Inside Kansas City’s 8 most haunted places

Inside Kansas City’s 8 most haunted places

Words by Taylor Drummond, Isabella Ferrentino, Lauren Fox and Kim Horgan

Belvoir Winery and Inn/Odd Fellows Home

1325 Odd Fellows Road, Liberty

The Odd Fellows compound in Liberty has a long-running reputation for being haunted. This chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows goes back to the early twentieth century and was built to provide care for its members, widows and orphans on what was then a two hundred and forty-acre farm in Liberty. 

The property today consists of the old orphanage, which is now home to Belvoir Winery & Inn. The other buildings—the old folks home, hospital and nursing home/morgue—are abandoned and in various states of decay. There is also a cemetery located on the northern end of the property where the remains of nearly six hundred people are buried. A small room in the winery building houses “George,” the skeleton of an Odd Fellows member who died in the 1880s and donated his body to science; he was later returned to the IOOF to be used in initiation rituals. 

Stories are told about the orphanage building as a space filled with the spirits of children who wander the halls singing nursery rhymes. In other buildings, visitors have reported hearing a piano playing on its own. Employees say they’ve heard footsteps, seen doors open and close and lights turn on and off, and heard kids running through the halls.

The property has been investigated by a TV crew for the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. One member reported being grabbed on the arm by a spirit while exploring the old buildings. A paranormal investigator claimed he saw shadow figures during one of his many investigations of the grounds. Travel Channel’s Kindred Spirits also explored the property and reported making contact with the spirit of a past hospital resident who took his own life, as well as with child spirits. 

The abandoned buildings are not open to the public, but Belvoir Winery offers paranormal investigations at night led by members of the Paranormal Research Investigators. (They are sold out for the year, but information about future sessions can be found on their website at
-Kim Horgan

Folly Theater

300 W. 12th St., KCMO

Considered one of the most historically rich buildings in Kansas City, the Folly Theater has experienced it all since it opened in 1900. Hundreds of performances have graced the stage, and the theater has three decades worth of stories to tell. The story of Joe Donegan, the manager of the theater from 1900 to 1922, is one few people know. Donegan is rumored to still be taking up residence in Folly Theater to this day. The director of development at Folly Theater, Brian Williams, recalls a recent sighting when a police officer looked into the window of the Folly while it was closed and claimed to see a man at the bar. “He saw what appeared to be a gentleman with a white top hat and tails,” Williams says. “By the time they got there with their keys, they couldn’t find any trace of this person. Turns out, Donegan always wore a top hat and tails.” The Folly Theater will be celebrating its one hundred and twentieth anniversary this year, and perhaps Donegan will stop in to commemorate the special occasion. -Taylor Drummond

Eldridge Hotel

701 Massachusetts St., Lawrence

In downtown Lawrence, there’s one hotel guest who refuses to check out. The ghost of Colonel Shalor Eldridge supposedly roams the quarters of the Eldridge Hotel. Col. Eldridge was a longtime owner of the hotel who rebuilt it twice following two burnings in 1856 and 1863. He is known for many activities, including turning TVs on and off, shaking guests’ bags, and opening windows. His favorite floor is the fifth floor—and his favorite room is 506. There, in the wall behind the bed, rests one of the hotel’s original cornerstones. Some people believe it functions as a portal to the supernatural world. 

Guests and employees report the most supernatural activity in the basement and on the fifth floor. The elevator in the hotel often ascends to the fifth floor of its own accord. And once, a room on the fifth floor was deadbolted from the inside yet there was no guest or employee in the room at the time. Catherine Iliya Palasz, the director of sales and catering for the hotel, says the door had to be taken off its hinges in order to be opened. 

Though Col. Eldridge is the most renowned spector in the building, some guests and workers say they’ve had experiences with other ghosts. Iliya Palasz, for example, said she was recently testing a portable PA system and microphone in one of the hotel’s main reception rooms. When she finished her sound check, she turned the microphone off, but then a female voice came out of the PA system and simply said, “Stop.” The Eldridge Hotel does not shy away from its supernatural associations. They collect their guests’ and employees’ stories and currently have eighteen supernatural occurrences written down. On the concierge desk at the Eldridge, there is a framed photo of the lobby taken in the 1980s. In the background of the photo, the elevator is open, and a ghostly apparition in the shape of a man is viewable. -Lauren Fox

Sallie House

200 S. 10th St., Atchison

In the suburbs of Atchison sits a seemingly quiet white brick home framed in blue. From the outside, it is clear how time has worn it down–chipped brick and ivy run up its sides. This is known as Sallie House, and the history of the house tells us a rather head-turning story. Once owned by a local doctor in the early-1900s, Sallie’s mother brought her in for what would be diagnosed as appendicitis. Unfortunately, six-year-old Sallie died from anesthesia complications during the surgery to remove her appendix. The legend goes that Sallie never truly left the home and continues to haunt visitors to this day. Sallie is known to scratch and push certain men who come into the home because of her dislike of men. Mary Jane Sowers, a member of the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce, has experienced Sallie firsthand. “I’ve heard her pitter-patter,” Sowers says. “When she is around you, she’ll just brush by your side and you’ll feel a cold sensation.” Others have noticed that toys are played with and the sound of feet can be heard running across the upstairs hallway. For those interested in visiting Sallie, tours can be booked on the Visit Atchison website, -Taylor Drummond

The Alexander Majors House

8201 State Line Road, KCMO

Built in 1856 by Alexander Majors—one of the co-founders of the Pony Express and the owner of a successful shipping company—this house in South KCMO is rumored to be haunted today. The house was set to be demolished at one point, but Majors’ great-granddaughter Louisa Johnston saved it by purchasing it in 1930, preserving her great-grandfather’s legacy while living in it herself. Johnston’s goal was to fully restore the house, maintain a garden on the property and turn it into a museum. She died of natural causes in the house in 1979, and people believe her spirit remains.

Sarah Bader-King, the curator of both the Alexander Majors House and the John Wornall House, says she’s never had a supernatural experience there, but she’s open to one. “I’m agnostic when it comes to ghosts,” she says. “I would believe in them if I saw one, but I haven’t personally had any experiences over there. The Majors house does—in comparison to the John Wornall, which feels warm and homey—feel empty and lonely.”

People have seen Johnston spend her time on the porch and have smelled roses and lilacs in the house as a reminder of her garden. Today, there are self-guided tours Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 4 pm, and events are typically scheduled around Halloween. Find them at -Isabella Ferrentino

Epperson House

5200 Cherry St., KCMO on the UMKC campus

Does anyone need a forty-eight-room Tudor-Gothic-style house? Mr. and Mrs. Epperson thought so in 1919 when they began the construction of their grand home located on what is today the UMKC campus. Mr. Epperson wanted to show off his wealth from his insurance company with a grand ballroom, massage room, hair salon, basement pool and an organ instrument. The child-free couple patronized art and music, especially the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Mr. Epperson passed away in the house in 1927, and Mrs. Epperson passed away in 1939 from cancer.

In 1942, the house was given to the university. The university stationed army and navy troops, who first reported seeing a ghostly female figure. After the war, the house became the university’s first residence hall, then the school of education and lastly the UMKC Conservatory of Music in the 1970s. During this period, people reported seeing the female figure, hearing organ music from the basement and detecting the splashing of water under the floor after the pool was boarded up. The house has been empty since 2010, but sounds of footsteps still echo throughout, and lights mysteriously turn on and off in unreachable parts of the house. Legends of the Epperson House continue to carry on from generations of UMKC students, campus custodians and police.

Chris Wolff does a yearly walking tour of the campus, as well as walking tours in October of haunted places on campus. “At the top of the house there’s a tower, and the room up there has been boarded up because they didn’t want students up on the roof,” he says. “Well, sometimes the light in that tower turns on. It’s just sitting there, waiting there for someone to come up with a great out-of-the-box idea to rejuvenate it and give it a new purpose.” -Isabella Ferrentino

Vaile Victorian Mansion

1500 N. Liberty St., Independence

The Vaile Victorian Mansion in Independence was once a dream home before things took a sad turn for the couple that built it. Mr. and Mrs. Vaile had the thirty-one-room home built entirely from brick in 1881. The cost of the mansion at the time is equivalent to $7 million today. The child-free couple only lived in the mansion for eighteen months before Mrs. Vaile overdosed on Laudanum, an opioid. Her husband remained widowed and unmarried for eleven years until he died in 1894. By 1910, their home was a nursing home, and the third floor was a mental hospital. The nursing home lasted for seventy years.

The last owner gave the mansion to the city of Independence, which has owned it since then. Sandra Dougherty, a tour guide with Vaile, has never seen any paranormal activity herself, but others have told her they’ve seen a woman in a long dress, a man with a beard walking in a room and a woman’s voice saying “Oh, please don’t come in here yet.”

Dougherty has joked with tour groups that she’s been here almost thirty years without seeing any ghosts, saying, “I guess Mrs. Vaile doesn’t like me,” which prompted one person to correct the record.

“This woman leaned over and patted my shoulder, telling me, ‘Oh no, Mrs. Vaile likes you very much,’” Dougherty says. “If it is haunted, they leave me alone.”

The mansion is open from April 1 to October 31, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 1 to 4 pm. Then, the home is decorated for Christmas and reopened for tours, which you can find more information on at
-Isabella Ferrentino

The Elms Hotel & Spa

401 Regent St., Excelsior Springs

The Elms is one of Missouri’s most haunted hotels. Its long history began in the late 1800s with the discovery of healing mineral waters. Visitors to the area recognized the water’s potential and developed the land, forming the town of Excelsior Springs. The legend of the springs spread, and people came from across the country to experience the miracle water for themselves. In 1888, The Elms Hotel was built but later burned down—not once but twice. In September of 1912, the current building opened and was a very popular spot with the well-to-do set. 

The Elms has hosted several famous guests throughout the years, including politicians, sports stars and members of prominent crime families. President Harry Truman and Al Capone were guests. Many high-profile guests stayed, and it’s said that some of those guests didn’t want to leave. And maybe they haven’t. 

One of the most haunted areas in the hotel is believed to be the third floor, where staff and guests have reported seeing a maid wearing a 1920s-style uniform. Visitors have reported seeing things like odd indentations on freshly made beds, a man in white and mysterious shadows. Some claim that the pool area (once a hiding place for liquor for illicit cocktail parties) is visited by the spirit of a gambler involved with illegal activities during Prohibition.

The hotel was featured on an episode of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters in July 2013. They investigated the lap pool area, where employees reported splashing water and waves in the empty pool. The ghost hunters team concluded that the hotel spirits are not hostile, so if friendly ghosts are more your style, this is your place. 

The Elms Hotel and Spa offers a paranormal tour nightly at 9 pm. Sign-up is available at the hotel’s front desk. -Kim Horgan