All photos taken at the Tina Packer Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company ~ Lenox, Mass.
The annual guest post by Top Ten Real Estate
Cornfields are ready for harvest, cheerful orange pumpkins are peeking out from their withering vines, and broomsticks are fast gaining in seasonal popularity as a fuel-free mode of transportation.
As the great Hallowed Eve gets closer, one’s lifetime of accumulated ghost stories begin to surface and take on a life of their own. But it could be a lot scarier if living in one of these fascinating houses! Would you live in a haunted home?
The Spectacular Spooky Home of Robbie Williams!
Thousand-year-old houses with good bones are much admired by manor hunters in the 21st century, who are so taken with the prestige of owning such an impressive pile, they fail to consider if any spirits are still sticking around. Such was likely the case with British-musician Robbie Williams and his American actress-wife, Ayda, who purchased the stunning Compton Bassett House in Wiltshire, England on 72 acres in 2009 for just over $11 million, where their children could run free over the land and where they could enjoy entertaining and daily living away from prying eyes. Even though the couple bought it from the renowned architect-and-designer Sir Norman Foster, who had already applied his magic, they had it back on the market in 2010. Why so soon? Because it felt spooky. This overwhelmingly gorgeous mansion with every conceivable amenity felt spooky. However, having been around since King Canute was ravishing England and northern Europe, its walls, no matter how lavish today, must be oozing some pretty wild history. Early on, Robbie zeroed in on high spookiness in his daughter’s bedroom and promptly moved her to another location. However, one person’s discomfort with the supernatural and hyperactive spirits is another person’s opportunity to capitalize on the situation. The Williams mansion is currently for sale, priced at $9.2 million, listed with Knight Frank U.K.
Yikes! The Silence of the Lambs Home Is For Rent!
The film that guaranteed a lifetime of nightmares about being skinned and trimmed to make a woman’s suit for Buffalo Bill in the Oscar-winning movie The Silence of the Lambs had many tongue-swallowing scenes inside this Princess Anne home where Buffalo Bill lived in the movie. Situated on almost two acres in Perryopolis, Pennsylvania and measuring 2,400 square feet with four bedrooms and one bath, it has beautiful craftsmanship throughout the home. An in-ground pool and a vintage caboose used as a pool house are just a few of the happy reasons why the home was worth the $298,500 asking price when it went on the market at Halloween in 2020 and sold just a few months later for $290,000. It is now an Airbnb where an entire family can try to stay all night for $595.
The Devil’s Visit To Ireland!
It might be the most haunted house in Ireland, and it is for sale. According to legend, the Devil visited the Tottenham Irish mansion in the mid-1700s and left in a ball of flame shooting up through the ceiling. But did the devil really leave the 14th-century mansion? According to the story, a dark and handsome stranger was welcomed to the home with Irish hospitality. Everyone was having a good time until Lady Anne Tottenheim noticed that the handsome stranger had cloven hoofs instead of feet, which was when the Devil quickly left the home in a ball of flames. Lady Anne never recovered and spent the rest of her life alone and mad in the vast mansion. Some say her ghost still haunts the home. Built around 1350, the home includes 22 bedrooms on 63 acres and is for sale at $2 million. It still has the actual door that the devil entered through in the 1700s.
L.A.’s Black Dahlia Murder House!
Tales of terror and tragedy rarely last as long as one of the most notorious Hollywood mysteries of the last century: The Black Dahlia Murders. Rumors still abound about the home’s previous owner, Los Angeles Doctor George Hodel, and his involvement in the brutal killing, mutilation and dismemberment of Elizabeth Short. Elizabeth was sliced in half at her waist and all the blood drained from her body. It looked like the work of a skilled surgeon. The house, an unusual piece of architecture crafted by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, looks like it is cut straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. While a $2 million renovation has brought the house back to its original splendor, one can still feel that they should be running for their life through the house while being chased by Dr. Hodel.
The house was on the market in 2018 at $4.7 million and has been the backdrop for multiple Hollywood movies, TV shows such as Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Americaand even an American Express commercial. It was purchased by a man whose business is selling cannabis-infused pet products.
The Gardette-LePretre Haunted Mansion!
The Gardette-LePretre Mansion, or more locally referred to as the Sultan’s House, has been photographed and heralded in articles from the time it was built in the 1830s. Having hosted the cream of New Orleans society from the beginning of its rich history, the home comes with a scary story! One morning as neighbors were walking by the Sultan House, they saw blood trickling from under the front door. The police were notified and had to break into the house only to find that all inhabitants had been murdered with swords or axes and the Sultan was found brutalized and buried alive in the backyard. It was always felt that the murders were executed by his brother, the real Sultan, as retribution for the theft of his fortune and many of his wives. How much is local lore and how much is true, we will never know for sure. This is, after all, New Orleans.
Only a block from Bourbon Street, the French Quarter-style home with nine bedrooms and 10 baths most recently was on the market at $2.65 million and sold in 2013 for $2 million.
Colorado Ghost Town!
Tourists once flocked to Uptop, Colorado to ride on the railway, which the railroad company advertised as the “Railroad Above the Clouds.” Later, lumber companies moved in and in 1930 the Chapel-by-the-Wayside was built for that community. The railroad brought many tourists through La Veta Pass to Uptop which was a depot at the top of the pass and what was then the highest railroad and depot in the world. With the building of the depot, merchants moved to the location to cater to rail passengers and for entertainment, they built a large dance-hall saloon. It was a favorite stop for miners, railroad men and lumberjacks. The bar, known for its unique curved bar, served prohibition liquor made in a still behind the building that fueled many a raucous poker game.
Unfortunately for Uptop, the railroad left in the early 1900s, and in the 1960s the new highway system bypassed the town leaving just a ghost town. Recently restored by two sisters from Boston, the entire town went on the market in 2014 for $2 million including the train depot, dance hall, saloon and chapel. Still on the market, now priced at $1 million.
The Arizona Boulder People!
During the construction of their new home next to a mysterious pile of ancient rocks in Arizona, a young couple from Washington discovered that they weren’t the first people to live in the boulders. Pottery shards and rock carvings were dated by experts back as far as one thousand years. Then they found something even more astonishing: a Stonehenge-type phenomenon that occurs on both the spring and fall equinoxes. A six-inch-wide beam of light that starts in the glass between two boulders and slowly works its way across the floor and up the wall to a 36” spiral petroglyph. When the sun hits its mark, the stone projections light up like diamonds. What does it mean? Some people think it is a signal to the space creatures. A light that will guide their spaceships to the Arizona desert. Or, maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Just a freak of nature. Whatever it might be, it started over a thousand years ago when the boulder people first began living there, about the same time that hard-shelled life forms first showed up on earth.
A dream home for archaeologists, historians, artists or mystery lovers, the Boulder House on nine acres with 4,380 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths and a great room with a massive fireplace was recently for sale at $4.2 million. It was reportedly sold, not long after the listing, for almost $5 million.
Haunted New Orleans Magnolia Mansion!
While most going businesses want to keep their ghosts in the closet so as not to frighten off clientele, the Magnolia Mansion has cleverly built its business around multiple ghosts and wish its ghosts would invite their friends! Here the ghosts are friendly with a sense of humor, where ghostly children tease you by moving things around during the night to watch your reaction the next morning. There are reports of a ghostly maid who will tuck you in at night, a child who walks the halls and a bearded man who spends his time downstairs! A perfect place to hold your “Spooktacular Gatherings” and “Ghostly Galas!”
The Greek Revival mansion of over 13,300 square feet and 13 bedrooms could be changed back into a single-family estate. It was sold at around $3 million and is an active B&B, event location, and friendly hauntings near Halloween.
Thousand Islands Haunted Mansion – Needs Work!
When it was built in 1895 for the president of Remington Arms and Typewriter Company, Carleton Manor was one of the grandest structures in all of New York. The solid-stone outer structure sits on an island of 6.9 acres and is surrounded by almost a thousand feet of waterfront. Today, it is an abandoned shell not fit for humans or ghosts. For a mere $495,000, the buyer willing to make this piece of history into a grand restoration project can turn this house from a nightmare into a dream home. Then the spirits could come down from the ceiling and the chimneys for more cushy digs and have fun throwing the good china around after midnight.
Amityville Horror House!
No longer on the market, the actual Amityville Horror home was for sale in 2016 reduced from $1.15 million down to $850,000. The New York home where Ronald DeFeo got up in the middle of the night in 1974 and brutally murdered his parents and four siblings with a rifle while they slept. The home was occupied just a year later by the Lutz family until they were forced to leave because of rampant paranormal activity. The storied horror house on the Ocean Avenue waterfront is today an extensively remodeled home. The 5,000-square-foot home most recently sold in 2017 for just $605,000, and brave people are actually living there today.
Photo credit: Robbie Williams, Knight Frank U.K., All others Top Ten Archives
All photos taken at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
It’s not quite fair to call 31 days of horror viewing in October a goal for me — I don’t generally hunt for low-hanging fruit. But it’s not about the finish line so much as the race anyway, so read on for this year’s checkpoints.
First, to the Island
The Island of Dr. Moreau – I finally watched this wreck after wrapping up September with the documentary Val.
Then, I had to follow that up with Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island. This documentary is a right romp, and great Blogtoberfest viewing for those in search of some spook, but not looking for a horror-induced panic attack.
Let’s Go Grave-spitting
I Spit on Your Grave I, II, III, and Deja Vu – I initially earmarked this series to serve as my Freaky Franchise for the year, but there’s not really a lot to say about 7.5 hours of torture- and revenge-porn. I didn’t even get a certificate for all of that work, but I can share that the original movie poster didn’t feature star Camille Keaton’s can, but that of Demi Moore — a fact I could’ve figured out without mental scarring, but here we are.
Four Houses, Unlimited Funerals
Funhouse – While not a masterpiece, the digital effects – and the animated panda villain – alone make this film worth a watch.
Madhouse – Not worth as much of a watch.
There’s Someone Inside Your House – Kind of an I Know What You Did Last Summer vibe from Netflix and Chills 2021.
The House That Jack Built – A serial killer acid-trip lead by Matt Dillon.
Songs of the Sutherland
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – There’s nothing like some weird seventies terror footage to jumpstart your week. Donald Sutherland is awesome – and amazingly funny in the first half – and I forgot Jeff Goldblum existed before 1982. I also think we need to give Veronica Cartwright her due, already — this queen carries large swaths of this movie, not to mention she’s been working consistently and in some very visible roles for six decades.
Don’t Look Now – Another Donald Sutherland joint, and a really beautiful, classic horror. I think this film suffers from its terrible title; I’ve been skipping over it for years, and as such missing out on Sutherland-as-a-sex-symbol.
Stalker – sometimes, the itch to just see what’s out there hits. This Hulu scratch wasn’t half-bad; a solid thriller stocked with red herrings.
Death Trip – This flick had potential; a cool aesthetic, good actors, and a great score. But I must reiterate, this film had potential. And that’s that.
The Sitter – A 1995 junker that will be a special stand-out for Alicia Silverstone super-fans.
Old – M. Night Shymalan’s latest attempt, exploring the life’s a beach theory.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes – Found-footage mockumentary style that is served on a fairly convincing plate.
Eraserhead – In the ongoing quest to see all the horror movies, this was a big omission on my checked-off list. Now seen, I’ve joined the ranks of people who’ll never unsee it.
The Annual Rewatches
A year rarely goes by without viewing The Amityville Horror and The Craft, among other faves. Check and check, plus a full revisit of The Blair Witch Project franchise just to get my rock-piles off. Book of Shadows has its redeeming points, I swear.
I also threw in some Practical Magic to ease up on the horror, as well as the animated Addams Family.
Because I couldn’t write it better myself, here’s the Durwinian description of the experience: “Embark on a journey through a downtown Pittsfield far removed from what we know today. A place of desecrated graves and skeletons in church basements, of rumsellers shacks, opium dens, and murders most foul…”
Indeed, the tour in its October 18 form (no two tours are the same) began on the Pittsfield Common, which was once a cemetery with a serious grave-robbing problem, and crept its way through the heart of the city.
Stops along the route included the site of the former courthouse, alleys that once led to houses of ill-repute, and the spot where the old rail-station delivered some of Pittsfield’s most colorful visitors — all brought back to life through impeccably researched stories of both fact and folklore. For one, medical students were apparently ruthless in the 1800s, particularly when it came to cadavers.
An added bonus of the tour is multiple stops also showcase the Berkshire Lightscapes project, which aims to illuminate downtown buildings and spaces in downtown Pittsfield through animated LED light systems. It’s a nice touch, especially when the topic turns to UFO sightings and alien encounters.
Word on the street is some kid-friendly tours are in the works for next season… though I’m also personally hopeful that these tours will continue in the warmer months. There’s nothing quite like scaring groups of tourists by the dozen.