Behold

These Are America’s Spookiest Homes

The Nova House, Youngstown, Ohio. Benjamin Albright shot and killed his son by accident and then killed himself and his wife in 1958. The home has been vacant ever since and still has personal belongings inside.

Seph Lawless

In the last couple of years, Seph Lawless has photographed abandoned places including malls, factories, and houses to illustrate the costs of globalization and the impact of the Great Recession. Inherently, they’ve been pretty haunting images.

But the photos in his new book, 13: An American Horror Story, of empty homes that have seen murders, suicides, and other strange occurrences are downright creepy. And he’s taken them for no other reason than to freak out his viewers. 

“I choose my projects based on I what believe the public wants. I think people want to be scared and they want to fear. As long as it’s in a controlled environment they find it comforting—even empowering. They safely want to watch from a distance on their smartphones as I go inside haunted houses,” he said via email.

The Cater House Estate in Buffalo, New York, was home to a local sheriff who shot himself after the place went into foreclosure in 1968. The house has remained vacant ever since, but locals claim they regularly hear voices coming from it.

Seph Lawless

The Temple Haunted Mansion in Detroit, Michigan, was the site of a triple murder in August 1942.

Seph Lawless

The Hooley Haunted Mansion in Texas was home to several strange deaths in the 1970s, when the mansion served as a bed and breakfast.

Seph Lawless

These places aren’t like the campy attractions you might visit for thrills this Halloween. Among them is the childhood bedroom of a serial killer, the one-time mansion of a so-called witch, and a former brothel where dead bodies were found. Lawless discovered most of the locations while researching his previous project, “Autospy of America,” in which he traveled the country photographing abandoned areas.

“I wanted the images to be cold, crass, and uncompromising. I wanted the viewer to feel awkward and uneasy when they looked at them,” he said.

Abandoned house in East Cleveland, Ohio, where serial killer Anthony Sowell hid victims’ bodies.

Seph Lawless

The Haught Mansion in Brush Park, Michigan, used to be a brothel. Several dead bodies were later found in the cellar.

Seph Lawless

The childhood bedroom of one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Robert Berdella (also known as the Butcher of Kansas City).

Seph Lawless

Lawless considers himself a “paranormal skeptic,” but still found entering the homes “terrifying.” “I’m more concerned with my reality of being attacked by derelicts, murderers or criminals that often inhabit these places.”  

Still, in some of the homes, Lawless saw and heard things he couldn’t explain. In one house, doors slammed violently shut, seemingly of their own accord. In Detroit, Lawless saw “what appeared to be a pool of blood” in the corner of a room. “I called police but after about an hour the Detroit Police Department didn’t show and I left.”

And the scare factor didn’t end once Lawless finished photographing. “Once, I was home editing and I noticed shadowy figures hiding behind objects in the photos,” he said. “It was more than likely someone in the house was hiding there after I had entered. There’s no way for me to know now since I didn’t edit the images until weeks later.” 

Locals say the owner of Ohio’s Milan Mansion was a practicing witch.

Seph Lawless

The Oliver Family Mansion, Chester, Pennsylvania. The Oliver family went missing in 1898, a mystery that baffled investigators. The family was never found, but locals say they can sometimes see the Olivers in the windows of the mansion.

Seph Lawless

The Doll House in Mansion in Philadelphia is an abandoned mansion full of dolls, saws, and other tools neatly displayed on metal shelves throughout several rooms.
Seph Lawless