Bad Apartments
February 6, 2005 9:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in stories about living in apartments where something bad has happened. Apartments with gnarly histories. Murders, suicides, 'haunted' apartments, whatever. Did it affect the value? Did you learn about it only later? Did you hire an exorcist? Did a new paint job suffice? etc. Anyone have such stories, or know of such?
posted by Hobbacocka to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
A friend bought an apartment and then while painting it she found a bag of coke and a gigantic blood stain on the wall in her bedroom closet. Somehow this got past the real estate person and her and countless other people who looked at the place.

Perhaps more on topic, my cousin bought a house that she found to be haunted. She had all sorts of psychics come over and got differing opinions on the "ghost" ranging from murder to suicide, &c. Everyone in her family (husband & kids) saw a woman in 19th century era clothing walking the halls. Eventually, they had some sort of exorcism and the figure hasn't been seen since. They still hear doors slamming and something rustling around in the house though. Having never experienced this, I remain skeptical, but my cousin is generally very level-headed and reliable. So I dunno.
posted by box elder at 9:28 PM on February 6, 2005

My 7-unit apartment complex has housed two serial killers: Andrew Cunanan and Betty Broderick.
I didn't know about it until after I moved in, and I doubt it had much to do with anything, but I do feel like I'm getting a great deal on my rent. I'm hoping I move out of here before someone else snaps.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:45 PM on February 6, 2005

The previous occupant of a room in which I lived for three years had committed suicide. This fact bothered me for about 30 seconds when I was offered the room, but it was a very good deal. Only later did I start to wonder about my roommate - if he drove his previous roommate to suicide, what would he do to me? He actually did his part to frighten me by telling me, for example, that I put my futon in exactly the same place as the guy before me, and that his body was found on the futon. As for the dead guy, I guess he took pity on me as a result and decided not to bother scaring me any further. I never had the pleasure of meeting him.
posted by epimorph at 12:41 AM on February 7, 2005

Last summer, I was dating a woman who told me that the previous renter of her uncle's house (where she now lives rent-free) had committed suicide, by slashing his throat. She said he'd crawed downstairs, dying in the basement bathroom.
She said that after she'd moved in, she kept hearing someone walking around in the place, but she chalked it up to her imagination. Until one day she heard someone run across the landing of the second floor and slam her bedroom door!
She told a coworker about it and the coworker gave her the name of a Native American woman who on hearing the story, thought she could help.
My ex met the woman at her house and as they came up the stairs, they discovered that every door and window was wide open.
The "medicine woman" proceeded to perform a ritual designed to help the former occupant "move on" and she had no more weird stuff happen after that.
Unfortunately, after telling me this, her upstairs toilet broke, so everytime I was over there, I'd sneak outside to wee rather than go down into the basement!
posted by black8 at 1:06 AM on February 7, 2005

I used to live in a older mansion type of house that was converted to a Red Cross hospital, then eventually to apartments. My girlfriend (who I later married) and her friend moved into this place, without knowing it's past. So in order to impress my new girlfriend, I volunteered to paint their apartment while they worked on their overnight shifts.

Very quickly I found that the place was haunted. I never actually saw a ghost but I got those typical very cold chills that freaked me out. It felt like as if something cold was moving through me, unlike a shiver.

Also, the door buzzer to their apartment would always buzz on Saturday night for no apparent reason. I stayed up one night to try catch the act, but nothing ever appeared. We'd hear people walking in the halls and up the staircase, but no one would be there.

During an arts festival in the area after they moved in, I was sitting on the front steps people watching and an old lady came up to me and asked if I knew the history of the building. She preceded to tell me it was a Red Cross hospital during and after WW2. So I am guessing, some of the patients who had died there, still exist there, in ghostly form.
posted by jasonspaceman at 4:48 AM on February 7, 2005

My dad stays in a house in rural France, which is built on Roman foundations, housed German soldiers during WWII and was then an orphanage for many years.

Our family, skeptical by nature, have never been troubled by ghosts, but lots of guests have reported the sound of men on horseback in the night, and crying children, but only those who've been told of the house's history. So it seems to me that ghosts will leave you alone if you don't believe in that sort of nonsense, no excorcism or paint required.
posted by jack_mo at 5:13 AM on February 7, 2005

No exorcism at all, but i used to live in a student apartment in Allston Mass back in the late 1970s. Fifteen or so years later I am living in Budapest, Hungary, and I am at my wife's house watching TV - one of the first satellite station grabs in our post communist history. The show was one of those "true crime" docudramas, in which the camera follows the footsteps of the victim and killer.

So there I am with a bunch of Hungarian in-laws (the same ones to whom I always say "No, the crime rate in America isn't as high as everyone says...") and they show the main street of Allston, Mass. "Hey - I used to live there!" Everyone comes to look.

they show the corner burger joint: "Hey" I yell, "I used to eat there!" and then the victim is followed home through an alleyway into a parking lot.... "Hey, that's my old parking lot..." And into the apartment rear entrance of ... my old apartment building. And up to Apartment 2... my old apartment. And eventually the victim was murdered in ... you guessed it .... my old room. Ten years after I moved out.

As you can imagine, everybody continued in their belief that the Us is crime headquarters of the world, and then we watched some East German soccer match.
posted by zaelic at 7:03 AM on February 7, 2005

I had friends who lived in a big 18th-century house in New Orleans. It had been chopped up into small apartments so they had to renovate before moving in. During the reno, they noticed some windows that they couldn't account for from the inside of the house. That led to them opening up a whole 'nother wing that had been boarded up. They made it into a guest suite and discovered after some people stayed over that there were thumpings and whisperings and so forth, only when men slept alone there. Oh, and their dog would never go up those stairs. Except for one day, when my friend was taking the dog out, the dog ran back inside the house and darted up the stairs, barking wildly. He followed the dog and when he got upstairs, he noticed a table lamp was on. He said, "That's funny, I don't remember leaving the lamp on." That's when he noticed that it was unplugged.

True story.
posted by scratch at 7:27 AM on February 7, 2005

My current apartment is haunted, and I explained what goes on in another askme.
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:32 AM on February 7, 2005

After the shootings, they closed the library at Columbine High and never reopened it. Not only does the old library stand vacant and useless, but some folk object to building a new one.

Similarly, after the McDonalds Rampage some years ago, the restaraunt was closed permanently.

These locations may not be haunted, but apparently people are willing to behave as if they are.
posted by SPrintF at 7:38 AM on February 7, 2005

I hate to admit I know this, but there was an article about this in the February 2005 Maxim.

Looking to make a killing in real estate? We’ve declared open house at 10 of the most notorious crime sites in history, including the properties that served up hapless victims for carnage-craving homebodies like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, and John Wayne Gacy. Sold!

The article was less on the hauntings than on what happened to the properties (aesthetics, value, etc.).
posted by whatzit at 9:36 AM on February 7, 2005

I lived in a house in Connecticut that was haunted. The original, um, 'resident' did NOT like us when we moved in. At least one room in the house was freezing cold at all times; even if the thermometer registered that it was plenty warm in the house. There were things hidden in the basement that we were just starting to find as we renovated. For instance, we kept finding wall-socket safes, or things hidden in wall sockets that made no sense at all. Some of our own stuff disappeared.

Once, when my parents left the house (dad at work, kids at school, mom grocery shopping) ... a can of solvent in the family room burst into flame. The house was a total loss. We ended up knocking it down and building it back from the foundation up. After we rebuilt the house, we never had problems IN the house again ( I think part of that was my mother's doing, but I'm not sure how or why), but we'd have problems if we went outside.

We found out later that our part of the neighborhood was built in a churchyard, and possibly was part of a 1600's and 1700's -era (or earlier native american) graveyard.
posted by SpecialK at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2005

Several of the apartments I lived in NW Portland were haunted. The worst was the apartment I lived in on Kearney right off of 21st. There was a female ghost you could occasionally actually see floating around the first level. Super creepy, definitely not on drugs, spooky shit.

We mentioned it to the downstairs (basement) neighbors once when bitching about the foot long sewer rats and lack of hot water. They said that she would occasionally come into their apartment and move stuff around when they weren't home. They also referred to the rats as Fraggles though, so it never felt like validation...

In my three years living in NW I saw two people jump off of roofs, one while still in the air on the way down another just after impact, and countless ODs and suicides getting driven down to the hospital.

I've never lived in a more surreally creepy part of town. I love that all of the ultra ritzy condos a couple blocks down in the Pearl are being built on top of the old toxic waste sites and crack houses these days, and that people will pay $2000/month to hunt for parking spaces in shitty old creepy buildings.
posted by togdon at 11:24 AM on February 7, 2005

I lived in an apartment alone for a year where the previous tenant had died alone in the apartment. It didn't bother me and I never had a problem with it.

My brother lives in an apartment that was recently rebuilt after a horrible fire there killed four sleeping children. The rent is extremely cheap, and he's never minded the history. It's like a whole new place now.

My parents bought a house where the previous family had some terrible history-- the father was convicted of sexually molesting his two disabled daughters while they lived in the house. My parents cleaned and painted the whole place, and invited a friend over to burn some sage and bless the place for a fresh start. The shaman said that the best way to overcome a space with a bad history like that is to turn around and have a lot of great, happy times there. They've done that, and there's never been a problem with any bad energy or ghostly occurances.

I think almost every place has had something weird or sad or evil go down, and dwelling on it and entertaining the idea of seeing ghosts (I'm a skeptic) only propagates that bad energy. Why not focus on the future and associating a lot of good friends, parties, birthdays and other happy occasions with the place?
posted by bonheur at 2:00 PM on February 7, 2005

No, Sprintf, the Columbine library was made into an atrium in 2000 and a new library opened in 2001 website here
posted by coolsara at 4:35 PM on February 7, 2005

An apartment building that I lived in in Denver had one haunted apartment -- they could not rent it out for years. People would move in and move right back out again. Any lightbulb you brought into the place would burn out within a day, there was a frightening red stain in the tub that reappeared after they replaced the tub, and the doorknob, even after being entirely replaced several times, would just turn and turn and turn and never catch. It just spun. Creepy.

They finally reduced the rent by about 75% and a friend of a friend of mine moved in. I visited once. It was an extremely dark apartment, somehow even with all the lights on. I had been very skeptical, but damn if it didn't feel incredibly ooky.
posted by jennyjenny at 10:40 PM on February 7, 2005

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