In 1949, Jesuit priests gathered in a lonely bedroom in Bel-Nor, Missouri. They surrounded a boy shaking in his bed who screamed each time they read a passage from the Bible to him. Scrapes and bruises would form on his skin for no apparent reason, sometimes spelling words.
Events at this St. Louis County property inspired the book and movie The Exorcist and is one of many haunted spots in the region.
Whatever your belief in the supernatural, St. Louis is a great place for ghost stories. Here are eight of our favorites.
8. Sibley Hall Chapel, Lindenwood University, St. Charles
Named for Mary Sibley, the University’s founder, Sibley Residence Hall contains a chapel with a beautiful pipe organ. Campus lore says Mary sometimes rises from her grave and walks to Sibley Hall to play her favorite hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Though there are no reliable reports of full songs played on the organ, there have been several reports of supernatural experiences. A staff member saw an “illuminated figure” walking the length of the locked attic; a professor and organist witnessed organ pedals playing themselves; and a student caught sight of the translucent figure of a woman dressed in white standing in a dorm-room hallway.
7. Locations on South Main Street, St Charles
There are numerous hauntings throughout Historic South Main Street in St. Charles, MO.
For example, the recently closed Little Hills Winery and Restaurant at 501 South Main Street is said to be occupied by the specters of a man and woman who have rowdy fights in French, sometimes leaving boxes and other objects in disarray.
At 517 South Main Street, some have seen the ghost of the little girl who died in a fire there.
And many claim to have witnessed the Lady in White. Buried at the original site of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church at 401 South Main, she walks the streets at night wearing the wedding dress she was buried in.
6. Campbell House Museum, St. Louis
Robert Campbell was a successful businessman who, in 1851, built a beautiful home in the Lucas Place neighborhood on Locust. The house is now a museum that holds many of Campbell’s possessions.
But in the past several years, half-dollar coins have been appearing in unexpected places around the house, sometimes where no one had been. When the phenomenon first began, a penny would accompany the half-dollars on occasion—51 cents for a home built in 1851.
Additionally, volunteers and staffers continue to hear footsteps when the house is empty, and one guest even felt a “mild nudge” on a tour of the home.
5. Webster University’s Loretto-Hilton Center, Webster Groves
The Loretto-Hilton Performing Arts Center is home to two ghosts.
The first, who is said to have died in an industrial accident during construction, wanders the lower levels at night.
The second, David Hitzer, was a dedicated member of the theater staff. He worked there until his death in the mid-1970s when he fell asleep during a rehearsal and never woke up. Some who have been there late in the evening believe they have encountered him walking the catwalk, making noises, and playing with the lights.
4. Powell Symphony Hall, St. Louis
Former music director Leonard Slatkin and his assistant were working one evening in the auxiliary storage area. They had left the door open, but it slammed shut and locked the two inside.
The incident was blamed on the ghost dubbed “George.” Many have seen him at Powell wandering the hallway, always wearing a white top hat, tails, and a mustache.
When Ghost Hunters of St. Louis checked out the site, they recorded a ghostly man’s voice saying “Richard.” At 2:45 a.m., they asked the ghost for a sign. The telephone in the room they were standing rang, but only once.
3. Jefferson Barracks
Built in 1863, Jefferson Barracks became the site of a National Cemetery in 1866 and a Veterans Hospital in 1922.
Shortly after the hospital was established, there was a private Halloween party on the grounds. A security officer commented to a party organizer about the excellent costume one man wore, an authentic Civil War officer’s uniform.
Only one other person, the party’s host, had seen such a guest.
The host claims to have encountered a man in a Civil War officer’s uniform seated on a stone wall. The host asked the man if he liked the party. The man replied, “Like it good.”
The host, feeling slighted by what he perceived to be a rude comment, decided to walk away. But when he turned to look at the Civil War officer one last time, he was gone.
Since then, soldiers have heard ghostly footsteps, watched a light turn itself on and off, and been confronted by the specter of a sentry with “a bullet hole in his head running red with blood.”
2. Lemp Mansion, St. Louis
William Lemp, Sr. founded The Lemp Brewery in 1840. He and his family lived in the Lemp Mansion, now the site of a popular restaurant and inn.
Lemp originated Falstaff Beer and brewed beers for Pabst and Anheuser-Busch. The Lemp family grew wealthy, but many believe they were cursed.
William Sr. and his children William Jr., Elsa, and Charles all lived in the mansion and ran the brewery, but each committed suicide. William Jr. was also said to have had an illegitimate son, known as “Monkey-Face Boy,” who lived in the servant’s quarters until his death.
Today, the Lemp Mansion is a restaurant and inn where strange things seem to occur regularly. Guests and staff have seen apparitions and heard unexplainable sounds. Tools have disappeared, and glasses have flown off the shelves.
Ghost hunters have placed toys inside a circle on the ground, called for the Monkey-Face Boy, and returned to find the toys moved outside the circle they had created.
1. The Exorcist House, Bel-Nor
For two months, the priests labored to cast an evil spirit out of the boy. They eventually moved him to the Alexian Brothers Hospital at 3933 South Broadway where they completed the exorcism. The boy returned home, and the room at the hospital was locked up after several reports of blasts of cold air and flickering lights.
Although the hospital was torn down and replaced, the house at 8435 Roanoke Drive still stands. Though there are no reports of hauntings at the property, the home has a fraught history for renters, buyers, and real estate agents.