“What is it?”
“It’s my neighbor.”
We’ve all heard the horror stories about the hoarder neighbor who collects piles of rotting garbage in their backyard, the musician neighbor who has an amateur ska band that practices at two o’clock in the morning (on a Monday) and the frat house neighbor who leaves red Solo cups in your yard after yet another raucous weekend party. But what about the neighbor with the decrepit house, overgrown lawn and ominous looking black hearse parked in the driveway? Or the neighbor in the creaky old Victorian, where small children and animals are rumored to go in and never come out? Whether it’s deferred maintenance or just a scare tactic, the idea of a spooky house at the end of the block is nothing new. Nearly every neighborhood across the globe has a “haunted house” — just ask one of the local kids, who will readily tell you in a hushed voice where the witch, monster or strange old man live on their street!
In honor of the haunted house (real or imagined), we found six homes in California neighborhoods with enough creep factor to give you something new to do this Halloween. Ready for your frightseeing tour?
Located on Country Club Drive in Long Beach’s posh Bixby Knolls neighborhood, this spooky 1930-era house is famous for a few reasons — and not just because it looks as if it hasn’t been painted in 86 years. The exterior was used in the 2001 comedy film American Pie 2, most notably when four friends worked to paint the house yellow while vacationing at a lake. While you may not be able to go inside, you can still scare the kids with a drive-by.
Angelino Heights is a historic neighborhood in Los Angeles, famous for its Victorian mansions. The area has become known as the “Haunted District,” a popular destination spot for trick-or-treaters who want to get into the tried and true Halloween spirit. One house in Angelino Heights, located at 1345 Carroll Avenue, is particularly beloved by neighborhood ghosts, goblins and goons. The 3,532-square-foot manor, known as the Sanders House, was savagely attacked by zombies in the 1983 music video, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller.”
Downtown Los Angeles
“Welcome to… murder house.” Such is the invitation to the historic landmark, the Rosenheim Mansion, which was the filming location for the horrifying first season of “American Horror Story” on FX. Originally built in 1902 and located at 1120 Westchester Place in Country Club Park, it was the private home of Alfred Rosenheim (the architect behind the Hellman Building in Downtown’s Historic Core) until the Sisters of Social Service, a Catholic organization, took over ownership of the house. The interior includes all kinds of Tiffany elements—stained glass windows, lighting fixtures, glass doors — and six Batchelder tile fireplaces, a detached ballroom and a solarium.
There is perhaps no Bay Area house more disturbing and bizaare than 525 S Winchester Boulevard, also known as the “Winchester Mystery House.” Set in San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 1880s mega-mansion was built by heiress Sarah Winchester over a period of almost 40 years and is a sprawling, meandering 6-acre maze, consisting of stairs that lead nowhere, windows that look out onto walls and 160 rooms designed to confuse and trap ghosts. It sounds like the perfect setting for a supernatural thriller — and that’s exactly what Daybreakers helmers Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig have in mind later next year. (Helen Mirren reportedly in talks to play Winchester herself).
At 1379 Kathy Court in Livermore, a mom decided to transform her house into a haunted haven, better known as “Mom’s Haunted House.” A 10-year tradition, the event includes a haunted theater and more, and promises to “have you heading for the hills.”
Built in 1907 in midtown Sacramento, this mysterious mansion is located at H and 22nd Street, and has enjoyed several names: the Amoruso House, the Aden C. Hart House and, most commonly, the Martinez House. Over the decades, paranormal investigators, neighbors and the occasional TV news team have explored the rumors and urban legends behind the home. Some reports say that the house sat empty for over 12 years, and others reported that the furniture was restored and left to sit. One man even reported a “freaky experience” he had at the gates of the property, where he felt “a presence” and a strange loud voice within his car saying “Ha Ha” as he drove away. (Even paranormal investigator Paul Dale Roberts believes the mansion is haunted.) To this day, however, the present owner claims the house is not haunted (who could blame him?). But maybe you should be the judge….