Four hot spots for horrifying haunts and spooky specters

Floating orbs? Or floating dust? Skeptics might change their minds after a tour of Edinburgh Manor in Monticello. Photo: Edinburgh Manor

Does “Iowa Nice” apply to ghosts? Not always. Our fair state has no shortage of urban legends, scary stories and paranormal sightings. So you can celebrate Halloween with a trip to some of the places in Iowa with haunted reputations. (But don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Malvern ManorMalvern: This spooky destination began as a thriving hotel in 1869, an easy rest stop near the railroad station. The hotel’s business dwindled as cars replaced trains, and it was eventually converted into a nursing home, which closed years ago. Present-day visitors have reported hearing voices, feeling touches or pushes, and seeing spirits of long-dead residents.

Franklin HotelStrawberry Point: The historic hotel first opened in 1903 and still welcomes guests today, following a 1989 restoration. It’s rumored that one ghostly guest never checked out: An apparition of a woman named Lily is sometimes spotted wandering the halls to and from her old room, singing to herself and wearing her 1920s gown. A spirited former employee named Leo also haunts the halls and is known to ring the hotel’s bell system at night.

Edinburgh ManorMonticello: This property was originally designated as a poor farm. Residents were allowed to stay at the house rent-free in exchange for their labor. More than 150 people died on the property over the course of its operation, from 1850 to 1910, and the building was eventually converted into a home for elderly, disabled and mentally ill patients for the next 100 years. The last patients and staff vacated the building in 2010 … or did they? Ghosts of the dead are said to roam inside the house and the surrounding fields.

Farrar SchoolhouseMaxwell: The schoolhouse opened in 1922, consolidating several classes from one-room schoolhouses in the surrounding towns. The school closed in 2002 and sat empty until 2006 when a local couple bought the building and moved in. They were restoring it to its original splendor when they realized they weren’t alone. One owner felt a hand steady her as she lost her balance on a flight of stairs, saving her from a nasty fall. Other guests have reported hearing children’s laughter and phantom footsteps running the halls. And guess what? The property is for sale, so you could become the lucky new owner of your very own haunted school.

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