Are you interested in exploring the haunted side of Iowa? From abandoned schools to grand Victorian mansions, the state of Iowa is home to many eerie and mysterious locations that are said to be haunted by the spirits of the past. From ghostly apparitions to unexplained noises, these haunted places are sure to give you a spooky experience. Here are ten of the most haunted places in Iowa that are sure to give you a thrill.
10 The Cresco Theatre and Opera House
The Cresco Theatre and Opera House was first opened in 1915 and is still in operation 108 years later. Today, it mostly only shows current movies, but back in its prime, those who dreamed of stardom took to the Cresco Theatre’s stage in an attempt to obtain it. One of the main acts it used to host was the Trocadero Vaudevilles. This act consisted of dancers, clowns, trapeze artists, and even talented dogs. Today, locals of Cresco claim that the Vaudevilles preforms have come back to the theatre after death to continue to perform.
Over the years, countless reports of supernatural occurrences have swirled around the theater, drawing in both curious visitors and avid ghost hunters. A ghostly presence is often sensed in the form of cold drafts and faint, disembodied voices, adding an eerie layer to the theater’s already captivating ambiance. Visitors to the Cresco Theatre and Opera House have experienced a range of inexplicable phenomena, from unexplained lights flickering in the darkness to the inexplicable sound of footsteps echoing through empty corridors.
9 The Independence Mental Health Institute
The Independence Mental Health Institute in Iowa is said to be haunted by the spirits of former patients and staff. The hospital, which opened in 1873, was used to treat patients with mental illness and was known for its inhumane treatment methods. Many of the patients were subjected to lobotomies and shock therapy, and many died while in the hospital’s care.
There have been numerous reports of ghostly sightings and strange occurrences within the hospital. Some claim to have seen the ghost of a nurse who died in the hospital, while others have reported hearing screams and moans coming from the empty halls. Some have also claimed to have seen the ghost of a patient who died while being restrained.
The hospital was closed in 1991 and has since been abandoned. However, many people still visit the site, drawn by its dark history and the stories of ghostly sightings. While it is not open to the public, it’s considered a popular spot for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts.
8 The Villisca Axe Murder House
The Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa is a site of one of the most gruesome and unsolved mass murders in American history. On June 10, 1912, eight people, including six children, were brutally murdered in their beds with an axe. The gruesome crime shocked the small town of Villisca and the nation, and the killer was never caught.
The house where the murders took place still stands today and is open for tours, giving visitors a chilling glimpse into the past. Visitors can see the bedrooms where the murders took place, and the axe used in the murders is on display. The house is said to be haunted by the spirits of the victims, and many visitors have reported strange occurrences such as ghostly apparitions, unexplained noises, and a feeling of unease while inside the house.
7 The Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City
Cemeteries are understandably disturbing and creepy on their own. However, some are claimed to be much more malevolent and haunted than others. The Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the Midwest.
Many claim this place is haunted by the spirits of former residents and Civil War soldiers who are buried there. The cemetery, which was established in 1843, is the final resting place for many of Iowa City’s earliest settlers and veterans from the Civil War. There have been numerous reports of ghostly sightings and strange occurrences within the cemetery. Some claim to have seen the ghost of a Civil War soldier wandering among the graves, while others have reported hearing strange noises and feeling a sense of unease while visiting the cemetery.
One of the most famous ghost stories associated with Oakland Cemetery is that of the “Black Angel.” The statue is said to be haunted by the spirit of the woman it was created to commemorate. It was erected in 1913 by a local businessman, Nicholas Feldevert, to honor his deceased wife, Theresa, who was buried in the cemetery. The statue is a tall, black bronze sculpture that depicts a winged angel standing on a stone pedestal.
The statue quickly became a popular local landmark and has been the subject of many ghost stories and legends. Some people believe that the statue is cursed and that it brings bad luck to those who gaze upon it.
6 Farrar Elementary School
The old abandoned Farrar Elementary School in Iowa is a haunted relic of the past. It stands as a spooky reminder of the days when laughter and learning filled the now-vacant halls.
Built in the 1920s, the school was a bustling center of education until it was closed down in 2001 when the population of Farrar, Iowa, began to have more dead residents than it had living. Although the building stands abandoned, many claim that they never feel alone.
As you step inside the school, you can feel the presence of the former students and staff, their spirits still lingering in the halls. Some say that you can hear the ghostly laughter of children who once attended the school, and others claim to have seen the ghost of a young girl who died in the school. It’s said that a janitor who worked at the school still roams the hallways, his ghostly presence felt by many visitors.
The school holds a dark past, and many visitors have reported feeling a sense of dread or unease while inside the building. Some have even claimed to have experienced physical sensations such as cold spots and being touched by unseen hands.
5 The Maple Hill Mansion
The Maple Hill Mansion, or the Haunted Mansion of Jaspar County, in Iowa is a grand, Victorian-style home that is said to be haunted by the malevolent spirits of former residents and their servants. The mansion, which was built in the late 1800s, was once the home of a wealthy businessman and his family. It’s a grand, three-story building with ornate architecture and beautiful gardens. It even supposedly served as a stop along the underground railroad. The proof is that there is a hidden underground tunnel connecting the house to the barn.
Throughout the years, visitors and staff of the mansion have reported strange occurrences such as ghostly apparitions, unexplained noises, and even being physically grabbed by apparitions. Some claim to have seen the ghost of a former resident standing at the upstairs windows at night, while others have reported hearing the sounds of slamming doors from empty rooms.
4 The Mars Hill Church
The Mars Hill Church in Iowa is a historic, abandoned church that is said to be haunted by the spirits of former congregants and ministers. The church, which was built in the late 1800s, was once a thriving center of worship for the local community. However, as the years passed, the congregation dwindled, and the church was eventually abandoned.
Now, the church stands empty, a relic of a bygone era. But, it’s not completely deserted, as many visitors claim to have seen ghostly apparitions and heard strange noises coming from within the church. Some have reported seeing the ghost of a former minister, who still preaches to an empty congregation, while others have heard the ghostly hymns of a choir that no longer exists.
One of the most intriguing ghost stories associated with Mars Hill Church is that of the “Phantom Bell Ringer.” According to legend, the bell of the church was rung by the ghost of a former congregant who passed away before he could ring the bell for the last time. Many visitors and staff have claimed to hear the bell ringing on its own, even though the bell hasn’t been rung in decades.
3 Chuck and Edna’s Maid-Rite
On the outside, Chuck and Edna’s Maid-Rite appears to look like any other mom-and-pop restaurant. If you go there, you’ll be welcomed with a delicious Maid-Rite sandwich, an ice cream cone, and a ghost. Yes, a ghost.
According to locals, Maid-Rite is haunted. Ever since its grand opening, there have been strange occurrences that can’t be explained by anything but the paranormal. There’s camera footage of strange apparitions in the restaurant, one of which looks like a man standing at the dishwashing station and then disappearing when, in reality, no one was there.
Another incident could have perhaps been a ghostly prank or an attempt to do something more malevolent. A stack of Styrofoam cups that was sitting on the back of a shelf began to slide off on its own and then hit an employee on the head. The hauntings became so frequent that the owners called ghost hunters to investigate.
2 Geigel Woods
Geigel Woods, or “Little Africa,” is supposedly very paranormally active. It is said to be haunted by the spirits of former residents and soldiers who have died in the area. The woods, which are located near a former military training ground, have a dark history that dates back to the Civil War. Many soldiers who died during training exercises were buried in the woods, and the spirits of these soldiers are said to still haunt the area.
There have been numerous reports of ghostly sightings and strange occurrences within the woods. Some claim to have seen the ghosts among the trees and have seen objects fly through the air. Many visitors to the woods have reported feeling a sense of dread while inside the area and the feeling of being watched.
1 The Mason House Inn
The Mason House Inn in Iowa is said to be haunted by the spirits of former owners and guests. The inn, which was built in 1846, has a long history of hosting guests and has been a popular destination for travelers over the years.
Throughout the years, three of the owners of the inn have died on the grounds, and one guest was murdered. Supposedly, their unruly souls remained and have been haunting the grounds since. Additionally, the inn served as a hospital during the Civil War and experienced numerous deaths and tragedies then.
Today, guests and staff alike have reported strange occurrences such as apparitions and unexplained noises. Some even claim that their bags become miraculously unpacked and strewn about the room. The ghosts are so popular at the inn that ghost hunters have become regular guests and even host special paranormal events at the inn.