Located in the Golden State, San Francisco is known for things like the Golden Gate Bridge, the hippies of Haight Ashbury, and the prison island Alcatraz. But for those who love all things spooky (like us), this city has an abundance of something far more peculiar and interesting: haunted houses.
Yes, haunted houses in San Francisco are a thing, and we’re not talking about the types where someone in a costume yells Boo! While those are cute for kids on Halloween, we’re talking about real homes and buildings with dark stories and twisted tales, where spirits and energies are known to still lurk about.
Today, you can visit plenty of haunted houses in San Francisco, where you’re bound to run into a spirit or presence. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Interested in learning more? Here is the ultimate list of haunted houses in San Francisco.
Haunted Houses in San Francisco
This mansion in San Jose is not only gorgeous: it has a very unusual story behind it, and yes, is said to be haunted. Sarah Winchester arrived in the Bay Area in the 1880s, and bought what was originally an eight-room farmhouse.
But Sarah had other plans for the property, and she started an enormous effort to renovate the house. While this is not all that unusual of an idea, the way Sarah executed it was bizarre. She continuously renovated the house for 36 years, only stopping when she died in 1922.
By the time of Sarah’s death, the home was considered far ahead of its time, with elements such as elevators and central heating. But those weren’t the most unusual features of the house.
Sarah included many oddities in the home, such as doors that can’t be walked through, staircases that lead to ceilings, and a cabinet that has a secret passage. No one knows the reason why, or why she spent so many years transforming the massive home.
Today, many employees and guests claim to cross paths with specific spirits, such as one named “Clyde,” who is a mustached man. In reality, there was a worker on the property with a mustache by that name.
People also report feeling tugs on their clothing and the patter of footsteps. Because it is such a hotspot for activity, the house has been visited by many paranormal investigators. One medium even says he channeled Sarah herself during a seance dinner, where the former owner was apparently pleased about the amount of visitors in her home.
While many hotels in San Francisco are besieged by vengeful spirits, this isn’t the case at the Queen Anne. No, instead this hotel is known to be haunted by one of the friendliest ghosts around.
This hotel was built in 1890, and it was originally an exclusive girls’ boarding school. Stories surrounding the school start with the headmistress Miss Mary Lake, who allegedly had an affair with a Senator.
The rumors haunted Miss Mary until her death, and afterwards, the hotel had many owners, including brothel owners and church caretakers.
Today, visitors do report encountering a ghost at the hotel, but this one appears to be rather friendly. It’s been known to unpack suitcases, tuck guests in, and even sing to them while they fall asleep.
The majority of the reported hauntings have occurred in Room 410, which was once Mary’s office. So it’s possible the former headmistress never really left.
The Haskell House
The Haskell House is known as a haunted mansion today, but it has long been a notable home. This house was known for the famous duel that occurred between the U.S. Senator David Broderick and State Supreme Court Justice David Terry in 1857.
This duel didn’t end well for the Senator. His gun misfired, giving David Terry the opportunity to shoot him in the chest. The Senator later died of his wounds.
Today, visitors report feeling uneasy, and even seeing shadows, and feeling like someone is following them.
There have even been reports of a figure in a top hat lurking around.
Could this be the ghost of the doomed senator?
The Atherton Mansion
The tragedy of George Atherton goes back to the 1800’s. The Athertons were an incredibly wealthy family in the Bay Area, and their son, George, tried to run away from home.
His destination? Chile. While this may sound like a great destination to run off to, George didn’t make it very far.
On his journey, George died of kidney failure, and his body was sent back to his family’s home in San Francisco. His body was buried on the grounds, and today, some believe that his spirit still lurks around.
The mansion has had several owners since then, but it appears something (or someone) keeps scaring them off. There have been reports of wind blowing through empty rooms, unusual cold spots, and even voices in the night.
The Mayhem Mansion
With maybe the spookiest nickname in town, the “Mayhem Mansion” is both a historic home, and a place where people report ghostly encounters.
San Francisco’s historic Haas-Lilienthal mansion goes back to the 1880’s, and while it’s a stunning Victorian landmark, it also is known for likely being haunted. Some workers claim to have seen ghosts, like that of a man in a chauffeur’s uniform, or of a woman in a 19th century outfit.
People also report windows being slammed shut, objects moving, and mysterious voices.
This home is so notorious for being haunted, that it’s turned into a Halloween spectacle every year.
The Old San Francisco Mint
While it’s not a house, this historical building is spooky enough that it hosts an event called “Terror Vault.”
This mint was opened back in the 1800’s during the California Gold Rush, but since then, its doors have been shuttered, and at one point, it was abandoned for 25 years.
Now, there are empty vaults, spooky staircases, and a back alley that is memorable for all the wrong reasons.
This is another haunted house in San Francisco that becomes a seasonal spooky attraction. But even workers here have reported hearing mysterious banging, and things moving with no one in sight.
This house might just be the most haunted in all of San Francisco, and it’s even been called the “House of Demons.” This home was built by J.P. Manrow for his family in 1851, but it appears that they weren’t the only ones to move in: spirits with malicious intent joined them as well.
The very first day the family moved in, someone (or something) moved objects, opened and closed windows, and made strange noises that came from the walls.
Mr. Monrow even is said to have escaped death by a flying ax, that was thrown at him by no one.
After that incident, the family decided to hold a seance to clear the house of the spirits, but this is where things took a turn for the worse. The participants summoned a demonic-looking creature, and the house became a known site for the paranormal.
Today, a run-in with an energy or ghost is almost certain if you visit this house.
This gorgeous building isn’t only on the National Register of Historic Places: it’s known for being notoriously haunted. It was built in 1896 by William Franklin Whittier, but the history of the mansion gets a bit twisted.
William had a son, who died at the age of 52. Today, many people report seeing ghosts, with some speculating that it’s the ghost of the owner’s son, who is still wandering his family’s mansion.
The building was sold to the Nazi government in 1941, and it was used as a German consulate. It’s possible ghosts from this time still lurk around, and parts of the building are known to be haunted by a strange shadow.