Have you ever walked into a place and gotten an eerie feeling or shudders down your spine? If you like to be scared, the state of Arkansas has an abundance of ghost stories and haunted places.
“I’m not sure why, but there’s a lot of [paranormal] activity going on this year,” says Rhonda Burton, spokesperson for Arkansas Ghost Catchers. “Usually it starts a little later in the fall, but this is going to be a very active season for spirits.”
Burton and her team have been investigating paranormal locations for more than 12 years. “There are literally hundreds and hundreds — probably thousands — of haunted places across the U.S.,” says Burton. Burton uses different technological devices such as electronic recordings, video and photography techniques to communicate with spirits. “We mostly concentrate on historical locations right now,” she says.
One location she has worked in often is the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock. Seven years ago she decided to bring the paranormal community together and start the Arkansas Paranormal Expo as a fundraiser for the museum. “I think it’s been good for them and good for us. We invite ghost hunters, UFO enthusiasts and Bigfoot hunters and bring in the psychic community,” she says. “People come in and they seem to love it.”
Whether you’re a believer or not, if you’re drawn to explore the unknown, here are our top four picks for achieving a truly scary experience this fall:
1. The Visitor Center at Historic Curran Hall in Little Rock
Rhonda Burton and her friend Linda Howell spent a lot of time investigating Curran Hall. Burton says there is an abundance of spiritual activity in that location. Curran Hall, which is managed by the Quapaw Quarter Association, is a home that was constructed in 1842 during the city’s first building boom, making it one of the oldest homes in Little Rock. It was built by Col. Ebenezer Walters for his young bride, Mary Starbuck, who died shortly before the completion of the home.
While investigating the home, Curran Hall employees saw a rocking chair on the back porch move, a picture in the hallway fall off of the wall and a coffee pot turn itself on. Burton herself was even touched on the shoulder during one investigation.
Today, the home serves as the official visitor center for the City of Little Rock.
Curran Hall Visitor Center
615 East Capitol Ave. Little Rock, AR 72202
2. The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs
Probably one of the most well-known haunted locations in the state, if not the country, the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs is full of paranormal stories. During the construction of the hotel it is believed that an Irish stone mason plunged to his death in what is now room 218. Many say this room is the most spiritually active. The Crescent has earned its reputation as the hotel where guests check out but never leave.
From its opening in 1886 until 1908, the hotel operated as an exclusive year-round resort. In 1908 it opened as Crescent College & Conservatory for Young Women during the fall, winter and spring and still functioned as hotel in the summer. The school catered to “fine young ladies” until 1934. In 1937 Norman G. Baker of Muscatine, Iowa, purchased the hotel and turned it into a hospital. He was called “doctor,” despite having no medical training, and he named the institution Baker’s Cancer Curing Hospital, inviting people to come from all over to be “cured.”
The Crescent hosts nightly ghost tours where you can hear a plethora of tales of the many ghosts walking the halls of the historic establishment. They even host one of the largest ghost hunts in the country during Eureka Springs Paranormal (ESP) Weekend in January.
75 Prospect Ave
Eureka Springs, AR 72632
(855) 725-5720 www.crescent-hotel.com
3. Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock
The famous cemetery located on Broadway and 12th Street near I-630 is said to be a lively location for mysterious occurrences. It’s no surprise, since it’s home to 11 Arkansas governors, 13 state Supreme Court Justices, four United States senators, four Confederate generals and 21 Little Rock mayors.
Still an active burial ground, it’s filled with all styles of monuments, including Neoclassical, Victorian and Art Deco. The grounds are cared for by the Master Gardeners of Pulaski County and it has a park-like feel.
Multiple reports of paranormal sightings have been made on the property and people have described seeing apparitions of mists, bright lights and people dressed in period clothing.
Mount Holly is only open during the day so it hasn’t been studied much by paranormal experts. It is open one night a year for Tales from the Crypt, a tour that uses actors and history to educate the community on this historical gem. And on the second Tuesday in October, more than 1,000 people show up to hear local drama students regale the audience with tales of the people buried in the cemetery. Students dress in period costumes and audiences are led by guides with candles.
1200 S. Broadway
Little Rock, AR 72201
4. The Allen House in Monticello
Many call the Allen House the most famous haunted home in Arkansas. It has been featured on SyFy network and has had two books written about it.
Joseph “Joe” Lee Allen, a well-off businessman and hotel owner, built the home in 1906 with plans for it to be the most impressive house the town had ever seen. Allen and his wife moved into the house and raised their family, including their daughter, Ladell. On Dec. 25, 1948, Ladell consumed mercury cyanide in the master suite of the home during her mother’s Christmas party. She died on Jan. 2, 1949. It was a complete mystery to the family why she would take her own life, and her mother sealed o the master suite. No one was allowed to enter it for nearly four decades.
In the mid 1950s the rest of the home was divided into apartments and became a rental property run by the Allen family. Former tenants of the building reported strange activity, including furniture being rearranged, things disappearing completely, shadowy figures and a woman in a window.
The home was sold in 1985 and the master suite was reopened. In 2007, Mark and Rebecca Spencer purchased the home. In 2009, Mark discovered nearly 90 letters under the attic floor. The letters revealed a love affair Ladell was having at the time of her death, which is now believed to be the motivation for her suicide.
The Allen House is now open for historic guided tours by appointment and opens its doors the last two days of October for special Halloween tours.
705 N. Main St.
Monticello, AR 71655
Photo courtesy of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa