Ghosts of the Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is an estate that exudes majesty and grandeur. It is a place where many from outside of Asheville tend to flock to whenever they are in the mountainous North Carolina City. The architecture is awe-inspiring. The grounds are vasts. And the hauntings are quite common. Yes, we said it. Hauntings are quite common in this palace built for a member of one of America’s most prominent families. Learn about the history of the building and the stories of why this beautiful home might be haunted by ghosts who are not only the past residents of the home but also the past revelers.

Early Years

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The Biltmore Estate sits on 8,000 acres of land. The house itself was constructed from 1889 to 1895 as the private residence of George Washington Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt had been making frequent trips to Asheville since his mother had resided there. Each time he visited, he fell more in love with the city and the scenery surrounding it. So much so that he decided to construct a summer home. His older siblings had already built summer homes in their own right in New York and Rhode Island, respectively. But George Vanderbilt wanted something that he wanted to call his “summer getaway home.” And thus, the idea of the Biltmore was conceived.

You might think that the “Bilt” in Biltmore is a play on his family name. However, this is not the case. But he does pay homage to Vanderbilt’s Dutch heritage. Biltmore is a combination of De Bilt, a region of the Netherlands where the family originated from and ‘more,’ from Anglo-Saxon that roughly translates to ‘rolling land.’ Vanderbilt purchased many acres of land as part of the estate’s property. These included various farms and even cemeteries.

Construction of the house began in 1889. To keep the construction going at a steady pace, a woodworking factory and a brick kiln were both added to the site. The kiln was said to produce as many as 32,000 bricks per day. Also constructed was a private railroad connected to the estate so items and other goods could be distributed. More than 1,000 laborers had helped build the house. While construction was underway, Vanderbilt traveled across Europe to find interior decor for his newly built home. His home was completed in 1895, and he christened it with a party on Christmas Eve for distinguished guests. Many prominent figures have visited or stayed in this home, including several ambassadors, authors, and U.S. Presidents.

One of Asheville’s landmarks (and believe it or not haunted places) sits on the property’s edge. The Shiloh Forestry Compound or the Biltmore Forestry School was constructed on the grounds of the estate. It is here that Carl Schenck was hired as a forester for the estate. His knowledge on the topic interested Vanderbilt and many of the locals. Schenck opened up the forestry school and had offered a one-year course for those who wanted to learn practical forestry techniques. Things came to a head when Schenck and Vanderbilt disputed the payment for the work, thus leading to Schenck’s departure and the school’s subsequent closure. The building still stands today and is haunted in its own right (a bit more on that later).

Vanderbilt would later die from complications stemming from an emergency appendectomy in Washington, D.C., at the age of 51. At his request, his wife Edith carried out his request that the land on his property would not be touched. The home would still be used as a private residence until after the Great Depression hit. To keep the residence afloat financially, George and Edith’s daughter, Cornelia Vanderbilt would open the estate to the public as a tourist attraction.

However, as the United States entered World War II, the estate was temporarily closed to the public. For fear of a potential attack against Axis powers, many of the estate’s artifacts were relocated to a protected area, so they were not destroyed. Some of the artifacts included the famous George Washington portrait that was painted by Gilbert Stuart.

The Biltmore estate continued to be maintained by members of the Vanderbilt family, including the sons of Cornelia Vanderbilt. Her son John Cecil lived in the house until his passing in 1956. His elder brother George also lived in the home until 1956. However, it wasn’t long until the youngest of Cornelia’s children would soon occupy and maintain the home to make it more profitable. The estate became a historical landmark in 1963. As of today, the estate sees more than a million visitors per year. But how many of them have witnessed some strange activity or may have heard or seen some spirits roaming around the halls?

Apparent Hauntings and Paranormal Activity

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While the estate sees so many visitors every year, there probably is no shortage of ghost stories that can be told about the Biltmore Estate. Many past visitors and even staff members have told stories of the hearing a voice whispering the name “George” repeatedly in the hallways. It is believed that the spirit of Edith Vanderbilt herself is wandering the halls and possibly searching for her husband, who is also believed to be another spirit that is reported to also live in the mansion as well. At night, some of the people working the grounds had heard sounds of laughter, glasses clinking, and party-like chatter. The only problem is that no one is throwing a party.

Most of the visitors had reported seeing spirits going up or down the stairs. Sounds of footsteps had also been heard on multiple occasions. Not to be outdone, there have been reports of strange smells, cold spots, and eerie feelings when visitors would go up or down the stairs. To add to the strange factor, there are a number of headless mannequins that are stored in one of the 200 rooms of the house. The mannequins were dressed in period clothing (dated specifically back to the early 20th century). As for George Washington Vanderbilt himself, his spirit could be seen all over the place. But if you are hunting for the apparition of George and seem to be running out of options, he’s probably in his beloved study surrounded by his library of books.

Whether the Vanderbilts had owned pets are not is unknown. But some have reported seeing a headless orange cat roaming the garden area. Just another one of the many creepy and downright scary things that you might see if you ever get the chance to tour the Vanderbilt Estate.

As mentioned before, another haunted spot is also on the property. The old Forestry Compound that once was the Biltmore Forestry School was the site of a prostitute’s murder. The spirit of the woman, along with a few others who were executed by hanging inside the old building, is said to be haunting the halls of the old compound. However, they have never been sighted anywhere beyond that part of the property.

If you are looking for a “two for the price of one” special for ghost hunting and paranormal activity, this is the one place you might want to check out. But you might want to check out the mansion first before you move onto the old forestry compound.

The Biltmore Estate is not only one of the largest private residence museums in America, but it might just be one of the most haunted. For a place that contains not one, but two of the most haunted places, it’s a must-see attraction if you ever find yourself in the Asheville area. If you are in for the spook of a lifetime, then you probably should book a tour of the Biltmore estate.


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The Ghosts of the Biltmore's Past

The original owners of the Asheville, North Carolina, estate have been known to make a surprise appearance.

Valerie Fraser Luesse has been affiliated with Southern Living and its parent company since 1988. She has written some 30 Southern Journal essays for the magazine and extensively covered the unique cultural pockets of the South, including Acadian Louisiana, the Mississippi Delta, South Florida, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She released her fourth Southern novel with Revell in 2021.

why is the biltmore estate haunted

George Washington Vanderbilt II had to be one of the most unlikely farmers in American history. The grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, George was born into great wealth, but while his brothers built mansions on New York's Fifth Avenue, he preferred the mountains of western North Carolina, and his interests lay not with industry and commerce but with agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, art, and design.

George made his first visit to Asheville, North Carolina, in 1888 and was completely smitten with the mountainous landscape. He started buying property—lots of it—eventually owning some 125,000 acres, including lands that would become the first national forest in America, Pisgah National Forest. Working with architect Robert Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, George created what remains one of the most beautiful estates in America. Biltmore House, a 250-room French château-style mansion, is the largest home in the country, but the grounds and surrounding landscape are just as impressive. George saw to that.

By all accounts, he and his wife, Edith, were devoted to each other and to the Western North Carolina families who worked on their self-sustaining estate. The couple loved hosting guests at Biltmore , where the grand house included an indoor pool—as well as hidden doors, rooms, and passageways designed to give the family and their guests privacy and to enable the staff to move among gathering spaces unobtrusively. Sadly, George died young, after an emergency appendectomy in 1914. But his years with Edith and their only child, Cornelia, were happy. Not only did they love each other, but they were beloved by the local North Carolina families that Biltmore supported.

No wonder all the otherworldly happenings here are joyful—the sound of splashing water coming from a long-empty pool, glasses clinking in festive celebration, and Edith whispering "George" in the hallways.

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why is the biltmore estate haunted


why is the biltmore estate haunted

Biltmore Estate - Asheville NC Real Haunted Places

why is the biltmore estate haunted

  • 1 Lodge Street
  • Asheville, NC
  • 800-411-3812

why is the biltmore estate haunted

  • Biltmore-Oteen Bank Building 0.1 miles away
  • Midnite Rodeo Club / Warehouse Complex 0.3 miles away
  • Biltmore Village Inn - Reed House 0.3 miles away
  • Smith-McDowell House 0.7 miles away
  • South Asheville Cemetery 1.0 miles away
  • Church Street 1.7 miles away

[starting address]

1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC, 28803

why is the biltmore estate haunted

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why is the biltmore estate haunted

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A Holiday Haunting at the Biltmore (The Mystery House Series)

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A Holiday Haunting at the Biltmore (The Mystery House Series) Paperback – December 23, 2021

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  • Book 8 of 13 The Mystery House Series
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  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09NSBQ14X
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (December 23, 2021)
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  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8789613634
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After earning her Ph.D. in English and teaching writing and literature for over twenty years, Eva Pohler worked diligently to become a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels in multiple genres, including supernatural mysteries, thrillers, and young adult paranormal romance based on Greek mythology. Her books have been described as "addictive" and "sure to thrill"--Kirkus Reviews.

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Eva's Young Adult Paranormal Romance Based on Greek Mythology:


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House of Hades (Book Four)

The Athena Alliance (Book Five)

Hades's Promise (Book Six)

Hypnos (Book Seven)

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Storming Olympus (Book Nine)

Persephone: A Prequel (Book Zero)

Charon's Quest: An Underworld Saga Novel

Gods of Olympus (An Interactive Adventure)


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Vampire Ascension (Book Three)

Dionysus (A Prequel)


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The Purgatorium (Book One)

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Eva's Supernatural Mysteries/Paranormal Women's Fiction (Ongoing)

THE MYSTERY HOUSE SERIES (can be read in any order)

Secrets of the Greek Revival (Book One)

The Case of the Abandoned Warehouse (Book Two)

French Quarter Clues (Book Three)

The Hidden Tunnel (Book Four)

The Haunting of Hoover Dam (Book Five)

The Ghost of Blackfeet Nation (Book Six)

The Shade of Santa Fe (Book Seven)

A Holiday Haunting at the Biltmore (Book Eight)

The Enchanted Bungalow (Book Nine)

Virginia Creeper (Book Ten)

Summer House Mystery (Book Eleven)

The Haunted Bridge (Book Twelve)

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Haunted Places

10 Places in North Carolina That Are Reportedly Haunted

NORTH CAROLINA -- In the spirit of Halloween, we've rounded up places where people say they've experienced ghoulish encounters.

From the mountains to the coast, here are 10 locations in the Tar Heel State which are allegedly haunted: 

Biltmore Estate (Asheville, N.C.)

The Biltmore Estate , the largest privately-owned home in the United States, was build by Vanderbilt heir, George Washington Vanderbilt. Many believe that the founders of Biltmore Estate haunt the home. Many have reported seeing a “shadowy figure” in the Estate’s library, believed to be George, and others have reported his wife, Edith, whispering “George” through the halls . Workers and visitors to Biltmore have heard sounds of clinking glasses, laughter, music, and splashes from a swimming pool that is now empty.

Lydia’s Bridge (Jamestown, N.C)

People traveling between Jamestown and Greensboro on U.S. Highway 70-A  said they’ve encountered the ghost of Lydia, a hitchhiker. If she is picked up, she gets into the car and vanishes before she reaches the requested destination. Various versions of the Lydia legend have been passed along over the years, and there are apparently eleven different versions of the story that are set in North Carolina. It is common for folks to go ghost hunting for Lydia near the bridge. In the book, Looking for Lydia , historians Michael Renegar and Amy Greer cite the 1923 death of Annie C. Johnson as the real life "Lydia," who died after a car flipped in 1920. 

Queens University (Charlotte, N.C)

Queens University, located in Myers Park in Charlotte,  is said to have multiple haunted locations on campus. Students said they have experienced paranormal activity in multiple buildings, including happenings like doors opening and closing by themselves and knocking sounds.

Rí Rá Irish Pub  (Charlotte, N.C.)

The building in which Rí Rá is located is the second-oldest original building in uptown Charlotte. Rí Rá’s opened there in 1997. A red brick was found one night after an alarm system went off, and there were no signs of anyone entering the building to place it there. Ghost stories include a young girl practicing her ABCs above the host stand, beer taps turning on by themselves, and sewing machine sounds in the basement.

The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, N.C.)

Named one the Top 10 Haunted Hotels in America, at UNC’s The Carolina Inn , you can rent the room through the hotel’s Boo! Package, and spend a night with the room’s ghost, Dr. William Jacocks. The hotel says the room used to be the doctor’s permanent residence and that he is a “friendly spirit” that likes to play practical jokes. Staff and guests that have stayed in the room have witnessed an aroma of flowers and a loud ‘whizzing’ noise, among other things. They’ve also seen a “finely-attired, portly” man walking the halls, seeking an unlocked door. If a guest opens the door, he gets scared and runs away.

The New Hanover County Library (Wilmington, N.C.)

A haunted spot cited in Wilmington is the New Hanover County Library, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman believed to be a patron. Her apparition has been seen over the years, as well as people hearing footsteps, books moving and another ghost, who people believe was a man killed in a duel. His home stood on the current site of the library.

North Carolina State Capitol (Raleigh, N.C.)

Legend has it that “former inhabitants” of the building still remain. A former night watchman heard noises, which included screaming, doors slamming and books hitting the floor in the third-story library, breaking glass, keys jingling, and the sound of footsteps. The same watchman also said the manually-operated elevator went up and down by itself. A building curator also said that he heard sounds from the committee room off the Senate chamber, and when he went to go look, saw an apparition which dissolved.

Fort Fisher (Wilmington, N.C.)

Several legends have been talked about over the years surrounding the former Civil War fort, including the ghost of General W.H.C. Whitting, who sits atop the fort’s parapet, watching over. Another, referred to as a sentinel or “watcher in the woods” has been spotted as well, and other things have happened like doors opening without reason. A paranormal research time from Carthage, N.C. conducted an investigation at Fort Fisher, which captured images of several oddities, including one which could be the sentinel.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground (Bear Creek N.C.)

The ground is a circle area trapped between grass in Chatham County. According to legend, anything placed within the spot is thrown outside of it the next day so that the devil “has room to dance.” People have said they’ve seen red glowing eyes in the circle. A journalist also spent the night in a tent inside the circle a few years back and heard ghostly footsteps going around the tent.

Dana Auditorium (Greensboro, N.C.)

This auditorium on the campus of Guilford College was built in 1961. The spot where it stands can be traced back to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse during the Revolutionary War. During the war, the area was used as a field hospital and many say that a fallen solider haunts the space. There have also been reports of a little girl being spotted in the Choir Room, as well as a man in a brown suit in the halls.

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why is the biltmore estate haunted

Ghosts of The Biltmore House

George Washington Vanderbilt was fortunate enough to have been born into a life that offered him staggeringly vast amounts of money that he didn't have to lift a single finger to earn. In 1886 he travelled to Asheville with his mother fell in love with the mountains and the town. He decided, at the tender age of twenty-six, that he would build a vacation home there. Thinking something with a little yard would be nice, he purchased 125,000 acres and called in the shovels. Vanderbilt would eventually spend a significant part of his inheritance constructing the estate, including building out a private railway line to bring his family and guests to the grounds, which were then far outside the bounds of Asheville.

Though the city has crept up on it over the years, the estate remains impressive and the house remains the largest privately owned home in America. Now open to the public, the house, the surrounding estate, the winery, and the related attractions make Biltmore one of the biggest tourist destinations in North Carolina. The gorgeous home and its surrounding gardens have been featured in multiple movies, from the Peter Sellers' classic Being There , to the less well-remembered Hot Heir , starring Raleigh's own perennial political candidate and Guppy The Clown Ron Campbell. But some visitors to the Biltmore House have seen even stranger things.

In addition to his architectural passions, George Vanderbilt was an avid collector of books, art, and artifacts. He and his wife Edith turned Biltmore into a private museum of luxury, and would host lavish parties and entertain guests over extended stays.

The Biltmore House Postcard

The Biltmore House at night. Vintage postcard from the author's collection.

When he died in 1914, his estate passed through his daughter to his grandsons, and it was they who decided to open the estate to the public. Ever since then, there have been rumors that the founders of the estate may still be around.

During his lifetime, Vanderbilt was particularly proud of his library, and would spend a considerable amount of time there, pouring over some rare edition or other. It was Vanderbilt's particular habit to retreat into the library when he saw a storm approaching. His ghost may be continuing this habit, as workers and visitors to the estate are said to have seen a shadowy figure in the library, usually when the skies are dark and there is an oncoming storm.

George Vanderbilt may also not be the only member of his family keeping up old habits. Edith Vanderbilt was known to personally journey down to the library to remind her husband when it was time to join his guests. Today, many people passing through the library have reported hearing a woman's voice whisper the name "George." She may be summoning George away from his studies and back to what seems to be an eternal party. Workers and visitors have reported hearing the sounds of clinking glasses, laughter, and snatches of music echoing through the halls. There have even been reports of the sounds of splashing coming from the estate's now-empty swimming pool.

If the Vanderbilts are indeed continuing their lavish existence into the afterlife, it may be evidence that while you may not be able to take it with you, you also don't necessarily have to leave it all behind.

How to Get There

The Biltmore Estate is located in Asheville and is accessible from clearly marked exits off both I-40 and I-26. Just follow the signs. The house is open year-round, some other attractions on the estate are seasonal.

Read the story of the Phantom Hiker of Grandfather Mountain

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This North Carolina Attraction Is Among The Most Haunted Places In The Nation

why is the biltmore estate haunted

Robin Jarvis

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Is the Biltmore Estate haunted? North Carolina’s most prominent and beloved attraction, located in Asheville , receives more than a million visitors every year. This family-owned estate inspires people as the tour allows an escape from everyday life. Since 1895, the family has welcomed guests to its 8,000 sprawling acres with breathtaking views of the mountains and the distinguished house and gardens. Let’s take a look at some of the paranormal activity reported in the firsthand accounts of visitors to our beloved Biltmore, one of the most haunted places in the country. Let’s dive into the Biltmore Estate’s dark history .

why is the biltmore estate haunted

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why is the biltmore estate haunted

Well, what do you think: Is the Biltmore Estate haunted? Is there a Biltmore Estate dark history? Not everyone is tuned in to their ability to see and experience paranormal activity. Have you ever had a paranormal experience at the Biltmore ? We’d love to hear about it in the comments! And for further paranormal adventures, visit Pritchard Park .

For more about the Biltmore, be sure to read Biltmore Estate: The Most Distinguished Private Place .

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.

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Haunted places in north carolina.

Where is another haunted estate to visit in North Carolina?

The Mordecai House , located in Mordecai Historic Park, is a haunted estate to visit in North Carolina.

Built around 1785 and 1826 for the Lane family, it was once the home of the largest plantation in Wake County.  During the Civil War, the plantation was the site of many battles where it is believed many soldiers died, and where some remain wandering the grounds. The house holds a collection of more than 5,000 artifacts, which might be why it also holds some leftover visitors from the past. One who has been spotted might be Henry Lane's daughter playing the piano.

Where is another haunted site to visit in North Carolina?

While you're in Raliegh, visit the North Carolina State Capitol for some more paranormal activities.

B uilt in 1840, its Greek Revival architectural style offers granite halls, three floors, and authentically-curated furnishings from the period. It seems it is so cozy that some who once roamed the halls here have never left. Some of the incidents reported include the sounds of a moving elevator, the smell of cigar smoke, the screams of a woman, and voices in conversations. 

Where is one of the most haunted hikes in North Carolina?

Norton Creek Trail , in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is one of the most haunted hikes in North Carolina.

Along the way, you will discover more than 200 small cemeteries with artistic headstones, abandoned homesites, and ruins of chimneys and old home foundations. Part of its haunted appeal comes from the Spearfinger legend about an old witch living on the highest ridges of the mountains, passed down by the Cherokee Indians. With one long, stone finger as sharp as a knife and dressed as an old grandmother, she searched the area for children. Upon capture, she would rock them to sleep and then cut out their livers. Another legend tells of a settler who was killed as he searched for his daughter near the north shore of Lake Fontana. Hikers today have claimed they were met with a light when they got lost on the trail, leading them to safety.

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The Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles May Be Haunted by the Black Dahlia

Guests have reported several ghostly visions.

Headshot of Hadley Mendelsohn

The full story of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel and the murder of Elizabeth Short is featured in an episode of House Beautiful’s podcast, Dark House . S ubscribe here .

Between the notorious Los Feliz Murder Mansion and 10050 Cielo Drive , aka one of the sites of the Manson massacres, Los Angeles is full of allegedly haunted houses. But the City of Angels is also home to some of the creepiest hotels with reputations for paranormal activity. Nestled in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, the Biltmore is one of the most iconic of these Hollywood haunts, thanks to its architectural character, history, and impressive size. The 70,000-square-foot Art Deco marvel features Spanish and Italian Renaissance styles and Moorish detailing throughout, complete with lavish, high-beamed and coffered ceilings. Until the mid-20th century, the Biltmore was considered L.A,'s most elegant hotel. In fact, it hosted the Academy Awards in the 1930s and '40s and was also a popular destination for young Hollywood hopefuls, including murder victim Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia. Short was known to frequent the hotel with friends and also took Spanish lessons in the lobby, but, most notably, it was potentially the last place she was seen alive on January 9, 1947. She had asked a new acquaintance, Red Manely, to drive her from San Diego (where she'd been staying for the final month of her life) to the bus station in Downtown L.A. When he wasn't comfortable dropping her off there alone, she requested he take her to the Biltmore Hotel, where she told him she would be meeting her older sister, Virginia. Elizabeth was never planning on meeting her sister there, so we can only speculate as to why she said that, but most people speculate she used the excuse to exit awkward social situations.

Regardless, Manley tried to locate Virginia in the lobby until he left Elizabeth alone there at 6:30 PM to go home. Hotel staff saw Elizabeth making phone calls in the lobby that evening, but investigators never determined who she was trying to reach. The employees confirmed that they observed her alone and saw her get up and leave as if she were signaled by someone outside around 10:00 PM. The bell captain opened the door for Elizabeth as she exited the hotel alone and walked down south into the fog. Her mutilated remains were discovered a few miles south in an abandoned lot in Leimert Park six days later, on January 15, 1947, and her gruesome murder remains unsolved.

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With over 300 suspects to sift through, dozens of false confessions, and the transient nature of the victim's life (along with a plethora of other systemic issues), the case remains one of the most mystifying and heartbreaking cold cases in history. And in the many decades since, Elizabeth's ghost has frequently been spotted in the Biltmore. Guests report seeing a pale woman with dark hair wearing a sheer black or gray, 1940s-style dress. She's usually spotted entering or leaving rooms on the 10th or 11th floors or wandering the halls. Author Ginny Meyers Sain accidentally caught a hair-raising snap of a spirit in a selfie she snapped for her son (see the image here ).

the biltmore hotel on pershing square, los angeles

Several Trip Advisor commenters have also reported cases of paranormal activity, from one guest who woke up with a figure hovering over her in the middle of the night, to a couple claiming to hear voices with 1940s Transatlantic accents in the room over, which was empty at the time. On top of that, bartenders have reported apparitions passing behind them on a daily basis. Whether it's Elizabeth's ghost or someone else's spirit haunting the Biltmore, we will never know for sure. Indeed, whether Elizabeth was seen alive and well after she left the Biltmore Hotel remains a highly debated subject amongst journalists and researchers today.

Curious to hear more about Elizabeth Short's case and whether or not the Biltmore was really the last place she was seen? Listen to this week's episode of our haunted house podcast series, Dark House , for exclusive ghost stories and insights into the home's twisted history.

Headshot of Hadley Mendelsohn

Hadley Mendelsohn is the co-host and executive producer of the podcast Dark House . When she's not busy writing about interiors, you can find her scouring vintage stores, reading, researching ghost stories, or stumbling about because she probably lost her glasses again. Along with interior design, she writes about everything from travel to entertainment, beauty, social issues, relationships, fashion, food, and on very special occasions, witches, ghosts, and other Halloween haunts. Her work has also been published in MyDomaine, Who What Wear, Man Repeller, Matches Fashion, Byrdie, and more.  


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