11 Abandoned Mansions That Will Make Your Toes Curl

There's a reason nobody wants to in.


There's something uniquely eerie about abandoned places, especially abandoned homes, which were at one point, a family's most private and personal space. And you know what's even creepier than abandoned houses? Abandoned mansions. Since they're also fascinating, I'm spotlighting 11 of them below. Though they used to be worth millions and represent grandeur and wealth, they now lie empty in disrepair. And I'd bet my night light that most of these still have plenty of ghostly inhabitants lurking around even if there aren't any mortal occupants roaming the grand halls.

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1 Lennox Castle: Glasgow, Scottland
Aerial image over the ruins of a former mental hospital.
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Okay, we're starting out strong with this doozy. Lennox Castle was built in 1812 for John Lennox Kincaid Lennox, who was supposedly a distant relative of the Clan Kincaid, who were descendants of some of the notable ancient Earls of Lennox (we're talking 12-century). Long story a little shorter, the castle was home to an important Scottish family. Until it was converted into an asylum for the mentally ill in the 1930s and a hospital during WWII, when the existing mentally ill patients were transferred to other buildings on the property.

Apparently, fights among the patients were common, and in one particularly bad fight, some of the nurses were attacked. So they, along with other uninvolved patients, withdrew from the hospital. But the rioters were locked inside. In the end, they had significantly damaged the ward and the hospital was vacated by the 1980s and officially closed in 2002. There's now talk of converting the building into flats.

2 Lynnewood Hall

Oooh, how the mighty have fallen. To say Lynwood Hall is massive would be a massive understatement. Indeed, it's the twelfth largest historic house in the U.S. It features a whopping 110 rooms (like a ballroom that can accommodate 1,000 guests), neoclassical architecture, and it once held the most important private art collection of classic European masterpieces in the country.

Unsurprisingly, it's from the Gilded Age. It was built in 1900 for Peter Arrell Brown Widener, a businessman who became wealthy from investing in public transit and meat packing, among other things. He had three sons (one sadly died on the Titanic with his son) and lived in the house until he passed in 1915. His son Joseph inherited the mansion and lived there until he died in 1943 and no surviving members of his family, even his children, wanted to take on the responsibility of the mansion (maybe the wildest part of this story). By 1945, Widener's estate was valued at $98,368,058 (!).

A developer later tried to sell Lynwood but the only taker was a fundamentalist preacher, Carl McIntire, who bought the home in 1952 for $192,000. It went into foreclosure in 2006 when the McIntire organization couldn't pay the mortgage.

3 Bannerman's Castle

Bannerman's Castle is perched on an island in New York's Hudson River. Francis Bannerman VI, who's family launched a military surplus business post Civil War (not so fun fact: they also bought 90 percent of the weapons the U.S. military captured from the Spanish during the Spanish-American War), purchased the island in 1900 to use as an extra military surplus warehouse. He also built a smaller residential structure nearby but construction ended when he died in 1918 and there were also a few explosions that hurt the business a few years after his death.

When legislation changed in the 20th century, sales rapidly declined and then a storm devastated the island, destroying the ferry people used to access it. It was pretty much vacant up until the late '60s, when New York state bought it. It was open to the public for tours for about a year until another fire ravaged it. The Bannerman Castle Trust recently started holding tours again.

4 Lui Family Mansion

Built in 1929 in Baroque style, the Minxiong Ghost House (aka the Lui family mansion) is a freaky, freaky place with a heartbreaking history. Located in the Taiwanese countryside, it's been abandoned since the 1950s when the family fled abruptly. And like all mysterious places, there's plenty of lore around the family and why they left the once-beautiful place.

Rumor has it that the maid was having an affair with her employer, Liu Rong-yu, and when the secret became public, she died by suicide by jumping down the well (but since she did not live to speak her truth, it's hard to know exactly what happened). A few years later, it was occupied by members of the The Kuomintang of China (KMT), many of whom were also thought to have died of suicide, which exacerbated its reputation as haunted.

There are also other, far less morbid narratives involving a new business that required the family to move closer to downtown.

5 Casa Sperimentale

Far more beautiful both in backstory and design than some of the other featured homes here, Casa Sperimentale is an abandoned brutalist treehouse in Fergene, Italy, a coastal town outside of Rome. It's a fascinating cluster of geometric shapes elevated up in the treetops. It was built in the late 1960s by Giuseppe Perugini, his wife Uga De Plaisant, and their son Raynaldo Perugini as a holiday home as well as an experiment to see if it was a livable structure. It's accessible by a drawbridge staircase to make it feel totally isolated from the rest of the world.

Little information is known about its abandonment, but it probably just fell into disrepair when the architect passed away.

6 Ha Ha Tonkna Mansion

Deep in Missouri's Ozarks is the Ha Ha Tonka Mansion. Some claim the state park's name means "laughing waters," which could either be adorably cheerful or downright creepy, depending on how you see it. This shell of a mansion was the dream of wealthy businessman Robert Snyder. He got to work building a European-style castle on his private lake in 1906, but he soon died in one of Missouri's first automobile accidents.

His sons continued construction until the mansion was completed in 1920. One of them lived there until he ran out of money due to a string of land rights lawsuits. Eventually, Snyder's son was driven off the property and it functioned as a hotel and resort in the mid 20th-century. But then the hotel was ruined by a fire, so they closed down shop. The remains are now a popular site, which you, too, can visit if you get tired of waterskiing and hiking.

7 Mudhouse Mansion
Mudhouse Mansion

Located in Fairfield County, Ohio (when it was still standing, at least), the Mudhouse Mansion has a bad reputation. Nobody can seem to agree on when it was built, but it dates back to sometime between the 1840s and 1900. Unlike the other abandoned mansions on this list, you sadly cannot visit it, as it was demolished in 2015 since it hadn't been occupied since the 1930s. The last occupant (at least legally speaking) was Lulu Hartman-Mast and the current owner of the property is her relative Jeanne Mast.

Because there's so little information about who lived here and when, and because abandoned places tend to ignite the dark side of the imagination, there are tons of legends around alleged atrocities occurring (and consequent hauntings). The sources don't seem to be very credible, though.

8 Viklla de Vecchi

Viklla de Vecchi is foreboding, alright (that looming fog blanket doesn't help). Located near Lake Como, Italy, the "House of Witches" dates back to 1854-1857, when it was built as a summer house for Count Felix De Vecchi. The family was only able only spend a few years in it, as their lives were mired in tragedy right after it was built.

First, the architect died a year after construction, then in 1862, Count De Vecchi came home to discover that his wife had been murdered and his daughter was missing. When he could not find her after a year of searching, he died by suicide. His brother then moved into the home and his family continued to live there until WWII. It's been vacant since the 1960s, and an avalanche in 2002 wiped out all the houses in the area except this one.

9 Hegeler Carus Mansion
Hegeler Carus

Hegeler Carus Mansion in La Salle, Illinois is one of the few abandoned residences that was actually restored and turned into a landmark. It was built for Henry. C. Hegeler (a zinc manufacturer and publisher) by the same architect who completed the state capitol building and the famous Chicago Water Tower.

The Hegelers had ten children, but two of their daughters died at 6 and 3 in the same year, and another daughter at 23. His descendants lived in the seven-floor home until the last one passed away in 2001. It was only empty for a little while before it was renovated and turned into a museum. Though it has the appearance of "haunted house," it's just old and actually has a nice, cheerful energy, some say.

10 The Los Feliz Murder House

And now for my personal favorite, the Los Feliz Murder Mansion (yes, this is my photography work captured on my third visit to the abandoned mansion, thank you very much—we were practically neighbors, give me a break). Los Feliz is easily one of L.A.'s coolest, most livable neighborhoods, but it also has a very dark past with some of history's most gruesome (and Hollywood-esque) murders. There's the Frank Lloyd Wright Mayan Revival house rumored to be the murder scene of Black Dahlia, there's the Manson murders, and then there's this place (which was originally built for Harry Schumacher—yes, the Schumacher).

During the mid-twentieth century, it was the (seemingly) happy home of Dr. Harold Perelson and his family, until the horrific night of December, 6, 1959 when he murdered his wife in her sleep with a ball-peen hammer and attempted to murder his three children before drinking acid to kill himself. Fortunately, his eldest daughter let out a scream when he struck her in the head, waking up the younger children, who then walked into the hallway to find out what was going on. During the commotion, they were all able to flee.

Before the murder-suicide, he was a successful doctor who invented a new type of syringe after investing most of money into its research and production, but he got screwed out of the rights (leading investigators to blame financial problems). Other creepy details include a passage of Dante's Divine Comedy left open on his bedside table. Two years later, it was sold to the Enriquez family, who] used it as "storage unit," and their son continued to to do so until he sold it to a couple in 2016 who had plans to fix it up. But it seems to have scared them off because within a few years it's on the market again.

11 John List House
The $90,000, 431 Hillside Avenue, Westfield, N.J. 19 room ma
New York Daily News ArchiveGetty Images

If you've heard enough about tragic familicides, stop here.

In November of 1971, John List killed his entire immediate family in their New Jersey home, first his wife and mother, then his 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, when they came home from school. He then proceeded to go watch his 15-year-old son play a soccer game and shot and killed him when they returned. Then, he lined up all the bodies (except his mother's) in the ballroom, which had a signed Tiffany's stained glass skylight worth at least $100,000 at the time, tuned the radio to a religious station, turned on all the lights, cut out his face from a family photo, and fled.

The bodies and crime scene weren't discovered until a month later when schoolmates, neighbors, and teachers started wondering where the family was. Meanwhile, List had settled in Denver under a false name working as a controller at a factory, and ran a carpool service at his Lutheran church. He met a woman there in 1985 and married her and wasn't caught and arrested until 1989. He never took full accountability. A new house was erected on the property a few short years later in 1974 after a suspected arson destroyed the original (but it honestly looks pretty similar to the original and is just an eight-minute drive to the infamous house "The Watcher," which by the way, finally sold a couple of days ago).

And that is all we will say about the matter for now, because thinking about this monster is making me my blood boil and I need to go take a lap.

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