Though Philadelphia is famous for its historical sites, that doesn’t guarantees it being a less creepy city. During strange night hours, ghosts roam at some of these most haunted places in Philadelphia, making it a hub of paranormal activities. This list comprises of several renovated structures, worn houses, historic penitentiary and spooky inns. If you are a horror buff, wade through this story, pack your gears and begin hunting these most haunted places in Philadelphia. Let’s begin.
Table of Contents
The Academy of Music
The “Academy of Music” is famous for being the oldest grand opera house in the united states. It is the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra since it was founded in 1900. In the past years, many notable performances have been conducted here by the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philly Pops. (Check: Most Haunted Places in Pennsylvania)
The Academy has been an amazing stage to such performers as Abbott and Costello, Duke Ellington, Lynn Fontanne, Gertrude Lawrence and Frank Sinatra. It also hosts some permanent paranormal residents!
Countless attendees of academy events have reported of mysterious phenomenon taking place in the upper balconies. The black apparition of a man haunts the area behind the last row of seats. As the lights turn up for intermission break and after the performance ends, he thins into the air.
In addition to the aforementioned man, female visitors sitting next to an empty chair have reported an invisible companion sitting nearby. The cushion of the seat indents and creaking noise are heard, as if someone occupies the chairs down. Some women have also reported of incidents such as hair pulling and getting pinched.
Chestnut Hill, PA
This is one of the most actively creepy houses in the U.S. Built in 1911, George Meade Easby, the great- great grandson of Civil War General George Meade, owned the Baleroy Mansion.
Several spirits inhabit this stately home. Thomas Jefferson haunts the dining room. A spirit resembling a monk in a brown habit frequents the bedrooms. The ghost of a cantankerous old woman has threatened visitors with her cane. One room in particular, the Blue Room, hosts a very malicious ghost. We know her by the names Amelia and Amanda.
Reports regarding the name are conflicting. Some say Amelia, some say Amanda. Some say there are two separate spirits; one for the chair and the other female spirit causes the fog and the depression on the bed. In any case, the female spirit of the Blue Room is said to have claimed a particular chair and anyone who sits in the chair dies shortly after. So far, the curse of the chair has four victims.
Meade moved into the house when he was 6 and his younger brother Steven, was 5. When they arrived at the house, the two boys immediately ran to the fountain in the courtyard. When they leaned over to look at their reflections, Meade saw his own reflection as he expected, but his brother’s reflection was a skeleton! Steven died shortly after that. Meade says that although his brother died, he has not left the mansion.
Some restoration workers saw Steven in an upstairs window while they were working on the fountain. One worker saw a little blond boy, and he called his coworkers attention to it. As they were looking, he faded away. The second worker refused to come back to the house after that.
Mysterious Activities in the Baleroy Mansion
The restoration worker’s son was working in the basement when he heard a voice calling his name. He answered, but when he got no response, he went to see who had called him, assuming it was his father. Soon he found that they were alone in the house and his father had been on the third floor. He refused to work in the basement after that.
One night when George Meade was entertaining, he and the guests heard a loud crash from the house. Upon investigation, they found that the portrait of Steven was lying on the floor of the Gallery. The painting had come off the wall and flown fifteen feet. The nail was still in the wall and the wire was still intact and undamaged on the back of the portrait. There was no worldy explanation for that.
Steven is not the only family member still hanging around Baleroy. Meade has seen his uncle and his mother. There are loud footsteps, knocks at doors, and most disconcerting, pressure on the bed as if someone is sitting on it.
People blame Amanda to cause a bluish fog. Although she is one of the most well-known ghosts there, she is not a relative, and the reason for her haunting is unknown. Amanda appeared on the staircase to a former curator there after he had sat in her chair. Then, He claimed that Amanda was stalking him, making him lose his mind. He died a month later.
A psychic who visited the house says that Amanda is not evil. According to her theory, Amanda appeared to the curator to help him cross over. She also claims that the ghost of the deceased curator is also now at Baleroy!
Betsy Ross House
Betsy Ross was born in 1752, named Elizabeth, but usually called ‘Betsy’. She was a fourth-generation American; her great grandfather had settled in New Jersey in 1680, one year before William Penn founded Philadelphia. She was the eighth child of 17.
Her family was Quaker, and when she eloped in 1773 with John Ross, an Episcopalian, it caused a major upset for her family. Quakers did not accept inter-denominational marriages. The offending parties were subsequently cut off emotionally and financially from their family and the entire Quaker community.
Her marriage was short – John Ross joined the colonial militia in 1776 and was fatally wounded when an ammunition cache he was guarding exploded. Betsy tried in vain to nurse him back to health, but he succumbed to his injuries. In June of that same year, George Washington asked Betsy Ross to sew the first American Flag.
In 1777, Betsy married again, this time to a sea Captain, John Ashbourn. They had two daughters, but one died in infancy. In 1782, her husband was captured by the British while he was attempting to get supplies for the colonial army. He was imprisoned in Old Mill Prison in England, where he died shortly after.
Sadly, he died in March 1782, several months after the british surrender at Yorktown, which was the last major battle of the war. Betsy was told of her husband’s death by another sailor, John Claypoole, who had also been imprisoned in Old Mill.
The next year, Betsy married John Claypoole and they had 5 daughters, one of whom died. betsy retired in 1827 and moved in with one of her daughters in Abington, PA. She died in 1836.
Ghost of Betsy Ross
Although “Ross” was her surname for a brief period, it is by this name she is always known. Her house is a popular stop for visitors to Philadelphia. Many visitors have reported seeing the ghost of Betsy seated by the foot of the basement bed. She appears to be crying.
She experienced so much loss in her life. One guide also reported that while in the basement kitchen, she heard a female voice say , “Pardon Me.”
Another source for a basement haunting could be that a gift shop employee who was murdered during a robbery years ago.
Bishop White House
This house is located at 3rd & Walnut, across the street from the Curtis Adjustment Bureau. Locals know it as “the most haunted house in Independence Park”. Rangers report feeling uneasy in the house and avoid entering it alone and at night. Shadowy shapes are reported throughout the house.
Bishop White was chaplain to the Second Constitutional Convention and the U.S. Senate. He was born in Philadelphia, and became very popular due to his charity work and to the ministering of the sick in 1793 during the Yellow Fever epidemic.
This epidemic claimed 1 of 5 residents, including the Bishop’s neighbor, Dr. Rush. Sources believe that he escaped infection because he smoked a great deal and that this repelled the mosquitoes, which are the source of the infection.
The present structure is a reconstruction of the original structure, which was destroyed in a fire in 1854. The fire not only claimed the City Tavern, but a young bride and several members of her bridal party. The City Tavern was, and still is, a popular location for wedding parties.
In 1854, the bridal party had taken over the upstairs for their preparations. At that time, light was provided by candles and fireplaces. The groom’s party was downstairs waiting in the public area. No one in the bridal party noticed that a candle had tipped over, or that the drapes had begun to smoulder. No one noticed the fire creeping across the rug towards the party.
In fact, this happened so quickly that I strongly suspect that it was not a candle that tipped over but an oil lamp. The flames moved across the rug and caught the train of the bride’s dress. Fabric being what it was back then, she was almost instantly consumed and then the party noticed that most of the room was engulfed in flames.
The groom and his attendants attempted to save the bridal party, but were largely unsuccessful. The bride and many of her attendants perished. Moreover, the City Tavern had to be demolished. What a sad ending to what was to have been the happiest day of her life!
The City Tavern was rebuilt and reopened, and continues to host wedding parties. Over the years members of parties, particularly wedding parties, have noticed the face of an unknown woman in photos taken upstairs. In the photos she wear what looks like a bridal gown. Some patrons have even seen the apparition of the phantom bride in the halls and rooms of the tavern.
Eastern State Penitentiary
This was a model prison in its day, with a central hub and hallways extending from it like the spokes of a wheel. It features an innovative design, in that it enabled the prison to operate with smaller numbers of guards as the inmates could be observed from the central tower.
Other prisons, including Carbon County Jail copied this design. It was built with the Quaker view of prisons in mind; that is, criminals could be rehabilitated through solitary confinement and hard labour. Each cell had its own lavatory and exercise area.
The prisoners were kept in complete solitude and allowed one hour of exercise per day. Each ceiling had a slit to let in daylight. No reading material other than the Bible was permitted. There was no communication between the prisoners or between the guards and the prisoners.
If a prisoner was to leave his cell, he had to wear a hood over his head. The prison has held some notorious characters, such as Al Capone and Willie Sutton. The prison was finally down in 1970, in very bad shape.
We have been to this location several times. Every time, something unexplained happened – day or night. One night time investigation yielded 14 separate EVP’s that occurred during a one hour vigil in Cell Block 12. We even got one rare Voice recording that we heard and recorded at the same time.
We saw shadows and heard voices from empty cells, and were physically touched. The most active areas for paranormal activity in our experience are Cell Block 12, Death Row Cells, and the hole.
First National Bank
This is the oldest bank building in America and was established to create a standard currency. It was built in 1795, while Philadelphia was still the capital of the U.S. The first treasurer, Alexander Hamilton, saw the need for this national bank, and it was founded under his guidance.
Unfortunately, Hamilton was constantly bothered by questions concerning his birth, his honesty and his integrity, even though he was truly an honest man. He was just someone who spoke his mind. This straightforwardness of his character is what caused him to end up in a duel with Aaron Burr in Weehauken, NJ in 1804.
He was badly wounded in the duel, and died the next day. At his death, he was very deeply in debt, and left behind his wife and several children.
In the days immediately following his death, people saw the ghost of Alexander Hamilton in the bank. In 1811, the Congress voted to abandon the bank and its charter. Later, Stephen Girad purchased this bank. He also brought a Catholic priest in to bless the building. Although there were fewer sightings of Hamilton after that, there have been sporadic encounters over the years.
5267 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
This was once the summer home of the Wister family. The house became their primary residence during the yellow fever epidemic. The family was not in residence during the battle of Germantown and British General James Agnew chose the house for his headquarters.
The general was fatally wounded in the battle. He died in the front parlor, where his blood stains can still be seen on the floor. His bloodstains are not the only thing that linger at the house. The General’s ethereal presence can be felt there as well.
The General’s ghost is not the only one at Grumblethorpe. The other spirit is said to be that of a woman named Justinia. She was orphaned in the yellow fever epidemic and taken in by the Wisters. Justinia loved to bake bread, and baked bread every Friday night for distribution to the poor on Saturday morning.
Justinia died in 1820, but her spirit has never left the house that was her home. Most likely, you can encounter her spirit on Friday evenings after sunset. Sometimes her presence is accompanied by the sweet smell of freshly baked bread.
The house is now restored and has been refurnished to match the original period, and contains many interesting pieces. it is definitely worth a visit! Many of the things on display in the house belonged to the Wister family, like scientific equipment, Owen Wister’s desk, and Sally Wister’s bedroom.
252-253 Camac St. Philadelphia
Camac Street is one of the oldest streets in Philadelphia, and it is the only wooden block street in America. The wooden blocks are now under the paving. There is a tunnel under the street which may have been used in the Underground Railroad, or may have served a less noble purpose. The area has had a very interesting history.
The site itself was built in 1824. For a while, Camac Street was the center of a red light district in Philadelphia. Fortunately, the area was cleaned up and it has become a very exclusive area today. The restaurant is really two row homes that were restored by the current owners after a fire.
Staff and patrons have reported chandeliers swinging in a circle, doors mysteriously opening, a figure on the second floor landing, and disembodied footsteps.
The footsteps are described as a step/drag kind of sound. A picture in the second floor corridor reportedly flew off the wall and hit the opposite wall. Dishes have flown off of racks in the kitchen and disembodied voices have been heard. The footsteps may be the spirit of a previous owner’s father, who had helped in the rebuilding.
He became very attached to the property and unfortunately passed away right before his son’s restaurant opened there. People claim he wears heavy boots and walks with a limp! Last time we checked, the Inn Philadelphia was not open to the public.
Lemon Hill Mansion
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Henry Pratt purchased this property in 1799 from a Robert Morris. In 1800, Pratt built the present mansion called Lemon Hill. It was called Lemon Hill after the reknowned lemon trees in the Morris greenhouses.
At times, visitors have reported the smell of fresh lemons, even though the trees and greenhouses are no longer there. Apparitions of those who tended the gardens have been seen as well, still lovingly tending their gardens.
According to reports, two on patrol city police officers saw a woman in white coming from the direction of Lemon Hill. She crossed the road in front of them and walked down towards the river.
Something about her made them think she was in trouble or possibly a suicide, so they called out to her. When she did not respond, they followed her to the river, where she disappeared right in front of them!
4650 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
Loudoun is said to be one of the most haunted houses in Philadelphia, often tying with Baleroy Mansion for the title. The mansion was built in 1801, as the home of Thomas Armat. It was built on the site of the Battle of Germantown, over an area known to contain the bodies of casualties of the battle.Loudoun is the home of 5 earthbound spirits.
One spirit is that of Maria Dickinson Logan, who died in 1939. She usually remains present in her old bedroom. Some of her personal items are on display there, and sometimes they move, as if someone is using them.
In life, Maria was not the kindest of people. Her spirit seems to resent the intrusion of strangers into her private bedroom – a feeling many of us can identify with. A woman who spent the night there reported that she saw an older woman with a clenched fist sitting on the edge of the bed in Maria’s former bedroom.
There is also the ghost of Willie, a little boy who is believed to be the spirit of William Armat Logan, the mentally retarded son of Gustavus and Anna Logan. He died in 1860 when he was eight years old. His spirit is mischevious, and often moves things around, hides things, and places things where they don’t belong.
The shadowy figure of a man has been seen on the staircase, a woman in a rocking chair has been seen in the sunroom, and the spirit of a little girl about 6 or 7 years old wanders the corridors at night.
The Moshulu Ship
Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia
This is the world’s largest and oldest four-masted sailing ship still afloat! It was originally named “Kurt” by the German owners, and was launched in 1904 in Scotland. During World War I, she was captured by the U.S. and renamed “Moshulu”, which is Senecan for “fearless”.
The Moshulu has had a long, eventful history. 28 people have died on board. This ship/restaurant hosts the “Lantern Ghost”. There used to be lanterns on all the tables. They are extinguished at closing time. This is always carefully checked by the employees, as the interior of the restaurant was destroyed in 1989 by a fire. Nevertheless, lanterns remain burning when the staff opens in the morning.
Mount Pleasant Mansion
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Mount Pleasant was built as the country residence of a successful Scottish sea captain (some say pirate) John Macpherson. In 1775, John Adams described it as “the most elegant seat in PA”. During his seafaring days, Captain Macpherson had his arm shot off. Visitors to the mansion have reported seeing the figure of a man with one arm.
A security guard reportedly saw a pair of red slippers walking down the stairs with no one in them!
321. S. Fourth Street, Philadelphia, PA
Samuel Powel was the last mayor of Philadelphia under British rule and then the first mayor of independent Philadelphia. He purchased this Georgian style house in 1769.
In 1965, a respected historian, Edwin Moore reported seeing General Lafayette and several other ghosts of Continental Army officers ascending the magnificent mahogany staircase.
Moore’s wife reported seeing the ghost of a young woman in a beige and lavender gown in the drawing room. She saw the woman fanning herself and smiling, and she stamped her foot twice and then disappeared.
Others claimed to have seen this lovely young female ghost as well. Although she often speculated, Mrs. Moore was unable to ascertain the identity of the ghost until she was planning an eighteenth century costume ball.
Mrs. Moore wanted an authentic costume for the ball. In the course of her search she came across a woman who had an authentic eighteenth century gown available for her to wear. The woman told her it must be fate, because the gown she had was an actual gown worn by Peggy Shippen (wife of benedict Arnold) at the last party she attended, which had been held at the Powel House!
Mrs. Moore had a shocking experience seeing the woman lift a beige and lavender gown, identical to the one she saw on the ghost, from the storage case. So through a twist of fate, the identity of the mystery woman came into light.
The drawing room that Peggy Shippen appears in, is the room that is located immediately to the left as you walk in. She has been sighted in other areas of the house as well, but this is the most likely place to see her.
Walnut St., Philadelphia
Washington Square is one of the original five squares that were laid out in 1682 when William Penn was planning the city of Philadelphia. At that time, it was called Southeast Square, since the Quakers did not believe in naming places for people.
From approximately 1704 to 1794, the square was “potter’s field” and then, a burial yard for strangers. Generally, the unfortunates interred here were simply wrapped in canvas and buried without coffins or ceremony.
The Joshua carpenter family purchased a private family burial ground in the center of the square when a female family member committed suicide and was unable to be buried in the church cemetery.
Rites like those of the Mexican “Day of the Dead” were also practiced in the burial ground. The black community would go to the graves of their friends and relatives and leave offerings of food and rum. Slaves used the square during holidays, holding dances and honoring the “sleeping dust” below.
By the mid 1700’s, the square was found to be good pasture land, and was leased by Jasper carpenter for that purpose. This pastoral period was brief. In 1776, fallen soldiers from the Colonial Army were buried in the square. Pits were dug along 7th street and the coffins were piled in on top of one another until the space was full.
Pits were then dug out on the south side of the square and put to the same use. The British took Philadelphia in 1777, and used the Walnut Street Jail, which faces Washington Square, to hold their prisoners. The conditions were less than ideal, and more unfortunates were buried in the park. The park was also used as a mass grave during the yellow fever epidemic in 1793.
- Check these most haunted places in Washington
Creepy History of the Washington Square
In 1805, the square was no longer a cemetery, but improvements did not begin until 1815, when it began its transformation into a public park. Thus, to to honor George Washington, they named it Washington Square in 1825.
In spite of the beautification projects, one can still hear the echoes of the squares past macabre. The square is said to be haunted by Leah, a Quaker woman who patrolled the cemetery late at night to protect the deceased from grave robbers.
Many ghost tour guests, and even a Philadelphia City police officer had seen her. A paranormal investigator had a heart attack after seeing something in this park. As you visit the park, please take notice of this- although the nearby streets and many of the other parks are full of homeless people sleeping on the benches, Washington Square is nearly empty.
These were some of the most haunted places in Philadelphia. If you are a horror aficionado, take a visit to the aforementioned places and tell us your favorite one. In case you have plans to visit other parts of the state, we have enlisted them all-