Looking for scary and real haunted houses in California?
You’re in the right place.
One of the most predominant states of the US, California, is known for many historic landmarks located therein.
From places you ache to visit to places you would rather stay away from.
Updated 2/9/2020 – Following are the ten scariest real life haunted houses in California – all of which possess a dark history.
Homes where residents, visitors and people who are just passing-by, report insane paranormal and psychic phenomena.
Some hear voices, some see apparitions and some have even had physical contact with whoever or whatever haunts these places.
Not to mention the mind-bending phenomena that real psychic mediums have experienced at these locations.
No matter how strong willed you might be, one thing’s for sure: you will be terrified beyond reason.
10 Insanely Scary Real Life Haunted Houses in California
Table of Contents
- 1 #10) John Sowden House, Los Angeles
- 2 #9) Heaven’s Gate Suicide House, Rancho Santa Fe
- 3 #8) The Castro House, Sonoma
- 4 #7) Bessie Love’s Cabin, Los Angeles
- 5 #6) Dudley House, Ventura
- 6 #5) Rengstorff House, Mountain View
- 7 #4) Joan Crawford House, Los Angeles
- 8 #3) Bennett Home, Glendora
- 9 #2) Potter School House, Bodega
- 10 #1) H.B Gillis House, Yreka
- 11 Conclusion
#10) John Sowden House, Los Angeles
On January 15, 1947, a woman’s body was found on a vacant lot.
The woman was Elizabeth Short, nicknamed “Black Dahlia” by the press.
Her murder became one of the most publicized murders of the nineteenth century because of the gruesome way in which her body had been found:
Surgically cut in half from the waist down, washed and cleaned by her killer and posed.
The John Sowden house was presumed to be the site where the prime suspect, Dr. George Hill Hodel had supposedly killed her before fleeing the country.
Subsequent residents of this scary house have heard strange noises such as dragging of heavy chains, heavy footsteps, and voices calling their name,
There have also been sightings of apparitions assumed to be Hodel.
The house was featured on an episode of Ghost Hunters.
The apparition was seen on video as well as caught on a digital EVP recorder saying ‘This is George’.
5121 Franklin Ave.
Los Angeles, CA. 90027
#9) Heaven’s Gate Suicide House, Rancho Santa Fe
In 1997, when cult leader, Marshall Applewhite came to know that Comet Hale-Bopp was about to pass, he somehow believed that the comet was in fact a vessel from outer space which had come to get them.
Thus, along with thirty nine followers of Heaven’s Gate (who called themselves the “away team”), he committed the largest mass-suicide recorded on US soil at a mansion he had purchased in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
This chilling history might be the reason why several people have reported feeling a sense of uneasiness as though some of the followers might still be there.
A feeling of doom and lurking presence, voices and other paranormal activities have all been reported.
Recent visitors have discovered various creepy dolls strewn about the area.
Some with their heads removed, others with the wrong body parts hastily sewn on.
One can only wonder what that means.
18241 Paseo victoria
Rancho Santa Fe, CA. 92091
#8) The Castro House, Sonoma
The Castro House in Sonoma city once belonged to a government official and his family.
The family was nothing short of savage to their servants.
The servants were all living in the servant quarters, away from any sort of aid.
They were all made to quietly endure whatever the family subjected them to.
Many believe that the house is haunted by the ghost of a maid who died here.
Due to the history, it wasn’t odd when subsequent residents reported hearing sobbing noises, and seeing ghostly figures at night emerge from the servant quarters.
Which lends credence to the notion of this being one of the many real life haunted houses in California.
180 East Napa Street
Sonoma, CA. 95476
#7) Bessie Love’s Cabin, Los Angeles
In the middle of the 18th century, while trying to run away after stealing gold from Tiburcio Vasquez (commonly referred to as the Mexican Robin Hood), two robbers were caught and killed.
This fact was unknown to American screen actress, Bessie Love who purchased a house on the land this event had taken place on, almost half a century later.
However, shortly into her stay in her first home, Bessie reported to feel a sense of uneasiness.
This was accompanied by cold spots on her skins, hearing men’s voices and electrical anomalies.
A houseguest even reported to have seen a horrifying apparition wearing a cowboy hat.
The terrifying house is believed to be haunted to this day.
2401 Laurel Canyon Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA. 90046
#6) Dudley House, Ventura
This is probably amongst the most beautiful real life haunted houses in California.
However, beauty isn’t why it made this list of most haunted houses.
This Victorian style manor is thought to be home to a man who has been living here since 1892.
The man was among the first family to have ever lived here.
Visitors reported to have seen a blue light flashing from the kitchen and a clock to go off at intervals.
That clock, hasn’t worked for decades.
197 North Ashwood Avenue
Ventura, CA. 93003
#5) Rengstorff House, Mountain View
In 1860, German immigrant, Henry Rengstroff built a 16-room mansion with a large garden.
The Rengstroff family continued to live in their real life haunted home up until 1959.
Subsequent tenants have all been driven away from their dream home due to one sole reason – a teenager.
The frightening ghost of a beautiful teenage girl has been seen by nearly everyone who has ever lived here since 1959.
The young woman can be seen staring out the upper floor window at something sadly and longingly, occasionally crying.
Perhaps most terrifying is this: Several mothers who recently visited the site brought their toddlers, assuming the stories were just that…stories.
However, during their visit the three toddlers suddenly stood rigid, staring at the window where the ghost girl is often seen.
The boys suddenly started speaking in tongues simultaneously.
Horrified, the mothers screamed, grabbed their children and ran.
As soon as they left the vicinity of the house, the children stopped speaking in tongues and began to cry.
3070 North Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA. 94043
#4) Joan Crawford House, Los Angeles
Joan Crawford probably thought that she’d be remembered for movies such as ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’, however, she went down in history as being a vicious adoptive mother.
While living with her adoptive mother, Christina Crawford reported that even their house was nothing less than spooky.
When meeting with subsequent tenants years later, Christina said that they too had felt the paranormal activity as her.
This included seeing frightening figures, hearing voices from the wall, fires breaking out without sources and a haunting feeling which drives the inhabitants into depression.
Real life haunted houses in California don’t come much scarier than this.
426 N Bristol Ave
Los Angeles CA. 90049
#3) Bennett Home, Glendora
This event is thought to have occurred as recently as 1982, when the DAR (Daughters of American Revolution) reported hearing strange noises and seeing the figure of a man during their first monthly tea in the house they had just bought for their organization.
The spirit in this case is thought to be that of a man who had been living in the house from 1910 to, apparently, this day.
Bennett and Vermont
Glendora, CA. 91741
#2) Potter School House, Bodega
The Potter School House was the site where Alfred Hitchcok filmed his movie, ‘The Birds’.
The fact that the movie is itself a horror film adds more effect to the fact that the location was also haunted.
The crew reported to have felt paranoid on set.
An image of an apparition of a woman was also caught on camera dressed in Victorian style clothes.
17110 Bodega Lane
Bodega, CA. 94922
#1) H.B Gillis House, Yreka
Hudson B. Gillis was seemingly so proud of the house he had built in 1895 that he decided never to part ways with it.
Former residents have all had one thing to say about this house – it’s haunted.
They felt cold spots, heard voices and even made physical contact with Hudson himself.
223 North Oregon Street
Yreka, CA. 96097
The Californian real life haunted houses all mentioned on this list leave visitors terrified.
From the house where the Black Dahlia murders took place, to the house Hudson B. Gillis loved so much he never wanted to leave, all of them will leave you questioning “reality”.