KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It’s the season of carved pumpkins and creepy decorations. A season where scaring the living daylights out of someone is not only the norm but is encouraged. Halloween is coming.
Haunted houses and venues filled with people in gory and downright spine-tingling costumes are open across the metro, but there are a few places that hold the title of haunted house year round.
For those looking for a real-life ghost hunt this season, here are a few choice locations where a cold draft and the sight of a shadow caught out of the corner of your eye may be more than you think.
JOHN WORNALL HOUSE
6115 Wornall Road
Kansas City, Mo.
Nestled in a normal-looking neighborhood in south Kansas City is one of the area’s oldest and most infamous haunted homes. Ghostly figures and untraceable smells of pipe tobacco have been reported by employees and guests alike at the John Wornall House.
A wealthy farmer in Jackson County, John Bristow Wornall built the house in 1858. The Civil War broke out soon after its construction, and the historic Battle of Westport occurred just years later a few blocks from the home. The residence eventually became a field hospital during the war, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were treated.
But not all the soldiers could be saved, and so the ghost stories were born. Spirits from the war are said to roam the halls of what is now the John Wornall Museum. Visitors can experience the creepy atmosphere for themselves with events like nighttime ghost tours or after-hour visits with professional paranormal investigators.
9th & Central
Kansas City, Mo.
Currently under renovation, Hotel Savoy is thought to be one of the oldest buildings in downtown Kansas City.
Built in 1888, the hotel has had centuries to build up plenty of ghost stories. According to Visit KC, two past guests are said to have never checked out of the Savoy.
One ghostly resident named Betsy Ward is said to have passed away of a sudden heart attack in room 505. Witnesses say the shower turned on and off by itself and they have heard music coming from the room when no one was inside. Other incidents include doors on the inside of the room opening on its own.
Other witnesses say they’ve seen a spirit on the fourth floor. Hotel guests and staff say they have heard mysterious voices and have seen strange shadows. Some say they’ve seen the ghost of a man dressed in clothing from the 1930s.
Hotel Savoy should open sometime next year as a 120-room upscale hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, event space, and contemporary art museum.
THE ELMS HOTEL AND SPA
401 Regent Street
Excelsior Springs, Mo.
A short trip outside the Kansas City metro, The Elms Hotel & Spa is rich in interesting history and ghost stories.
The original hotel was built in 1880 after a local farmer discovered the healing mineral waters in Excelsior Springs. Over the centuries, fires claimed two earlier incarnations of the hotel. While neither fire claimed any lives, there are rumors that one of the spirits was involved in one of the fires.
According to some of the ghost legends, the spirit of a gambler involved with illegal activities during the speakeasy days of the Prohibition can be found near the lap pool. Others say the housekeeping staff has a spiritual adviser in the form of a ghost wearing a 1920s-style uniform.
Hotel staff and guests seem to agree that the ghosts who reside at The Elms are friendly.
The Elms fully embraces its history and even offers a paranormal package for curious guests that includes a tour of the property.
1325 Odd Fellows Rd.
This land used to belong to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The fraternal organization turned 113 acres into a complex for its members and their families. Buildings on the property used to house an orphanage, a home for the elderly and a nursing home.
Some say they have heard disembodied voices and footsteps along with music playing. Some people have even reported feeling their clothing being tugged on.
Belvoir offers public paranormal investigations several times throughout the year. Those events are posted on the online calendar.
935 Shawnee Rd.
Kansas City, Kan.
A vacant home with definite creep-factor, Sauer Castle looms on a ridge behind a fence in Kansas City, Kansas.
The home was built in the 18th-century mansion was built by Anton Phillip Sauer, a German immigrant who first came to Kansas City in the 1860s. Sauer lived in the home with his five daughters and soon married a young widow with children of her own.
In 1879, Sauer succumbed to a sickness and reportedly died in the home. Five generations of the Sauer family continued to live at Sauer Castle and collected a sad history along the way, including other natural deaths in the home, a reported suicide, and the death of an infant.
The most eye-catching part of the home is the watchtower, where much of the ghostly activity has been reported. Though the castle has been vacant for over a decade, some report seeing lights in the tower, as well as the figures of people standing and walking in front of the windows.
Please respect the no-trespassing signs and take in this local haunt outside the fence.
1500 N Liberty St.
With 31 rooms, 9 marble fireplaces and a 48,000-gallon wine cellar, the Vaile Mansion in Independence is an impressive sight brimming with history. While the mansion is open for visitors year-round, some say ghosts have been haunting it for decades.
The home was built in 1881 by Colonel Harvey Vaile and his wife, Sophia. Only two years later, tragedy struck the family. Sophia, who had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, was found dead in the home due to a morphine overdose. Vale never remarried and eventually died in 1895.
After that, the mansion changed hands several times. At one point, it was even converted into an asylum and sanatorium. The mansion was eventually bought by the City of Independence and restored to its former glory. It’s now a historic house museum operated by the Vaile Victorian Society.
Some report seeing Sophia’s ghost throughout the mansion, even peering out of the windows at people passing by.
THE SALLIE HOUSE
508 N 2nd St.
A little less than an hour from Kansas City, you’ll find what many consider to be the most haunted house in Kansas. The Sallie House in Atchison was once home to a doctor and his family. The doctor would run his practice on the bottom floor of the house.
The doctor’s most famous patient was a 6-year-old girl named Sallie and it’s said her spirit has never left the home. The child was brought to the home by her frantic mother, who said her daughter had collapsed from severe abdominal pain. The doctor diagnosed Sallie with appendicitis and said she needed immediate surgery. As the legend goes, the doctor started cutting into Sallie before the anesthesia took full effect. She died on the operating table.
Over the years, many tried to make the house a home. Some reported strange occurrences throughout the house, and they transformed from curious to ominous. One family reported fires randomly breaking out in the home, and the husband was the target of attacks that left marks on his chest and abdomen. The wife and child were never harmed, however.
There are several options to tour the home. Self-guided tours are offered through the month of October, while guided tours are offered all year. Overnight stays are also an option - if you dare.