California's Spookiest Houses

Eureka's Carson Mansion is on the list; what else made the creepy cut?

EERIE ABODES: The Golden State certainly has its share of haunted hotels -- Hotel del Coronado, Hollywood Roosevelt, the Groveland Hotel in Groveland, Ventura's Pierpont Inn, we're looking at you -- through splayed fingers, of course -- but homes are a different story. For one, most homes are lived in by parties who do not regularly open their doors to strangers and charge admission for a ghostly walk-through. There are a few homes, however, that have become landmarks; some you can visit, one you can't, except the outside, but even an exterior walk-by is well worth a stop.

CARSON MANSON: We're talking about Eureka's own Carson Mansion, a tower-topped Victorian pile so famous and familiar that it has become a stand-in for the concept of "haunted house" in graphics and spooky attractions the world over. (The North Coast Journal featured an excellent piece a few years back on how the Carson shows up on various sites and books as a stock haunted house; check out the site for this Roseville haunted attraction.) The Carson, however, cannot be entered -- it is home to the private Ingomar Club -- but you can admire and snap photos from the sidewalk.

WHALEY HOUSE: If there's a cable show talking about America's Spookiest Former Homes, this San Diego landmark is given a full segment. It's regularly called "California's Most Haunted House" by people who deem things to be haunted, which is impressive; that the historic casa, which is open for non-haunted tours in addition to ghost walks, gets into the spirit of its spooky reputation delights. October is the time of year when more ghost tours are added.

WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE: There are several ways to talk about San Jose's, and possibly the state's, most enigmatic manor. You can talk about the Winchester gun history, which funded the epic building. You can talk about mediums, and Sarah Winchester's pursuit of a home that would satisfy the spirits. You can talk about a house that has become a legend, locally and around the world. It rambles, it is gorgeous, and there are flashlight tours, too. Eek! But a good eek, of course.

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