It's easy to miss the ghosts. After all, they're not exactly visible. That won't stop those hoping to catch a glimpse of apparitions in some of the most haunted places in the Chicago area.
For those who like to hunt for ghosts, here are the five most haunted places in Chicago (or nearby cities) and where to visit to increase your chances for a sighting.
5. Manteno Insane Asylum (Manteno, IL)
Don't go looking for the Manteno Insane Asylum, which was located about 90 minutes from Chicago in Manteno, IL. This haunted place in Chicago doesn't exist anymore, but it's creepy past has kept it on our list.
The haunted history of Manteno Insane Asylum
The Manteno State Mental Hospital opened in December 1930 during the Great Depression and the creators wanted more of a community than a hospital. It included cottages and a dedicated staff. Patients raised crops in nearby fields as a way to contribute and gain valuable skills.
Everything went well for the first eight years before the so-called Manteno Madness struck in 1939. The madness was typhoid fever, and the administrators were too slow to respond. It killed 47 patients by the time doctors contained it. Things got worse from there.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the patient population swelled. While the hospital was designed for 3,600 patients and 760 staff, by 1953, it had 5,300 patients and half the staff. Thanks to overcrowding and underfunding, treatable diseases became lethal cases. In 1941, 462 patient lives were lost due to wrongful experimentation while nearly 200 more escaped from the Manteno Insane Asylum.
By the '50s, government scientists and psychiatrists used Manteno as a testing ground, and it functioned as a tuberculosis treatment facility with a less-than-stellar treatment record. The government tested the effects of malaria and uncontrolled STDs on Manteno's patients, while psychiatrists employed electric shock therapy and lobotomies, which they perfected on the patients.
The ghosts of Manteno State Mental Hospital and where to see them
In 1985, the state of Illinois closed the facility, and it's since been converted into a home for elderly veterans. Most of the remaining cottages have converted to business use. Only one, Morgan Cottage, remains in its original state. You can find it at the corner of Juniper and West Evergreen streets.
The state hospital cemetery, not far from the home, holds the remains of the 4,000 patients who died at the hospital. Witnesses have reported apparitions of patients and ghostly voices over the non-functional intercom system.
4. Resurrection Cemetery (Justice, IL)
Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
Located near Chicago Midway International Airport in Justice, IL, Resurrection Cemetery makes it on our haunted places in Chicago list hanks to a vanishing hitchhiker spirit — Resurrection Mary.
The haunted history of Resurrection Cemetery
Paranormal investigators believe Mary is the ghost of a young woman named Anna Marija Norkus who died in 1927 in a car accident near Resurrection Cemetery. Or, it might be a woman by the name of Mary Bregovy, who died in a car accident on March 10, 1934, and was buried in this cemetery.
The ghost of Resurrection Mary and where to see her
The first sighting of Resurrection Mary took place in 1930 when a ghost first appeared along a stretch of Archer Avenue. Of those who have witnessed the ghost, they say they were driving alone between the southwest suburbs of Willowbrook and Justice when they saw a teenage girl with blond hair wearing a white dress, shawl and dancing shoes walking along the side of the road.
In most versions, the hitchhiker asks for a ride home and gets in the backseat. She asks the driver to stop by the main gates of the cemetery, and at that point, she vanishes into thin air. In some cases, motorists report to have hit Mary, but she disappears once the driver exits the car.
Getting a glimpse of Resurrection Mary might be tough. There haven't been any sightings of her since 1989. Even until then, her appearances were sporadic and between two to three years apart. Still, you might get lucky.
Resurrection Cemetery is off Illinois Route 171 and I-294. It's also off a busy street, a flight path to Midway airport and near an active rail line, which will make it hard to hear her. But it'll be easier to see an apparition since she's been sighted near section MM, close to 79th Street, all the way in the back of the cemetery's entrance.
For those who believe the ghost might be Bregovy's, she rests at Resurrection Cemetery in grave number 9819 in section MM, near 79th Street. Locating her grave marker isn't easy, though, since it was unmarked and was bulldozed just after World War II when the graveyard needed more space.
3. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery (Midlothian, IL)
Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
It's easy to miss Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, originally named Everdon Cemetery, in the southwest Chicago suburb of Midlothian, near the Rubio Woods Preserve. It's located off a busy roadway which you'll need to cross to access the trail that leads you to the cemetery, about a quarter-mile in the backwoods.
The haunted history of Bachelor's Grove Cemetery
In the 1950s, local teens found the tiny cemetery and vandalized the tombstones, which some believe angered the spirits. Eight spirits haunt the area, including The White Lady.
The ghosts of Bachelors Grove Cemetery and where to see them
You can find the White Lady, sometimes referred to as the white Madonna or the woman on the stone, by the Fulton family headstone. Of all the tombstones in this cemetery, this is the largest still standing. It's said that she appears as a semi-transparent apparition and openly sobs, sometimes asking visitors if they've seen her infant daughter. Her infant daughter has a tombstone in the back of the Fulton family headstone without a name.
The spirits usually come out at night but the challenge is you can only visit the cemetery during the day. Local police will arrest visitors if they trespass after dark. It's best to visit with an infrared camera during the day to catch some ghostly activity. Since there's no parking at the cemetery, park across the busy roadway in Rubio Woods and carefully cross, find the path and walk slowly to the backwoods to find the cemetery surrounded by a chain-link fence.
2. Jane Addams Hull House Museum (Chicago)
Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
Hull House began as a poor house and a place for sick people to get better. Later, it became a transition center to help new immigrants get settled in Chicago. Charles Hull and his wife opened Hull House in 1856.
The haunted history of Jane Addams Hull House Museum
Mrs. Hull passed away on the campus in 1860, and she's thought to haunt the kitchen. During the 1870s, Hull House became a home for the aged, and hundreds of people died of natural causes, adding to the ghostly mix.
By 1885, the property had transferred to Jane Addams, an American settlement activist, social worker and leader in the women's suffrage movement. Around 1910, Addams transitioned the property to a temporary home for new immigrants, and that's when things really got interesting.
The ghosts of Jane Addams Hull House Museum and where to see them
First, in 1913, Hull House got one of its most unexpected residents — a devil baby. It's said that a young Italian couple allegedly abandoned their deformed son on the steps of Hull House. Addams tried to protect the boy from the onslaught of media interest and gawking spectators. No one really knows what happened to him, he just vanished one day. Now, witnesses reportedly see him staring out the attic window. You may get a glimpse of his spirit as he's active during the day and night.
The second floor also has another ghost, a woman in white. She haunts the main bedroom in the northeast corner.
Then, there are the three fountain girls. They used to play chase around the fountain, located just outside the house where their spirits continue to play to this day. You may hear their laughter and feel a cool breeze when they run by you. Don't get too close to the fountain, though. Some say it's a portal to hell.
1. The Congress Plaza Hotel (Chicago)
Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
Overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan, the Congress Hotel is a massive structure. It also comes with a storied past. Built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (also known as the World's Fair), the city wanted to show how Chicago had bounced back from The Great Fire of 1871.
The haunted history of the Congress Plaza Hotel
Dr. H.H. Holmes, considered America's first serial killer, used the hotel to find young women looking to work in his pharmacy. He would meet young ladies in the lobby and then kill them in his torture castle a few blocks away.
The ghosts of The Congress Plaza Hotel and where to see them
The Congress also served as home to gangster Al Capone, who had a suite on the eighth floor of the north tower. Capone's spirit haunts it to this very day. Then, there's the story of a young, Polish mother who came to Chicago with her two sons in the 1930s. They were waiting for her husband to arrive before starting their new life on the city's Northside.
When he never showed, the depressed mother threw herself and her children out of a sixth-floor window to their deaths. The body of one of the boys allegedly never made it to the city morgue. He's thought to play tricks on guests staying on the sixth floor.
There are more creepy stories but the creepiest of all might be the ones that take place in Room 441. No other hotel room in the city gets more calls to security or the front desk. Located in the south tower, a female specter haunts Room 441. Witnesses say she manifests as a shadow at the foot of your bed and then she kicks it to wake you. We don't know how this spirit came to haunt the room. As far as we know, no one committed suicide or killed anyone there. This lady seems to want the room for herself.
Unlike the other locations on this list, there are no restrictions if you want to stay the night and run your own investigation. You can even stay in the notorious Room 441.
Ready to visit Chicago's most haunted places?
Whether ghosts haunt the Congress Plaza Hotel or whether you'll be lucky to get a glimpse of any ghosts from our list of haunted places in the Chicago area is questionable. You'll have to check them out yourself to (hopefully) see.
In the meantime, don't say we didn't warn you.