When we were writing up this year’s Spooky Spots for Seniors article, we found so many great stories that we couldn’t contain them in a single article. With the extra space we had to work with, we were able to correct something we’ve overlooked in previous years — spooky spots in the states not part of the Continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. Any region with local cultures as rich as these are bound to have some fascinating ghost stories! But first, we’ll start a little east of those two states, on the West Coast of the United States.
Pittock Mansion, Portland, OR
The Pittock Mansion in the West Hills outside of Portland, OR, is less of a house and more of a castle. In fact, it was inspired by French Renaissance chateaus, giving it a unique look to match the breathtaking views of the city. Built in 1914 by Henry Pittock, a newspaper magnate who remains one of the richest men in 20th century, the 16,000-square-foot mansion sits on 46 acres of land. The “House on the Hill,” as it’s sometimes known, had lots of surrounding space for the family to enjoy.
The reported hauntings all seem very positive, leading some to call it America’s happiest haunted house.
Sadly, they didn’t have long to live in their beloved mansion. Henry and his wife Georgiana passed away in 1919 and 1918, respectively, meaning they only had four years together in their Oregon castle. Depending on who you ask, though, they’re still living it up at the House on the Hill. That said, the reported hauntings all seem very positive, leading some to call it America’s happiest haunted house. It’s not uncommon to smell disembodied roses (Georgiana’s favorite flower), while the couple have been seen walking the grounds or following tours. A spectral groundskeeper has also been spotted, among other paranormal reports. That said, the spirits don’t seem to be haunting terrors as much as they are proud, welcoming homeowners.
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA
Have you ever wanted to visit a mansion that was funded by the gun that won the West and designed by ghosts — one that inspired a horror movie starring Dame Helen Mirren? As bizarre as that sounds, there is such a place. Nestled in San Jose, CA, stands the Winchester Mystery House. Built under the direction of Sarah Winchester, the eccentric widow of Winchester Repeating Arms Company heir William Winchester, the Mystery Mansion took 36 years and $5.5 million (roughly $84 million in 2019 dollars) to make, not that Sarah was concerned. When William passed away in 1881, Sarah inherited $20 million (over $503 million in 2019 dollars) and 50 percent of the Winchester company, which gave her an income of $1,000 a day (over $25,000 a day in 2019 dollars). This fortune allowed her to build a home complete with unusual structures, stairs that lead nowhere, secret passages, and constantly changing floor plans.
Hunted by vengeful spirits, Sarah learned that if she ever stopped building, she’d die.
So, why would she spend so much money and time having builders make this bizarre house around the clock? There are several theories, but the most popular has to do with the ghosts of those killed by Winchester guns (of course). After the death of her husband and their six-week-old daughter, Sarah met with a medium, who channeled the spirit of William. He told her that vengeful spirits were seeking her out and that she needed a home to sooth the ghosts. If she ever stopped building, she’d die. The Winchester Mystery House is open to daily tours, special events, and after dark tours for especially brave guests. Visiting around Halloween allows you to tour the Halloween extravaganza, which promises extra frights!
Hawaii & Alaska
Iolani Palace, Honolulu, HI
While you recently had to worry more about bees than ghosts, the Iolani Palace often tops the list of most haunted places in Hawaii. Completed in 1882, the palace is the former official residence of Hawaii’s King Kalakaua and his sister and heir, Queen Liliuokalani, the last two Hawaiian monarchs. It’s said that King Kalakaua spared no expense while building the palace, compete with electricity, telephones, and indoor plumbing — making it something of a modern marvel at the time. Today, it is a national historic landmark, welcoming thousands of guests every year.
Security guards will sometimes spot the former Queen out for a morning stroll.
The grounds a famously said to be haunted by Queen Liliuokalani, who was imprisoned in the palace after she was overthrown. Security guards will sometimes spot the former Queen out for a morning stroll, while guests sometimes report seeing her in the bedroom she was imprisoned in. Other visitors hear mysterious music or chanting in the room. Elsewhere on the property is a sacred mound that served as a burial place for Hawaii’s monarchs until the caskets were moved in 1865. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the mound is also reported to be haunted.
Historic Anchorage Hotel, Anchorage, AK
The Historic Anchorage Hotel, conveniently located in downtown Anchorage, AK, is a beautiful little hotel near many of the city’s attractions and restaurants. Built in 1916, the Historic Anchorage Hotel is the only hotel in town on the National Register of Historic Places. While the hotel can boast a few famous guests — like artist Sydney Laurence, actor Will Rogers, and aviator Wiley Post (Rogers and Post stayed at the hotel days before their fateful crash) — it is better known for the guests who seem to remain to this day.
While the murderer was never found, Black Jack Sturgus returns to the hotel each year in search of his murderer.
One of the most famous regulars is former police chief John “Black Jack” Sturgus, who was found shot steps away from the hotel. The bullet that killed Sturgus was from his own gun. While the murderer was never found, the old chief returns to the hotel each year in search of his murderer. Sturgus isn’t the only ghost in the hotel, though, with a long history of paranormal reports filling the Historic Anchorage’s ghost guest book. Other noted ghosts are that of a young child and a heartbroken bride who hung herself. If you’re looking to increase your odds of spotting something spooky, rooms 202, 205, 215, and 217 are rumored to be the most active, if you don’t mind a ghastly roommate for the evening.
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Whether you’re spending your Halloween on a beach in paradise or walking the corridors of a home designed for ghosts, you’re sure to find something spooky that’ll get you into the spirit of the season. You may even get lucky and join the 18 percent of Americans who believe they’ve seen a ghost! And, if you don’t believe in ghosts, there’s nothing to be scared of, right? Happy Halloween, everyone!
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