‘Tis the season for haunted houses, hair-raising tales, and all the things that go bump in the night. But, if you want to take your Halloween escapades to another level and have a scary good time, you may just want to hit the road in Indiana — with candy corn and car snacks in tow, naturally.
The state has a number of paranormal places where you can play Ghostbusters with a spine-tingling adventure that is not for the faint of heart.
So, check out this goosebumps-inducing list of ghoulish destinations that promise to chill and thrill, including real-deal haunted houses, sinister cemeteries, frightening spots to stay overnight if you dare, and even one place that comes with a warning label for its intense paranormal playground. Do not say we didn’t warn you.
Where: 8670 W. State Rd. 56, French Lick
Originally established in 1845, the historic resort hotel is rumored to be haunted by its former owner Thomas Taggart who makes his presence known in the vicinity of the service elevator via mists and phantom tobacco or pipe odors. According to the popular tale, when the hotel gets too busy, Taggart’s ghost will expertly operate the lift — and he is also known to run it during the middle of the night while guests are sleeping.
Employees claim that the entire sixth floor is rife with shadowy apparitions, cold breezes, footsteps, ghostly laughter, and phantom calls to the front desk. So, obviously, the hotel is a prime place to spend the night if you want to get a bit spooked — and it’s also quite the magnificently elegant destination, as well, with two spas, three golf courses, fine dining, and a casino, in case you were wondering. So, in other words, it’s a win-win, no matter what.
Where: University of Notre Dame, 101 Washington Hall, Notre Dame
This architecturally magnificent structure on the campus of Notre Dame was built in 1881 and named in honor of George Washington. Formerly student housing, it now features modern auditorium-style seating for a wide variety of student events and performances — including, possibly, the ghost of Notre Dame football great George Gipp who met an untimely demise by pneumonia in 1920. Not long after his death, students began reporting strange music, footsteps, and doors opening and closing on their own — and the legend stands to this day.
Where: 4420 Wabash Ave., Terre Haute
A ghost dog? Yes! This circa 1884 city cemetery is not only significant for its late 19th century Victorian landscape design made picturesque with Romanesque architecture, graceful, meandering paths, and a selective placement of lakes, vistas, and open spaces. But, with that beauty, comes a phantom bulldog — and more than a little bit of mystery between the tombstones, the towering mausoleums, and the monuments. The most popular legend is the haunting of said bulldog, Stiffy Green, named for his stiff gait and bright-green eyes. When its owner Heinl passed away in 1920, Stiffy Green refused to leave the mausoleum and was eventually found there dead. But, even after the dog was buried, the cemetery caretaker would still hear barks from inside the mausoleum. What’s more, both Heinl and his dog’s apparition have apparently been spotted, too.
Where: 620 W. Washington St., South Bend
This stately mansion, built by Clem Studebaker from 1886 to 1889, is now an elegant restaurant and venue. But, you may get more than just filet mignon and Dauphinoise potatoes with your order. Apparently, a number of playful spirits haunt the place, including Clem himself. But, the most frequent sightings are of a mysterious woman in white and a maid named Beatrice. Other weird happenings involve flickering lights, the ghostly voices of singing children, mysterious orbs, and apparitions that have been caught on camera.
Where: 6404 South State Rd. 135, Nashville
With countless reports of “Blue Lady” sightings, The Story Inn definitely has some ghost stories to its name. As for that Blue Lady, she is said to be Dr. George Story’s wife; he founded the town of Story in 1851. Reports claim that she has blue eyes and leaves behind blue objects along with the smell of cherry tobacco (her favorite) in her wake. Regardless of the lady in blue, the 18 unique, original rooms and cottages of this Victorian-style inn are a step back in time; they once served as homes and workspaces of the town’s early 19th century residents. So, the place is pretty darn charming during the day — and a bit more dodgy during the pitch-black night.
Where: 3801 Madison Ave., Indianapolis
The spooky screams and wails that have reportedly been heard at this circa-1858 house are attributed to a rumored cellar fire that caused the death of slaves, as the place was allegedly once utilized as a passage for the Underground Railroad. Other people have claimed to have smelled horrible odors — another paranormal sign of the tragedy that occurred at the house. If you want to see (or hear) for yourself, there are periodic open house tours.
Where: 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis
Haunted or not, you should definitely visit this place for no other reason than its glorious Spanish Baroque style and intricately extravagant design. As for the spookier side, some say a former director of the theater was killed in a hit-and-run accident while jogging nearby. And, on some days, his ghost still haunts the building when the floorboards creak; apparently, it’s his ghost running laps inside.
Where: 21 First Ave., Evansville
The Grey Lady Ghost may seem like something out of a fiction book, especially at this striking Gothic Revival-style library. But, the apparition (and the world’s most famous library ghost!) was first seen at this historic book emporium in the late 1930s. And, ever since then, there have been unexplained events and sightings by patrons, employees, and even police! The library hosts periodic Grey Lady Ghost Tours at night, too, where story time takes on all new spooky meaning.
Where: Half-mile south of U.S. 36 off County Road 625 East, Avon
Several spooky legends explain the apparent haunting sounds of this bridge. One of the most well-known accounts is about Henry Johnson, a construction worker, who was drunk and fell into a vat of wet cement. Another story says that a mother was walking with her baby on the tracks when they both fell to their deaths below — and you can still hear her ghostly screams.
Where: 150 E. Main St., Atlanta
Full ghost investigations happen on the reg at this historic hotel that’s believed to have been built in 1893 — and to be haunted by not one, but many spirits. Sightings have included apparitions of men, women, and children as well as disembodied voices, footsteps, lights turning on and off, and doors opening and closing. Get in on one of the public investigations, or ride the Ghost Express, a 1956 diesel locomotive that travels from Atlanta to Noblesville and back and also features a tour of the hotel as well as tales of local lore.
Where: 210 E. Vistula St., Bristol
Home to the Elkhart Civic Theatre, the building was originally constructed in 1897. So, it’s really no surprise that it’s said to share the space with some, ahem, theatrical guests in the form of ghosts who send books and papers flying from the shelves. Other spooky occurrences include the rumored levitation of small objects as well as moving shafts of light that could be the ghost of Percy, a handyman who used to live in the basement. Both staff members and theater guests alike have also reported seeing the shadows and apparition of a floating woman, and some have even said they’ve been grabbed by a ghost when no one else is around. So, if you are going to a performance here, you may get a bit more drama than you bargained for.
Where: 372 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis
Silly name. Seriously haunted? That’s for you to decide after a visit to the oldest bar in Indiana that was founded in 1850. The spirited reports of paranormal activity include doors opening and closing by themselves along with multiple sightings of slaves, a cowboy, caretaker, and prostitutes; the inn was used for all sorts of activities over its history including a tavern, an Underground Railroad station, and a bordello. Now, it stays open scary-late — until 3 a.m. — and features live music every night. So, even if you don’t see a ghost, you can sing the blues and still scare up a good time.
Where: 714 W. Warren St., Mitchell
You could say the walls really do talk at this striking 3,700-square-foot Victorian home that’s really the model haunted house that every ghost hunter wishes they had in their neighborhood. The estate was built in 1894 and purchased several years later by Dr. John and Jessie Gibbons who reportedly adopted several orphaned children. One of them — a 10-year-old girl named Rachael — apparently started a fire in the front parlor, suffered bad burns, and passed away two days later. Her ghost is said to still run around, pitter-pattering through the halls of the house today. But, she’s not the only one.
An infant, Elizabeth, also died in the house, and there have been reports of baby powder scents and baby cries. And, mom Jessie also died in the master bedroom of the house after suffering from double pneumonia — and guests who have previously stayed in that room have reportedly awoken to labored breathing and coughing while also feeling as if someone was sitting on their chest. According to the estate, the most common paranormal activity is the closet doorknob that will frequently jiggle for a few moments, then stop suddenly, and the closet door will pop open — even doing this for up to five times within a few minutes.
The famously paranormal place comes with a warning label and has been on too many TV shows to count. It was even ranked by the Travel Channel as one of the most terrifying places in America and by HGTV as one of America’s spookiest homes. It’s really a mandatory place to get freaked out, and if you dare, you can reserve a range of different experiences — from flashlight tours to mini-investigations and all-night-long public and private investigations.
Where: 304 N. Merrill St., Fortville
Dating back to 1921, the former home is now a bed-and-breakfast. But, it’s rumored to also house a spirit that came with the purchase of an antique piano — and who makes non-musical banging noises to boot. You’d never know it, though, by the looks of this charming spot. What’s just as interesting is that the current innkeepers found all sorts of gambling paraphernalia in the attic and basement with gambling games even hidden in the insulation behind the walls — enough to get the Ivy House a feature on HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk” show. So, this place has secrets no matter how you slice it.
Where: Near Forest Road and North Bean Blossom Road, Martinsville
The tiny cemetery only has a handful of graves. But this burial ground, which was apparently founded by cult members, more than makes up for its petite size in the tales of its spooky sightings. One of the most talked-about local legends is the apparition of a grieving mother who committed suicide at her child’s grave.
Where: 3155 E. 10th St., Indianapolis
Women in fancy dresses and men in tuxedos are the literal ghosts (well, reported ghosts) of this place that Universal Studios built in 1927. It's a bit rough around the edges now, but it was a sight to behold at the time with its Spanish Mission Revival architecture and calligraphic “R” motif. It was also the first place in Indiana to show movies with sound. Now, it’s in the process of being restored as a community arts center. But, whether those ghosts will remain is still to be determined. Witnesses have also claimed to have seen objects moving on their own, toilets flushing, and sinks turning on and off with no explanation. Some say that the paranormal activity is because the place was originally constructed on Indian burial grounds.