Real Haunted Houses in St. Louis, MO
St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West. Could it also be a gateway to the spirit world? Many people think it has more than the average amount of paranormal activity. The city is steeped in history, so it makes sense that legend and lore are common. Take a walk at dusk through some of its historic neighborhoods and cobblestone streets like Soulard, Laclede’s Landing, Lafayette Square, or the Central West End. Even the most skeptical can’t help but feel the presence of the city’s long-ago inhabitants.
What better time than October, with Halloween upon us, to mention some of St. Louis’s favorite haunted houses? We’re not talking about the commercial warehouses where kids and adults stand in long lines to get a good scare from actors and props. We’re talking about real haunted houses. Places where—whether you believe in ghosts or not—are certified creepy.
Any list of haunted houses in St. Louis is incomplete without the Lemp Mansion. In fact, the home was once rated as one of the 10 most haunted places in the United States. Purchased by beer baron William Lemp shortly after it was built in 1860, the 33-room mansion became a showplace in St. Louis society.
Lemp Mansion was the site of several suicides and scandals over the years. Among the family’s tales was that of the birth of a “deformed” son (most likely not deformed, but born with Downs Syndrome) who was kept hidden away in a tower room until his death at age 16. All of these lost souls are said to haunt the property to this day.
Bissell Mansion, built in 1823, fully embraces its status as a haunted house by hosting murder mystery dinners. Diners and staff report odd phenomena such as objects going missing and being found elsewhere in the house.
The spirit of Captain Lewis Bissell, who served in the War of 1812, is said to roam the grounds, often standing in the parking lot, staring up at the house. Guests have also reported seeing a woman dressed in white. This is thought to be the ghost of Captain Bissell’s wife.
This was the home of the Payne and Gentry families since 1870. It also housed the medical office and surgery for Dr. William Payne. On the grounds is a small cemetery that became the resting place of several children. Some say that the ghosts of those children can, on some nights, be seen playing together in the yard.
If you’d like to spend the evening with some otherworldly spirits, you’re in luck. You can book a stay at The Lehmann House Bed & Breakfast. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a good night’s sleep, though, as guests often report eerie shadows, unexplained banging noises, and disembodied voices.
The culprit might be the original owner, Edward Rowse. He died there—some say in the master bedroom, others say the dining room—and apparently decided not to leave.
Can an entire neighborhood be haunted? Some think the answer is “yes” and point to Lafayette Square. In May of 1896, a destructive tornado, later called “The Great Cyclone,” tore through the area, killing 255. It is said that their ghosts roam the streets and walk the halls of the grand Victorian homes, looking for their belongings, loved ones, and homes, wondering what happened that day.
A cousin of Mark Twain (whose real name was Samuel Clemens) built what was once described as “the only house in St. Louis with a built-in ghost.” James Clemens’s wife Eliza died mysteriously of no apparent cause five years before he was able to build their dream home. As a tribute to her, he had her cameo carved into marble and fashioned out of iron in decorative touches throughout the house.
Although the cameo of her face lived on in the house, it was not known to actually be haunted. It did, however, beat all the Lemp, Bissell, and Lehmann houses in creepy appearance as it fell into disrepair over the decades. In 2017, the once-grand old home burned. Perhaps Eliza was finally ready to rest, and now her likeness has given up watching the St. Louis neighborhood where the house stood.
The Exorcist House
When William Peter Blatty wrote the book The Exorcist, which later became a movie, few realized that he based it on a true story. There was, indeed, a case of a local priest performing an exorcism to rid a teenage boy (unlike the book and movie, which portrayed a girl) of alleged demonic possession.
The boy’s house looks like any other brick Colonial, but because of its story, it has become a favorite of kids and adults to drive past on a creepy autumn night. Also included in the tale is Alexian Brothers Hospital. The exorcism reportedly took place in a psych ward there that has since been demolished. Both places, while not necessarily haunted, share a frightening history.
Houses that Haunt Realtors
As real estate agents, we can only imagine how tricky it would be to line up prospective buyers for these real haunted houses in St. Louis! How, exactly, do you include spirits in the disclosure statement? And what happens if they start their hijinx during an open house?
Luckily, this probably isn’t a concern for most of us. There are plenty of real-life scary scenarios when it comes to real estate. Just ask any agent and they’ll have a horror story or two about trying to convince a seller of a realistic asking price for their as-is house. Or selling a home near power-lines. Or—be afraid...be very afraid—seeing a For Sale By Owner sign!
All joking aside, leave the scary house viewing to the real haunted houses in St. Louis, MO. For a fear-free buying or selling experience, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties.
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