Tag Archives: Frank Lloyd Wright

Black Dahlia to “American Horror Story” – some of LA’s creepiest homes

By Scott Markus
ennis house los feliz frank lloyd wrightIn another entry I wrote about the Lloyd Wright house where the “Black Dahlia,” Elizabeth Short likely was killed (according to the book “The Black Dahlia Avenger.”  Today, Connor Bright and I, along with Mary Czerwinski, my research partner from “Voices from the Chicago Grave” / best friend / sexy geek toured a handful of noteworthy homes….. noteworthy for their unfortunately colorful history.  Okay, we threw a couple of fun filming locations in the mix as well.

ennis house los feliz frank lloyd wright

After first looking at the Sowden house (Black Dahlia), Mary directed us up and into Franklin Park to look at the impressive Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House.  This is not a haunted home, but it is more known as the shooting site of the original “House on Haunted Hill.”  The place is absolutely impressive and imposing.  Also worth noting that the house appeared in “Blade Runner” and is the inspiration for the Monarch’s house in “Venture Bros” (pictured below).
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ennis house los feliz frank lloyd wrightI love that the Wrights created the first two of the houses that we visited, with Frank’s son, Lloyd, creating the Sowden house.

Next, we visited the site simply known as the Los Feliz Murder mansion.  I wrote about that earlier, so I won’t get into too much detail here other than to say that each time I visit it, I am more and more inspired to check out the inside!

la bianca charles manson murder house los felizWe next made our way to the LaBianca house in Los Feliz where the Charles Manson followers randomly killed the two inhabitants of the house on August 10, 1969 (the night after the Tate murders).  The reason for selecting this house was merely that Manson had attended a party at the house next door a year earlier.

The address of the neighbor’s house (pictured) remains the same, however the address of the murder house has since changed. It’s likely a veiled effort to keep away curiosity seekers like us (and who could blame them), but the house is still plainly visible from the road. You can see the re-painted address on the curb.
La Bianca changed house number charles manson los feliz La Bianca next door neighboor

American Horror Story HouseFinally, on the way back home, Connor and I drove through Baldwin Park, which was the house where American Horror Story was filmed.  Though the Los Feliz Murder House is something to behold, the scariest house was definitely the one where no one was actually killed.  This place is back on the market for the cool, cool, cost of just $17 million (Update: that price dropped SIGNIFICANTLY before finally selling).

American Horror Story House

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The Sowden House & The Los Feliz Murder House

By Scott Markus

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Once again, a film shoot (for the film “Darling Nikki”) has put me in (more accurately, near) a (potentially) haunted location.  Quite honestly, how could the home where Elizabeth Short was (possibly) murdered not be haunted?  Even if she wasn’t murdered here and even if Dr. George Hodel was not the killer, he was a seriously dark and awful individual.  The other horrors he did within these walls – even short of murder, would leave more than a little negative energy behind.
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The house itself was designed by the son of one of the greatest architects of the last century – Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright. This is not the only Wright property to have a sordid past. Of course Frank Lloyd Wright’s own summer home -Taliesin, in Spring Green, WI, was the site of a massacre where seven people lost their lives.  Ursula Bielski writes of this in her book “Chicago Haunts 3.”

The nature of the location – a private home – leads to this being a quiet location.  However, I would assume some urban legends have started to come out about this location.  Have you heard anything?  Please leave comments below!

I’m also starting to look into the so-called Los Feliz Murder Mansion.  As the story goes (more detail here), in 1959 a Dr. Harold N. Perelson murdered his wife, then beat one of his three children nearly to death before committing suicide himself.  All three children did survive….felt the need to find a silver lining here.  Since that murder, no one has occupied the house.  One family has owned it for the past 60 years, but the house has been left eerily undisturbed, allegedly to the extent that there are still board games in-progress sitting on tables waiting to be finished from a game started during the cold war.

I happened to be in the area recently and decided to drive past the property.  Even then, not leaving the car, but driving up the driveway as far as you can go (which isn’t far at all) is a bit of a harrowing experience.

Los Feliz Murder Mansion, Los Feliz Murder Mansion

(Above: as close as I got) I do want to investigate the location professionally and with permission, but I anticipate a tough sell to the hard-to-locate home owner. Due to the elusive nature of this property, even if it was haunted, there aren’t really any possibilities for witnesses to any strange occurrences, but I will ask you, the cyber audience anyway: have any of you heard of any ghost stories associated with this property?

In other news, I attended a Moth storytelling session yesterday and one of the stories that was told was about the ghost of Zelda in West Covena.  This is apparently the ghost of a child from the 1900s who was murdered underground in a spillway (now called Zelda’s Tunnel/Pit/Cave/etc) that is still accessible today.  The ghost story involves, at the very least, the phantom sound of a bell, which Zelda was wearing on a necklace at the time of her death.  Other recountings are more urban legend-y and say Zelda was sacrificed by a cult and will now kill anyone walking through her tunnel (there’s actually a fun retelling of this tale along with a personal….encounter(?) at this site).  Questions to you guys:  Do you have any tales of your own from this site?  Do you have any hard evidence that there was actually a murder here (something that would also tell us Zelda’s last name)?  And, of course, where EXACTLY is the entrance to her tunnel?


A ghost hunter in training / Frank Lloyd Wright

This same letter was sent to fellow ghost hunters/researchers Henry Pena, Dale Kaczmarek and John Cachel

Question: My wife and I have been interested in “ghost hunting” for years.  We have also been researching the subject for years.  We recently broke down and started buying some equipment (no touch infra red thermometer, EMF detector, assorted audio recorders) along with our existing Sony camcorder w/ night vision, digital and analog cameras.  So I assure you this interest is not seasonal.  Now I am starting to reach out to the Chicagoland paranormal community and see what is going on.  Does your club get together often, share info, that kinda stuff?

We have a little tour scheduled for the 22nd of October, kinda for my wife’s birthday on the 21st.  Nothing truly scientific, more for fun, seeing that we have 14 chicagoland spots to hit.  But I truly hope to begin scientific and professional investigations for fun.   We have taken a few popular ghost tours and always came away saying “we can do better”.  These tours always make me feel like a tourist in my own town.

Like I said I am just beginning to reach out to the community and see what is going on outside.

Have you heard of any activity at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park IL?  I work in Oak Park and have dealt with the “Home and studio” often.  I think I might get permission for an opportunity to conduct an extensive study in the building.  Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, Steve

Reply:  There are certainly a lot of drawbacks to bus tours, just the nature of the beast: it’s hard to create an intimate atmosphere.  However, they are great for getting an overview of a bunch of interesting locations that you can then go back to on your own.  It’s like window shopping!  Before you go on  your self-guided tour, please send me your list of locations.  Likely I’ve been to most of them and I may have a good tip to share with you from my experience.

Unlike the others you eMailed, my organization is a production company that does a lot of different work.  It just so happens that we have produced a video and a book/CD-ROM about Chicago ghosts.  I consider myself a ghost researcher rather than hunter (though I respect anyone looking to learn more).  Other than speeches, we do not have events or meetings.  (UPDATE in 2013: We now lead tours and participate in investigations that are open to the public)  Of all of Chicago’s ‘names’ in this field, I would endorse anything Ursula Bielski does.

Not being a ghost hunter I cannot contribute much technical information, however I would say this:  don’t go anywhere without infrared camcorder or analog camera.  There are debates regarding whether or not digital cameras pick anything up.  I’m undecided, but tend to lean away from digital.  Troy Taylor would have most anything you’d want to know on prairieghosts.com.

As for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, I have heard that it was haunted, but that’s all I heard.  We were given that tip too close to the deadline of our book to be able to research it.  Good luck and above all, be safe out there!