9 Historic Homes That Have Secret Rooms You Didn’t Know About
Tucked away in the corners of these historic homes, secret rooms and spaces hide all kinds of stories about the past.
Hidden Rooms in Historic Houses
Remember, as a kid, watching “paranormal mysteries” like Scooby-Doo or the Haunted Mansion, wishing to go on a real-life hunt through a mysterious house with winding staircases, hidden rooms behind bookshelves, and trap doors? Well, here’s that chance!
Historic homes are steeped in stories of the past, often offering valuable context to the historical eras that they were constructed during and survived thereafter. From New England summer mansions to hotels housed in historic properties, these buildings offer rich, sometimes hidden clues to life in the past– visitors just need to know where to look! These historic houses are the perfect places to hunt for hidden secrets.
Related: These Are The Best Haunted Historic Houses To Visit In New England
9 The House Of Seven Gables Has A “Secret Staircase”
Salem is home to some spine-chilling thrills but also to this historic house! Originally built in 1668 and best known for serving as the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name, the House of Seven Gables is a sprawling seafront colonial cottage with a big secret. The “Secret Staircase” was added to the home between 1908-1910 by Colonial Revivalist and restoration architect Joseph Chandler as a nod to Chandler’s own relatives, that owned the property at one point, the Ingersolls. The Ingersolls had described a secret staircase around the chimney that led to the attic, so Chandler made it a 20th-century reality.
8 Körner’s Folly’s Hidden Passageways
The brainchild of eccentric designer Jule Gilmer Körner, Körner’s Folly is an eclectic home comprised of oddly shaped hallways, trap doors, and distorted rooms. Originally built between 1878-1880 in Kernersville, North Carolina, the house is full of secret cubbyholes and passageways that were said to allow people to move from various parts of the house without being seen. Today visitors can poke around the house to see if they can find all the hiding spots.
7 The Gillette Castle, A Spy’s Paradise
It is only fitting that the actor who played Sherlock Holmes built a house full of mystery! William Gillette built his beloved castle in 1913 with a few tricks too! Outfitting the castle with an elaborate mirror system and a hidden staircase, and a hidden room, Gillette enjoyed spying on his guests and surprising them with a few pranks. Among his favorite tricks was his disappearing bar, which could only be accessed if one knew where the hidden level was. Gillette would watch his guests struggle to open the bar back up, all the while giggling from his secret spaces.
6 Harvington Hall’s Saintly Secrets
Across the pond in a 14th-century medieval manor, concealed “panic rooms” dot the interior of this English property. These hidey-hole spots (aka “hides”) date from the 16th-17th centuries when the Catholic Pakington family would hide Catholic priests from Protestant queensmen. The Pakington Family, notably head of household Humphrey Pakington, were devoutly Catholic and had a series of “hides” created around architectural structures like the great staircase and kitchen.
5 A Secret Lab Hidden In Horse Stables At Casa Loma
A darling of the Prohibition Era, this Toronto historic house–well, mansion–was a favorite of many American socialites as a Prohibition getaway. Built in 1914, the “hill house” became a hotel in the 1920s and since has served as the filming location of Hollywood films like Crimson Peak and X-Men. However, under the famous facade is an 800-foot tunnel that connects to the property’s stables. And the secrets don’t stop there! The stables were once concealed during World War II and turned into a tech lab where anti-submarine sonar sensors were constructed for the Allied powers.
Related: This French Ghost Town Is Actually A Memorial To The D-Day Landings & World War II
4 Scorned Lovers Haunted The Secret Passageway At The Sessions House
Originally constructed in 1710 for Captain Jonathan Hunt as a place of protection for his family– there are tunnels under the house that allows for an easy escape–Hunt’s granddaughter actually used the tunnels to have secret meetings with her forbidden lover! The family never allowed her to marry her “undeserving” love; rumor has it that the lovers still haunt the secret passageway today out of spite.
3 A “Hive Of Rooms” Hidden In The Sarah Winchester Mystery House
It’s a story that paranormal researchers know all too well. Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester and heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, bought a large farmhouse in San Jose, California, only to be convinced that she was haunted and cursed by those souls killed by her family’s invention. Thus began a massive home renovation, installing the strangest architectural features in order to throw off her ghostly assailants. While many people know about the staircases leading to the ceiling and doors leading to bricked-up walls, some may not know that through a cabinet located in one of the house’s six kitchens, there’s a “hive” of 30 rooms concealed away.
2 The Real Life Book Thief Of Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey
Imagine a beautiful hotel in the rolling hills of Alsace that, despite being 1,000-year-old nunnery, is still a gorgeously kept building anyone would be excited about staying in. Now imagine a stunning, grand library filled with rare manuscripts and thousands of books housed in that building. Well, turns out this is a real place, and its library had a couple of secrets that nobody knew about!
Related: How Long You’ll Need (& What To See) At The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
After several rare materials went missing at Monte Sainte-Odile Abbey in 2002, the police were stumped. No signs of forced entry, no obvious break-in… Then a police officer happened to accidentally push a book on a random shelf, and voilà! A door opened to reveal a small secret room with an escape route that the thief was accessing the library through!
1 A Chamber Of Secrets For The Knights Templar At Quinta Da Regaleira
Completed in 1910 for a family of noble lineage in Portugal, the sprawling castle was purchased by a wealthy businessman thereafter. Turns out the new owner had a penchant for the mysterious—and created two 88-foot towers underneath the mansion decked out in symbols associated with the Knights Templar. Called “initiation wells,” the base of the underground towers features a complex series of caverns, also entirely man-made!
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About The Author
By day, Sharon is a museum curator in history, and by night she is a PhD Researcher (of K-Pop!) in Media and Cultural Studies. She is a bi-coastal, Korean-American traveler who splits her time between the UK, the US, and South Korea and has written and presented articles and papers for house museums across New England, popular culture conferences and magazines, and Asian Studies conferences. Sharon is an avid aviation geek, a museum nerd, and a glutton for K-Stuff (K-Dramas, K-Beauty, K-BBQ). Follow her PhDing and travels @thepophistorydoctor on IG!
Weirdest Houses In The US
There’s no place like home, especially if you live in one of these bizarre abodes. From houses that double as nuclear bunkers to zany structures that are more art than architecture and even homes that are straight off the screen, these bizarre houses are the most unique in America. Read on to learn more about the weirdest houses in the US!
1. Luna Parc, New Jersey
Luna Parc, 22 Degroat Rd, Sandyston, NJ 07827, USA
The whimsical abode and ambitious masterpeice of artist Ricky Boscarino, this Sussex County home has been under perpetual construction and renovation since 1989. It’s covered in handmade art, bizarre artifacts, stained glass, stringed instruments, taxidermy, religious icons, and almost anything else you could imagine. Though this is a private residence, it is occasionally open to the public for special events.
This house is easy to see why it’s one of the weirdest houses in the US.
2. The Sluice House, Idaho
The Sluice Box/Facebook
Idaho City, ID 83631, USA
The Sluice Box/Facebook
This second-hand and antique shop was built by Larry Carter – he cobbled the structure together by hand, choosing each item with care. Once located in downtown Idaho city, the original shop was relocated to this 19th century building in 1996. The store is a maze of rooms, hidden passageways, false rooms, and a tower that was built as an “open invitation” to any wandering spirits.
The Sluice House is one of the most unique houses in America, undoubtedly.
Idaho City, ID 83631, USA
3. The Prairie Chicken House, Oklahoma
Chicken House Lane, Chicken House Ln, Broken Bow, OK 74728, USA
In 1961, Herb Greene caused a worldwide sensation when he unveiled his new home. Built according to principles of “organic modernism,” the home was featured in magazines and newspapers throughout Europe and Asia. The walls are constructed from countless ceder shingles and the home was aligned to resist strong winds and absorb sunlight. The kitchen and family room are perfectly positioned to catch the early morning rays of sunrise breaking over the prairie.
It’s an interesting, yet surprisingly beautiful unique house in America.
4. Munster Mansion, Texas
So, you love a T.V. show. I mean, you really love it. Do you: A) buy a t-shirt? B) have an all-night Netflix marathon? C) turn your family home into a replica of the television show’s set? D) wait, what? The McKee family is so infatuated with The Munsters, that their Waxahachie house is an exact replica of the fictional family’s home. Some of their furniture is even from the original set. The McKee family holds an annual open house, which I can only assume is B.Y.O.C. Bring your own cobwebs.
5. Subterra Castle, Kansas
This 1950’s nuclear bunker has been hacked into a two-story family home… and it’s a definite bombshell. Owners Ed and Dianna Peden purchased the property for a mere $40,000 and turned the industrial space into a lavish and luxurious underground sanctuary. This 11,000 square-foot residence comes complete with a solar greenhouse, a state of the art kitchen, and lots of personality.
Definitley self-sufficient, and definitely one of the most unique houses in America.
6. The Paper House, Massachusetts
Danielle Walquist Lynch
Paper House, 52 Pigeon Hill St, Rockport, MA 01966, USA
Danielle Walquist Lynch
This bizarre home is constructed entirely of newspaper. That includes the furniture, the walls, and even the fireplace. The only thing that isn’t entirely made of newspaper is the roof, which has been shingled. Built in 1922 as a summer home by Elis F. Stenman, a mechanical engineer who designed the machines that make paper clips, the Paper House features a grandfather clock made of newspapers featuring all 48 states – at the time of construction, Hawaii and Alaska had not joined the union. Today, Stenman’s grand-niece looks after the curious structure. The Rockport Paper House is open to curious visitors for tours.
Could a house made of paper be anything other than one of the weirdest houses in the US?
7. Bart Prince Residence and Studio, New Mexico
This unusual home was built by architect Bart Prince. The structure features flowing and curved walls, organic forms, and colorful designs. But this home is more than just a pretty face: the structure is solar-powered and harnesses the energy of the hot Albuquerque sun to fuel its utilities. The curved portion of passive-solar building contains the house’s bedrooms, while the tower serves as a library and storage area.
This Albuquerque home ranks as one of the most unique houses in America
New Mexico, USA
8. The Twisted House, Indiana
Located at the Indianapolis Art Center, the Twisted House is a fairy tale come to life. This whimsical structure is the work of artist John McNaughton, who stated that one of his goals in making the sculpture was to create an interactive sculpture that engages the viewer’s imagination. Though its not big enough to be a residence (for humans, that is), this adorable house is sure to delight kids and grownups alike.
It’s fun and interesting, although one of the .weirdest houses in America
Indianapolis Art Center, 820 E 67th St, Indianapolis, IN 46220, USA
9. The Smith Mansion, Wyoming
This zany house is made of logs gathered from Rattle Snake Mountain and features five stories of bumpy slide staircases, balconies, and unfinished rooms. The mansion was the pet project of Francis Lee Smith, an engineer with a lot of time on his hands. He spent 12 years building this structure with no definite plan or architectural blueprints. Smith’s wife divorced him due to the excessive time and money he poured into the mansion, and Smith eventually fell to his death while working on a balcony in strong winds. This home now sits abandoned on a hill overlooking the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway.
One of the weirdest houses in the US, and one of the saddest accompanying stories.
Smith Mansion, 2902 N Fork Hwy, Cody, WY 82414, USA
10. The Mushroom House, Ohio
Dave Menninger/Wikimedia Commons
This unusual home was designed by architect Terry Brown, a former architecture and interior design professor at the University of Cincinnati. Construction took about 12 years, with Brown employing his students and local artisans to help design the home’s intricate architecture.
There’s no house like this; one of the most unique houses in America.
11. The Plane House, Mississippi
Richard apple / Wikimedia
In the mid-1990s, Jo Ann Ussery was on the hunt for the perfect mobile home. You can’t get more mobile than a Boeing 747. Usury’s brother worked as an air traffic controller and suggested she buy an old aircraft, rather than a traditional trailer home. Ussery paid $2,000 for the plane, $4,000 to have it moved to her lakefront property, and $25,000 to have it renovated into her dream home. After six months of renovations, most of which were done by Ussery, the plane was completely transformed. The aircraft contains 1,300 sq. feet of living space, which includes three bedrooms, a living room, a fully-equipped kitchen and two bathrooms. The home also features a Jacuzzi in the cockpit that overlooks the lake down below.
The Plane House in Mississippi definitely qualifies as one of the strangest houses in America.
Benoit, MS 38725, USA
12. The Mushroom House, New York
Mushroom House, 142 Park Rd, Pittsford, NY 14534, USA
Mushroom House was built in 1972 by architect James Johnson. It consists of 80-ton concrete pods that are built into the side of a hill. There are no straight lines built into the structure, which gives the home an extremely organic feel, but must make it a pain to arrange furniture. Handmade, colorful tiles and groovy mahogany doors make this home a fabulously funky landmark.
One of the most unique houses in America, this is one we would totally stay in.
13. Caveland, Missouri
This subterranean home has a colorful history. First used as a mine, Caveland transformed into a roller skating rink and concert venue in the 1980s. It hosted such famous performers as Tina Turner, Bob Segar, and Ted Nugent. The venue closed in 1985 and the Sleeper family purchased the property on eBay in 2003. Since then, it has been converted into their family home. The interior includes two levels, 17,000 square feet of living space, and a natural ground-water spring pool.
Of course a cave house would make this list of weirdest houses in the US!
14. The Cedar Peak Treehouse, Washington
Built right into the massive body of a 200 year-old Western Red Cedar tree, this unique home is the mother of all treehouses. The best part? If you have some spare change (about a thousand dollars worth), you can stay overnight. Originally constructed in 2003, this incredible home is only accessible via an 82-foot high spiral staircase, which has been consistently rated as one of the top twenty spiral staircases in the world. I guess there’s a list of those lying somewhere.
Would you stay at one of the most unique houses in America?
Ashford, WA 98304, USA
15. The Pavilion, California
Located on Black’s Beach, this private residence is the guest home to the main house located at the top of the beach’s cliff. A 300-foot tram, as seen in the picture, links the two properties. I think the odds are 9 out of 10 that this arrangement was designed with the in-laws in mind.
The Pavilion, 750 Orchard Rd, Davis, CA 95616, USA
This house is not a home. Though it may look like a typical family abode, this place actually serves an unexpected purpose. I’m not going to spoil the surprise. Watch the video for the secret of the house on Wade Avenue.
Have you visited any of the weirdest houses in the US? Can you think of any others? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more interesting homes in the US? Read about these eleven creepy and abandoned homes in the US.
The OIYS Visitor Center
January 13, 2023
Are there abandoned mansions in the US?
There are abandoned mansions in the US! Some had structural problems, and others were neglected until they fell into disrepair. There are a surprising number of abandoned mansions in the US.
Some of the most interesting abandoned masons in the US are:
- Roseanne Barr Iowa Mansion
- Fairfax Mansion
- Bells Mansion
- Gold King Mansion
- Indian Ridge Resort
- And more!
Can you buy an abandoned home in America?
Yes, you can buy an abandoned home in America. But the home has to be up for sale to purchase it. Most abandoned homes are sold via auction, which means you could also purchase an abandoned home in America for under its listing value.
What kind of rooms are there – My country house
If you are thinking about building a new house or renovating an old one, it’s time to dream. And work on the layout. And in general over the number and purpose of the premises. The house is not an apartment. In the house it is possible (and even necessary!) to place a lot of things that do not fit in the apartment. Or what is not necessary in the apartment. By the way, what are the rooms like?
Standard what are the rooms – it’s clear. In addition to bedrooms, bathrooms and children’s rooms – a kitchen, a dining room, a living room (often combined in one room and separated by small partitions or other design techniques). Hallway or vestibule. And, not always. In warm climates, the door often opens directly into the common hall, and at the entrance there is just a small wardrobe for clothes and bags. Definitely a boiler room. Often this is a room where, in addition to the heating boiler itself and the water supply unit, additional functional areas are located.
And then the things that rarely fit in apartments begin. Let’s start with the more familiar.
Transitional Home Office by Naples Interior Designers & Decorators Renée Gaddis Interiors
A private office room is great. I had one like this when I was a kid. We were three girls in the family, we had a nursery, where there were all the beds and toys, and an office, where there were two desks, and all the walls were hung with bookshelves. A separate study room is very conducive to productive study. Or work. Now, with the development of modern means of communication, there are more and more lucky people who work while sitting at home (for example, me 🙂) And in this case, an office is simply necessary. Chick-chick, I’m in the house. I am working. Do not touch me, do not pull me to drink tea and watch TV. Lay on the couch and mop the floor. Well, if you are a strange person who still reads and buys paper books, you can finally arrange all your wealth beautifully and admire it with pleasure.
Modern Home Office by Washington Architects & Building Designers Jacobsen Architecture LLC
The next room that everyone knows exists but few have is the dressing room. To be honest, I don’t suffer without such a room – we don’t have a lot of clothes. But many people like it.
Traditional Closet by New York Architects & Building Designers Brian O’Keefe Architect, P.C.
There is also a decent-sized room for storing very necessary junk.
Contemporary Garage by Seattle Architects & Building Designers chadbourne + doss architects
Next came the less common rooms. The first is a laundry room (just a laundry room may well be combined with a boiler room, if the area of \u200b\u200bthe latter allows).
Transitional Laundry Room by Schaumburg Kitchen & Bath Designers Abruzzo Kitchen & Bath
Separate room for washer (and dryer) machine, clothes dryer, dirty and clean laundry storage, ironing, soaking necessary), and other household items, including stocks of household chemicals, buckets, rags, mops and brushes – this is wonderful. If you arrange this room to your liking, then this whole routine will no longer seem so tiring and monotonous.
Rustic Laundry Room by Excelsior Design-Build Firms Lake Country Builders
In addition, if the area allows, there is also a needlework corner or a home office.
Farmhouse Laundry Room by Austin Home Builders Schmidt Custom Homes
Photo by Cachet Homes – Browse laundry room photos
Men usually need more space for needlework. My husband just dreams of a workshop, but somehow it doesn’t grow together yet (today he only has a corner for storing tools).
And look how convenient and practical it can be. And no need to squirm with a tool in a cold shed or in the middle of a corridor in a house.
Traditional Shed by Dallas Interior Designers & Decorators RSVP Design Services
Traditional Home Office by New York Photographers Rikki Snyder
And in the workshops (or without them), men make themselves a real lair.
Rustic Shed by St. Louis General Contractors Twin Peaks Contracting, LLC
Contemporary Shed by Oakland Kitchen & Bath Remodelers Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins Inc
Or a pool room.
Rustic Home Bar by Hamilton Design-Build Firms Rocky Mountain Homes
Or a small gym. This is all for amateurs, of course 🙂
Contemporary Home Gym
Tasting room. Of course, it only makes sense if you have a solid collection of wines and other spirits. But how stylish and beautiful!
Traditional Wine Cellar by Los Altos Design-Build Firms Avalon Enterprises Inc
It’s great to be able to take the TV out of the living room and dedicate it exclusively to socializing.
Photo by FORMGROUP, Inc. – More contemporary living room photos
Photo by Emerald Designs Ltd. – Search modern living room pictures
And watch movies in a separate, specially designed room.
Photo by Maienza – Wilson Architecture + Interiors – Search southwestern home theater pictures
Photo by Garris Construction, Inc. – Search traditional home theater pictures
Sun-room. Sun room. Actually, this is a glazed veranda. But the name is charming. And these very verandas also look wonderful, regardless of size.
Victorian Sunroom by Northern Ireland Photographers Gary Quigg Photography
Modern Sunroom by Wales Windows Peninsula Home Improvements
Farmhouse Sunroom by Northern Ireland Photographers Gary Quigg Photography
It’s great when there is a place for a guest room – you don’t have to constantly unfold the sofa in the living room, and guests have somewhere to put their clothes and where to retire.
And the houses in the garden stand a little apart. backyard cottage. These are small sheds of varying degrees of amenities (for example, converted from former cabins), which can house an office, a men’s lair, a women’s corner, a children’s house, a guest room, a workshop, a bar, and a cinema hall. This is such a great topic that we wrote about it separately. (You can also check out the beautiful pictures we’ve put together on our Pinterest board.)
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10 weirdest buildings • Interior+Design
Architecture Private architecture is a special genre that encourages experimentation with space, aesthetics and comfort. Everything, or almost everything, is possible in it – the 10 most unusual houses in the world.
Stone House, Portugal Casa do Penedo was built in 1973 by Victor Rodriguez. Two-storey building in the Fafe mountain area. Now no one lives in the house, but it is completely habitable and is not used for any other purposes. The house is built between huge stones that replace its walls. The house has two floors, nearby there is an outdoor pool and even a stone shed.
House in the Dune, USA Duplex, two almost identical houses of 70 square meters. m each, built in 1975 by architect William Morgan for rent. Since he himself lived in the neighborhood, he did not want his new building to block the view of the ocean. Morgan’s solution was to “bury” the house in a sand dune. The mass of sand above and around contributes to energy saving: little heat is required to heat the building.
House between rocks, Brittany, France A small house Castel Meur on the north coast of Plougrescant in Brittany was built in 1861. Its first owner was not afraid of bad weather and found refuge on a small island – rocks on both sides protected the dwelling from winds and storms. His descendants only occasionally visited here – now the house belongs to the great-granddaughter of the first owner.
Steel House, Texas Artist Robert Bruno’s project began in 1973 in the small town of Lubbock on the ridge of Ransome Canyon. The author did it throughout his life and built the house with little or no outside help, until his death in 2008. He did not have time to install the pool, finish some of the rooms and the outer cladding of this 150-ton black steel structure.
Strange House, Alps, France36-2011), author of the concrete bubbles of the Museumotel hotel complex. The four-storey house was built in 1966-1971. There are four levels inside, which are united by a spiral staircase – there is a reading room, three bedrooms and bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a large roof terrace.
House-burrow, Switzerland Villa in Wals with an area of 160 sq. meters was built in 2009 by two young architects: the Dutchman Bjorn Mastenbrook (SeARCH) and the Swiss Christian Müller. “Nora” consists of a concrete ellipsoid recessed into the ground, which houses living quarters and a warehouse for ski equipment. Between them is a 22-meter underground corridor. The idea was born, not because of the search for originality – in this place, according to the norms, you can not build anything higher than a barn.
Heliodome, France French countryside life conjures up idyllic images of a cozy cottage, fireplace and good wine. However, this may not be the case at all. Cabinetmaker Eric Vasse traded his farmhouse for a sundial-shaped structure that harnesses the power of the sun for sustainable living. The slope provides shade and coolness during the summer months. In winter, when the sun is low, the lens house receives enough light to warm the interior to a comfortable temperature.
Shoe House, Pennsylvania A small house in Pennsylvania is the creation of 73-year-old shoemaker Mahlon M. Haynes. Owner of forty shoe stores, he built the house in 1949 to advertise for his Haines Shoe Company. The entire surrounding area is consonant with the overall shape – the mailbox, the bars on the windows and the dog’s kennel – everything is connected with shoes. Now inside the five-story building there is a cafe.
The Keret House, Warsaw The incredibly narrow house designed by architect Jakub Szczęsny was built by Centrala. Its width is only 92 cm at its thinnest and 152 cm at its widest. Inside – a full-fledged residential building. It was named after the Israeli writer and film director Etgar Keret, who was its first tenant. The iron structure consists of two floors and has one bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room.
Narrow House, Japan Family home in Western Tokyo designed by Mizuishi Architects.