie “The Aviator” was filmed, as well as “Project Runway, Season 6” and has the warm inviting feel of the movie “Apocalypto.”

One might expect as they’re walking through this magnificent 5,600-square-foot home to step on the wrong floor tile and to be chased by a large rolling boulder out the front door. As you’re running for your life through the house, don’t miss the walls of vegetation, courtyard pool or large open rooms that give you that warm, welcoming “Mayan Temple” feel. This is the kind of home that says to your friends, “Hey we can sit by the pool and enjoy a fire on the patio, or sacrifice someone to the sun god, it could go either way tonight…who wants margaritas?!”

Listing price: $3,850,000


2. Buxton Inn Bed & Breakfast, Granville, Ohio

Now celebrating its 200th anniversary the Buxton is considered one of Ohio’s best weekend getaways and also one of its most haunted spots! This beautiful and very old 29,934-square-foot estate attracts visitors and ghost hunters from all over the country. Recently while on one paranormal investigation at the historic Inn, a group of ghost hunters caught a rather detailed EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon, or the voice of the undead) on one of their overnight investigations. They said they believe it was the voice of the man that the inn was named after, Major Buxton. Here is a transcript of what they believe the ghostly voice said: “They’re selling this place for $3,900,000…Wow, that’s like $12.32 in 1812 money!”

A spooky little postscript to the story: As the property was being shown recently, the real estate agent had the potential buyers walk down the steps ahead of her. When they started down the hall, footsteps on creaking steps were coming behind them. Looking back in that direction, there was no warm body to be seen, though the stepping and creaking continued!



3. Amsterdam Castle, Amsterdam, New York

If a spirit was looking for a groovy new place to haunt and lots of ghost-friendly opportunities, this would be it.

First, you need to convince your own ghosts that this scary looking castle would be a wonderful upgrade from your own boring home. Write a glowing description of the castle in terms they will recognize, like “dungeons, clawfoot tub, turrets, vine covered, tons of room to haunt.” Note that just a hop across the nearby Erie Canal is the Green Hill Cemetery with its glowing orbs caught on film, fog and vapors, leaves rustling, and Widow Susan Road where a figure of a woman wearing a white nightgown is frequently seen walking in the cemetery late at night crying, looking for her husband’s grave.  

The castle also has a celebrity filled history. John F. Kennedy gave a speech there during his 1960 presidential run, in what became known as the Kennedy Room. Hollywood has shown interest — TV producers have used it for ABC’s “Wife Swap” and Talon Films shot scenes for the PBS movie “American General,” about Benedict Arnold. HGTV also hopped on board featuring the redo on “You live in a What?”

Price: $1,250,000



4 The Ma Barker Gangster Ghost,

Oak Park, Ill.

Do you need to hideout from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Have you ever said to yourself, “Boy, I sure would like to live in a place where the longest shootout in the FBI’s history occurred.” If so, you’re in luck! The infamous house where Kate “Ma” Barker and her son Fred made their last stand against a barrage of FBI gunfire is now available for purchase.  

All the original furniture that Ma and the boys used is still in place. Of course, the spilled blood has been cleaned.

This house that was once full of bullet holes  is also full of country charm. History and rumor has it that Ma Barker’s ghost still haunts the homestead.

Price: $1,000,000



5. Disney Haunted Mansion, Duluth, Ga.

If you have ever wanted to skip the line and stay overnight at the Disney Haunted Mansion, here’s your chance. Now, you can actually buy a replica of the Haunted Mansion just like the one at Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. It costs about the same as a day at Walt’s place — only $873,000.

The home was built by Mark Hurt, a Disney fan and contractor. He managed to get the Disney home’s specification details and duplicated much of the home including the Haunted Mansion sign in the front yard. It’s not actually haunted and is quite nice both inside and out with over 10,000 square feet, seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, an in-law/nanny suite and a guest suite. There is the one scary guest bathroom with flickering lights and a faucet that plays ghost tunes and even the Disney ghost Ezra’s image in the mirror.

Listing Agent:


6. Lizzy Borden’s Home, Fall River, Mass.

The Maplecroft name of the estate alone puts goose bumps on the skin of the neighbors that live around the home where accused axe-murderer Lizzie Borden, the O.J. Simpson of the 19th century, spent her final days. Many were the day that Lizzie would be outside of her residence chopping wood furiously on the front lawn while she glared menacingly at her neighbors. Lizzy bought this home after she was acquitted a year after her parent’s brutal murders and lived there until the day she died. It was thought that she was having an affair with the maid Bridget Sullivan and was caught by her parents, which led to the horrific chopping. Since Lizzie died in 1927 the house has been through multiple owners over the years, finally ending up in the hands of Robert Dube.  

Dube has tried multiple times to sell the estate and he’s chopped his asking price from $725,000 down to $650,000.

Built circa 1889, the home has 14 rooms, original parquet floors, tin ceilings and seven fireplaces.


To view the complete top ten list of haunted homes for sale, visit

“Top Ten” text, images and listings courtesy: