Stumble through a foggy werewolf forest, come face to face with the world’s largest anaconda in captivity, feel what it’s like to be buried alive—it’s all possible this Halloween season in Kansas City. These eerie exploits and more have solidified KC as the Haunted House Capital of the World. But Kansas City also holds other haunted secrets – a few choice locations around the city where a creak in the floor or a cold draft may be more than you think.
One of the oldest ghostly residences is the John Wornall House. Completed in 1858 by John Bristow Wornall, he was one of the most prosperous farmers in Jackson County farming more than 498 acres. The historic Civil War Battle of Westport occurred just a few blocks from the house and became a main medical hub. Many soldiers from both the Confederate and Union armies were treated at the house and many also died.
Employees of the John Wornall Museum and guests have reported seeing ghostly armed soldiers guarding the doors and patrolling the balconies. The staff also reports other odd accounts – like the smell of pipe tobacco in the office area, seeing a woman bent down in front of the fireplace in the kitchen, as well as unexplained voices and noises. But probably the most disturbing, are the guns turning to face the door on first floor.
To experience the paranormal activity at Wornall House, take one of their ghost tours – Friday, Oct. 25, Sat, Oct. 26 and Halloween, Thursday, Oct. 31. Sign up at www.wornallhouse.org.
The Savoy Hotel, located in downtown KC was built in 1888, and is said to be the oldest continuously running hotel West of the Mississippi. This hotel yields to plenty of ghost stories because of its long history and past hotel guests. Two resident ghosts are said to live in the Savoy.
One, Betsy Ward, who passed away of a sudden heart attack in room 505. Some believe that she died in the bathtub; others say she died in bed. Witnesses have observed the shower turning on and off by itself and have heard music coming from inside the room when no one was inside. Other incidents include doors on the inside of the room opening on its own. A gun was found sealed within the walls of this room during the renovation.
Another spirit has been witnessed on the fourth floor of the Savoy. Fred Lightner, is said to haunt his former apartment. Hotel guests and staff are also said to have heard strange voices, seen mysterious shadows, full body apparitions of a man dressed in attire from the 1930s, and have seen doors open and close on their own.
Lastly, just northeast of KC in Liberty, the owners of Belvoir Winery are experiencing lots of paranormal activity. Formerly the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, this fraternal organization turned 113 acres into a complex to care for its members and families who were elderly, indigent, and orphans during the 19th Century. The general manager and his family have said to have witnessed a lot of strange occurrences. For example, a year ago his toddler daughter was in the hallway and he was around the corner when he heard her and a woman talking. When he came around the corner there was no one in the room but his daughter.
Because it was an orphanage he said he always hears children giggling and running up and down the stairs, often times in the morning. Lights have been known to turn on and off when no one else in the room and doors are often heard opening and closing by themselves.
Belvoir offers public paranormal investigations several times throughout the year. See the calendar for dates – www.belvoirwinery.com
Most of these real haunted houses of Kansas City offer paranormal tours, with the exception of the Hotel Savoy. For more ideas for Halloween or any time of year, go to VisitKC.com. Happy ghost hunting!
Written by Toni Alexander, communications manager for the Kansas City Convention and Visitor Association.