When the weather turns cool and autumn is in the air, people turn their thoughts to the spooky and scary. But there are some places where paranormal activity can be seen throughout the year…but especially around Halloween. These are the haunted places in South Jersey that will scare you.
Researchers say there is an innate human need for getting spooked. There are some people who actually crave it. And judging by the number of horror movies produced and TV shows about paranormal activity, they are probably right.
Haunted places have been thrilling us for years. Whether they are a curiosity, provide entertainment value, or somehow help people confront the fears in their lives, these places are popular.
So, if you can’t wait for the spooky season and you want to satisfy your need for the willies, here is a list of New Jersey’s most haunted places.
Emlen Physick House and Estate (Cape May)
This huge Victorian-style house was built for Dr Emlen Physick Jr., a descendant from one of Philadelphia’s well-known families. He moved there with his mother, Frances, and her two maiden sisters, Emillie and Isabelle. It is a 19th-century mansion with 15 rooms, and it appropriately depicts what living in the Victorian era felt like.
The house has been restored with efforts from the Mid Atlantic Centre for Arts and Humanities, which now manages and uses it as their headquarters. As for its haunted history, the builders who restored the house often reported hearing footsteps from the structure’s upper floors and being touched by invisible hands.
Reports also mentioned that there would be a woman standing in the mirror next to them who would then disappear whenever they looked. This was corroborated by visiting mediums who sensed the presence of two ghosts who were women. Scary, eh?
The Emlen Physick Estate today holds tours where people come from all over the country to visit and learn about how the Physicks lived amidst their ghosts. There are activities all year round, from the haunted tours to dinnertimes that reenact how the Victorians lived. The museum on the estate is one of the top Cape May attractions all year long.
Watch your back, though! You can never tell when Aunt Emille wants to join supper.
Absecon Lighthouse (Atlantic City)
If you are familiar with the Jersey Devil, you might spot them at the Absecon Lighthouse, which is one of their favorite haunts.
Back at the time when Atlantic City was still unpopulated, George Meade designed this lighthouse to overlook the Absecon inlet and provide navigation to the ships arriving there. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1933, and while it no longer provides help with navigation, its lights are kept on.
In 1905, when the Jersey Devil was running rampant, it was sighted by a lighthouse keeper, and that kickstarted its haunted history. There would be strange shadows fleeting out of sight and voices and conversations heard. One light housekeeper also reported how he saw a ghostly hand clutching at the railing of the staircase. The general atmosphere of the Absecon lighthouse is unsettling. But that is what gives it it’s charm.
Go on one of the tours and explore the rich history of the lighthouse while in Atlantic City.
Burlington County Prison Museum (Mt. Holly)
At the time of its closure in 1966, this was the country’s oldest operating prison. So, there is little wonder why it would be on the list of haunted spaces.
Critically acclaimed as one of the best prisons ever built, Burlington County Prison was designed by Robert Mills, one of the master builders in the United States. The prison held a number of notable inmates, including mob figure Eddie Adamsky, who ultimately escaped from the prison.
Indeed, it is no surprise when one hears disembodied voices, footfalls and strange phenomena in the Burlington County Prison. Numerous executions and acts of violence were perpetrated in the prison, leading to the emergence of troubled ghosts. Even today, visitors report the hearing moaning and languishing at the location, and electro-magnetic indicators (used in ghost hunting) routinely register a “hit.”
The groundskeepers at the prison offer historical exhibitions, a museum tour and its experiences are ADA accessible. Paranormal groups can rent out the entire facility on Friday and Saturday to meet the ghosts. This is arguably one of the most popular spots in the state for ghost hunters.
Washington Inn Restaurant (Cape May)
The food at the Washington Inn is excellent. If you are there just to eat, that is fine, and you may never encounter the resident ghost at Washington Inn.
First constructed in 1846, the building was handed down to different owners until 1940, when it was opened as an inn and then as a restaurant about two decades later. The establishment is warm and hospitable for the guests that come to dine in the historic building.
But the workers report differently. Records from the grounds have documented sightings of a young girl’s ghost that haunts the place. The workers often mention hearing their names called in the evenings and also report that they felt someone was looking over their shoulder.
So when visiting the Washington Inn, watch out for a little girl who may be peeking through the windows. Try not to be scared if you spot the ghost.
The Pine Barrens
One of New Jersey’s most famous haunted places is the Pine Barrens. Known as the favorite haunt of the Jersey Devil, the Pine Barrens is about 1.1 million acres of property that is part of the NJ Pinelands National Reserve, a National Park Service designated space. According to legend, much of the Pine Barrens in haunted property.
The Pine Barrens is an excellent place for a weekend getaway. The natural landscape and peaceful environment provide visitors with a certain tranquillity where they can partake in various activities such as hiking, cycling, fishing, hunting, and camping. The place also offers attractions you can visit and learn about the history of the region and also popular folklore.
The Pine Barren’s most famous folklore is the Jersey Devil, which tells the story of a cursed child born to a certain Mrs Leeds. A much kinder tale is told that the monster had attacked the woman and her nurses and then flew away. The Jersey Devil has been sighted by night workers and groundskeepers across the region of Southern New Jersey.
Described as kangaroo-like but with the face of a horse, if you spot the Jersey Devil anywhere, call someone. It could be dangerous. It’s presence makes this among the most scary places in South Jersey.
Gabreil Daveis Tavern Museum House (Glendora)
Originally a tavern that housed boatmen and incoming goods from other cities, the Gabreil Daveis Tavern is a focal point in the history of the township of Glendora.
The building is also one of the national historic sites. Designated as a hospital by George Washington during the Revolutionary War, the tavern served its country and saw the departure of many army souls like any other wartime hospital. It still has bloodstains in the attic.
Keepers of the place to this day still hear the moaning of wounded soldiers and see apparitions of people with missing limbs on the grounds and through the windows. A night at the tavern may earn you the sighting of a soldier struggling to go up the stairs.
Jonathan Pitney House (Absecon)
Great kindnesses happened at the Pitney House during its active periods. Dr Jonathan Pitney built the house to reap the benefits of a great climate which he believed was essential to good health. Often lauded as the father of Atlantic City, most of the successes of the area were inspired by him.
Having suffered a long and drawn-out death, Pitney’s famous last words to his wife were, “I want you to stay here forever.” And according to visitors, their rooms remain the two most haunted rooms in the mansion.
Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters report feeling a floating and gliding presence about the room at night and someone getting into the sheets with them. One thing they all agree on is that these presences weren’t menacing.
The Pitney House now operates as a bed & breakfast, offering sumptuous breakfasts and one-night stays for the haunted experience. If you are interested, you can book a room here.
Haddonfield Historical Society (Haddonfield)
The Haddonfield Historical Society is the keeper of some of Haddonfield’s most remarkable stories. Visitors of the town agree that it is not just some of the buildings in the town that are haunted. The entire town itself is in the grip of ghosts.
One of the poplar ghosts is named Helen. A family living on the Tavistock farm grounds, formerly owned by an older woman, has shared experiences such as seeing bobby pins on the floor, cabinets closing, and electronics suddenly coming on. Some of these occurrences even happened when the family was together. Apparitions of Revolutionary War soldiers have been seen at the parking lot near the Woodbury Courthouse.
Haddonfield is a favorite of many ghost experts and paranormal investigators who come for the sightings and stories, making this one of the top haunted attractions in South Jersey.
Southern Mansion Bed and Breakfast (Cape May)
This large bed and breakfast provides excellent access to some of the beautiful sights and attractions of Atlantic City. It is an old, beautiful Victorian mansion that is a destination along the Jersey Shore in itself.
Ghost hunters have reported that the place is haunted. However, these ghosts are benign and offer soft touches. Stories of the Southern Mansion abound and are commonplace. Occupants don’t seem too bothered about the ghosts.
Sightings have occurred of apparitions dancing through the halls and gliding past windows and rooms. The frequency of these sightings has earned the Southern Mansion a place among the list of the most haunted houses in New Jersey. If you want to experience it for yourself, you can book a room here.
Whitall House (National Park, NJ)
At this point, you would think that any place used as a field hospital is haunted. Folklore and visitor reports might prove you right. The Whitall House at the Red Bank Battlefield Park in New Jersey is one of those houses-turned-field hospitals with a haunted history.
The house was built by James and Ann Whitall in 1748 and proved instrumental when defending Fort Mercer. It has been reported that the mistress of the house catered to some of the wounded soldiers.
Different paranormal events have occurred in the Whitall House, such as hearing disembodied voices in the hospital area and seeing children on the first and second floors. One paranormal investigator reported getting the sensation that someone grabbed her elbow. The Whitall house has been described as generally feeling like you are in an elevator. If that doesn’t scare you, we do not know what will.
Whitall House is open for visitations all year round and offers history lessons and guided tours that can show you how 18th-century families lived.
Ritz Theatre (Haddon Township)
This is still an active theatre and was built in the neo-classical style. It also puts on plays from time to time. It has been a focal point for the community in Haddon Township, who enjoy the shows.
While there several different types of productions are put on the Ritz Theatre, but not everyone comes for its live dramas. Some people come to see if they can catch a glimpse of its numerous ghosts.
Several sightings have been made across the century. Whether it is objects moving on their own, eerie backstage lights suddenly coming on or unexplained voices at different times of the day, the workers at the 1927 Ritz Theater have something to say.
Berry’s Chapel (Quinton)
Arguably the scariest place for miles around, Berry’s Chapel used to be a church where African Americans came to worship. It also served a growing African American community, lending credence to the legend that it was a stop along the underground railroad.
Killing, lynchings and hangings color the chapel’s past. There is even a tree called the hanging tree in its premises. The sad, haunted stories surrounding Berry’s Chapel are some of the most disturbing you will ever hear.
Berry’s Chapel, named after the pastor that built it, was burned down twice. The first time, no one was harmed, but the second time it was burned, the entire congregation died in it, including Pastor Berry.
Reports say that you can still see the church fully intact and burning on many nights, and you can hear the congregation praising and dancing in it. At other times, you can hear metal scraping and people screaming. The stories are chilling. The place has been described as creepy. The hanging tree is dead to one side, towards the cemetery, which adds to the strangeness of the place.
Visiting haunted places is fun. A good scare is more likely to leave you in a happier mood than you came in. However, it is best to only visit haunted places at designated times and never undertake independent investigations.
What are your favorite haunted places in South Jersey? Let us know and we might include in the future.