These Abandoned Houses Have Haunting Backstories
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These Abandoned Houses Have Haunting Backstories

January 24, 2024 at 6:02 PM PST

Abandoned houses are always awe-inducing, from their quirky architecture to their cold-blooded backstories. Whether your aesthetic is more of a “Black Barbie” rather than Lydia Deetz, you’ll be thrilled to find one of these abandoned houses with stunning architecture to suit your style. Maybe you’re drawn to a dilapidated domicile for inspiration or tearing out magazine pages for some tranquil home design ideas. Prepare to pin these pics to your Pinterest mood board for some out-of-this-world home decor inspo. We’ve got you covered from abandoned houses with the creepiest backstories to some homes with histories that will pull at your heartstrings. If you live for historical architecture, this list will have you in eternal abandoned building bliss.

Some of these abandoned houses possess elements that are straight out of a horror flick. Think marvelous mansions to die for and charismatic castles with scalloped design once fit for a queen. Abandoned houses could be quite ambitious to renovate or DIY but totally possible if you put in a little sweat equity and elbow grease. These amazing abandoned houses embody the endless possibilities of human innovation. Our creativity as a people knows no bounds! If you’re feeling crafty, you’ll want to use all of these abandoned houses as inspiration for your next haunted house for Halloween or Tim Burton-esque wedding featuring some witchy decor.

Bannerman Castle

Hudson Valley Magazine
This breathtaking Bannerman Castle found on Pollepel Island on the Hudson River in Beacon, New York served as a formidable fortress that housed military surplus in the 20th century. Built by Francis (Frank) Bannerman, the military fortress dates back to 1901. Scottish arms trader and entrepreneur Bannerman bought surplus arms at government auctions following the Civil War and built an expansive business in arms dealing.
The stunning views of Bannerman’s Castle and the idyllic island can be seen from Breakneck Ridge. According to its history, the castle became abandoned following a gunpowder explosion during the 1950s. The island itself, now widely known as Bannerman’s Island, was once only accessible by boat and the Native Americans inhabitants deemed the land haunted. If you’re feeling daring, you can book a seasonal guided walking tour, cruise or event on the picturesque premises.

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California remains one of the most enigmatic mansions in the lore of haunted houses in America. Perhaps, you’ve seen the film starring Helen Mirren as homeowner Sarah Winchester, based around the history of this labyrinth of a domicile built in 1884. In 1922, the mysterious mansion evolved into a tourist attraction after Winchester’s death that delights self-proclaimed historians and architecture aficionados alike. The home’s fantasy aesthetic houses an equally fascinating history as it belonged to Sarah Winchester, the wife of firearms dealer and magnate, William Wirt Winchester.
The Victorian mansion spans 24,000 square feet and once served to disorient and disturb visitors with its quirky corridors and twisted turrets. The heiress’ estate captures attention from its exterior, while the interior stuns and surprises visitors with its twists and turns. According to the lore, the beautiful heiress became paranoid that she was being haunted by the ghosts of those killed by her husband’s claim-to-fame Winchester rifle after his death. Upon consulting a psychic who told her to move out West and keep building in order to evade spirits, she designed a palatial puzzle with doors that open to “nowhere” and abrupt exits fit for an extraordinary heiress. Venture to this maze-filled Victorian mansion (of 110 rooms, 44 staircases, and 10,000 windows) for an experience that’s unparalleled. Book a 1-hour tour complete with flickering lights, staff in historical garb and unseen spirits that grab you to guarantee an experience you likely won’t forget.

Villa de Vecchi

Renovating Italy
The “House of Witches” in Lake Como, Italy slays as one of the most stunning abandoned houses ever. Count Felice de Vecchi built this awe-inspiring abode found in the mountains of Northern Italy in Cortenove, 1858, and the home haunts us with its hellish history. Also known as “The Red House,” “The Ghost House,” and “The Most Haunted House in Italy,” Villa de Vecchi possesses stunningly eclectic architecture that displays some serious graffiti.
This abandoned house premises’ known to be a sinful site for paranormal activity, cults and murder. Alessandro Sidoli designed this spectacular 19th century estate along with the count. Unfortunately, Sidoli passed a year before seeing the house completed. Furthermore, in 1862, the count killed himself upon discovering his wife murdered with her face disfigured. Based on the lore, his daughter was nowhere to be found. Occultist Alestair Crowley (allegedly) spent a few nights there engaging in some sinister activities not limited to orgies and ritualistic animal sacrifices. This bewitching estate will absolutely leave you bewildered.

Dundas Castle

Abandoned Spaces
This neo-Gothic Scottish castle built between 1910 and 1924 stuns as the one of the most hauntingly beautiful abandoned houses. The 20th century castle located in Roscoe, New York, also known as Craig-e-Clair Castle, remains a decaying domicile tucked away in the Catskills. Originally built for businessman Ralph Wert Dundas, the castle was inspired by the 15th century Dundas Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scottish-born Dundas had his castle modeled after the Scotland-based abode, which is equally as stunning as its used for modern-day weddings and events.
This fantasy fortress straight out of a fairy tale boasts a serious stone façade complete with the tallest of towers and conical rooftop elements that take us back to Medieval times. Dundas designed his digs with dear old Scotland in mind and imported building European materials in order to celebrate his heritage. While he lived in the castle, Dundas never saw his home to its completion. Unfortunately, in the future, no one ever would. After Dundas’ daughter inherited the home following his death, Prince Hall Temple Associates purchased the property with the intent to restore Dundas Castle. Today, PHTA, a Masonic lodge, seeks to transform its properties into interactive environments for children through youth programs. The Dundas dream lives on as a memory as the castle is currently closed.

Greystone Mansion

Love Beverly Hills
Oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny built this haunted historical home in 1929 and gave the property to his namesake son “Ned.” Unfortunately, Ned never had the chance to experience the house in its full glory as his longtime friend and personal aid, Hugh Plunkett, murdered him in cold blood on the night of February 16, 1929.
Only five months after the family moved into Greystone Mansion, Ned was discovered shot to death at age 35. The Tudor-style mansion is a magnificent piece of Beverly Hills history as well as a hauntingly chilling part of Hollywood’s sordid past.

Lynnewood Hall

The neo-Classical masterpiece remains the oldest surviving home of the Guilded Age in the Philadelphia area. The home boasts 55 bedrooms and is currently under renovation. Built for industrialist P.A.B Widener and his family between 1897 and 1900, Lynnewood Hall’s spectacular columns and white façade stun its viewers. While the property faces restoration, it serves as an iconic piece of American architecture spanning 100,000 square feet in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
Horace Trumbauer designed this extraordinary estate entirely of brick and serves as a masterpiece from a bygone era. Lynnewood Hall became primarily vacant in 1952 after a theological seminary bought it in all its glory and began to sell its belongings. Currently, the site houses intricate metallic fixtures indicative of an era of excess and will be used as a teaching tool as this work of art undergoes restoration.

The Los Feliz Murder Mansion

Daily Mail
The history of The Los Feliz Murder Mansion haunts us as it paints a portrait of a classic American family living in an affluent area in a luxurious Spanish-style Los Angeles home. This quintessential picture of privilege was shattered as the California mansion made its mark in history as the place in which a successful cardiologist murdered his wife in a murder-suicide. On the fateful day of December 6th, 1959, Dr. Harold Perelson killed his wife Lillian, attacked his daughter, and the fearsome physician ultimately killed himself.
The murder weapon of choice: a hammer. After the tragedy, the site became one of the most influential and widely-recognized abandoned houses that will live in infamy. In 2020, the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home (at one point listed for $5.5 million) sold after 60 years of abandonment, and the house was featured on Netflix series “Buying Beverly Hills.” Haunted history-lovers should be thrilled with the 2021 true crime podcast chronicling the mystery behind the walls of The Los Feliz Murder Mansion.

Elda Castle

Hudson Valley Country
Elda Castle was the brainchild of David Thomas Abercrombie & Fitch founder and his architect wife Lucy Abbott Cate. Located in Ossining, New York, Elda Castle’s surely a fashion-forward estate these days as it sports some eye-catching graffiti, and its name was derived from the first initial of each of their four children’s names: Elizabeth, Lucy Jr., David Jr., and Abbott. This Westchester County castle was built approximately in 1925-1927 as a retreat for the Abercrombie family and inspired by those castles found in Scotland as Abercrombie’s heritage influenced the abandoned house’s design.
With 25 rooms, including 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, the 49.6 acre castle features an open courtyard and hiking trails exemplifying the creators’ vision. The apparel company Abercrombie & Fitch, created in 1897, encouraged an active lifestyle as it dressed the quintessential outdoorsman.  This castle was listed for $3.2 million in 2020 and is currently priced at $2.9 million. Supposedly, the abandoned house is cursed as Abercrombie’s daughter Lucy Jr. died directly after Elda Castle’s construction, and Abercrombie died inside the home following his son David Jr.’s death. A fire tore through the property causing further destruction to the derelict domicile in 2022.

Ha Ha Tonka Mansion

Missouri State Parks
Seek and you shall find in the beautiful Ozarks of Missouri an early 20th century estate inspired by the perfectly picturesque 16th century castles in the European countryside. Businessman Robert McClure Snyder bought the plot housing this abandoned property from Native Americans who called the land, “Ha Ha Tonka.” According to lore, the moniker means “laughing waters.” The events surrounding the property which occurred years after its inception make its meaning more tragic.  The Kansas City millionaire died before seeing the mansion to completion. He envisioned nine greenhouses in which he planned to plant various stone and citrus fruits.
While his sons took over the building of the mansion, Robert Jr. plagued with health problems, was forced to sell his father’s natural gas company in order to pay for legal fees associated with a battle against Union Electric regarding ownership of the land and boundaries of the Ha Ha Tonka Spring. The Snyder family dwindling fortune and the Great Depression were catalysts for the sale of the mansion. While Ha Ha Tonka Mansion was transformed into a hotel and lodge, the property experienced another tragedy in the form of a fire. In 1942, a fire, which began on the roof, destroyed the three-story home which had a staggering 37 rooms. The abandoned house now remains as part of Ha Ha Tonka State Park and overlooks the Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka Spring.

Liu Family Mansion

Spectral Codex
The Liu Family Mansion of Minxiong, Chiayi, also known as “Minxiong Ghost House” stuns as one of the most haunted homes in Taiwan. The home, built in 1929, also stands as one of the most fascinating abandoned houses with its Baroque aesthetic crawling with overgrown greenery. The Liu Family established itself as a powerful Taiwanese landlord family whose secrets ran deeper than the tree roots encompassing the decaying ruins. The Liu Family supposedly fled the mansion in the 1950s.
According to lore, their abrupt departure stemmed from a sinister secret. Based on the history of the Liu Family, homeowner Liu Rong-yui engaged in an affair with the family’s maid. After the affair was made public, the family’s maid became suicidal and died after falling down a well. The ghost of the maid haunts the grounds as well as she haunted the Liu Family daily. Rumor has it that the lady of the house discovered the affair and made the maid’s life a living hell, which influenced her suicide. Many myths surround this astonishing estate and make it an eerie end to this list of amazing abandoned houses.



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