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Famous Haunted Houses

It is time to dust off one of our more popular seasonal articles - Famous Haunted Houses!

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It is time to dust off one of our more popular seasonal articles - Famous Haunted Houses! This year we have expanded our list of spooky places to visit! Have fun and enjoy!

Perhaps it wasn't the wind that slammed the door shut? Doesn't that really sound like footsteps down the hall? Or maybe it is a great marketing ploy for bed and breakfast inns and historical societies? Maybe people just enjoy the idea of hauntings? Okay, so not all of us believe in ghosts, but the stories and histories behind many haunted houses can be just as unique as their "spiritual" residents. For a little fun and change of pace, we have compiled a list of famous haunted houses and buildings in America. Dim the lights, sit back and enjoy a little Halloween-flavored fun and learn a little history too!

AlabamaSelma - Sturdivant Hall

The History: This mansion was built in 1853 for Colonel Edward T. Watts and his family as a town residence. It was later purchased by John Parkman who became President of the First National Bank of Selma in 1866. After cotton speculation ruined the bank, Parkman was arrested and was then killed in an attempted escape. His wife and two daughters sold the house to a local merchant, Emile Gillman whose family kept the home until it was purchased by the city in 1957. The house was turned into a city museum with funds from Daniel Sturdivant's estate (and why it is known as Sturdivant Hall today).

The Haunting: The young bank President, John Parkman, proclaimed his innocence and said he would fight to clear his name. Fellow citizens believed he was honest and helped him break out of jail. However, either shot or drowned, Parkman died after the attempted escape. Many believe it is his spirit that haunts the home he was forced to leave. Parkman likes to move objects around and has even been seen as a full apparition in 19th century dress. He is a benign ghost and in general just checks in on the place to see who is about.

The Viewing: Sturdivant Hall is now a museum which offers tours highlighting the architecture and furnished setting of a late 19th century home. The museum also houses a collection of paintings by Clara Weaver Parish, famously known for her stained glass at the turn of the 20th century. The museum itself is open Tues-Sat or by appointment.  C, click here for more information. To join the Selma haunted tour which includes Sturdivant Hall among other ghostly sites, take a look at the Haunted History Tour in October. More on this spooky site...http://sturdivanthall.comYouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=05SVV2fwZmc

AlaskaSeward - Jesse Lee Home

The History: This site opened as an orphanage in 1925 for rural children who lost their parents to influenza and tuberculosis. It closed after suffering damage in the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. Today mostly the outer wall shells still stand for two buildings of the complex. Benny Benson, who designed the Alaskan state flag grew up here.

The Haunting: There are reports of children's laughter around the site and the rhythm of a jump rope. There have also been a few apparitions spotted including a small boy and a priest. However, the stories that might shed light on the reason for their attachment to this house are only speculative as they are not identified with individuals known to have died in the home.

The Viewing: The site is not open to visitors at this time. An effort is underway to reconstruct the buildings, for more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.jesseleehome.netYouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHCGKZ4Rujw&feature=related

ArizonaJerome - Jerome Grand Hotel

The History: Built in 1926, this building was originally the United Verde Hospital. The hospital was built to be fireproof and withstand blasts from the dynamite mining nearby. One of the best hospitals in the west, it was phased out when the mining in the area began to slow down and closed by 1950. The building stood empty until 1994; it had been a time capsule and was unchanged for 44 years. It is now being restored as a hotel with many of the rooms already completed and open for guests.The Haunting: Being a hospital, there were many patients that perished in its walls. However, there were deaths of two orderlies that many believed was murder. There is also one recorded suicide. When the building lay dormant for 44 years, locals claimed they would still see lights burning in the vacant building. Since being reopened, more paranormal activities have been noticed. The most common is for guests to feel temperature drops and hear coughing or labored breathing in empty rooms or corners of their own guestroom. One ghost is said to be a woman who died in childbirth. She is upset that her child was buried in an unmarked grave and prowls the grounds looking for the babe.The Viewing: You may stay in the hotel today. Room rates begin at $110 and go up from there. Being the highest point in the Verde Valley, it offers some great views. And if you're lucky, maybe a glance at a ghost or two! To spend the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.jeromegrandhotel.netwww.hauntedhouses.comwww.prairieghosts.com/jerome.htmlwww.sgha.net/az/jerome/jeromegrand2.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageArkansasFort Smith - Clayton House The History: Although built in the 1850s, the namesake attached to this home, William Henry Harrison Clayton purchased the home in 1876. By this time Clayton was a US District attorney who had a reputation for efficiently prosecuting murderers and lawless scoundrels that were giving Fort Smith a poor reputation. The Haunting: Clayton may have had a reputation for getting rid of trouble makers in town while alive, but it seems he is staying around for a little mischief. Upstairs doors slam and someone in boots stomps around. There is also a woman who appears downstairs who may be Clayton's daughter Ann.The Viewing: Today this museum offers a glimpse at elegant living in the 1880s with period furniture, landscaping and decor. For a historic tour and more information please click here. If you want more ghost stories, then try the Spirit of the Past Tour run on Friday evenings, for more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.claytonhousefortsmith.comhttp://claytonhouse.art.officelive.com/default.aspxBack to TopCaliforniaSan Diego - Whaley House The History: This house was a home, granary, court house, theater, ballroom, billiard hall, school and polling center. It was also the site where criminals were hanged before the house was built. Once built, it also had the tragic history of one of the Whaley girls committing suicide inside.The Haunting: There are many ghosts in the Whaley House. There is "Yankee Jim" who was one of the criminals hanged at the site. He now stomps around the house with a heavy step and even the first family, the Whaley's, reported hearing him in the house. Thomas Whaley, the first owner of the house has been seen lingering around the upper landing. Thomas' wife, Anna, also wanders the downstairs and the garden. There are a few other apparitions and even a little fox terrier ghost dog that is seen on occasion!The Viewing: This house is now a museum and is open for tours on most days. Their website has more details about times and price; click here for details. More on this spooky site...www.whaleyhouse.orgwww.viewzone.com/whaleyhouse.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.comBack to TopSan Francisco Bay - Alcatraz Island The History: Not a house per se, but people "lived" there right? Anyway, Alcatraz started as a military fort in 1850. It was used as a military prison and then a federal prison after 1934. In 1963 the prison was closed due to the cost of operations. As a prison, Alcatraz had a reputation of being a hard place to live in which prisoners were there to be shut away rather than rehabilitated. Punishments could be harsh such as restricted diet, solitary confinement, and hard labor. There were the now infamous solitary cells like the "strip cell" and the "hole" that even made the most hardened prisoners think twice about breaking any rules. The Haunting: This place was creating ghost stories before being shut down. Guards retell odd tales of ghosts attacking inmates or making noises. Today, there are still many haunting "hot spots" on the island. There is the utility corridor where three escapees were gunned down; this doorway is now welded shut but many say there is the sound of clanging against the door; perhaps something wants out... There are also reports of running in the corridors, voices in the cells and medical ward and screams from the dungeons and isolation units.The Viewing: Tours are available of the island and complex. Depending on the time of year, you may have to use different ferry systems to access the island. For more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/alcatraz/ www.cr.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/alca/www.alcatrazhistory.com/mainpg.htm www.prairieghosts.com/gpalcatraz.html www.legendsofamerica.com/CA-Alcatraz.htmlBack to TopSan Jose - Winchester Mystery House The History: Sarah Winchester, daughter-in-law of Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifle, began the construction of this house in 1884 and kept the project going until her death 38 years later. The legend says she constructed the house continuously to confuse the bad spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. In the end it had 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces and various oddities such as doors leading to a sudden outside drop or staircases leading to the ceiling. The Haunting: Some of the ghosts are said to have been invited by Sarah Winchester as she is said to have held a séance with them every night to determine the construction for the next day. Reports of footsteps, doors closing and opening, cold spots, and other paranormal behavior have been reported. However, some skeptics in the ghost hunting world believe the mansion is more of an oddity than a true haunting ground. Guess you'll just have to go to find out for yourself!The Viewing: The mansion is open to tours today. You can select a standard tour and see 110 rooms and their various oddities and details or you can also do a behind the scenes tour to see how the house functioned. For more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.winchestermysteryhouse.comwww.prairieghosts.com/winchester.html http://mysteryhouseguide.com

ColoradoSt Elmo - St Elmo The History: St Elmo is a Colorado ghost town that was built in 1878. Originally called Forest City, this mining town reached 2000 souls at its peak. Silver, gold, copper and iron ore were all mined in the area. Starting out moral, it soon degraded to a 'Saturday Night Hangout' for the over abundance of men in the mining community. In 1890 a fire destroyed the business section of town and by 1910 the mines began to close. By 1922 most everyone had left but the affluent Stark family. They remained and tried to cash in on tourism still running the hotel and general store. Finally the post office closed (and therefore the town) in 1952. The last brother and sister of the Stark family fell into despair and she was the last of their family to die in 1960. The Haunting: After the death of the Stark family, a friend who had remained kind to them inherited their holdings in St Elmo. When their grandchildren were playing in the hotel, the doors slammed shut and the temperature radically dropped, they refused to play there anymore. Another grandchild tried to take the hotel on as a project. She started to lock away her cleaning and repair tools because they kept moving. Regardless of her efforts, the tools still appeared mysteriously in the middle of the room every morning. Annabelle Stark, the last of the Stark family to die, is said to keep a lookout for the the town from the Hotel. A skier said she saw a woman in the window who was looking off in the distance. When she followed her gaze she saw snowmobilers in the area. The skier told them that it was illegal to snowmobile in St Elmo. After they left the woman in the hotel nodded to the skier and vanished.The Viewing: St Elmo lies just west of Bueno Vista. It is considered the best preserved ghost town in Colorado and worth a stop if you are in the area. More on this spooky site...www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/saintelmo.htmlwww.ghosttowngallery.com/htme/stelmo.htmwww.legendsofamerica.com/CP-StElmo1.htmlwww.prairieghosts.com/stelmo.htmlBack to TopConnecticutNew London - Lighthouse Inn The History: Originally known as Meadow Court, this home was a summer retreat for Charles Guthrie. Built in 1902, it was turned into an Inn in 1927. Among such famous guests as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was Harry Rodvogin, a resident artist who lived at the Inn after his old friends Bill and Al Ronnick spotted him painting portraits on the street. Rodvogin is now recognized for the paintings he created and you can see his work in the local museums.The Haunting: One guest who hasn't left is the spirit of a bride who died falling down the main stairway on her wedding day. But she is rather harmless, she hangs out in guestrooms reading a book or walks around the halls looking a bit forlorn. Strange noises are also heard around the Inn on occasion but shouldn't disrupt a good nights sleep.The Viewing: This Inn is now a resort offering such amenities as its own private beach and in-room spa services. To make your reservations, click here. More on this spooky site...www.lighthouseinn-ct.comwww.associatedcontent.com/article/682437/

DelawareBethany Beach - The Addy Sea The History: Built in 1902 by John Addy, this Inn was originally a family residence. After a wicked storm in 1927, the house was actually moved further back from the seashore. The original foundations were used as a BBQ pit and hang out until they were covered by sand over the years. John Addy was a plumbing supplier and made the Addy house and his neighbors homes some of the most efficient and convenient in the area. This made it popular when it first became a boarding house in 1935. The boarding house was run by the Addy family until it was sold in 1975.The Haunting: Room 1 had a haunted copper tub - well, until it went missing. The original Victorian tub was originally used by the Addy family. During renovations in the 1980s the tub was stored in a garage but went missing. The thief may have gotten more then they expected as the bathtub is supposedly haunted and rocks and shakes violently at times. But no fear, even with the haunted bathtub gone, there are still specters wandering the halls, random sounds and footsteps, strange whiffs of perfume and even haunting music all keeping the place "spiritually" active.The Viewing: Enjoy the Victorian trappings, walk the beach or sit on the veranda on a rocking chair - who knows, maybe the empty one next to you will rock too? To find out more about staying, click here. More on this spooky site...www.addysea.com/addyseainfo.htmlwww.addysea.com/history.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageFloridaFort Pierce - Boston House The History: William Turpin Jones worked for the railroad and after an accident on the job was able to pay for his home, Cresthaven, in 1909. Jones used the house as collateral during the depression in an agreement with Irving Whitney. However, Whitney died and his sister Rose forced the Jones family to move out in 1932 and renamed the home Boston House. When she died in 1954 the home was rezoned by the city for commercial use after if failed to sell as a residence.The Haunting: There was a tragic shooting accident when Clifford Jones, then 10 years old, accidently shot his friend, 9 year old William Fee. However, the ghost sightings revolve around sightings of women in the window, perfume in the morning and laughter of the unpleasant kind. There have also been reports of items moving and cold spots. None of the sightings are clearly related to one event. Instead see the article by the Grim Society who reviewed the historical archives and found many of the tales of ghosts do not match the actual history of the building.The Viewing: A law firm currently occupies this old residence, sorry, no tours. More on this spooky site...http://thegrimsociety.com/2007/10/14/the-historic-boston-house/www.examiner.com/paranormal-travel-in-west-palm-beach/

GeorgiaSavannah - 17-Hundred-90 Restaurant & Inn The History: This inn was actually built in 1820, not 1790. First a boarding house and later an inn, this home has had many owners and guests. One of these guests was Anne Powell. The legend says she was unhappily married at sixteen to an Englishman. She fell in love with a German sailor who left her "in the family way." She watched his boat sail away and then committed suicide by jumping from the window, landing on the brick pavement below.The Haunting: Anne Powell is the most famous ghost, believed to haunt guest room 204 from where it is said she jumped to her death. She doesn't seem to be a menacing spirit: she sits beside the fire, lays out guests' clothes on the bed or plays pranks on guests waking them up in wee hours of the morning by setting off the radio alarm. Another ghost in the basement kitchen and restaurant doesn't like women very much and likes to shove them around. But this ghost is countered by the ghost of a merchant marine who will help the staff turn the lights off at closing.The Viewing: Savannah ghost tours stop here for a drink but you can go to the restaurant yourself and have a bite to eat. Or if you really dare, spend the night instead - ask for room 204! More on this spooky site...www.17hundred90.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ga/17hundred90.cfmBack to TopSavannah - Kehoe House The History: This home was built in 1892 for William Kehoe and his family. The large family (they had 10 children!) kept the home until 1930. After that the home became a boarding house, funeral parlor, and a private residence. In 1992 the home opened as a B&B, it changed ownership in 2003, but remains an inn with a B&B atmosphere.The Haunting: The main tragedy of the house (that we know of) was the death of the Kehoe twins who died when playing around the chimney. Children can be heard running the halls and some guests have even had children check in on them in their rooms. But if you don't see the children, their mother Annie is reputed to still wander the rooms, making sure to tuck in all the guests at night!The Viewing: Why not spend the night? Ask for rooms 201 or 203. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.kehoehouse.comwww.hauntedhouses.comwww.associatedcontent.comBack to Top Ghost ImageHawaiiKailua-Kona, Big Island - Hulihe'e Palace The History: This summer home for Hawaiian royalty was built by governor John Adams Kuakini in 1838 and was used until 1914.The Haunting: Different members of the royal family are said to haunt this place, both the grand staircase and the grounds. The ghosts don't mind visitors and generally keep to themselves. There is also a young boy who has been spotted, but his relation to the family, if any, is unknown.The Viewing: The palace became a museum in 1927 and is still open for limited tours which highlight the Victorian furniture and decor from the reign of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani. The gift shop is also open. More on this spooky site...http://huliheepalace.com/index.htmlwww.gohawaii.com/big-island/regions-neighborhoods/kona/hulihee-palacehttp://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/konas-fscinating-history-hulihee-palace/

Ghost ImageIdahoBoise - Old Idaho Penitentiary The History: Although not a house, this prison was the home to many inmates beginning in 1872, two years after construction began. Many of the buildings on the site were added and built by the inmates as part of their daily labor. The prison functioned for 101 years and housed both dangerous men and women.The Haunting: A fully functioning prison with isolation cells and a gallows, there are more than a few places to attract negative post mortem energies. Both the isolation cells and the rose garden (where the first gallows were located) have cold spots and apparitions. A death row inmate who committed suicide is also known to haunt the maximum security prison in a eerie green hue.The Viewing: The penitentiary buildings now house a museum run by the Idaho State Historic Society. In addition to a history of the prison and the inmates, there are also exhibits on weapons and transportation. For added fun, the penitentiary now hosts Halloween events, ghost tours and night tours. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...http://history.idaho.gov/oldpen.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/id/idaho_state_penitentiary.cfmYouTube Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITi8SB39J8EBack to TopIllinoisBull Valley - George Stickney House This History: George and Sylvia Stickney built this home in 1849. As spiritualists, they specifically requested the design of the home not to have square corners. It was believed the square corners could trap spirits. The family was reputed to have preformed séances regularly in their upstairs ballroom. Having 12 children, but only 3 that survived, perhaps the need to connect with the lost loved ones encouraged their continual searches into the beyond. The Haunting: The police stationed in the home today have shared stories of paranormal activity. They have heard footsteps and human voices when alone. Some have seen apparitions and had objects move on them after they left the room. Other more dramatic events such as doors opening on their own have also been seen.The Viewing: The house is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places. Efforts are underway to restore the home and eventually offer tours. However, as of today there is not much for the public to see. To prevent vandalism to the vacated structure, the Bull Valley Police Department has their headquarters on the lower floor. Take a look at the video from the Northwest Herald to see more. More on this spooky site...www.prairieghosts.com/stickney.htmlhttp://ssm.nwherald.com/northwest-herald/video/20071030StickneyMansion/stickney-mansion/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stickney_HouseBack to TopEquality - Hickory Hill House The History: This house was built in 1842 by John Crenshaw. Although it was illegal to own slaves in the state of Illinois, it was legal to lease slaves from slave states to work in salt mines. John Crenshaw leased slaves from nearby states to work in his salt mines. It is also said that he would kidnap free blacks and force them to work in his mines and eventually sell them into slavery. All the slaves where kept in the upstairs attic in horse stall-like cells that opened to one large corridor. John Crenshaw had a particularly nasty reputation for cruelty and abuse.The Haunting: The house opened as a tourist attraction in 1930 and many claimed to hear the rattling of chains and muffled cries from the attic. The home had the reputation that no one could spend the night. In 1978, a reporter named David Rogers was the first to spend a whole night in the house.The Viewing: Currently the house is protected by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and closed to the public. A grant was received in late spring 2006, hopefully it will be able to reopen soon! More on this spooky site...www.prairieghosts.com/slave.html www.illinoishistory.com/oshpage.html www.hauntedhouses.comhttp://illinoishistory.blogspot.com/2006/10/old-slave-house-closed-10-years-ago.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageIndianaIndianapolis - Hannah House The History: This home was built by Alexander Hannah in 1858. Hannah used his basement to house runaway slaves before the Civil War. After the war he expanded the house for his new wife, Elizabeth. Four years after his death in 1895 the home was sold to Roman Oehler and the house remains owned by the Oehler family today.The Haunting: The legend is that some of the slaves seeking sanctuary in the cellar perished one night from smoke inhalation and burns after a lamp fell over. Their bodies were buried in the same cellar so the underground railroad location would not be discovered. Today cold spots, shattering glass and moaning can be heard in the cellar. A few apparitions have also been spotted. Upstairs, items move, footsteps are heard, doors open on their own and odd odors permeate the room. Even Hannah and possibly his wife have been spotted, still watching over the home and its secrets.The Viewing: The Hannah House is rented for special events and conferences today. However, overnight ghost packages are available for both inexperienced enthusiasts and professional ghost hunting teams alike. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.thehannahmansion.orgwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/in/hannah_house.cfmBack to TopIowaBentonsport - Mason House Inn The History: This hotel was built in 1846 for steamboat travelers along the Des Moines River. Later, the Mason House was used as a 'holding hospital' during the Civil War for soldiers being transferred to Keokuk. It also served as a 'station' along the underground railroad. Mason House gets its name from the Mason family who owned the property for 99 years.The Haunting: Three of the owners have died in the building and there was also one murder in a guest room. In 1860 poor Mr. Knapp had been drinking and accidentally went to the wrong room. The occupant thought he was being robbed and stabbed Mr. Knapp in self-defense. The home had also been a 'holding hospital' in the Civil War and some patients may have died in the home. Also a Doctor renting a room in the 1940s died in the building. All in all, a great hangout for ghosts. The ghosts come in many forms. There are wisps of fog and cold spots to actual figures who appear and disappear from sight. There is a boy that plays tricks; he likes to rustle sheets and tug at guests as they sleep. There are footsteps, thuds and a woman in white. An abundance of ghosts and paranormal events for all!The Viewing: Today you may stay at this B&B for about $80/night ($125 if you are staying in the restored caboose!). Request to stay in the main house on the 2nd floor (rooms 5 & 7) for the best chance of paranormal dreams! Ghost Hunting 101 and 102 classes are also available about twice a year and a Halloween Ghost Walk around Oct 31st. To spend the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.masonhouseinn.comhotels.about.comBack to TopVillisca - Villisca Ax Murder House The History: On June 10, 1912, the Moore family and two overnight guests were brutally murdered. The ax murder of two adults and six children horrified the community and its story still horrifies people today. Regardless of the unprecedented effort of police, detectives and neighboring departments at the time, the case remains unsolved to this day. The Haunting: The most common account seems to be of children's voices in the house. Things will also move unexpectedly and lamps won't stay lit regardless that there is no breeze in the home. The Viewing: Tours of the home are available through the Olson Linn Museum. They also offer night tours, but these must be arranged in advance. For current hours click here. More on this spooky site...www.villiscaiowa.comwww.prairieghosts.com/villisca.html www.villiscamovie.com/emporium.htm YouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=T54lLMJ17kkBack to Top Ghost ImageKansasKansas City - Strawberry Hill Mansion The History: Architect John G. Braecklein designed this Queen Ann style home in 1887. Margaret Cruise Scroggs and John B. Scroggs were the first to occupy the house. Margaret had surviving children in her previous marriage and her daughter Emma McFadden and her husband inherited the home in 1915. But in 1919 the home was purchased by Sister Bonaventure and turned into an orphanage for children who had lost their parents to the influenza epidemic. The orphanage remained open until 1988 and cared for over 3000 orphans. The building was then turned into a museum by the Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society who still run the property today.The Haunting: There is an unknown male ghost who haunts the third floor and will chase visitors from the ballroom. A Lady in Red haunts the house but is not associated with the families or the nuns, instead she is believed to be the spirit of a homeless woman who died under the nuns' care. Apparently she likes to join in the tours and ask questions, she usually inquires after the location of the priest's house. There are other female and child entities around the house. Sometimes music and footsteps can be heard or the scent of baby powder will fill the air.The Viewing: Strawberry Hill is now a museum celebrating Slavic immigrant history in Kansas City. It offers museum tours and the Tea Room is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and provide a little taste of the past. For more information and visiting hours, click here. More on this spooky site...www.strawberryhillmuseum.orgwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ks/strawberry_hill.cfmwww.associatedcontent.com/article/379111/

KentuckyLouisville - Waverly Hills Sanitarium The History: Okay, this is not a house, but since it has such a grand reputation of being haunted, we thought to include it. Waverly Hills opened as a hospital for tuberculosis patients in 1926. Tuberculosis was a dreaded killer of the time and most of the patients who entered would die there. It is estimated that at the height of the epidemic a patient died every hour. This large complex had a long tunnel nicknamed the "body chute" where the bodies were transferred to a train at the bottom of the hill. It was covered so patients would not be disheartened by seeing the number of dead being removed from the hospital. Because Tuberculosis was not well understood, there were many experiments that occurred, some were beneficial and some were more brutal leading to tales of mistreatment and abuse. In 1982, the hospital was shut down under allegations of abuse. The Haunting: The tales of a haunting started after the hospital was shut down and allowed into disrepair. Transients, vandals and kids would break in. Stories began to spread of small children playing in the halls, lights going on when there was not power, doors being slammed, voices crying out, and various other ghoulish activities. One specific spot, room 502, is on the floor where the mentally ill tuberculosis patients were housed. This room was the nurses station where two nurses committed suicide on separate occasions for reasons unknown.The Viewing: There are tours run by the Waverly Hills Historical Society. Tours must be arranged as this is a private site and trespassers will be prosecuted. Overnight tours can also be arranged in advance. To find out more click here. More on this spooky site...www.therealwaverlyhills.comwww.prairieghosts.com/waverly_tb.html http://whsmemorial.tripod.com/YouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tcl3eRoNUkBack to TopLouisianaNew Orleans - Magnolia Mansion The History: This home was built in 1857 by Alexander Harris. After Alexander died of yellow fever his widow remarried and sold the home to the Maginnis family. John Maginnis owned a cotton mill and it was whispered he was struck by lightning because of the cruel way he treated his employees. In 1939, John's daughter inherited the home and willed it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the home to train nurses for WWII and the Korean War. In 1954 the home was again sold into private ownership. Magnolia Mansion was renovated in 2001 and opened as a B&B in 2002.The Haunting: When renovating the home, the crew had to stop as an oily substance appeared over the walls. The owner then verbalized her plans for the place out loud so the ghosts would know exactly what she was up to. She told them she was improving the home and the ghosts would not be able to scare the guests away. This appeased them for awhile. However, ghosts are still reputed to slam doors and snuggle into bed with guests on occasion. Many guests have photos of orbs and a few extra faces from their visits as well.The Viewing: This adult catering B&B offers a great escape to any non-smoker over 21 years of age. Specializing in romance with Elopement and Wedding packages, the B&B also has fun with their ghosts offering a Romantic Ghostly Getaway Package which includes a room, treats and ghost walking tours. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.magnoliamansion.comVideo - http://video.msn.com

St. Francisville - Myrtles Plantation The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794 but stories of haunting did not start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the haunting. Most of these seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that is just because the house is so haunted, people needed to make up some kind of explanation.The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a woman in a green turban who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim this ghost is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano.The Viewing: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night. The choice is up to you. Click here for more information. More on this spooky site...www.myrtlesplantation.comwww.prairieghosts.com/myrtles.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.comYouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIMAXKBOMp8Back to TopMaineSearsport - Watchtide The History: Built in the early 1790s, ownership transferred to Brigadier General Henry Knox in 1794. He was a trusted ally to George Washington and was the first Secretary of War for the U.S. After General Knox sold the property, it went through many owners, many of them sea captains who were involved in the shipping industry of the area. The house was an inn starting in 1917 to the 1940s when it then became a private home again. In 1994, the inn reopened and is still family operated today.The Haunting: Guests and a previous owner have reported seeing phantoms in period appropriate dress floating around the home. There are reports of music heard without a "source." Footsteps have also been heard. However, the new B&B owner says there does not seem to be as much activity of late. Perhaps it was the recent remodel that chased away or appeased the spirits.The Viewing: Recently renovated, this B&B offers a great quiet getaway as well as easy access to many of the great sites around Maine. To make your reservation, click here. More on this spooky site...www.watchtide.comwww.fabuloustravel.comBack to Top Ghost ImageMarylandFrederick - Schifferstadt The History: This German colonial house was built in 1758 by Joseph Bruner. Built during the French and Indian War, the house was made to double as a refuge for colonials in the country. Originally tenant farmers and recent immigrants from Germany, the Bruner families and others like them fought to be able to purchase their land from crooked landlords. They eventually prevailed. The home would remain a family residence until it was sold to the Frederick County Landmark Foundation in 1974. The Haunting: Although apparitions are not reported, the sound of footsteps and activity can be heard. Interestingly, voices have been heard in English and, of course, German!The Viewing: Today the museum highlights early German colonial life and the experiences during the French and Indian War. The museum is open on Saturdays or by appointment. Although the museum hosts special events, most of them are historical and cultural - why not enjoy Oktoberfest while peaking for ghosts? More on this spooky site...www.frederickcountylandmarksfoundation.org/fclf_schiffgen.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/md/schifferstadt.cfmBack to TopMassachusettsFall River - Lizzy Borden House The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and latter acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality, even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior. And of course there was the creation of the rhyme:Lizzie Borden took an axGave her mother forty whacks;When she saw what she had doneGave her father forty-one!The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed and perhaps the same woman can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment such as lights and cameras have some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in if you want...The Viewing: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University! To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.lizzie-borden.comwww.hauntedhamilton.com/gotw_lizzieborden.html www.prairieghosts.com/lizzie.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageMichiganMarshall - National House Inn The History: Originally as stage stop between Detroit and Chicago, this inn was built in 1835 by Colonel Andrew Mann. The inn continued to serve passengers as a railroad hotel until business slowed and it was sold and turned into a windmill and wagon factory. In 1902 the inn was converted into apartments and during prohibition offered a secret room to buy and consume alcohol. By 1976 the building was in need of repair and was remodeled into a bed and breakfast.The Haunting: This inn is still the home to a lady in red. Her connection with the place is unknown but she likes to make her presence known by popping up on the living now and again.The Viewing: The oldest inn in Michigan still operates today as a bed and breakfast. Although not promoting their ghosts, they offer weekend getaway packages as well as a historical home tour. For more information on spending the night click here. More on this spooky site...www.nationalhouseinn.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/mi/national_house_inn.cfmBack to TopMinnesotaSt. Paul - Forepaugh's Victorian Mansion The History: Joseph Forepaugh had the home built in 1870 for his family. It is rumored he had an affair with one of the servants, Molly, who hung herself after they broke it off. Joseph later also committed suicide, rumors stating that it was his loss of Molly driving him into depression.The Haunting: Molly is still seen floating about the mansion. She seems to reside on the 3rd floor but enjoys coming down and checking out wedding events on occasion. Although Joseph shot himself in a nearby park, he is said to wander the mansion as well.The Viewing: Today the home has been renovated and turned into a nice French restaurant. Weddings are also popular at the mansion. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.forepaughs.comwww.hauntedhouses.comwww.prairieghosts.com/forep.htmlBack to TopMississippiNatchez - Monmouth Plantation The History: Originally built in 1818, the mansion was purchased by General Quitman, a Mexican War hero, in 1826. The home was almost burned to the ground during the Civil War when the Union won this area of Mississippi. However, Quitman's daughters pleaded loyalty to the Union to save their home (their father was a staunch secessionist). The house stayed in the family until 1914. The home then went into disrepair until it was recently restored after 1978.The Haunting: The General himself stomps around the halls and makes many feel his presence as guests and staff cannot shake the thought that someone is staring at them. He also shows up as a specter to let all know he has an eye on things. Since the new owners have restored the home to its antebellum decor, there seems to be less stomping by the imposing General.The Viewing: Regardless of the haunts, this hotel offers luxury accommodation and a great escape. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.monmouthplantation.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ms/monmouth.cfmBack to TopMissouriSt. Louis - Lemp Mansion The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922 when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances and three other men of the family committing suicide inside. The Haunting: With three suicides one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion started. However, the families odd history also adds fuel to the imagination. There is the rumor that William Lemp had an illegitimate son with Down syndrome who was kept hidden in the mansion attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion and has the nickname "Monkey Face Boy." Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today. The Viewing: Spend the night! Or take a tour if you're too scared... The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant to those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. To find out more click here. More on this spooky site...www.lempmansion.comwww.legendsofamerica.com/MO-LempMansion.htmlBack to TopMontanaPray - Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa The History: In 1894 Percie and Bill Knowles inherited a home near the hot springs and opened their doors as a boarding house as there were not any accommodations in the area yet. They built a hotel in 1900. In 1912, Percie teamed with Dr. Townsend and turned the hotel into a hospital. It would remain a hospital until the 1940s when it would begin to change hands. In 1974, it was renovated and again opened as a B&B.The Haunting: There is a woman in white who likes to wander the halls and spook the security guards. She also likes room 349 where she makes sure the rocking chair is always facing the window. Many think it is Percie making certain everyone is minding their manners and running her hotel/hospital efficiently. The Viewing: Relax your spooked nerves in the day spa or natural hot springs. Or get some more adventure on a trail ride or a dog sled trek in the winter. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.chicohotsprings.comwww.chicohotsprings.com/publications/big_sky_ghosts.htmlwww.spiritsociety.org/report.php?HauntID=65Back to Top Ghost ImageNebraskaOmaha - White House Apartments The History: Part of the Little Italy neighborhood, this home was built at the turn of the 20th century. Before being converted to the apartments it still is today, this Victorian home was also altered into a hospital for a while.The Haunting: A woman in white supposedly still lives here and keeps the new residents company.The Viewing: These apartments are still listed as low income housing, a.k.a. private property so enjoy from a distance. More on this spooky site...www.hauntedhouses.com/states/ne/white_house_apartments.cfmBack to Top Ghost ImageNevadaCarson City - Abraham Curry House The History: Abraham Curry was the founder of Carson City and was involved with everything from the mint to acting as prison warden. It is convenient then that the sandstone for his home built around 1869 was quarried by the prisoners. Curry died shortly after the building was complete.The Haunting: Curry was not ready to leave the house so recently built before his death so he has stayed on. He has been seen as a full apparition and appears to be looking for someone before he disappears again.The Viewing: Sorry, not going to happen; this home is now a law office. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/nr/travel/nevada/abr.htmwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nv/abraham_curry_house.cfmBack to TopNew HampshireDurham - Three Chimneys Inn The History: The Three Chimneys Inn was built in 1649 as a residence for Valentine Hill. The home was used during the Revolutionary War to house munitions stolen from the British. The house stayed relatively privately owned and within about four different families. Extensive renovations were done recently in the 1990s.The Haunting: It is possible one of the ghosts is that of Hill's daughter, Hannah, who drowned nearby. Hannah seems to like to hang out in the dining areas and there is an unidentified gentleman spirit that hangs out there as well. The spirits here like to play with electrical equipment - many things just don't work in certain rooms. Furniture will be heard moving about in guestrooms where no one is staying. Also, there will be music heard from the dining rooms. The gentleman has been heard stomping around pacing and one of the spirits even shattered a water glass in the dining hall while dinner was being served.The Viewing: Although built in the 17th century, you won't have to rough it here. An elegant stay along the coast and you might get to meet Hannah as well. Click here for more information. More on this spooky site...www.threechimneysinn.comwww.associatedcontent.com/article/433780/

Ghost ImageNew JerseyCape May - The Southern Mansion Inn The History: This home was built for George Allen in 1863 and would stay in his family for 83 years. A fire in 1979 destroyed many of the southern style mansions in the area; The Southern Mansion would survive as one of the few reminders of this connection with the south. In the 1940s the home was sold and turned into a boarding house. It slowly fell into disrepair until 1994 when Bray and Wildes bought it and began restoration.The Haunting: The last of the Allen family, Ester Mercur, is believed to haunt the halls. She is a happy ghost who looks after the action in the kitchen but is also seen dancing and laughing in other areas of the home. She also wears heavy perfume. There seem to be other entities there as well but all generally polite with the living.The Viewing: Spend the night! This Bed and Breakfast offers luxurious accommodations and close access to the beach. The ghosts here are friendly bunch and might provide a little extra amusement for your dollar. For more information about staying click here. More on this spooky site...www.southernmansion.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nj/southern_mansion.cfmBack to Top Ghost ImageNew MexicoSanta Fe - La Posada Hotel The History: Abraham Staab built this home along the Santa Fe Trail in 1882. His wife, Julia, became a recluse in the home after she lost her seventh child. The Nason family bought the property in the 1930s and first turned it into a hotel which it has been ever since. The hotel has enjoyed popularity with the artistic community and is credited to providing a meeting ground for the leaders of the Santa Fe Arts Movement.The Haunting: Julia is still wandering the halls of the home. She can be a bit bipolar as a ghost; one minute she is running away from visitors down the hall, the next she is throwing the glasses from the bar shelves.The Viewing: La Posada is now a luxury resort offering everything from weekend getaways to romantic weddings. For information about spending the night click here. More on this spooky site...http://laposada.rockresorts.com/www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-laposadahotel.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nm/la_posada.cfmBack to TopNew YorkAmityville - Amityville The History: On November 14, 1974 at 3 AM Ronald DeFeo took a rifle and systematically shot his parents, two brothers and two sisters. This is the ghastly beginning of the hauntings in this Amityville home. The fame of this home spread after the ownership of Lutz family who purchased the home in 1975. They stayed only 28 days before the supernatural pushed them back out.The Haunting: At first the Lutz family noticed cold spots and muffled spots where sound did not carry well. This they could ignore as unusual but not necessarily unnatural. However, soon other events began to happen. Mr. Lutz would hear loud noises or footsteps downstairs but when he went downstairs, it was quiet and the dog would be sleeping as if nothing had happened. Mrs. Lutz began to feel the presence of an older woman and began to show increased aging as if she was becoming the old woman herself. They then discovered a small store room painted red that did not appear on the original house plans. The room had a strong odor that did not have an identifiable source and the dog was scared of the room. The mysterious events and depressing feelings of the house kept adding up until the family decided to break free. The story of the haunting has been made into movies, but Mr. Lutz considered these to be exaggerated. The Viewing: This home is privately owned. The curious are asked to respect the owner's privacy and not visit the home. It is NOT open for tours. More on this spooky site...www.amityvillehorror.comwww.ghostvillage.comwww.amityvillehorrortruth.comBack to Top Ghost ImageNorth CarolinaRaleigh - Andrew Johnson's House The History: Andrew Johnson was born in this small house in 1808. His parents kept the home as employees of the Casso's Inn; his mother was a weaver and his father a hostler and janitor. The Haunting: Instead of a person a candle is seen in the window and moves from the first to second floor with uncanny speed before being snuffed out for the night.The Viewing: Andrew Johnson's house is now part of a larger park, the Mordecai Historic Park. There are tours Tuesday thru Sunday or by arrangement for groups. For times and entrance fees, click here. More on this spooky site...http://raleighnc.gov/mordecaihttp://ncpedia.org/biography/johnson-andrewwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nc/andrew_johnson_home.cfmbooks.google.comBack to TopNorth DakotaAnamoose - Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast The History: First opened in 1928 and known as "White School," this bed and breakfast started history as a primary school. This model school set an example for the area. It used wind power and offered students hot meals and warm showers. The teachers and bus drivers stayed on site. There were two horse barns onsite to house the horses that pulled the school bus/wagons. At its peak, there were 100 students enrolled. The school closed in 1968 because of lack of enrollment.The Haunting: Legend has it that a superintendent and student died in a fire caused by a coal burning stove. The superintendent smoked cigars and the smell of cigar smoke still hangs in the air at times. Objects like to move by themselves around here and lights and even toilets work on their own.The Viewing: Sage Hill was recently converted to a bed and breakfast by the current owners in 1996. Even remodeled, it has the feel of the old schoolhouse. Want to spend the night? To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...http://sagehillnd.com/index.htmlhttp://hauntsofamerica.blogspot.com/2008/01/haunting-of-sage-hill-bed-and-breakfast.htmlBack to TopOhioCleveland - Franklin Castle The History: Hannes Tiedemann built this house in 1865. Unfortunately, they lost four children in a short amount of time leading to some speculation of unnatural deaths. The house architecture aids in the mystery of the house as there are secret passageways and hidden rooms throughout. There are also rumors of Tiedemann having affairs that lead to jealousy and, ultimately, to murder. One of the most tragic tales is that of Tiedemann hanging his niece to put her out of misery from her insanity or to punish her for her promiscuity.The Haunting: Past residents have heard a small child crying and heard footsteps out in the corridor. There is also claim that the tower room is haunted by the "woman in black" who can be heard choking. Lights also swing around and some objects have been moved or thrown.The Viewing: Today the mansion houses a private club restricted to members and their guests. It was rumored at one time they would eventually start tours to the building, however, nothing is posted on their website about this yet. More on this spooky site...www.franklincastleclub.comwww.prairieghosts.com/oh-frank.htmlBack to TopOklahomaGuthrie - The Stone Lion Inn The History: F.E. Houghton built this mansion in 1907. It served most of its years as a residence and later was turned into a funeral home. The only person to die in the home seems to be a young girl who died of whooping cough after receiving the wrong medicine.The Haunting: After turning this mansion into an inn, the new owners woke up at night to the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing. They called the police but no intruder was found. Soon after they realized they had their first "guest" who may be a small girl as she likes to take out the toys at night to play.The Viewing: Ready for some fun? From a murder mystery night or perhaps a chance to see a real ghost, click here for more information about how to stay. More on this spooky site...www.stonelioninn.comBack to TopOregonYachats - Heceta House The History: This house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast built in 1894. Many families occupied the house complex over time which included a post office, school and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of hauntings. Many believe this is the mother of child who fell off the cliffs back at the turn of the century. The Haunting: The ghost named Rue is said to be an extra caretaker of the house. She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game, she didn't want them playing cards in her house! The Viewing: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the ghost they have said guests have told them of strange encounters. To spend the night click here. More on this spooky site...www.hauntedhouses.comwww.hecetalighthouse.comBack to TopPennsylvaniaGettysburg - Farnsworth House Inn The History: A house was built here in 1810 and later changed to brick in 1833. During the Civil War, the Sweeney family lived in the home and the Confederates used the home as a shelter for their sharpshooters. The current owners purchased the home in 1972 and have worked on renovating the home keeping the early 19th century feel and history.The Haunting: Many ghosts haunt this home. Including Confederate soldiers who like to move furniture and stomp around the attic. Another soldier has been spotted carrying his wounded comrade to the cellar. He is heard singing to his dying friend as well. Mary, a midwife, likes to tend to anyone who is sick or distressed and may sit down on the bed next to anyone who seems to need the company. There is a small boy who died in a carriage accident out front and his grieving father who also haunt the halls.The Viewing: Whether a Civil War enthusiast who needs a place to stay or interested in meeting some of the wandering spirits, this inn will fit the bill. This inn has fun with history providing ghost stories in their tours and theater shows. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.farnsworthhouseinn.comwww.scaryplace.com/FarnsworthFacts.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/pa/farnsworth_house.cfmBack to TopRhode IslandNewport - Belcourt Castle The History: This 60 room castle was completed in 1894 as a summer cottage for Oliver Belmont. This "bachelor pad" had only one bedroom, no guestrooms and the entire first floor was dedicated to Oliver's carriage horses and their carriages. Eventually it was renovated for Oliver's new wife, Alva (formerly Mrs. Vanderbilt) who enjoyed staying at this home. Belcourt was purchased by the Tinney family in 1956 who began giving tours in 1957. The Haunting: Unlike other homes where the house holds the spirits, it is believed the ghosts at Belcourt Castle come from the numerous antiques in its' collection. The most famous is "the monk" who seems to be connected to a 17th century German woodcarving. This shadowy figure appears next to the carving and then disappears. The Gothic ballroom contains some of the most haunted artifacts including possessed chairs!The Viewing: Belcourt Castle offers a 90 minutes ghost tour for $18/person. There are also other general tours, candlelight tours and teas. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.belcourtcastle.orgwww.quahog.org/attractions/index.php?id=1031www.associatedcontent.comBack to TopNewport - Castle Hill Inn & Resort The History: The location for Castle Hill originally had a watch house as early as 1740 when it was used to watch the sea for ships during the war between Britain and Spain. The Americans used the same location during the Revolutionary War to bombard British ships as they passed. In 1874, Alexander Agassiz, an explorer and scientist settled here to better study the marine life. It was not only his home but a lab that housed research students as well.The Haunting: There is a girl spirit here who may have some connection to the original owner, Agassiz. She throws a bit of a tantrum now and then and has trashed some of the china on occasion.The Viewing: This inn offers a luxury escape on the coast. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.castlehillinn.comBack to TopSouth CarolinaCharleston - The Battery Carriage House Inn The History: This house was built in 1843 for Samuel Stevens, a prominent lender in the area who helped local cotton farms finance their farms. In 1870, after the Civil War had ended the local wealthy in Charleston, Col. Lathers (of the Union Army), bought the home and had it remodeled to the current New York fashion, Second Empire. However, Col. Lathers was told he wasn't welcome in Charleston and sold the home in 1874 to Andrew Simonds, the great-great grandfather of the current owner.The Haunting: There is a gentleman ghost who may be the son of a former owner who jumped off the roof to commit suicide. But he is a gentle ghost and just seems to enjoy the company. There is also a headless torso who makes many feel threatened by his creepy appearance and moaning. He might be the ghost a pirate as some were executed close to the hotel. However it is just as likely he is a soldier from the Civil War. Some guests report seeing energy orbs or have electronics turn on when they are really off. Overall it seems rooms 8 and 10 have the most activity.The Viewing: The owners of the hotel have not seen any of the ghosts themselves, but they don't mind if you want to try and catch a glimpse for yourself. Click here to find out more. More on this spooky site...www.batterycarriagehouse.comwww.batterycarriagehouse.com/ghosts.htmwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/sc/battery_carriage_house.cfmBack to Top Ghost ImageSouth DakotaDeadwood - Adams House The History: This home, built in 1892, came after Deadwood's colorful mining camp days. Harris and Anna Franklin had the home built and their family stayed in it until 1920 when it sold to W.E. and Alice Adams. This is the same W.E. Adams who started the first museum in Deadwood in 1930. His second wife, Mary, closed the door on Adams House after his death in 1934 and left everything intact; the house was a time capsule of everything from books on the shelves to cookies in the cookie jar. In 1987 the home was remodeled as became a bed and breakfast until it was sold to Deadwood’s Historic Preservation Commission in 1992.The Haunting: Of course this home didn't change much when closed up so W.E. Adams has continued to feel right at home in the afterlife. Rumors state that his widow heard his ghost walking around before she decided to leave. Cigar smoke can be smelled on the second floor and from time to time a tour will see objects move on their own.The Viewing: Now a museum, you can learn about Deadwood's history at the same time you peak for spooky apparitions. For more information on times and cost, click here. More on this spooky site...www.adamsmuseumandhouse.orgwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/sd/adams_house.cfmBack to TopTennesseeNashville - The Hermitage The History: Andrew Jackson purchased this farm and acreage in 1804 from his friend Nathaniel Hays. Using slave labor, he turned the 1000 acres into a grand plantation producing cotton, crops for local use and race horses. From 1829-1837, Andrew Jackson served as the 7th President of the United States. After serving office he returned to the Hermitage where he later died and was buried in 1845. President Jackson's son tried to keep the Hermitage together but in the end had to start selling portions of the now 1050 acre plantation. It was considered by the U.S. Congress whether to turn the Hermitage into an extension of West Point as a military academy. However, this was not adopted. By 1889 the Hermitage was in disrepair. The Tennessee Ladies Hermitage Association (LHA) formed and spearheaded the effort to save the landmark. They were able to get 25 acres which included the main mansion and other historic buildings. The other remaining 475 acres were given to the Tennessee Confederate Soldiers' Home and made into a hospital. When the hospital shut down in 1933, all 500 acres were returned to the LHA. The LHA continued to regain the land of the Hermitage and bring it under their care and restoration. Today, 1120 acres are run under the Hermitage as both a Historic landmark and Wildlife area.The Haunting: It is said that as the plantation fell into disrepair, the spirits became angry and restless. Caretakers refused to spend the night there. The ladies of the LHA would soon find out why when they decided to rotate staying there until a watchman could be hired. Loud noises kept them awake at night. One being of Andrew Jackson himself riding his horse on the stairway. The kitchen was also a ruckus with pots and pans pounding. In the morning they could see that nothing was disturbed. Other apparitions that have been seen are of slaves who are still bound in chains to the property.The Viewing: Today you can visit this museum which includes access to the Andrew Jackson Visitor Center, Hermitage Mansion, and Hermitage Grounds and Gardens. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.thehermitage.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/tn/hermitage.cfmwww.prairieghosts.com/hermitage.htmlBack to TopTexasAustin - Driskill Hotel The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995. The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke while he turns lights on and off. There is the ghost of a small girl, the daughter of a senator, who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball - she can still be heard bouncing the ball today. The Viewing: The hotel today offers all kinds of pampering. To find out more about staying, click here. More on this spooky site...www.driskillhotel.comwww.austinghosttours.comwww.hauntedtexas.comBack to TopUtahSalt Lake City - McCune Mansion The History: This mansion was built in 1900 by a railroad tycoon named Alfred W. McCune. After leaving for California in 1920, the McCune's donated the mansion to the Latter-Day Saint Church. It was then turned into the McCune School of Music. It later became a Brigham Young University Salk Lake City Center and Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School. In 1999 it was purchased by Phil McCarthy who worked to restore the mansion and open it as a hotel.The Haunting: Music is said to still haunt the McCune halls. A small room under the stairs was used by the McCune's as a stage for hired musicians. The whole house would be filled with music but their guests did not know from where it came. It is said this music still fills the air from here. Other happenings include doors locking that are not fit with locks, doors opening on their own and lights going on and off on their own.The Viewing: You can schedule a tour of the mansion through the Utah Heritage Foundation. To find out more about spending the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.mccunemansion.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ut/mccune_mansion.cfmwww.prairieghosts.com/mccune.htmlBack to TopVermontStowe - The Green Mountain Inn The History: This home was built in 1833 by Peter Lovejoy. The home changed hands and became a hotel in the later 19th century. Mark Lovejoy purchased the hotel in 1893 and renamed it The Green Mountain Inn. The inn stayed in service while having many different owners. In the 1980s massive renovations were done including the addition of clubhouses and townhouses with luxury suites.The Haunting: A tap dancer named Boots Berry haunts the third floor of this inn. Born in 1840, Boots was actually born in the servants quarters - now hotel room 302. He gained local notoriety after he stopped spooked horses from running away with the stagecoach. Boots was treated to one too many drinks and became a bit of an alcoholic and lost his job at the inn. Boots left the area and, as legend has it, was arrested in New Orleans where he learned to tap dance from his cellmate. After a life of a traveling vagrant he returned penniless. During a winter snow storm a girl was stranded on the roof of the inn. Since Boots was familiar with the area (right above the same servants quarters) he found a way to her and helped her to safety. He however slipped and fell to his death. Now it is said during winter storms you can hear Boots tap dancing on the third floor.The Viewing: There is lot to do in the area and at the inn itself. Ice cream, chocolate and wine tasting - yes please! Click here to find out more. More on this spooky site...www.greenmountaininn.comwww.greenmountaininn.com/bootsberry.htmlwww.associatedcontent.com/article/408542

Ghost ImageVirginiaYorktown - Moore House The History: The land was first inhabited by colonists in the 1630s but the home was likely built in the 1730s when it, along with 500 acres, was called Temple Farm. Augustine Moor purchased the property in 1760. During the siege of Yorktown in 1781 he and his family fled the area. In their absence, their home was used to negotiate the surrender of British troops with General George Washington. After the Revolutionary War the house changed hands frequently. During the Civil War it was damaged. In 1881 the house was refurbished to celebrate the centennial of the British surrender at Yorktown. In 1931 another round of restoration by the National Park Service (one of the first of its kind), restored the house to its former condition.The Haunting: It seems that Augustine Moore Jr. still sleeps in the beds and can be also felt following group tours around the house. There may also be other entities as other areas of the house also show ruffled sheets or depressed cushions from unseen loungers. Perhaps these ghosts are just a bit tired.The Viewing: The Moore House is now part of the Yorktown Battlefield National Park. You can tour the park for a nominal fee, for more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/york/historyculture/moore-house.htmwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/va/moore_house.cfmBack to TopWashingtonLakewood - Thornwood Castle The History: Thornewood Castle was built for Chester Thorne, a successful founder of the Port of Tacoma. This Tudor/Gothic estate was completed in 1911. Inspired by the estates in Britain, the stained glass windows were even imported from a castle in Europe. The castle has many different imports that add to the structure and contents of the building. One of the more interesting aspects is the "wishbone sticks" left by the Native American workers who helped in the construction. These sticks help to ward off evil and are found at the foundation in the basement.The Haunting: There are multiple photographs taken of orbs throughout the castle and reports of objects moving on their own. Tape recorders have picked up voices, one of an unknown child. One child did drown in the lake and is said to haunt its shore, perhaps they visit the house as well? Overall, the spirits at Thornwood seem to be a good natured sort. There is not a violent history attached to this home. Although the wife of Mr. Thorne is said to haunt the halls, this is more because she likes the place rather than she is out to get anyone. In fact, some believe Thornwood Castle acts as a vortex and can attract ghosts from the other side. Some guests have reported making contact with loved ones from their lives who have no connection with the castle.The Viewing: You may stay in the castle as it is now a B&B. There are Candle Light Tours: for $100 and the cost of a room you can spend the night exploring the haunted halls with a small group of ghost hunters. To spend the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.thornewoodcastle.comwww.legendsofamerica.com/WA-ThornewoodCastle.htmlwww.prairieghosts.com/rosered.htmlBack to TopWashington, D.C.The White House The History: The White House became the home to our presidents in 1800 with President John Adams being the first resident. There have been many presidents and first ladies in the home and some have decided not to leave... The Haunting: President Abraham Lincoln is the most popular ghost with the most sightings. The first to see him was First Lady, Grace Coolidge. He has also been spotted by guards and guests. Other presidents that like to make an appearance are President Benjamin Harrison, President Andrew Johnson, President John Tyler and President Andrew Jackson. First Ladies that have made appearances include Abigail Adams and Dorothea Madison. There is also the apparition of a black cat which has been said to be seen before national tragedies such as the stock market crash of 1929 and before the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The Viewing: Of course you can still visit the White House today. For information about tours or for a virtual tour, click here. More on this spooky site...www.whitehouse.govhttp://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa022100a.htm http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/ghosts/

Ghost ImageWest VirginiaHarpers Ferry The History: Known mostly for its connection with John Brown and his failed slave rebellion, this town offers a unique look at 19th century history. In 1799 a US Arsenal and Armory factory was built here and industry grew in the area. In 1859 John Brown tried to seize the arsenal to arm slaves and begin a revolution for their freedom. His raid failed and he was found guilty of treason. During the Civil War (between 1861-1865) the town suffered from its strategic location and changed hand between the North and South eight times. In 1867 Storer College was started here with the mission to educate freed slaves but was also open to any student of both genders. However, segregation later etched away at the school's initial universal intent. The Haunting: Despite the fact that many park volunteers dress in period garb, park employees, volunteers and guests have also seen 19th century dressed apparitions around the town. Considering his violent end, John Brown has been seen around town and in the Kennedy Farmhouse (his old headquarters) and appears rather friendly and smiles at visitors on the street. However, there are some sad spirits in this war scarred town. A unknown man in the National Park Service Guest House glares at visitors and even pushed one. A young drummer boy who was tossed out of a window still can be heard crying for his mother and the crash of a chimney that killed a small baby during bombardment can still be felt to shake another house.The Viewing: Run by the National Park Service today, Harpers Ferry is a unique combination of Civil War time capsule, living history museum and general tourist destination. For information on visiting, click here. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/hafe/www.harpersferryghost.20m.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/wv/harpers_ferry.cfmwww.prairieghosts.com/ferry.htmlBack to TopWisconsinMilwaukee - Brumder Mansion The History: George Brumder had the home built in 1910 for his son, George Jr. After they sold the home, the house was everything from a boarding house to an activity center for a Lutheran church. They used the home for office space, a theater, and later opened a coffee house with a live music venue. The current owners purchased the home in 1997 and opened the renovated space as a B&B in 1998. The Haunting: The Gold Room was once the room of one of the Brumder daughters who never married after suffering a broken heart early in life. She is said to still stay in the room, in fact she was quite appalled and upset when the current owner spent the night in this room with her dogs - no dogs allowed! Your dreams will be haunted if any dogs sleep on the bed!The Viewing: It's a Bed & Breakfast, so take the plunge and spend the night - request the Gold Suite! You can even join a ghost hunting seminar or enjoy a haunted history dinner! For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...http://milwaukeebedbreakfast.com/www.milwaukeeghosts.comwww.hauntedhouses.comBack to Top Ghost ImageWyomingLaramie - Wyoming Territorial Prison The History: Built in 1872, this prison was one of the few in this broad territory but it did not house the most notorious killers as these were sent to Cheyenne. The most famous resident was Butch Cassidy. It only housed about 1000 prisoners as after 1890 a new prison was founded in Rawlins and the University of Wyoming took over the Territorial Prison for stock yard training and experiments. No prisoners were executed here or even died here as they were sent home to die to save the state the trouble of burying them. One inmate did die of a heart attack, Julius Greenwich and it is said his ghost now haunts the place.The Haunting: Julius was convicted of 2nd degree murder because he murdered his wife in a rage after he found her working in a brothel he frequented. He was a cigar salesman and even set up a cigar factory in the prison so yes, you guessed it, cigar smoke often fills the air mysteriously. He has also been spotted standing in the doorway that used to be his cell.The Viewing: This site was restored in 1989 and includes exhibits about Laramie and frontier living as well as the history of the prison. For more information about visiting, click here. More on this spooky site...http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/Site/SiteInfo.asp?siteID=25www.wyomingterritorialprison.comwww.wyomingheritage.org/territorialPrison.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/wy/wyoming-territorial-prison.cfmBack to Top Still can't get enough? No problem! Here are some websites that list even more haunted hotels, inns, castles, historical sites, cemeteries, tours, and other ghostly fun. Just a quick note: many haunted houses seem to get their start from murder or untimely death. Although we have not gone into graphic details here, please note that some of these sites do go into much more (sometimes gruesome) detail!American Hauntingshttp://www.prairieghosts.com/This site is a bit busy, but if you look through it there are some great excerpts from their books and fun ghost tours they run.Haunted Accommodations.comhttp://www.hauntedaccommodations.com/A ghostly list of haunted hotels, tours, and city sites in the U.S. and abroad.Haunted Houses.comhttp://hauntedhouses.com/A great selection about haunted homes, places, movies, ghost towns and more! The site is very well done with good pictures and fun stories.Haunted World.comhttp://www.hauntworld.com/ This site lists and reviews haunted houses but also has other tales and ghost hangouts listed by state. A little bit of everything, it is a fun site.Real Hauntshttp://www.realhaunts.com/Another fun collection of haunted and spooky places to stay or see on your vacation. Attractions listed by state.The Shadowlands: Ghosts & Hauntingshttp://theshadowlands.net/ghost/This site lists all the stories that exist about spooky places in your neighborhood. Entries are short and to the point.Still want more? How about a Haunted Vacation? Check out our list of Haunted Hotels, Inns and Castles!Looking for a little adventure, but it's too wet outside to play? Why not snuggle indoors and thrill your imagination with a haunted vacation? Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend getaways. Perhaps a friendly ghost will fold your clothes and lay them out on the bed; a mischievous one might turn on the lights and radio at 2:00AM; or perhaps one with a chip on his shoulder might give you a little "bump in the night" to remind you he is there. You might find it a good laugh or a little fun to shake up the fall and winter humdrums. Click on the banner below to read our previous article that lists scary places to stay for a haunted vacation. We tried to collect from across the U.S. and added in a few international destinations just in case you prefer a ghost with an accent! Enjoy and have some fun!

Charity 101

How to choose the best & avoid scams.

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Giving to others in need seems to be a natural impulse the world over. Many of us enjoy giving to causes, programs or research that we agree with and believe in; however, sometimes we are caught unaware and are asked to give by volunteers. We may love the idea of the cause but know little about the organization. Or we may like the idea, but prefer it were handled differently. So where do you go to find the best fitting charity and how do you determine if they are legitimate? Below we have compiled some things to consider when choosing a charity, such as when to give, how to avoid scams, and other ways to give to the community rather than a cash donation.

Before you Give

What Touches You? - It may sound simple (and it is) but one of the best gauges for which charity to choose should be what you are passionate about. What causes mean the most to you? What charities benefit research, education or programs you believe in? This should be your first consideration when choosing a charity. It will help narrow your choices and there is nothing better than having pride about the organization you choose. Who knows, that initial donation could lead to volunteering and becoming actively involved in something you really care about.

Take Control - Be proactive about the charities you choose to support. Don't wait for someone to come knocking at your door or spend money on reminders in the mail. Instead, take the first step by actively searching for charities that give to the causes you believe in. To begin your search, check out some of these sites: Charity Navigator | Guide Star | IRS Search

Money 101 - Find out where your donation goes and how it is spent. Most organizations offer easy charts and/or percentages detailing how much money goes to the cause, administration, events, publications, etc. Although you may like the ideas behind an organization, you may not agree with how they choose to spend the money. The only way to know is to check them out and if you can't find the information, practice our next point and ask questions!

Ask Questions - Don't be afraid to ask questions! Perhaps how they spend money on fundraising events is worded ambiguously to you. Or you are not certain if the funds will stay local or move nationally. Any questions you have are okay to ask. Sometimes people don't want to ask as they think they are pestering the volunteers and wasting their time - that is not the case! By thoroughly answering your questions, volunteers know they are ensuring your continued loyalty, confidence and support for their organization. If they don't want to answer, then consider someone else - there are plenty of charities to choose from.

Reputation - Find out about the charity's reputation. Have there been complaints about your charity? Are there accolades for your charity? Take some time to see what others are saying about the charity of your choice. Better Business Bureau | Charity Navigator

The Quick List - If you don't want to spend the time researching the charities out there, take a look at some of these lists to see how they are already ranked by organizations. American Institute of Philanthropy | Charity Navigator

When You Give

Dust Off the Checkbook - It is best to donate by check rather than cash or credit card. This way you can specify the money only goes to the organization. Always write the check - don't give any information directly to your bank account. Credit card is okay online if you really know the source is reliable. But be very cautious!

Guard Your Information - As with your bank account information, keep most of your information private. As you will read in the 'Signs of a Scam' section below, caution is unfortunately the best practice when donating money.

Ask if Your Gift is Tax Deductable - Not all charities actually count as a tax deductable donation. Although we realize this is not usually the impetuous behind giving to a charity, it is something to keep in mind if you do plan to claim it on your taxes - especially if it is a sizable donation. The charities won't be offended, just ask.

Get a Receipt - Even if your donation is not tax deductable, get a receipt. This will help you track your records and if you are ever unfortunately caught in a scam, it might help in developing a case against the criminal.

Think Ahead - Consider giving to the charities of your choice once a year or up to a certain amount every year. This will make it easier to choose a charity that you know rather than off the cuff impulse. Also, it will make it that much easier to say no to those who solicit your donations if you know you have already given as much as you want/can for the year.

Signs of a Scam

Appearance is Not Enough - Charity scams can be everything from a person with a jar asking for a particular cause to elaborate schemes that include personnel, office space, logos and image branding - all the signals of a legitimate operation. Thus, we say it again, it is important to do your homework before you give.

Know the Name - Many charity scams are set up using names very similar to bigger and better moderated charities. Be careful and take the time to double check that the organization you are donating to is the one you are really thinking of.

The Copycat - Unfortunately, even knowing the correct name of the charity may not be enough. Some scammers (especially in person) will claim to be from an organization they are not. The best option is to check with the charity to see if they are running a drive in your area before you donate.

Opportunity Knocks - The primary means for charity scams to get your money is by approaching you in person (i.e. at the grocery stores or going door to door), spam emails, and even telemarketing. To be safe, take the information about the charity down but wait to give until you have had a chance to check them out. If they turn on the high pressure "sale" when you mention researching them more, simply walk away. Instead, a legitimate charity will be happy to give you the information about their organization and where to find out more. As for emails, donating to unsolicited emails is never a good idea. Email is only a good option if it is from an organization with which you already have a relationship (usually a reminder to come donate again) or someone you personally know (i.e. participant fundraising for a benefit walk/run/etc.).

Too Much Pressure - Yes we just wrote it above, but it is worth mentioning again - high pressure "sales" from charities is a huge no-no. If they turn up the sob story, guilt trip, or state the need is now or never - be wary and just walk away. Most legitimate charities avoid high pressure tactics and have guidelines for volunteers against such tactics as they are just as glad to have raised the awareness if not always the cash.

Registration Please - It is good practice to ask a charity if it is registered and has a registration number. You can then use this number to look it up with the Better Business Bureau.

Misery Loves Company - Be very careful when giving after a large natural disaster or another event which rocks the community. At these times it is usually best to give through charities that have a standing reputation for helping. But again, make sure to check the name is not a quasi copycat. Be careful how you give the money - even when memorial charities are set up for a local family, you can donate through a bank with an established trust. Try not to let the headlines in the news sway you to give to the wrong person!

Allocation of Funds - Although this is not necessarily a scam item, some donators feel scammed when they find out so little of their money actually goes to the cause of their choice. To avoid this, research the charity to see how they allocate their funds. As we stated above, every charity is different in how it will choose allocate the funds raised. Some charities have high administrative costs and use fundraising to pay staff salaries. Others spend a great deal on advertising campaigns. Although neither is illegal, you may want to see if you agree with the amounts spent. You can find details on the individual charity websites or directories, such as Charity Navigator and Guide Star.

And the Winner Is - Another scam to look out for is the offer of a entry for a prize with your donation. This can usually be related to a scam, but also some legitimate organizations use this tactic. In this instance you may want to consider how much of your donation is going to fundraising gimmicks rather than to the cause at hand.

Other Ways to Give

Your Time is Worth Money - Don't have a lot of cash to give? A little of your time can help just as much or even more for some charities. Many organizations need voluntary workers to make their goals a reality. Most Americans consider donating around November and December when the image of helping out the local soup kitchen is etched in our minds. However, many organizations need help the rest of the year. Contact the charity you are passionate about and ask when you can be the most helpful. Have time but don't know where to participate? Try some sites like these to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Many of these sites let you search by interest - if volunteers get to share the love of one of their hobbies they are more likely to enjoy the experience and spend more time helping. www.idealist.org | www.volunteermatch.org | www.1-800-volunteer.org | www.getinvolved.gov

Take a Volunteer Vacation - Some college students have made headlines by taking volunteer vacations during spring break instead of heading to a party hot spot. But these vacations are not just for college students! Many seasoned travelers find these vacations a great way to learn more intimately about other cultures and give a little back in the process. Whether your passion is people, the environment, culture, language, or all the above, this might be the next vacation for you. www.globalvolunteers.org | www.volunteerabroad.com | www.globeaware.org | www.earthwatch.org

Play on the Web - Some online stores and searches will donate to charities if you use their interface. So why not take them up on the free offer? Do Great Good | The Hunger, Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest & Animal Rescue Sites | www.searchkindly.org

Consider Giving a Loan - A different way of 'giving' may be to actually lend capitol to the working poor. A new idea in micro financing gives funds to poor families who need a small loan to make their business ideas work. Loans can be as low as $25 and are actually paid back (unlike email schemes). The forerunner in this area is Kiva.org who started in 2005 primarily connecting lenders with 3rd world entrepreneurs. To find out more, visit their website www.kiva.org. This year, Kiva partnered with ACCION USA and the Opportunity Fund to offer micro loans here in the United States as well. For more on this option, please visit www.accionusa.org or www.opportunityfund.org.

Paint-On Insulation: Is It Truly Green?

Winter is here, and if that utility bill is high, you are probably already troubleshooting problem areas of your home.

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Winter is here, and if that utility bill is high, you are probably already troubleshooting problem areas of your home. One of largest contributors to drafty rooms is a lack of insulation. Insulation is designed to stop air passage through ceilings, walls, and the floor. The intention is to keep the right air where you want it in each season. Obviously, the windows and heating source are also important to maintaining an overall energy efficient program, but having the right insulation is a key factor.

In existing homes, it can be difficult to go back and insulate after the fact. If attic space allows, you can blow-in insulation. Under-floors and in-between walls can be difficult as well. Even with your best efforts, there is bound to be some location that is hard to reach. What if you had a product that you could apply from the exterior?

Sound a bit like science-fiction? SFGate highlighted the ingenious concept of Nansulate this past November. It is a paint-on insulation that suspends specially engineered particles with low-conductivity in an acrylic base. The particles are water-resistant, making the paint a weapon against mold and mildew. Unlike traditional fiberglass insulations, this new product is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

So how green is this product? The company promotes it as a major breakthrough in green endeavors. Not only does it contribute to creating more energy efficient homes, but they also make this statement regarding the safety of the ingredients: "Nansulate® coatings contain none of the ingredients contained on the EPA listing as Class I or Class II Ozone Depleting Substances, nor do they contain any ingredients on the listing for Global Warming Potential (GWP) that are non-ozone-depleting." The company is anxious to become accepted into the green marketplace. "We are pleased to see that our Nansulate coatings are becoming a brand name in the sector of Green Nanotechnology," stated Francesca Crolley, VP Operations & Marketing. (Nano Science and Technology Institute)

Sounds like a pretty good idea, but is it affordable to the average homeowner? Surprisingly, it is actually quite affordable. At $66 for 150 sqft of coverage, it is an inexpensive alternative to other forms of insulation. Especially if you take into account the ability to avoid opening up walls or crawling under houses. The paint can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or roller. It is applied to walls, windows, pipes, and water heaters, and can even be applied over existing paint.

Because this is a fairly new product and its composition is so different from traditional insulation materials, it is hard to do a straight-across-the-board comparison between the two. So far, however, those who have already used it report a 20-40% savings on their utility bills.

A relatively new product, the company is working hard to bring awareness to its presence. I, like many, was initially skeptical. It sounds a bit too easy to be effective. They offer several case studies to promote its efficiency, but each of us will probably have to try it firsthand before we are believers. It definitely sounds like it is worth trying-out. Fairly easy to install, why not see how it can help your energy efficiency this season? Request free estimates from a skilled painting contractor in your area to see what this product can bring to your home. More information at: CalFinder Remodeling

Home Appraisal

What to Expect & How to Prepare

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The Appraisal Foundation - USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) defines an appraisal as "The act or process of developing an opinion of value." This valuation is a determination of your property's market value - what it will likely sell for on the open market. So how is this "valuation" determined? Why does the idea of getting an "opinion of value" create so much apprehension about the process? What can you do to make your home appraise better, if anything?

What do you do if your home doesn't appraise well?
elow are commonly asked questions that hopefully will give some clarity about home appraisals. What is a home appraisal? A home appraisal is a survey of a home by a professional for their opinion of the property market value. In most cases an appraisal is done for a bank when a home is being approved for a loan for the home buyer. The home appraisal is a detailed report that looks at such items as the condition of the home, the neighborhood, what similar homes are selling for, and how quickly similar homes sell (to name a few). The appraisal may be a sales comparison or a cost/replacement opinion of value. There is also an income appraisal, but this is done primarily with commercial properties. The sales comparison will look at other properties in your neighborhood and what they are selling for and then figure how they compare to your home. With a cost/replacement opinion of value the appraiser is looking at what it would cost to replace the home if destroyed; this is more commonly used for new homes.
Important Note: An appraisal is not a home inspection! Appraisers only look for major concerns, they do not examine the home's full condition (i.e. examine the roof, appliances, etc.). For this reason a home inspection should still be requested by the home buyer before purchasing the home.

Who is an appraiser?
Appraisers are licensed by individual states and are held to strict ethical standards. Appraisers are the third party whose purpose is to give their opinion of the market value of a home. Ideally the appraiser should not be connected with anyone involved with the home transaction.

Who picks the appraiser?
When an offer is made on the house the appraiser will normally be determined by the lender. The lender may have their own appraiser or contract with an independent party. Sometimes the bank will allow the seller to choose an appraiser, but only when that appraiser is already well known to them.

Can the seller get their own appraisal done?
Yes. The home seller may commission their own appraisal before selling the property to determine cost. However, this will cost anywhere from $300-500 and the bank most likely will not accept this appraisal but request another to be done by their own contact.

If not by appraisal, how do I set the price for my home?
Home sellers can set the price of their home with the help of a REALTOR(r) using a comparative market analysis (CMA); the CMA is not a substitute for an appraisal but will give a good idea on setting an asking price (usually 5-10% more than the market price for your area).

How can you prepare your home for appraisal?
Prepare for your home appraisal like you would for a home sale. You are in essence re-selling your home. Make sure all the maintenance you can do is done; this includes clearing and trimming the yard to painting the house - hopefully most of this was already done for the sale and should at most need only a minor touch up. Be polite to the appraiser and give them full access to your home; work with them not against. Inform the appraiser of your home improvements. Let them know about the new windows, new floors, the finished basement, etc. And finally, don't be caught off guard. Do your homework! Know what similar homes are selling for in your neighborhood. This is something that should be done before setting your selling price. But in case your home has been on the market for a month or two, keep your research current. Let the appraiser know about similar homes and what they have sold for, especially if you know why a particular home that is like yours sold for less, let them know why your house is different.

What if the appraisal is low?
An appraisal that comes in lower then the asking price can jeopardize the loan and ultimately the sale. The lender will generally only loan up to 80% of the appraisers opinion of the home's value. The most common result is that the seller can lower their asking price. Or the seller and buyer can negotiate and meet at a price in-between. If the buyer still wants the home badly enough, they may put more money down; but this may still not guarantee their loan as the lender will still view it as negative equity. The final option is to dispute the appraisal. Before disputing with an appraisal, do your homework. Look at the homes in your community that have sold in the last 6 months and see what the differences are that may make your home more valuable. Perhaps there is a sale that the appraiser missed, perhaps other homes do not have the renovations and improvements you have done, perhaps the appraiser is not familiar with your type of home or neighborhood, etc. Building this case may be a good idea even before the appraisal. This will prevent you from getting rushed by the timeline after the appraisal is done. This is something you can ask for your REALTOR(r) to help with as they usually have a vast knowledge of your market area. Once you have the case, present it to the lender. They will likely get a new appraiser or request the same appraiser to reconsider it. If you do not want the same appraiser, make sure to specify this and ask for a second opinion.

What other aspects of the appraisal can hurt the loan?
By in far, the appraisers opinion of the home's value being lower than the asking price is the most detrimental. However, other factors may cause the lender to refuse the loan or require further contract negotiations. These concerns would result from property conditions that may require the home buyer to do more investing in the property to keep it valuable, such as upkeep on a private road. Your REALTOR(r) can help you with these types of objections and altering the contract to meet the lenders concerns.

The above is an introduction to answer some basic questions about the appraisal process. Please look at the links to the left for more detailed information. Now, if you are interested in what your home may be worth, check out Zillow for fun! This online program uses Google Maps to show what homes in your neighborhood are selling for or may be worth. Of course, I would suggest caution as the opinion of value given for most homes is rather high: http://zillow.com/ Happy appraising!

Galvanized Pipes in Older Homes

My husband and I are buying an 80 year old home in Columbia, South Carolina, but we are not sure about the galvanized water pipes under the house, What is the life expectancy of these pipes?

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Galvanized pipes have a general life expectancy of 50 years, but this can be shortened considerably by the amount of minerals in the water supply. Columbia has naturally soft water, and galvanized pipes here tend to last longer. Other areas of the country such as Southern California have rather hard water, and as a consequence, galvanized pipes won’t last as long there. Two things happen to galvanized pipes as they age.

First, minerals tend to slowly build up on the inner walls of the pipe decreasing the inside diameter. In extreme cases, this can slow the water flow to a trickle.

The other common problem with galvanized pipes is corrosion at the joints. In the process of cutting the threads for the pipe fittings, the protective galvanizing is cut away exposing bare metal. Over time, these threaded joints will corrode and eventually break. In the case of your 80 year old house, if the pipes are original I would definitely consider replacing them. If you are not sure how old they are, I recommend that a qualified home inspector examine them and look for signs of corrosion at the fittings, and check for low water flow at all of the faucets.

Don't break the bank!

Recession survival tips for the household budget

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Now is the time of New Year's resolutions and an artificial restart for many of us.  This is a time taken to reflect on what goals we may want to achieve in the year ahead.  In many cases, financial security will be a primary objective for individual households as the recession continues through 2010.  Many people are grateful for the beginning of a gradual stabilization and cautiously hopeful for the recovery of the economy.  Although the majority of us do not have direct influence on the big companies and banks, we do control how we run our individual households, and many of us will be tightening our spending budgets and looking for ways to save.  Below we have provided some online resources for everything from keeping a balanced budget to finding ways to shop a bit smarter.

Know your budget: Before you can adjust your household budget to save, pay off debt or get ahead in your payments, you have to have a realistic look at what you owe and what you earn.

  • Bankrate: This site offers numerous online calculators from home budgets to which saving options will give the best returns. You can also begin to look at whether a home equity line of credit would be a good way to get rid of your debts or if now would be a good time to refinance under a lower mortgage rate. http://www.bankrate.com/brm/rate/calc_home.asp
  • BBB Develop a Working Budget: A printable worksheet that comes with other details to consider when calculating and understanding your budget. http://www.bbb.org/alerts/article.asp?id=709
  • Kiplinger.com Budget: An online budget form that will help you get started figuring out where you stand for the current month. http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/budget/
  • Microsoft Budget Templates: If you already use Microsoft Office, consider downloading one of their free budget templates. One of these Excel worksheets can help you keep track of your monthly expenses and be altered to fit your specific needs. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT101172321033.aspx

Revisit your grocery list: Reconsider how you buy groceries and what you buy.

  • Always shop with a list - Some suggest a list for any shopping trip you take. Always have a clear idea of what you need. This will help you find the best deals and not get distracted by impulse buys.
  • Buy generic brands - When you compare ingredient labels you may be surprised how similar or exact the name brands are with the generic. Try a couple taste tests, not everything generic will be ideal for your pallet, but some may surprise you, and savings could sweeten their flavor all the more!
  • Buy in bulk - Many stores now offer you the option to save by buying in bulk. Never use enough of it in time? Consider teaming up with family or neighbors and splitting your purchases. Maybe you don't need 10lbs of chicken, but 5lbs at $2 less per pound is savings to the bank.
  • Pack more snacks - When shopping, look for items you can easily put in the car, at the office or anywhere you might get the munchies. This way you can curb you hunger before you decide to hit the fast food on the way home.
  • Home Ec 101: Bake and Cook - Take on the personal challenge to become a better chef. Don't have the time? The internet is full of quick and easy casseroles, muffins, and other recipes that can help you get through your day. You will save money in the 15 minutes it takes to make these meals and you may find them more satisfying than microwave dinners.
  • Home brewed coffee - If you are addicted to your caffeine, then it is time to invest in a coffee pot with a clock and timer. You can still grab the coffee on the way out the door without being slowed down. Need it at work? Consider a French press where you can brew coffee conveniently at your desk without any machines, filters or mess.
  • Find your green thumb - If you have the property consider making a garden with your favorite greens. Fresh tasting rewards combined with natural stress relief. Don't have the property? Consider a container garden (or even an indoor container like the Aero Garden) for some of your basics. Maybe get to know you neighbors and join in a community plot.

Coupons, discounts and closeouts: Many sites online now offer ways to compare the best deals by product or store. Whether looking for new electronics or ready to head to the grocery store, check out these sites before you buy. Also take time to review the forums with customer input and reviews. A bit rough around the edges, the customer reviews on these sites are often short and to the point.

  • The Bargainist: This site lists both sales and coupons. Easy to use search - just type in the product you are looking for and it will check for any deals currently available. http://www.bargainist.com/
  • Cool Savings.com: A membership is required. If you don't mind printing your own coupons, this site is ideal for the busy shopper who knows what they want but does not want to sift through mailers, the newspaper and magazines to find a good deal. http://www.coolsavings.com/
  • Coupon Mom: A list of coupons, free offers and much more. A great way to search out grocery coupons. There is a membership but as with similar sites, this is free. http://www.couponmom.com/
  • Deal Catcher: Coupons, sales and rebates galore. Review sales by stores as well as by item rather than brand. http://www.dealcatcher.com/
  • Fat Wallet: The savings here can be found in the online forums. Savvy consumers share information and special deals. There is also the plethora of coupons and discounts listed by store or category. http://www.fatwallet.com/
  • RetailMeNot: A twist to the coupon frenzy, this site offers the coupons for online retailers. Many online retailers or stores with online shopping offer discounts or special deals with certain coupon codes or key words. RetailMeNot searches for these codes for you so you can use them on your next purchase. http://www.retailmenot.com/
  • SlickDeals.net: Mostly user driven, this site helps to create a community where bargain hunters can congregate and share what they have found. The latest deals page can be fun to review but you can also search for products by name. http://slickdeals.net/  

Be an educated consumer: Be more particular about the products you buy. Taking time to read reviews and learn the pros and cons others have experienced before you buy will help you choose better products that will last longer.

  • Buzzillions.com: After compiling reviews from customers that are sent to major retailers in response to the products they sell, Buzzillions then puts all those reviews together into an easy to read snapshot with an overall rating. You can then read the individual reviews from other consumers like you. http://www.buzzillions.com/
  • Epinions: This site is user driven with opinions on everything from products to entertainment. Perhaps you want to know more about a book, video game, movie or iPod? Most likely someone has given their two cents about it here. http://www0.epinions.com/
  • PriceGrabber.com: This site helps the consumer compare prices between online retailers. Many popular products also come with reviews and ratings. The price comparison also includes some of the used markets such as Amazon Marketplace. http://www.pricegrabber.com/

Rack up rewards: There are many programs out there to reward shoppers. Take the time research them and find one that works for your shopping style. If you shop online there are shopping portals that offer rewards. If you shop a little bit everywhere, consider a credit card with flexible reward points. If you shop at one store the most, get a rewards card with them. *A thing to remember with reward credit cards is that they usually come with a higher APR. It is better if you can charge and then pay immediately and not rollover this debt. That way you can get the rewards without the extra interest.

  • CreditCards.com: If you use credit wisely, then you might consider a credit card rewards program. This site offers an easy glance through some of the programs available. Also consider looking at individual card company sites. http://www.creditcards.com/reward.php
  • Ebates: An online shopping portal that received favorable reviews from some bigwigs like Good Housekeeping and CNN. Not only do you get a discount when shopping, but you can get bonuses as well. http://www.ebates.com/

Buy and barter used: Flea markets and garage sales can be great if you have the time and the weather to get one going. Maybe you don't have either? Then how about trying the same bartering and selling online? Besides the already popular eBay, you may be surprised at how many sites there are that will allow you to exchange, sell and buy cheap!

  • BarterBee.com: A site specifically geared towards recycling CDs, DVDs and computer or consol games between households. Once you sign up for a membership you list your used items for sale. Sell items to get points. You can then use those points to buy other CDs, DVDs or games that you want to try out. Of course you wouldn't use this site to make cash - points are used for like items. http://www.barterbee.com/
  • Craigslist: An online mismatch of services, used goods and announcements by city location. Here you may be able to find used items cheap. It can be the ordinary like used furniture to the not so common. For example, I once found someone who had new pavers left over from a patio project that they are willing to sell at a discount just to get them off their lawn. You may also be able to find cheap services such as yard work. However, users beware, there are no regulations on this site and you should take precautions when working with anyone on this list. This site definitely has a mixed history of great successes and terrible wrongs. Be careful. http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
  • eBAY: One of the most popular and well known online auction stops, eBay has been around since 1995. Users have the ability to rank other users for the ease of trade transactions. Probably the biggest garage sale on the internet. http://www.ebay.com/
  • SwapThing: This site allows for consumers to trade and barter items or services. There is also the option to do flat out sales. Unlike an auction site, you can barter privately and do not have to list items for auction. You enter what you want and it will match you with others who have it available. http://www.swapthing.com/home/index.jsp

Get it FREE: There are some sites that will help you sift through the spam to get free items. Be warned that some of the free items still come with many "free" emails.

  • Coupon Mom: Already mentioned above, this site also lists ways to get free samples of many products. http://www.couponmom.com/
  • Free Shipping.org: This site lists all the free shipping deals and codes. If a site offers a free shipping offer, they have it listed. If you need a code to get free shipping, they have most of those too. http://www.freeshipping.org/
  • Hey, It's Free: This blog website run by Goob works to find out the real freebies on the internet. Goob goes out there and finds out if a site is just spamming or if there really is something for free at the end of all the forms. That wisdom is then passed on to the readers of this sarcastic but informative blog. http://www.heyitsfree.net/

Compare Insurance Carriers: It is true, if you have been accident/incident free for a while you may be able to save by switching to another insurance carrier. Every company may offer something different in incentives, but take a look and see if a switch can't save you some money this year.

  • InsWeb: Recognized by sites like Kiplinger and Forbes, this online insurance comparison site will help you by getting quotes from agents after you supply your information. http://www.insweb.com/
  • NetQuote: An insurance comparison website. You fill in the information and the agents work out your rate with their company. http://www.netquote.com/

Be your own travel agent: Consider your vacation plans carefully in advance. When shopping for tickets, shop around to more than one vendor. It is not unusual for some airlines to give better deals then the online travel agencies. If you are a spur of the moment type of traveler, you might consider researching a couple major cities before tempted by last minute weekend travel deals. Like consumer reports, travel blogs are a great way to get more information before you go. Did you know you could see an opera in Vienna for $5? Well, now you do…

  • Budget Travel: In print and online magazine from Frommer's Travel, the site also offers free articles on featured destinations, trip ideas and advice from other travelers. http://www.budgettravel.com/
  • Kayak.com: This travel search engine is different in that it does not sell you the deals, it just works to find them for you. This is one of the easiest ways to search online travel agencies (i.e. Expedia) and the travel companies (i.e. airlines). http://www.kayak.com/
  • Lonely Planet: Supplementary to the printed books, this website offers information about popular travel destinations as well as tips from other like-minded travelers. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/
  • USA.gov: Want to stay close to home but still get away? Check out the official state travel sites for the 50 United States and U.S. territories. http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel_Tourism/State_Tourism.shtml