America’s Most Infamous Pieces of Real Estate

Would a notorious history or criminal past keep you from buying these homes and hotels?

February 19, 2018 5:00 am
The beautiful Stanley Hotel in 2016. The grand, upscale hotel dates back to 1909 and  may possibly be best known today for its inspirational role in the Stephen King's novel, "The Shining." (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The beautiful Stanley Hotel in 2016. The grand, upscale hotel dates back to 1909 and may possibly be best known today for its inspirational role in the Stephen King's novel, "The Shining." (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver Post via Getty Images

For only being a few hundred years old, the United States has managed to cram a massive amount of history — much of it dark — into the property built on its land. Take a look below at some of the most infamous properties, plantations and family homes across the country.

Stanley Hotel, Colorado

Location: 333 E. Wonderview Ave., Estes Park, Colorado
List Price: $13.7 million

After a man and his wife went to bed during a stay at the Stanley Hotel in 1973, the man awoke with a jerk in the middle of the night, covered in sweat from the horrifying nightmare of his small son screaming and running through the hotel’s halls. Nearly an inch away from falling out of bed, he got up, lit a cigarette and sat by the window, staring at the Rockies as he smoked. The man was prolific horror writer Stephen King, and by the time he was finished with his smoke, he says, “I had the bones of The Shining firmly set in my mind.”

That isn’t the hotel’s only ghost story, but it’s certainly its most famous, and you can book a night there the next time you’re passing through Denver. Just stay out of Room 217.

The beautiful Stanley Hotel in 2016. The grand, upscale hotel dates back to 1909 and may be best known today for its inspirational role in the Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining.” (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver Post via Getty Images

Al Capone’s Miami Compound

Location: 93 Palm Ave, Miami Beach, Florida
List Price: $9.95 million

Crime boss and mob legend Al Capone bought his Palm Island compound in 1928; it was here that he lived for the next 19 years, Forbes reports, throwing Gatsby-esque parties in and around his salt-water swimming pool until his death in 1947. Also known as “Scarface,” it’s estimated that Capone and his crime gang brought in as much as $100 million annually from bootlegging, gambling, prostitution and racketeering, among other activities.

Al Capone’s Miami compound. (Instagram/boyanmiami)

 Jeffrey Dahmer’s Childhood Home

Location: West Bath Road, Akron, Ohio
Estimated Current Price: $277,710

This Bath Township home in Ohio is where the serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer claimed his first of 17 victims. Known for luring gay men — mostly African American — back to his home before drugging, strangling, sexually assaulting and dismembering them, Dahmer’s terror reigned for 13 years until a would-be victim escaped his apartment in 1991. 

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home in Bath, Ohio. (Zillow)

Amityville Horror House

Location: 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York
List Price: $850,000

The “Amityville Horror House” has been immortalized in two feature films — 1979 and 2005 — for its sordid history as “America’s most haunted house.” Located about 30 miles outside of New York City, the estate became infamous overnight in 1974 after 23-year-old Ronnie DeFeo Jr. shot his entire family to death while they slept. Rumors of haunting came shortly after when the Lutz family bought the 5-bedroom home at a drastically reduced price and only lasted 28 days in it. Among other things, they claimed to smell strange odors, experience cold spots and waking up to members of the family levitating in bed.

The “Amityville Horror” house. 112 Ocean Ave., Long Island, New York, taken in 1973. (Wikimedia Commons)

Winchester Mystery House

Location: 525 S. Winchester Blvd., San Jose, California
List Price: Unavailable

The Winchester Mystery House has been in the headlines lately, thanks to the Helen Mirren-led “Winchester” thriller currently in theaters, but visitors to San Jose should explore the seven-story labyrinth with its true history in mind. Built by the heiress to the Winchester fortune, Sarah Winchester reportedly ordered the house’s constant construction from 1866 until her death in 1922.

While the movie’s plot centers on the recommendations of a medium to continue construction because of a curse placed on the family over the firearms (and the deaths they caused), the reality is that Winchester couldn’t agree with the architects she hired. “Far from an exercise in spiritualism, Winchester’s labyrinth arose because she made mistakes,” The San Francisco Gate writes, “and had the disposable income to carry on making them.”

Winchester Mystery House. (Education Images/Citizens of the Planet/UIG via Getty Images)

The LaLaurie Mansion

Location: 1140 Royal St, New Orleans, Louisiana
List Price: 1.9 million

The LaLaurie Mansion’s history is a brutally tragic one. Considered to be the most haunted location in the French Quarter, the madame of the house — described as a Mistress of Death — tortured and murdered dozens of slaves who attended the house. Time and lore have twisted what actually happened in the home, but the New Orleans Bee newspaper at the time said the slaves were tortured, with some appearing to be part of horrifying medical experiments.

The LaLaurie Mansion (Getty)

Chicago’s Murder Castle

Location: 63rd and Wallace St., Chicago, Illinois
List Price: Unavailable

As the Windy City prepared to host the 1893 World’s Fair, physician Herman Mudget was putting the final touches on what would become his infamous “Murder Castle.” Opened to tourists coming to the city for the fair, the imposing Castle had dozens of rooms and doors scattered throughout the house, with long, rickety hallways, trap doors, special peepholes and — most horrifyingly — a chute that shot straight to the cellar, which was its own special kind of dungeon. Fitted with an acid tank, a dissecting table and a surgeon’s cabinet, amongst others, Holmes ultimately confessed to 28 killings. The number is thought to be significantly higher — somewhere around 200 — and is the premise for “Devil in the White City,” a Martin Scorsese-directed movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio currently in production.

A photo of Holmes’ Castle (Chicago Historical Society/Chicagoist)

The Unabomber Cabin

Location: Lincoln, Montana, moved to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
List Price: $69,500

Tucked away on a remote piece of land in Montana, Ted Kaczynski’s cabin served as his home base for planning and executing acts of atrocity that become known around the world. As “The Unabomber,” Kaczynski killed three and wounded 23 more in a string of mail bombing attacks that mostly targeted airlines and universities from 1978 until 1995. He was arrested after mailing in his “manifesto” to the New York Times and the Washington Post, promising to stop the killings if it was published. His brother recognized the ideas and language after reading the essay and turned in Kaczynski to police. He’s now serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in Colorado, with his cabin relocated to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The land that it sat on was on the market a few years ago for $69,500.

The largest artifact in the Newseum’s first changing exhibition, ‘G-Men and Journalists’ is the 10-by-12-foot cabin where Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski lived and was eventually arrested in rural Montana as seen on June 17, 2008, in Washington, DC. (Getty/AFP PHOTO/Tim Sloan)

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