Bed and breakfasts are meant to provide a feeling of being a home away from home, but it is easy to forget that many were actual homes where families lived and died. Some believe renovations and unfamiliar faces stir up the ghosts of these former residents, who are unhappy with the changes. Other spirits appear to be a part of the history of the building–a lingering reminder of its past. Mysterious Heartland has found many bed and breakfasts with usual tales scattered across the Midwest. Which one will prove to be the most haunted of them all?
10. Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast
Anamoose, North Dakota
Built in 1928 and known as White School, this building originally housed one of the first consolidated primary schools in rural North Dakota. The school was advanced for its time, offering hot showers, meals, and served as a “model school” in which progressive teaching methods could be practiced. At its height, the school served 100 students, but it closed in 1968. In 1996, a husband and wife purchased the building and converted it into a bed and breakfast called Sage Hill. As construction on the B&B started, workers reported hearing moans and smelling the scent of a cigar. According to Rich Newman, author of The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide, guests continued to experience strange activity, including lights that turned off and on, disembodied voices, and phantom scents. It is believed that the ghost of a former schoolmaster haunts the building, but he is not a threatening presence.
9. Hundley House Bed & Breakfast
On December 12, 1928, John Charles Hundley, a former mayor of Carbondale, and his wife Luella were shot to death in their stately home. The killer was never found, although their own stepson was a prime suspect in the crime. Over the years, the building has been remodeled to serve many different purposes. The room where John and Luella slept, and where they were killed, became known as “the murder room.” In 2008, Dan Jones purchased the building and converted it into a bed and breakfast, despite stories of strange sounds, phantom piano music, and doors that slammed shut on their own. Having heard about the ghostly activity, Barry Klinge of the Discovery Channel’s series Ghost Lab brought his camera crew to the home in August 2010. They walked away convinced of the validity of the haunting.
8. Grand Avenue Bed & Breakfast
This grand Victorian home sits at 1615 Grand Avenue, just off East Centennial Avenue, in the small southwester Missouri town of Carthage. It was built in 1893 by S.H. Houser. Its second owner, a man named Albert, is generally believed to be the source of ghostly activity at the Grand Avenue Bed & Breakfast. He died in 1933, but the scent of his favorite cigar still lingers. Over the years, guests have frequently reported catching a whiff of the distinct smell throughout the house. Others have felt cold spots or heard whispers in the basement. Jeanne and Michael Goolsbys, who purchased the bed and breakfast in 1997, deny having experienced anything out of the ordinary in the home, but that has not stopped guests from sharing their own unusual encounters. Occasionally Albert will materialize in a soft glow, but his ghost is more reassuring than frightening.
7. Henderson Castle Bed & Breakfast
Kalamazoo’s historic Henderson Castle was built in 1895 by businessman Frank Henderson. His company produced medals and decorations for secret societies, fraternal organizations, and the military. He spared no expense on this Queen Anne style home on West Main Hill overlooking downtown. After his death, the house passed through several owners. It soon developed a reputation for being haunted, and it has appeared in at least three horror films. Both Frank and Mary Henderson are believed to haunt the home, along with the ghost of an adolescent girl. A travel writer for the Detroit Free Press described being woken by someone tapping her on the arm. When she opened her eyes, she heard someone say “go away” from the darkness. The owner’s son witnessed an apparition of a lady wearing a Victorian dress in what was formerly Mary Henderson’s changing room. Other guests have heard footsteps and seen a phantom dog. Today, Henderson Castle is an upscale bed and breakfast.
6. Rose Hotel
The Rose Hotel is currently owned by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and operated as a bed and breakfast. Built by James McFarland c. 1830, with additions added in 1848 and 1866, it is the oldest active hotel in the state of Illinois. In 2009, the Little Egypt Ghost Society investigated the hotel and captured a photo of a strange reflection that appeared in the mirror of the McFarlan Suite. They compared it to photographs in an old hotel scrapbook and determined it was an image of the ghost of a former servant named Tote. Another anomalous photo appeared to show a woman in old-fashioned dress, which they believed to be a former hotel operator named Maimee Rose. The group also recorded several EVPs and heard a number of out-of-place voices.
5. Schenck Mansion Bed & Breakfast
The beautiful Schenck Mansion sits at 206 West Turnpike Street in Vevay, a quaint town of 1,683 along the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana. A riverboat captain named Benjamin Franklin Schenck built this Second Empire-style mansion in 1874. It has four porches, seven balconies, and eight chimneys. In the middle of the 20th Century, the mansion was a clubhouse for the Switzerland County Saddle Club. Jerry & Lisa Fisher purchased it in 1998 and opened the bed and breakfast two years later after extensive renovations. According to Lisa Fisher, guests often complain about a rude “Amish housekeeper” who passes them on the stairs without acknowledgement. The Fishers, however, do not employ a maid. Others report hearing voices, footsteps, and seeing a lady dressed in white Victorian attire on the second floor. The Fishers acknowledge these spirits, but say they are harmless.
4. Old Jail Bed & Breakfast
Taylors Falls, Minnesota
Rated one of the top five bed and breakfasts in the country by MSN, the Old Jail Bed & Breakfast is located on Government Street in the picturesque town of Taylors Falls, along the St. Croix River in east-central Minnesota. The Old Jail B&B opened in 1981 and was Minnesota’s first licensed bed and breakfast. The building was built in 1884 and served as the Taylors Falls Jail until 1923. It had four jail cells. Located next to a brewery and saloon, the jail was in a convenient location to deal with any troublemakers. Built by the Schottmuller brothers in 1869, the brewery and saloon building housed many businesses over the years, including a mortuary. Today, guests can stay in either building, and many believe something from the past has remained behind. Ghostly cats, glowing lights, strange noises, and other phantasms have manifested there. Though guests have often been started by these encounters, none have been reported to be threatening. It seems that most of the former inmates of the jail have preferred to stay away in the afterlife.
3. Brumder Mansion Bed & Breakfast
Billed as “Milwaukee’s most romantic inn,” Brumder Mansion Bed & Breakfast is located at the northeast corner of West Wisconsin Avenue and North 31st Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Concordia neighborhood. George Brumder built this home in 1910 for his eldest son in a curious blend of Victorian, Gothic, and English Arts & Crafts styles. It has gone through many owners over the intervening century. The basement theater was once a coffee house and music venue called The Catacombs, and the home was opened as a bed and breakfast in 1998. The Gold Suite is the most haunted room in Brumder Mansion. According to authors Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk, the owner once found fresh blood in the Gold Suite bathtub, although the room had not been occupied for days. Dog owners who occupy that room report having dreams of a lady who chastises them for bringing their dog. The ghost of a lady dressed in an old green dress has also been seen in the basement theater.
2. Harrison House Bed & Breakfast
Harrison House has sat at the corner of West 5th and Harrison avenues, south of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, for over a century. It has gone through many changes and many owners over the years, but its role as an architectural anchor in the community has not changed. An architect and banker named Amos Solomon constructed the first portion of the house in 1890, with major additions over the next few years. His family lived there until 1907, when they decided to move and rented the home to a succession of tenants. In the 1980s, a company called Cardinal Industries used the house as a corporate retreat and named it Harrison House. In 1990, new owners opened Harrison House as a quaint bed and breakfast with a white exterior and baby blue and purple trim. According to Lynn Varney, owner of the Harrison House Bed & Breakfast, items began to disappear and reappear from the very beginning. Additionally, no matter how many times he smoothed the bedspread on a particular bed, an indentation would always appear, as though someone had sat on it the previous night. Spirits of a child, a man, and a woman are now believed to reside there. The child loves to play with toy soldiers and the man lingers near smokers on the porch. The woman is said to watch over the home.
1. Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
Big Bay, Michigan
The Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast sits at the end of Lighthouse Road, at the tip of a small peninsula north of Lake Independence in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region. From 1896 to 1944, when its light was removed from the tower, Big Bay Point guided ships along the coast of Lake Superior. Tragedy came early to this lighthouse. In 1901, the lighthouse keeper’s son George injured his leg and was not able to see a doctor for two months. He died of an infection and his father, William Prior, wandered into the woods with a gun. Over a year later, a hunter discovered William’s remains hanging from a tree. In 1984, Norman and Marilyn Gotschall purchased the old lighthouse and converted it into a bed and breakfast. Since then, guests have experienced a variety of strange phenomenon, including faucets turning on and off, doors opening and closing, banging and scraping sounds, and phantom footsteps. The ghost of a red-haired man has also been seen. Coastal Living magazine once named Big Bay Point one of the most haunted lighthouses in the country.
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