From the spectral echoes of passion crimes and ill-fated family ties to the shadowy reminiscences of a devastating Civil War, Pittsburgh’s spectral remnants of the past are more than just figments of urban lore. They continue to haunt the city’s nooks and crannies, inviting both believers and skeptics to delve into their eerie existence. Pittsburgh ghost stories, steeped in the chilling ambiance of Pittsburgh’s most haunted spots, will take you on a spine-tingling journey through the city’s spectral heritage.
Here are some of the best Pittsburgh Ghost Stories and legends sure to make you quake!
The Cathedral of Learning’s Early American Room
Sure, they may be gorgeously decorated at Christmastime but did you know the Early American Room at the Cathedral of Learning is allegedly haunted by the ghost of Martha Jane Poe? Poe, who died in 1936, haunts the room. She doesn’t like being disturbed by tourists or visitors. Her wedding quilt lies on the bed in the room and people have seen photographs oddly cracking and a rocking chair moving on its own.
Staff and docents at the Cathedral have reported odd noises, items moving mysteriously, and dark shadows shifting around corners, suggesting a spectral presence. The room is often open for viewing and guided tours, allowing visitors to experience its uncanny aura.
The Broughton School
The long-closed elementary school has been the site where the ghosts of children and teachers are still haunting. There have been tales of running, yelling and moving objects. Paranormal investigators even checked out the building in the past and recorded creepy voices telling them to get out and “Please don’t leave me!” The school was built back in 1929.
Dead Man’s Hollow
Despite its ominous name, Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area is a beautiful green space reclaimed by nature. Yet, the conservation area’s idyllic appearance belies its dark history, filled with tales of murder, earthquakes, fires, and mysterious deaths.
This 400-acre nature preserve in McKeesport has been the home of lots of unexplainable behavior. Not only have there been ghost sightings, but other odd things have been reported… some reported shaking tree branches despite absolutely no wind at all. Others have felt like they were being followed while hiking the trails.
Visitors can explore the factory ruins via an enchanted staircase, immersing themselves in the area’s haunting legends. However, they must take care not to become the next spectral inhabitant wandering this path.
Charlie No-Face, South Park
The legend of Green Man’s Tunnel is a ghastly tale that blends fact and fiction. The story revolves around a disfigured man, fond of midnight strolls, who evolved into a glowing specter haunting this South Park rail tunnel.
The spirit of a man nicknamed Charlie No-Face allegedly wanders along Piney Fork Road and Green Man’s Tunnel in South Park (apparently that neighborhood is especially haunted!). The story is based on an actual boy named Raymond Robinson. He was climbing power lines and got electrocuted, which ended up giving him an appearance of having no face. It was said that he had green skin. Some say that the greenish appearance came from his green clothes he wore that reflected off his extremely pale skin. Others said his skin actually was green! He died on June 11, 1985 and was buried in Beaver Falls at Grandview Cemetery, just a hop, skip and a jump from where he met his unfortunate fate. Some say Robinson’s spirit still haunts that stretch of road, looking for someone to talk to.
The Allegheny County Jail
This may be the spookiest of haunted Pittsburgh sites around town. The county jail is home to a prisoner who apparently took his own life in his cell back in the early 1900s. He has since remained behind to haunt cellmates. It got so bad at one point that prisoners in the general vicinity of the cell were moved because they were being frightened by unseen things.
Blue Mist Road
The isolated stretch near North Park has been attracting attention for decades. The unlit, unpaved lane is full of rumors of rituals and events. In the past, it was home to a few rumored troubled families. Blue Mist Road got its name from a bluish mist that often covers the road.
The Dixmont State Hospital
The old psychiatric hospital was torn down over a decade ago but while it was standing (1859-2005) it was the subject of many ghost stories. The building’s grounds were abandoned for years, which led to lots of paranormal activity. In the 1940s and ’50s, Dixmont adopted new treatments for the mentally ill at the time, like electroshock therapy and prefrontal lobotomies. Over 1300 graves were on the hospital property, as many families never claimed bodies.
Heinz History Center
The building was once the site of the Chautauqua Lake Ice Co. The business was lost as it exploded in a fire on February 9, 1898. Since its renovation to the Heinz History Center, staff and night guards have heard creepy sounds and have seen odd happenings, particularly around the 5th floor and loading dock.
The Dark Place
The North Shore of Pittsburgh is now home to sporting events, restaurants, bars, you name it. However, around 260 N. Shore Dr., well before European settlers came to the area, Native Americans were afraid of the area. There was apparently an unusual amount of supernatural activity, particularly ghosts of their enemies. The area was swampy, dark and creepy. Thus, today, it is a supposed hot spot for many Pittsburgh ghost stories.
St. Nicholas Church
Pittsburgh ghost stories at St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale involve the murals. Back in 1937, the pastor of the church hired an artist to paint murals. The artist, named Maxo Vanka, finished the art despite being bothered often by a ghost. The ghost was a man dressed in black who would move around the church waving his hands and mumbling incoherently. At first, Vanka thought it was the pastor then they soon put two and two together. Some have said the ghostly priest was trying to make amends for former sins.
Congelier House is known by a nickname—”The House the Devil Built.” It is known as one of the most haunted homes in Pittsburgh. Original owner Charles Congelier was having an affair with the family housekeeper. His wife discovered this and “dispatched” the two with a meat cleaver. Afterwards, a man named “Dr. Bunrichter” moved to the property. He mostly kept to himself and it was later revealed that he was a mad scientist who try to keep the heads of his victims alive after removing them from his victims.
The Carnegie Library of Homestead is one of the oldest in Pittsburgh. Paranormal investigators often try to uncover who or what is haunting the library (most think its Andrew Carnegie himself). Others think the ghosts are millworkers who lost their lives working for Carnegie and some say the ghost is a former staff member. Most of the ghostly activity is in the music room and basement. This old library is one of the most recognized of all Pittsburgh ghost stories.
The Pittsburgh Playhouse
Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University has fostered many luminaries, like Gene Kelly. But some of its most famous characters achieved their renown posthumously.
John Johns, an actor who suffered a fatal heart attack on stage, continues to haunt the playhouse. Visitors have reported apparitions of a man in a tuxedo and a lady in white, calling out the deceased actor’s name.
Although the original Playhouse was razed years ago, it remains unclear whether its spectral inhabitants followed the troupe to their new location on Forbes Ave, or if they finally found peace and moved on.
The OLD Pittsburgh Playhouse
The Old Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland and since it was built in 1934, it has been a synagogue, speakeasy, brothel, church and restaurant. There are plenty of ghostly inhabitants like Weeping Eleanor, who sobs at night for the lives of her daughter and she, who were lost in a fire. There’s also the Lady in White, who married in the church that was once at the theater’s site and when she was at the reception downstairs she was shocked to find her husband having an affair with one of the ladies in the brothel upstairs. The Lady in White shot them both then jumped off a balcony to her death. She’s now seeing pacing the playhouse balcony in her wedding dress with a gun in her hand.
The Paranormal Peculiarities of Church Brew Works
Nestled within a century-old Catholic church, the Church Brew Works has more than just craft beers to its name. The establishment’s unusual conversion from a house of prayer to a hub of pale ales seems to have rankled its spectral inhabitants, leading to myriad tales of ghostly encounters.
Among the ghostly residents, a woman in white, presumably a bride left at the altar, is said to frequent the premises, her ethereal apparition adding a dose of the uncanny to the place’s ambiance.
Unexplained sounds and mysterious movements of objects are common occurrences at Church Brew Works. The inexplicable activities have piqued the interest of paranormal enthusiasts and even attracted the attention of the Travel Channel’s Ghost Hunters.
Allegheny Cemetery: The Restless Ghost of Harry K. Thaw
The Allegheny Cemetery houses the ghost of Harry K. Thaw, the infamous son of coal and railroad baron William Kendall Thaw. His spectral wanderings near his burial site are said to be a chilling reminder of his tumultuous past.
Thaw’s notoriety is tied to the 1906 murder of renowned architect Stanford White, a crime of passion involving Thaw’s wife, performer Evelyn Nesbit. The scandalous case, dubbed “the trial of the century,” ended with Thaw’s confinement in an asylum after being declared mentally insane by a jury.
Clayton: The Frick Mansion’s Friendly Phantoms
Clayton, the former residence of millionaire Henry Clay Frick, is believed to be inhabited by the spirits of two women, thought to be members of the Frick family.
Unlike more malevolent spirits, Clayton’s spectral residents are said to be gentle, peacefully wandering the mansion’s halls. Visitors can book a tour to explore the premises, perhaps catching a glimpse of the mansion’s ghostly inhabitants.
The spectral investigation continues a short walk away at Homewood Cemetery, the final resting place of many Frick family members.
Calvary Cemetery: The Ghosts of the Biddle Brothers
The Calvary Cemetery is believed to be haunted by the ghosts of gangster brothers Edward and Jack Biddle, who were executed after a high-profile prison break.
Convicted of several crimes, including robbery and murder, the Biddle brothers were sentenced to hang. However, their lives took a dramatic turn when the warden’s wife, Kate Soffel, helped them escape from prison after falling in love with Ed. Their freedom was short-lived, as they were killed in a gunfight, and Soffel was seriously injured.
The National Aviary: A Prison Past
The National Aviary is built on the site of the former Western Penitentiary, which served as a Union prison for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The prison was overcrowded and unsanitary, leading to the deaths of many soldiers. Their spirits are believed to still wander the Aviary’s halls.
This one’s super creepy! The woman known as “The Blue Lady of Woodlawn Hall” roams the halls of Chatham, wearing a blue dress of course. The dress allegedly glows and she stares at students as they wake up for class in the morning (yikes!). There’s also been doors slamming for no reason and windows opening and closing on their own.
Resurrection Cemetery is in Moon Township and on the far edge of the cemetery stands a mysterious grave. The headstone reads: “Damian. This is not goodbye, just so long.” Visitors to the cemetery have been said to see red eyes looking out from the stone between the angles of the cross (which is carved upside down) in the stone. On the day before Halloween years ago four men visited the grave. They shouted horrible things and vandalized the grave. The fourth man felt guilty and condemned the actions and he was the only one that made it home that night—the other three died in a car accident.
So, whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, Pittsburgh ghost stories and haunted hot spots offer a captivating glimpse into the city’s spectral legacy. Who knows, you might even encounter a ghost or two along the way!
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