Have you experienced a building / site with a sinister or eerie vibe?

Hey Obscurians ,

I just finished reading a brilliant book of short stories called “The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral” by the writer Robert Westall. It’s not really a collection as it only contains two stories : “The Stones of Muncaster cathedral” and "Brangwyn gardens ".

Both of these tales are truly excellent works of fiction about the supernatural and deal with the theme of the buildings and their history in a very interesting way. The writer seems to suggest (a bit like Shirley Jackson’s “The haunting of hill house” and Stephen King’s “The shining”) that “ghosts” may be the residual human stories/tragedies that have played out within the history of buildings.

I was wondering , have any of you ever encountered a seemingly malevolent/ unsettling energy, vibe or atmosphere to a particular building or site ? if so what was it ? how do you explain it or rationalise it ?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be an example of anything supernatural , maybe it was just a vibe that you got that can be explainable or conversely it might have been something that seemingly defied explanation. I’m scientifically minded myself so I tend to view things through an empirical and scientific lens. However, I am interested in a social scientific sense in the subject of human experience and beliefs regarding the supernatural and so I wont judge or be dismissive or anything like that.

So , feel free to write about your experiences of strange vibes / experiences of buildings below.

Look forward to reading your replies

M_M

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About a year ago I was visiting my sister in San Francisco and decided to take a day trip down to San Jose to see the Winchester Mystery House. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while and since I live on the East Coast I knew this was probably the only time I would get a chance to see it. There were special behind the scenes/ extra rooms tours at that time that went into more parts of the mansion then the standard tour so naturally I signed up for that. The majority of the tour was fine, in fact- almost disappointing. I had been hearing about the creepiness of the house and the strangeness of its history for years. Going through the house, I felt none of that creepiness. It was nothing more than an architecturally unusual house. Definitely worth the price of admission and fun to hear the stories from the tour guides but… nothing more than any standard old home.

Until we went to the basement. It was a cellar, actually, and when we first went down I was even rolling my eyes as they had set up a flickering light at the end of a tunnel towards the coal storage area (so spoooky!!). At this point I was tired and hungry and ready to start the trip back to San Francisco so perhaps that helps explain this because all of a sudden I was almost frozen in terror. I can’t explain it! I didn’t see anything and everyone else was just as they were before. But I was so overwhelmed with fear that I couldn’t move, I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) look around, and all I could think about was getting out of the cellar as soon as possible. Which we did (fortunately) and the feeling disappeared! I was fine. No lingering fear, no uneasiness at all. I’ll admit to being open to the idea of ghosts although I’ve never seen or read anything that proves their existence to me. But I was scared then, and only then, and I still don’t know why.

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when i first got my license and was beginning to get a feel for independence and discovery, i learned that a nearby highschool burned down some years prior. being made of brick, it didn’t all go, but the gymnasium and a few other rooms were charred. we went in the late 90s, and i just learned now doing research that is was burned in 1992, despite being abandoned since the 50s.

there were relics of the 50s throughout the school, from adding machines to desks, but i NEVER went into the basement. the roof was nearly completely burned away. in a first floor classroom, drawn in white paint on black chalkboards, were dozens of people staring wide eyed and agape at the middle of the room. it always reminded me of a response to an atomic bomb. i never took any pictures. in the few years that i went there, it eventually got smashed. i loved that room.

once, i went with two of my best friends, we explored more of the school than ever before, and they took me up the front stairwell, and down the back. i failed to count floors and they took me to the basement. it was spooky and dark. no lights whatsoever. i could see some shadows and some chains and fencing, but i quickly made my way to the other stairwell and back up and out.

it was a neat place. trees grew up through the floors and mosses covered a lot of the fire wreckage. sadly, more and more vandals found it, and it was boarded up several times while i was in my exploratory phase. in 2012, they tore it down.

there were stories of ghosts and a phantom football player who broke his neck. stories about people who died in the fire, but there was nothing more spooky than that room with all those gaunt faces staring back at me.

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Before I moved to Savannah, I made a few touristy visits, and noticed several times while walking on Oglethorpe st that I’d get a weird chill down my spine. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed it around an old Mason’s lodge that showed evidence of a fire. I eventually booked a ghost tour to see what the lore around here was, and while the tour guide was clearly a believer and enthusiast, her story about the building “felt” off and didn’t seem to connect the eerie sensation I got from it. Ten years later, I’m still here, and that building is now a popular restaurant chain appropriately called Husk. I’ll have to update you on any remaining spooky vibe, if any, after I give it a try!

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A well known one but I can say the South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh are pretty sad. They are meant to be haunted and the site which is in the workings of the bridge are damp, dark and so quiet even if in middle of city. A lot of people lived and died in misery there and you can feel it. The other is a little bit personal - I often drive home from Northampton and I have had a few bad experiences driving on Rushmere Road at night. If on own, I always feels someone joins me in the car on the stretch just before joining the A45. You don’t want to turn your head in case you see someone next to you. They tend to leave about where the A45 meets the M1. Friend who live there has told me a few people have died on that stretch and it is dark from tree cover. Weird that something that mundane can be that scary.

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I once visited Kronberg Castle in Copenhagen. We were lucky enough to get a guide for just the two of us, and it was a wonderful tour. One of the spots under the castle was a corner that, the guide told us, had been used for killing prisoners in a particularly unpleasant way: many people were sardined together and a wall was put up in front of them. The wall was pushed toward them so they had less and less space and were finally crushed to death against each other. I, being a young idiot, thought it would be fun to cram myself into the space. It wasn’t at all fun, and I didn’t stay there for more than a few seconds.

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WITH TIME ANGUISH FADES TO SORROW…I am by nature skeptical and analytical in my thinking, but learned long ago never to thoughtlessly rule out alternatives and impossible possibilities. This was brought home quite emphatically during my first visit to the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. Civil War history has always been one of my hobbies and I went armed with a fair understanding of the facts of the conflict and a head full of statistics. I choose not to take one of the packaged tours and instead pushed off on foot and self guided. It was a slow day and the countryside was free of crowds. I found my way to the base of Culp’s Hill the scene of particularly bloody, lengthy and pivotal frontal attacks by the CSA up the wooded slope against dug in Union troops. In over one hour of fighting repeated but futile assaults resulted in a bloodbath with heavy casualties on both sides, The climb was steep and I stopped among the trees and brush. I became conscious of an unnatural silence…none of the woodland white noise of birds, insects, etc. An unfamiliar sensation, both mental and physical, seemed to cover me. Not fearful or threatening even though this place had once been covered in blood and broken bodies and screams and curses of the dying. There were no apparitions, no ghostly voices, just a numbing blanket of loss and grief. Telling myself that I was winded and really should stop smoking I decided to not complete the climb and picked my way down the hill. Once back in the open I put the odd experience out of my mind, chalking it off to the gloominess of the woods and too vivid an imagination.

A bit later I had found my way to the open, sloping fields of the site of Pickett’s Division epic charge. All of us have seen the recreations of this battle on TV and in the movies. I located “the angle”, a jog in the low stone wall behind which Union Infantry and Artillery waited for Lee’s troops.Written history and statistics can be dry and abstract. Only by physically being there can you comprehend the scope and scale of thousands of men running headlong toward that wall with no purpose other than to kill their opponents. If fear and terror and anger have any physical substance this place must be saturated in it. It came as no surprise when the same overwhelming sadness I had briefly experienced at Culp’s Hill came over me. No filtered sunlight, no tangle of weeds and brush to set the mood. Bright sunlight, green farm fields and clear vision. I let the feeling cover me…trying to understand, make logical sense of a very illogical situation. Slowly the answer came to me. 156 years ago these sites, this place witnessed tens of thousands of men forced to endure the very worst and most painful of human emotions. Men who through an accident of place of birth were compelled to set aside their humanity…kill and be killed. The sheer number and intensity of their horrors must have left a toxic residue over this bucolic landscape.However, I came to believe that what I felt was not the remnants of terror and anger and hatred, but a unified regret and sadness that is shared by the spirits of those who fought there. The divisions and beliefs that separated blue from gray have moderated and faded with time. For me the message in what I experienced is that we cannot pretend that past horrors didn’t happen or that they effected some unknown nebulous humans , but that we need not repeat or allow them to recur.

Is Gettysburg haunted? I don’t know. Is there a “presence” there? I believe there definitely is. I’ve shared this story over the years and a remarkable number of people have said they experienced similar unexplained feelings when they visited there or similar sites.

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Thank you for the reply WilkesKennedy!

I actually read your comment a couple of times , its brilliantly written and evocative. I’ve definitely felt what you describe on a couple of occasions , when I visited Natzweiler-struthof concentration camp as a kid and when I was working in the Guadarrama mountains of Spain where the battles of the Spanish civil war were fought. In the Sierra de Guadarrama you can still find bits of shrapnel , bullets , fragments of grenades etc. , I guess its probably still possible to find musket and cannon balls etc. in and around Gettysburg too , right?

As I was reading it two things came to mind , I remember as a kid picking up a National Geographic magazine and flicking through it and coming across an article on what I guess was the worlds first war photography (Not 100% sure about whether it was the first use of war photography , but it was certainly one of the first) which were taken in the aftermath of Gettysburg. I guess the pictures were taken with one of those old Victorian bellows cameras on stilt legs or something like that.

The pictures themselves were incredibly haunting , fields littered with the corpses of dead young men some of whom looked as if they may have taken their last breath only a few minutes before. I didn’t think it at the time , but I definitely think it now , how profoundly sad it is that similar pictures are still being taken now in Syria , Afghanistan , Iraq , Yemen and dozens more countries. The folly of war continues unabated over a century later, and its even more poignant when you consider that the war photographers of the civil war period probably took those pictures , with that kind of 19th century optimism that assumed that mass slaughter of that kind would gradually fade from human history. Very very sad to think that things haven’t improved in that respect.

The other thing that came to mind was an episode I once saw of “The twilight zone” , I couldnt remember the name , but I just looked it up and its called “The 7th is made up of phantoms” , have you seen it ? it sort of captures the ghostly atmosphere of former battlesite landscapes well.

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No problem Mag , haha , tell me about it , my reading list currently resembles the Andes or Himalayas.

I hope you enjoy the book when you get round to reading it , I should mention that there is also a pretty good BBC radio 4 audiobook of it on youtube which I’ll leave a link too below.

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Thank you for the reply Fred !

Wow , I agree, there is definitely something haunting about abandoned schools , I guess that its the association with human youth yet the decay and ruin of buildings. It’s a shame that you didnt take any pictures as I would have loved to have seen those gaunt haunting figures.

I have to add something here. I went to a local catholic school as a teenager (Personally , I’m a disbeliever , although I was raised in that faith) which if I remember correctly was first built in the Victorian era and was initially a nunnery. It was a big red-bricked labyrinthine building , with lots of winding corridors , empty rooms and even the cells where the nuns once would have slept , I guess. It was the kind of building that had an aura of being haunted.

It was a pretty badly run school to be honest (although some of the teachers were incredible and inspired a lot of my interest in history and literature) and around the late 2000’s it buckled under and closed due to financial pressures. By that time I had left and was living abroad so I never got to explore the ruins but I found these pictures on an urban exploration blog of what it looked like abandoned. I remember all of the rooms in the pictures pretty well , especially the art room which was once the domain of a snobby art teacher and the corridor that lead to the chapel which I bregrudgingly had to walk down to attend mass every bloody morning…

Report - - St Mary’s Convent/ Lympne School/ Westbrook House School, Folkestone, Kent, July 2012 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Picture sources : User: Nelly - www.28dayslater.co.uk

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No problem Meg , sadly the audiobook on youtube doesn’t have the second story “Branwyth gardens” though , which is also a pretty haunting read.

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My office used to be on the second floor of the two story building I work on before Hurricane Maria. During the months following the disaster, as part of the rebuilding process, we were all moved to the first floor. The second floor is currently being remodeled as renting space as far as I know. The first time I went to the second floor after the move, I felt a chill going through my spine. Everything had been removed, the desks, office equipment, the walls, all gone. I still lurk from time to time to see if any progress has been made, but so far it has remained empty and eerily quiet.

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Alcatraz solitary confinement cell. Only time that I felt that way.

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I live across the street from a house that has had a shocking number of suicides, three, maybe four in the last 20 odd years. I have been well acquainted with the people who lived there, and after a suicide, the family quickly moves out, unable to bear the sorrow, I guess, then the house languishes, unoccupied for a year or two, eventually is sold and the process seems to repeat.

Not every owner in the past has died in the house, of course, but the house has seen a lot of turnover, most of the purchasers only stay for 2-5 years. The current owner’s husband committed suicide on Father’s Day, and she has never returned to the house. She did retain ownership though, and now rents it out. (She is unaware of the previous tragedies, and only a few of us know the sad history of the house).

The renters don’t seem to ever stay very long, and usually seem fine in the house. I haven’t been inside that house since the last suicide, but every time I have ever been in that house, it seems sinister and brooding. I tell myself it’s just because I know the history, and because I knew the previous occupants.

I keep telling myself it is just a coincidence, that it is silly to think that bricks and mortar can be sinister, but there is a part of me that makes me keep an eye on the tenants, just in case.

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Thank you for the reply Ssshanon !

Out of curiosity , what was the lore that was mentioned in the ghost tour ? and why did you feel that it was somehow off ?

Thank you for the reply Korenni !

I cant think of any more painful and terrifying way to die than being crushed to death in a tight space , it must have been awful for the people who died that way … I’m not quite claustrophobic but I often feel very uncomfortable when I am in in tight spaces

Thank you for the reply mmstrick ,

This is an interesting point you’ve raised , in fact its fascinating because it deals with the whole parapsychology experience aspect of a building. It really reminds me of this scientific study that was conducted into generating supernatural experiences through some kind of electric field which produced effects in the brain which resembled the feeling of terror and an unseen entity.

Frustratingly , I just cant remember the name of the experiment though. I’ll have to look it up and post a link if I find anything a bit later. This TED- talk deals with something similar though and personally I think after watching it that I find the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning just as disturbing as a ghost /poltergeist.

Do you think what you experienced could have been a panic attack of some kind ? or was it the suggestion of the environment ?

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The tour guide had plenty of first hand incidents to share about most of the stops on the tour, but at 12 Oglethorpe she was clearly relying on hearsay about a yellow fever doctor locking himself inside to starve to death, and added that one tour guest said they saw a shrivelled old man peek back at them through the windows at the door, begging for help. That’s a pretty overwrought story, even for a ghost tale.
I have walked up to that stoop exactly twice: once on that ghost tour at night, where I was skeptical of her story but still very much aware of an intangible “vibe,” and once about 5 years ago, midday, when I saw the door wide open (clearly having renovations done but no workers were in sight.) I snuck a peek into the hallway and adjoining parlor and saw the expected blackness from fire and rot damage, but also what I can only describe as an ethereal blackness that even the heat and sun and bird chirps and to-go cocktails directly behind me on the street could not brighten. I backed away quickly, short of breath, but still can’t accurately sense what made me feel that way. I’m no psychic but I can guess that building was a personal hell in the dying days of its patients, as well as any poor vagrants who made shelter in it during the 90’s slump after the building caught fire. Downtown Savannah was not a safe tourist destination in those days, I’m told.

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I think sometimes these kind of commercial ghost tours can be a bit gimmicky and its sort of a shame , because whether the supernatural exists or not (I’m more inclined to be sceptical ) the actual human history of the built environment is dark and tragic and interesting and I do think that it enriches peoples understanding of an area.

I just found this documentary online about Savanha , it looks pretty interesting , I’m looking forward to knowing more about its history.

and this too

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