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The Spookiest Abandoned Mansions in California
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The Spookiest Abandoned Mansions in California

Don’t believe in ghosts? These abandoned mansions in California will have you doing a double-take.

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6 min read

October 02, 2021

For many people, home is where the heart is. It’s the safest and warmest, a place where they come to relax after a long day—uh, think again. Some of the former homeowners loved their house so much they decided to stay… after passing away. Many believe that all the haunted house stories of the Golden State are related to the Hollywood effect, but (insert an eerie sound) what if they’re not? Don’t believe in ghosts? These abandoned mansions in California will have you doing a double-take. 

Spooky Abandoned Mansions in the Golden State

Since its construction in 1886, the property and mansion were claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles.

Winchester Mystery House

Location: 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose

You may not know about Sarah Winchester, but you’ve definitely heard of the spooky abandoned mansion she left behind, the Winchester Mystery House. The history behind this popular California attraction dates back to 1884, when Sarah, the widow of firearms magnate William Wirt Winchester, moved from their family home in New Haven, Connecticut, to a small eight-room house in San Jose. Over the next 38 years, Sarah continued renovating the house, until it had 160 rooms by the time of her death in 1922.

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It’s said that the house was haunted by the ghosts of Sarah’s late husband, their one-month-old child, and everyone who ever died by her husband’s guns. So, in order to contain the ghosts and confuse them, Sarah added rooms to the house as well as a bunch of inexplicable features. These included doors that open to walls, indoor balconies, and stairs that lead to nowhere. Rumor has it that Sarah made laborers work on the house 24/7 over the span of 38 years—the most planning she ever did was drawing designs on the back of napkins. Sarah also made the workers renovate the rooms over and over, as she never wanted to sleep in the same room twice.

Today, the 24,000-square-feet Winchester Mystery House is one of California’s most beautiful filming locations. The labyrinth Sarah created is a must-visit—the paranormal continues to haunt the house to this day. 

The Rispin Mansion was built with four stories, 22 rooms, and over 7,100 square feet on the grounds of what was called "Camp Capitola".

Rispin Mansion 

Location: 2200 Wharf Road, Capitola

There’s no better setting for a spooky ghost story than at the cursed Rispin Mansion in Capitola. The four-story, 22-room mansion was constructed by one of the founding fathers of Capitola Henry Allen Rispin and his wife, the daughter of a railroad and oil tycoon. The couple never actually lived in the mansion. Instead, Henry used it as a showroom to promote his real estate business, which went down the drain really quickly. A decade later, in 1930, Rispin sold the house to a former business partner. They say that not long after, Rispin died poor and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. 

The Rispin Mansion was later turned into a convent. The nuns hardly ever left the house, despite it being cold and uncomfortable. In 1959, the convent closed, and the mansion became a resting place for the hippies in the area, before being converted into a training arena for a SWAT team. 

Half a century later, in 2009, a fire almost completely ruined the interior of the mansion, and soon, the supernatural came to life. Many who’ve been in the house swear that they’ve seen Rispin himself roaming the hallways, occasionally accompanied by a nun. Creeped out enough? Let’s see whose ghost you’ll encounter if you dare to go to the Rispin Mansion.

Tor House is owned by the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation and has been preserved as it looked during Robinson Jeffers' life.

Tor House 

Location: 26304 Ocean View Avenue, Carmel

Unlike other haunted mansions, the story of Tor House comes from a book—literally. One of America’s greatest poets Robinson Jeffers moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea with his wife Una and built Tor House and Hawk Tower, where he lived until his death in 1962. In his poem “Ghost,” Jeffers talked about his mansion and said that he would haunt his own house one day. He wrote, and we quote: “I imagine 50 years from now a mist gray figure moping about the place in mad moonlight examining the mortar joints, pawing the parasite ivy…” 

The poem caught the attention of the producers of the TV show “Ghost Adventures,” who sent paranormal experts to examine the house. After inspecting the house, the experts agreed that Tor was indeed haunted—but plot twist—it was Una, not Robinson. Are you brave enough to confirm that yourself? See for yourself as you embark on unexpected adventures in Carmel-by-the-Sea (this is even creepier than the abandoned Malibu mansion). 

The Greystone Mansion was a gift from oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny to his son, Edward "Ned" Doheny, Jr. and his family.

Greystone Mansion 

Location: 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills

A murder mystery that led to an abandoned Beverly Hills mansion? Spooky… The Greystone Mansion was built in 1929 by oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny, who gifted it to his son Edward “Ned” Doheny Jr. and his family. The mansion was the most expensive home to be built in California at the time—it cost Doheny four million dollars, which is the equivalent of 60 million dollars today. 

Four months after moving in, Ned’s secretary Hugh Plunkett entered the house using his own set of keys. Moments later, Ned’s wife Lucy claimed to have found them both dead in the guest bedroom. The official story says that Plunkett was angry for not receiving a raise and shot Ned in a murder-suicide. But the unofficial story says that Plunkett was shot in the back—a pretty flexible move to kill oneself. Some say that Plunkett and Doheny were secretly romantically related, so the wife got rid of them both. After the murders, Lucy remarried and lived in the mansion until 1955. 

Today, the mansion is closed to the public but is a famous film location. The cinematic masterpiece There Will be Blood was filmed here, which is loosely based on Doheny’s life. Some people who’ve actually been inside the house say they’ve seen two men walking in the hallways—we wonder who they are… 

The Entity House might look like an ordinary house located in the middle of suburban Los Angeles. But did you know...

The Entity House 

Location: 11547 Braddock Drive, Culver City 

In the early 1970s, single mother Doris Bither claims to have been pinned to the bed by two ghosts while the third assaulted her. Many said that Doris was an unreliable character—she was known for using substances and being on different types of medications. Coincidentally, one morning, Doris ran into Barry Taff and Kerry Gaynor, both of which worked at a parapsychology lab at UCLA. The two didn’t believe Bither’s story at first, but when people confirmed experiencing weird occurrences, they began changing their minds. Visitors swore to have heard banging noises coming from the house’s walls. They also said they witnessed Doris being thrown around like a rag doll by ghosts. 

Later on, Doris and her four sons moved to Texas to escape the paranormal, but she soon realized they followed her—she told paranormal investigators that the ghosts had moved with her and continued to taunt her. What happened next? We don’t know either… 

Fun (?) fact: The house isn't currently an abandoned Los Angeles mansion—the Entity House has residents. Do you think they experience paranormal activity? 

In 2014, the Whaley House was featured on Ghost Adventures as the main investigation of the series' 110th episode.

Whaley House 

Location: 2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego

Some family homes are cursed far before they’re even built—the Whaley House in San Diego is a testament to that. Long before the house was built, the notorious public execution of Yankee Jim Robinson took place on its grounds in 1852. Thomas Whaley wasn’t phased by this; he purchased the land and started building his family house. And so began the deaths… 

Thomas Jr., the youngest of the children, died of scarlet fever when he was only 18 months old. Next was Whaley’s daughter Violet—she couldn’t bear the pain of being divorced and shot herself in the chest. Over the years, many descendants of the family died in the house, including Thomas, his wife Anna, and their children.

They say the house has been unoccupied since, but many claim otherwise. The heavy footsteps of Yankee Jim Robinson, the cries and giggles of a toddler, and the perfume of Anna Whaley are present in the house. But creepiest of all is the sorrowful ghost of Violet, lingering around the second floor. This weird SoCal attraction is one of the most hair-raising places you’ll ever visit—the Whaleys seem to have more stories to tell. 

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