Captain Grant’s, 1754; Preston, Connecticut, Built: 1754
It’s not hard to believe that Captain Grant’s, 1754, located in Preston, Connecticut, and surrounded by cemeteries, is haunted. The inn, built in 1754 by captain William Grant, was the home of three generations of the Grant family. It housed soldiers during the Revolutionary War and served as a hideout along the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves during the Civil War.
Today’s owners, Carol and Ted Matsumoto, finally admitted to the bed-and-breakfast being haunted after a detective who had stayed over demanded his money back, claiming someone had been stomping around all night above him.
After showing him that the attic was full of lumber and that it was impossible for any human to have made the noise, the Matsumotos knew they had a ghost on their hands.
Some guests have reported hearing moaning or banging sounds, while others have seen a mother with two children on the staircase. And for some inexplicable reason, the shower curtain in one of the bathrooms keeps getting ripped off the rod. Aside from these occurrences, though, the ghosts are harmless. “We don’t make it up. When it happens, it happens,” Carol says. Rooms from $99. (800) 982-1772, www.captaingrants.com
Lemp Mansion; St. Louis, Missouri, Built: 1868
Steak and ghosts -- both can be enjoyed at this inn with an award-winning restaurant and more than a bit of mystery. The Lemp family, for whom the hotel is named, originally took ownership of the 33-room Italianate-style home in 1876 after finding major financial success in the brewery industry.
Unfortunately, a chain of suicides plagued the family, starting with the first successor to the family fortune, William Lemp, who took his life in one of the mansion’s bedrooms after his son, Frederick, died of heart failure in 1901. One of his other sons, William Jr., then took the helm as president of the brewing company.
After a string of financial misfortunes that culminated in the selling of the family business at auction due to Prohibition, William Jr. shot himself in the same place where his father had committed suicide many years earlier. Two other family members, William Jr.’s sister, Elsa, and his brother, Charles, also took their own lives.
Today, the tragedies of the Lemp family lend a rather forboding air to the restaurant and inn, though that doesn’t deter guests -- or the owner -- from staying there. “I feel as if the house has a special energy,” current owner Paul Pointer says. “[It’s] … an unnerving, ominous feel.”
Pointer has experienced his fair share of weird occurrences around Lemp Mansion, including watching drawers shut on their own and seeing people who weren’t actually there. The mansion offers ghost tours every Monday (call for times and reservations), but those who want the full monty can spend a night in one of the mansion’s six rooms or take part in the monthly Lemp Experience, where guests become ghost hunters and snap photos with special cameras while listening to the history and intrigue of the mansion. Rooms from $125. (314) 664-8024, www.lempmansion.com
The SeekersThese guys don’t wait for a holiday to venture to haunted locations -- they do it year-round as their job. Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin started their ghost investigating out of curiosity, but after traveling through the entire state of Nevada to create a documentary film on the supernatural, they realized they had found their niche. Their film won awards, aired on Sci Fi (now Syfy), and eventually landed them a spot on the Travel Channel with their own show, Ghost Adventures.
With Bagans leading the way, the three use a slightly different method to investigate the paranormal: a raw approach that utilizes their own emotions to attract spirits.
“The best piece of equipment you can [have] is your body,” Bagans says.
He equates their methods to the ways that detectives approach homicides. They don’t just run around in the dark, he says. Rather, the team conducts full-on investigations, integrating technology, research, and past reports to make conclusions about the locations they visit.
But this job is not for the yellow-bellied types; Bagans has been scratched and attacked by demons while investigating, and, yes, it’s always a possibility that an entity can possess you, he says.
An experience at Magnolia Plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana, still lingers with him today. After discovering hoodoo and voodoo spirits in the old slave cabins, Bagans raised his voice and reached out to them. He and Goodwin then began to hear ritual chants and felt a wave of energy overcome their bodies.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Bagans recalls. “I wonder if a spell [was] put on us.”
Oftentimes, Bagans explains, the energy he feels can’t really be put into words or conveyed to the audience by the camera.
If you have the courage to explore, check out Bagans’s top three creepiest places, detailed below. But if you prefer your chills and thrills on the tube, catch the new season of Ghost Adventures, which begins this month and airs every Friday at nine p.m. Eastern time on the Travel Channel.
Bobby Mackey’s Music World; Wilder, Kentucky
This former 1800s slaughterhouse is also referred to as Hell’s Gate because of the well in the basement that was at one time used in satanic rituals (blood, dead animals, and even the head of a murdered woman were discarded in it). It was here that Bagans was attacked by a demon, and the trio captured an apparition, witnessed an exorcism during their live event, and saw a bishop get assaulted. www.bobbymackey.com
During the fourteenth century, this island was used to isolate those infected with the black death and served as a dumping ground for thousands of corpses. While here, Bagans was overcome by the darkest energy he’s ever experienced in his life, and the team captured unbelievable paranormal evidence. Theory states that spirits can’t cross flowing water, which lends to the idea that this location is one of the most haunted places in the world.
Preston Castle; Ione, California
Bagans was partially possessed for the first time in his life at Preston Castle, which was a reform school for boys in the early 1900s. The brutal murder of Anna Corbin occurred in 1957, and her ghost is said to haunt the building; there’s even a cemetery on the premises where inmates who died while there are buried. While investigating Preston, the three heard countless voices and saw a mistlike apparition, and Goodwin was attacked. www.prestoncastle.com