Can a place be evil? I don’t mean in the sense that it has a grim or violent past, or that it is merely haunted. I mean can it actually be endowed with malevolent forces to the point where the structure is in and of itself a malignant entity? It may seem like a rather odd concept, but there are certain houses in this world that seem to go far beyond being merely creepy or haunted, to catapult themselves into the realm of being ravenous forces of the supernatural. From instilling insanity, inciting murder, calling people to their deaths, and much more, here are just few incredibly malign houses that are allegedly pure evil.
One residence that has accrued such a dark reputation for evil that it has almost transcended spookiness to become urban legend lies in the famed artist community Greenwich Village, New York City. The historical brownstone house itself sits at 14 West 10th Street, was built in 1850, in later years being split into 10 different apartment units. It is perhaps best known for having once been the home of the beloved author Mark Twain, who lived there from 1900 to 1901, but it is also known for its strange tendency to drive its tenants insane, which has made it a rather notorious little oddity in this bustling city.
Rumor has it that Twain moved away when he couldn’t bear to be there anymore, and a subsequent couple who lived there not too long after supposedly died in a murder suicide on the premises. In the 1960s the actress and poet Jan Bryant Bartell lived there, and chronicled a very strange series of events, beginning with icy cold spots, something cold and unseen often brushing against her, the sudden swelling of a putrid smell like a “rotting miasma” that would come and go without warning, moving objects, odd noises, and sightings of a hulking shadow-like entity lurking about. She would claim that one of her dogs mysteriously and suddenly died for no apparent reason, and that her other dog would constantly sit there and growl at the corner or at an empty chair. Besides this menacing shadow figure, Bartell told of occasionally seeing the ghost of Mark Twain himself, and when she had a spirit medium visit, the medium said that there were Civil War ghosts there, as well as the spirit of a young girl who had been buried under the house, a spectral cat, an aborted fetus, and a terrifying, overwhelming negative energy she could not identify. Other tenants also told of seeing shadow figures and ghosts here.
Bartell would also claim that tenants at the house had a bad habit of dying mysteriously, dropping dead from drug overdoses, suicides, and murder, and she would compile all of this into a book called Spindrift: Spray From a Psychic Sea. Bartell herself would die under mysterious circumstances when she committed suicide right after finishing this book, and the curse doesn’t even seem to have stopped there. In November of 1987, hotshot defense attorney Joel Steinberg flew into a drug fueled rage and brutally beat to death his 6-year-old adopted daughter at the residence, and considering all that had happened before it takes on a rather sinister tone. This one house has allegedly had 22 deaths on its premises over the years, all mysterious or violent, and these ominous stories have earned 14 West 10th Street the nickname “The House of Death.” One ghost tour operator named Marilyn Stults has said of the malevolent, looming property:
It’s very spooky. There just seems to be something evil there. I wish somebody would have a séance there; it’s never been done.
Another house known for being phenomenally evil was launched to public attention by an appearance on the hit ghost hunting show Ghost Adventures, hosted by Zak Bagans. Featured in the 13th season of the show, the house lies in a neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, and is referred to as simply “The Reseda House of Evil,” known to be saturated with some sort of demonic force that twists minds. Ghost Adventures summarizes the location and episode as follows:
A home in Reseda, California, that affects all who enter it, and is rumored to be so evil that inhabitants become drug addicts, and some have been driven to suicide. During Zak and the crew’s investigation, emotions run high; and it becomes a struggle for everyone to keep their sanity.
If the investigation is to be believed at all, then the house certainly lives up to its billing. Hosts Zak, Aaron, and Billy are assailed by violent and very potent negative energy almost immediately upon stepping foot in the rundown, decrepit hovel, which makes them dizzy and gives them headaches. Things steadily escalate from there, with the team hearing voices whispering in their ears, witnessing a mist travel through the room, and Aaron is so overcome with dread that he leaves the house in a panic. There is also a light anomaly caught on film and a generous amount of relentless EVP contact, sometimes obscene, with voices blurting out things such as “I’m human”, “Wanna suck it?”, “Thank you,” ”Be careful,” “He’s here,” “It is him,” “Wait a second,” “Come in here,” and “No.” And this is just the beginning of the fun and games.
As they poke around the increasingly unnerving home, there begins some bizarreness that can only be explained as some sort of demonic possession. Several of the crew members become overwhelmed with violent urges that seem to creep up into them from the darkness, and Billy feels compelled to shout angrily at Zak for no reason. Then whatever dark force there is in that dim room with them inhabits Zak, urging him to roughly grab Billy by the shoulder and blurt out that a demon is messing with Aaron, and Billy proceeds to break down crying. To add to all this, the team catches a thermal image of what appears to be something sitting on a bed even though no one else is there, which actually leaves behind an impression upon the mattress, and they are assailed by cold spots the entire time.
It is all an incredibly intense episode, with the crew later saying that they genuinely feared for their lives in that house. To make it all even creepier, many viewers and fans went over the footage and pointed out all sorts of anomalies, such as orbs, shadows, and even faces looming in the dark, which the crew had not noticed at the time. Of course with Ghost Adventures it is hard to know how much of this is real and how much of it is all a show for ratings, but it is eerie all the same, and one wonders just what the deal is with the Reseda House of Evil.
Finally we come to a supposedly evil house that is lesser known but every bit as scary as the others. Just outside of Baltimore, Maryland is an old abandoned house entangled with weeds and brush that is infused with a dark history that has fueled rumors of curses and demons. The house has long been said to slowly worm its tendrils into the brain of anyone who stays here long enough, causing hallucinations and violent urges, and it has often been described as being permeated with an extremely evil presence. This is encapsulated perfectly with the tale of a man named Stephen Craig Johnson, who was described as a happy, well-adjusted family man, with a new infant son who he loved dearly. That is, until he lived here.
Shortly after moving into the home, his behavior began to change, and he became more erratic and unruly. He would often get irritated over the smallest slights, showed signs of nervousness and paranoia he had never displayed before, and showed definite signs of beginning to mentally derail for reasons unknown. In 1983 things went south quickly, when he started to become convinced that his baby son was Jesus Christ’s son, and although already unsettling this was made even more so by his insistence that this child, who he had loved dearly, had to die for “humanity’s sins.” Not long after this, police would be called to the home to find Johnson standing on his porch holding the bloody, headless corpse of his child, and his wife barely conscious and suffering numerous bruises and cuts from having been ruthlessly attacked and beatten to within and inch of her life.
Johnson of course went to prison, and the house sat uninhabited and left to the elements after that. Of course with such a dark history of the macabre there are sure to be curiosity seekers, and the site has become popular with urban explorers, who have found within a cornucopia of the deranged and bizarre. Here within these dim, dank confines have been found decapitated animals, the desiccated corpse of a raccoon carefully placed in the middle of a hall, a creepy note with the hand-drawn picture of a woman, which reads, “I don’t know what made thy house evil, I only know that thee begs thy help of whatever within here can help with,” and numerous other miscellaneous oddities and horrors. One urban explorer named Dan Bell has visited the house and is convinced it is pure evil, and he tells of one particularly unsettling find, the unlikely sight of a vulture sitting within a darkened corner of the home, staring out at nothingness. He says:
In a dark corner of the attic, is the motionless body of a vulture, which appears to be either freshly dead or stuffed by a taxidermist… until we see it blink.
Nightmare fuel for sure, and virtually everyone who has visited the “Baltimore Murder House” has come away with stories of such strangeness and grotesqueries from within its bowels, even at times reporting that they too could feel some form of madness creeping over them, trying to invade their minds. The house still sits there, rotting away, damned, holding within it secrets from beyond our comprehension. All of these have been very disturbing peeks into places that seem to be possessed of some force or energy that sits coiled within the walls waiting to strike, and we are left to ponder the original question I posed. Can a place be evil? Can it actually be suffused with so much negative energy and be animated with sinister negative, demonic force that it reaches out to influence the world around it and enact its wicked will? Only one way to find out, and that is to go check it out for yourself. If you dare.