Haunted Joliet: A Guide to the City's Most Haunted Locations
Some of the most haunted places are located in the Midwest. Joliet, IL, a community located south west of Chicago and home to 145,000 residents, is rumored to have some high paranormal activity. In this article, you will see a mix of private residences, public buildings and one historic gravesite.
Hiram B. Scutt Mansion
Hiram B. Scutt Mansion (1882)
Built in 1882, the Scutt mansion was built for Hiram B. Scutt, a civil war veteran and Joliet's first barbed wire manufacturer. Scutt held 10 patents for his barbed wire. This 4,960 square foot home is on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered one of the more haunted locations in Joliet.
Rumor has it that 2 children died in the home, as well as 3 of it's owners. In 2006, a teen was fatally shot just outside the home. One of it's owners, Seth Magosky, who was working to turn the home into a Victorian life museum, died suddenly and unexpectedly while working in the house only 6 months after purchasing the home. His family took over the upkeep of the home until early 2014. The house was listed for the bargain price of $159,000 and thanks to social media efforts, the sale got national attention. On the day of the open house, over 175 people toured the home and it eventually sold for 3 times the asking price. The current owner is a history buff and is planning to restore the home into it's original condition.
Many paranormal investigations have taken place in the home over the years. Visitors report cold spots, with heavy dark vibes coming from the "doll room", in which visitors feel a sudden urge to leave the room. Others reported hearing voices, felt fingers running through their hair and seeing strange lights/orbs.
Frank Shaver Allen House (1887)
Frank Shaver Allen was a local Joliet architect (born in Galesburg, IL) and Egyptologist who built several private residences and public buildings throughout the Joliet area. Most notable is his use of the local Joliet limestone, which you can see in a number of his buildings. His style is Richardson Romanesque and sometimes a hybrid of that style, coupled with classic Queen Anne elements. Some of his most notable buildings are:
- Krakar Residence at 225 N. Hickory Street
- Patrick C. Haley Mansion at 17 S. Center Street
- Joliet Township High School located at Jefferson and Eastern
- His own home at 608 Morgan Street
- A.J. Bates house at 500 Western Ave.
The Allen house's paranormal activity has been heavily documented and made the news in the 1970s when a local reporter and psychics investigated the property. The owners at the time had lived in the home for 10 years and during that time were terrorized by some of the activity. They had reported seeing the spirit of an elderly woman, as well as another woman reportedly to be a nanny that used to work in the home and a young boy, with whom the nanny was in charge of.
A boy who lived in the home reported several encounters with the spirit boy, saying that the boy kept inviting him to be his playmate. Other activity includes doors slamming on their own, hearing screams and voices, and seeing shadow figures.
Rumor has it that F.S, Allen's own spirit is haunting the home, but he had moved to California for many years and had died out there, not here in this home.
Frank Shaver Allen House
Patrick C. Haley Mansion (1891)
A Frank Shaver Allen designed home, the Haley mansion was built for Joliet's then mayor, Patrick C. Haley. The Haley mansion looks more like a castle with it's limestone brick façade, archways and turret. Over the years, the home has been a funeral parlor and from the 1990s through present, it a banquet facility. Many weddings take place in the mansion and the garden grounds.
Guests have reported seeing spirits and hearing voices of two different males. Speculation is that both Patrick C. Haley himself and a former funeral director both haunt the mansion.
Patrick C. Haley Mansion
A.J. Bates House
A.J. Bates House (1888)
Located in the Upper Bluff historic district, this home is another that was designed by Frank Shaver Allen. It is a small departure from the natural limestone block used in his other locations; this one comes with a painted red façade and a mix of Romanesque and Queen Anne styles.
Native Jolietans had heard rumors passed down for years about the seedy past of this home. A Dr. Bagosi is said to have done illegal abortions on the 3rd floor of the home as well as other "experiments" on people. In general, people who grew up in the area has always know this to be the "haunted" or "creepy" house.
I have first hand experience with this home, having been inside the home twice. The first time was when the home was bank-owned in 2012 and being shown for an open house. The former owner, who was planning on rehabbing the home, ran out of money. In a desperate effort to try to recoup the cost, he attempted to set the house on fire in the front parlor on the main level. The fire (thankfully!) never took and only a small portion of the original wood floor was scorched.
Overall, the home needed a lot of work between completely gutted sections (the main level kitchen and bathroom) and damage that the former owner purposely caused (wall sconces ripped off the walls, fireplace mantle ripped off the wall and torn original wallpaper). Because of this, the bank was selling it at the bargain basement price of $129,000.
The home was snatched up rather quickly and the current owner is lovingly restoring it. I was able to see some of his work during the Cathedral Area Preservation Association's annual House Walk in September 2012.
Both times viewing the home have left me with some impressions of this house. On the 4th floor (considered to once have been maid/servant quarters) you get the impression that you are being watched. Several times I felt as if someone was staring at me and when I turned to look, no one was there. The Billiard Room on the 3rd floor has the same vibe and I felt a sense of uneasiness in that room.
The current owner will be putting his home on the house walk again in the future after most of his restorations are completed, and I cannot wait to get back in there and see this magnificent home once again!
Rialto Square Theatre (1926)
Built as a vaudeville movie house by C.W. and George Rapp of Chicago, this theatre has elements inspired from the Palace of Versailles as well as the central rotunda inspired by the Pantheon in Italy. The theatre is still used for performances as well as weddings and banquets.
Guests and staff have reported seeing an apparition of a woman in several areas of the theatre, with activity happening mostly after-hours when the theatre is quiet. A second pair of ghosts, one male and one female are reportedly sighted in the balcony. Legend has it that a couple plunged to their deaths from the balcony section. A young boy is also said to haunt the theatre.
In the most recent past, the show Ghost Hunters did an investigation at the theatre with the conclusion that there is definitely something supernatural going on with the theatre.
Rialto Theatre Ghost Hunting with the Will County Ghost Hunting Society
Rialto Square Theatre
A.C. Clement House
A.C. Clement House (1902)
Arthur Charles Clement, businessman and son of prominent businessman of a dried goods operation, built this house while living on the east side of Joliet for his family. Before moving into the new home on Campbell street, A.C. committed suicide. His daughter and her husband took over ownership of the home and lived there until 1922. The home was then converted into a retirement home that the state subsequently shut down in the 1950s after several deaths and allegations of neglect and abuse. After this time, the home was converted into a funeral home, which lasted until 1975. The home was then converted back into a single-family residence.
The current owners have reported that shortly after moving in, they began some remodeling work and noticed some strange activity thereafter. Some of these include:
- Seeing an apparition of a woman
- Seeing an apparition of a tall, thin man
- Seeing an apparition of a young boy
They also experienced strange smells such as urine, smoke and perfume. Audible experiences include hearing voices, someone knocking and footsteps. The most frightening things that happened were electrical items turning on by themselves, items being moved and physical contact such as touching and pushing. The owner's dogs bark at nothing and refuse to go into certain rooms in the home.
University of St. Francis (1881-Mother house, 1920-School Established)
The University of St. Francis, located in the Upper Bluff District, was originally home to Franciscan Nuns as an infirmary for the sick and poor. As such, numerous deaths have taken place inside the building.
Visitors and students report seeing an apparition of a nun pacing the halls. Others report feeling like someone is watching them. Some have heard footsteps, moans and whispers in the halls. Lights turning on by themselves have also been reported.
University of St. Francis
Old Joliet Prison
Joliet Correctional aka Old Joliet Prison (1858)
You may recognize this famous prison from the first season of the show Prison Break which filmed on location. You may also recognize the exterior from the beginning of the Blues Brothers movie when "Joliet" Jake Blues is being released from prison.
Built with inmate labor and limestone that was quarried on-site, it was the state's first prison and one of the oldest prisons in the country. A women's prison, located across the street, was built in the 1890's in the same gothic castle-like style as the main prison. During the Civil War, the prison served as POW housing, which was significantly better than some of the prison camps located in Chicago. While conditions were better than some of the other encampments, indoor plumbing was only added to the prison as recently as the 1940s!
The woman's prison featured regular cells and solitary confinement cells in the basement of the building. When a new women's prison was built in Dwight, IL, the women's prison was being used for sex offenders. Unspeakable treatment, including sexual abuse is alleged to have happened to women in the women's prison building by guards.
Guards and staff have reported a singing ghost and a sense of foreboding and dread. Some people have felt cold rushes of air whip past them and being shoved from behind.
The prison is currently a tourist attraction with informational kiosks located in the main parking lot. Currently, you cannot go inside to tour the prison because years of neglect has made it unsafe. There is talk by the city council to rehab the prison and open it up for tours, but they lack the funding to do so at this moment.
Potter's Field Cemetery aka Will County Farm Cemetery (1850)
The Will County poor farm was established in 1850 for elderly and homeless people to live. Many of those people are buried on the site where the farm once stood. There are no names, only granite headstones with numbers. Only one gravestone of a George Miller (d. 1907) has an actual name. The numbers go up to 48, but there is speculation that 150 people could be buried at the site. Human bones were found and removed by the Will County Coroner's office, who currently still has them.
The site is completely neglected and overgrown. Only a portion of the wooden fence that once surrounded the plot is still standing. If you didn't know where to look, you would never know where the cemetery is located. It is just south of the youth correctional center and at the far back of the Inwood Soccer Fields in a small forested area. The area has a small trail that leads to a clearing where the grave markers are.
People who have visited the site at night have reported seeing strange lights and orbs that move quickly. Some have also felt cold spots in certain places.
Will County Farm Cemetery
Take only Memories
Some of the places in this article are private, occupied residences. Therefore, please do not disturb the home owners or skulk around their properties without their permission.
I hope you enjoyed this visual tour of some of the most historic and haunted places in Joliet!
© 2014 Lisa Roppolo