Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Most Haunted House in the Midwest, McPike Mansion, Alton IL

The McPike Mansion in Alton, IL sits atop a hill surrounded by large gnarled oak trees, giving the derelict house a foreboding sinister feel. When I arrived one early morning I was taken aback by its presence. The house seems to be sitting, brooding over its former glory. It has the look and feel of every image a haunted mansion should be: iron fence around the property, broken windows, a graveyard in the back, and plenty of ghosts. No wonder McPike has been given the unique distinction of being one of the most haunted houses in the Midwest, if not the country.

Built in 1869 by architect Lucas Pfeiffenberger for Henry Guest McPike and his family, the house was built in the Italianate-Victorian style, featuring 16 rooms, 11 marble fireplaces, beautifully carved stairway banisters and a vaulted wine cellar. Many of the wonderful architectural features vanished when it sat abandoned for years. The only hint to its golden years is an intricate carved trim that still borders the ceiling in one of the front rooms.

Originally on a country estate of fifteen acres of land called Mount Lookout Park, the mansion was the perfect place for Henry McPike to practice his love of horticulture. Trees, shrubs, orchards, flowers and extensive vineyards made the home one of the most beautiful in the area. During his time at the mansion Henry McPike perfected his McPike Grape, which became well-known all over the country. Some of the vineyards still exist today. McPike and his family lived in the house until 1936.

Paul A. Laichinger, purchased the house around that time and owned it until his death. It's unclear whether Laichinger lived in the house or rented it out to tenants. The house became abandoned and has remained that way since.

In 1994, Sharyn and George Luedke purchased the house during an auction. Their dream has been to restore the mansion to its former glory and turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. With extensive repairs and upkeep the restoration has been long and expensive. To help finance the restoration the Luedke's hold regular ghost tours and overnight campouts in the front yard.

When the Luedke's first purchased the mansion they never imagined that the place was haunted. Six weeks after purchasing the house Sharyn was tending plants in the front yard and looked up to see a man standing in the window looking back at her. The man disappeared but she noticed he was wearing a striped shirt and a tie. After researching the history of the building, Sharyn came across a photograph of Paul Laichinger wearing the same outfit.

Visitors have seen figures throughout the house. Many have had the sensation of being touched yet no one else is there. Sounds of footsteps are heard pacing up and down hallways and down the staircases. Objects vanish only to materialize in other odd places of the house.

The wine cellar is the most active place in the mansion, where footsteps and voices are heard. Several times a strange mist has materialized from nowhere and follows visitors around to the many rooms in the basement. The large heavy metal door that leads into the basement opens and closes by itself as it scrapes across the floor. Many people think that Henry McPike, members of his family, former owner Paul Laichinger, and a domestic servant haunt the mansion.

The Luedkes' love for the mansion shows by how much attention they give to investigating and learning about the history of the house. They have welcomed visitors from all over the country and are eager to share what they have learned with those who are brave enough to venture inside.

On my visit, Sharyn Luedke walked with me talking about the history of the mansion and the many strange events that have happened, while a black cat followed us around adding to the mystique. As I walked through the abandoned mansion, I noticed the wooden slats exposed from the fallen plaster. Many areas are too dangerous to walk through due to large holes in the floors. A large crack can be seen running from the bottom of the foundation to the roof of the house. Seeing this reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe's classic story "Fall of the House of Usher".
Sharyn told me of again seeing a figure standing in the upper part of the home with the window swung opened to the outside except the windows on that floor only open to the inside of the house.

Outside magnolias from a nearby bush were in bloom, giving the air a sweet scent in contrast to the melancholy atmosphere of the mansion. As we ventured out Sharyn mentioned that an unknown child's grave can still be seen on the grounds. The lid of the exposed vault is broken and has been overgrown by the surrounding vegetation.

Unfortunately I didn't experience anything unusual that day, but my wife and I would love to return and hopefully feel and see what the most haunted house in the country has waiting for us.


  1. I saw many hunted houses in our country this is basic reason when we left any one house for long time then we stay in this house because many dangerous things catch this house mean this is our fault.

  2. Really cool pics :P tagged on my Webpage

  3. why would you destroyed their home?

    1. i think that they are trying to take some pieces out so they can redo it.. i dont think that they are trying to destroy the home.. if they did i would be very upset!

  4. The Camp out is coming up, October 20, 2012. Search McPike Mansion and there is a link that gives the info about the campout. This one is for adults only, no liquor allowed. Fun to be had by all, Guests and Ghosts alike. Would love to see some more new people there.


  5. I have heard Most Haunted Stories of a palce Located between Buffalo and Rochester in East Bethany, Rolling Hills Asylum dates back to 1827 when it opened as the Genesee County Poor Farm, aka "The Old County Home." Its original building was a carriage house and stagecoach stop, operating since 1790, but the land was chosen because it was mid-county and accessible to all.

  6. We scheduled our tour with the owner 1mth prior to our trip & verified 2days before. We arrived 10min early there is no onsite parking that we could find so we called Mrs Luedke to let her know we had arrived & inquire on where to park. When she answered she acted confused as to what I was talking about, "Tour what tour?" I thought I had dialed incorrectly, finally she said she wasn't home & didn't have anything in her calendar about our tour. I reminded her of our phone conversation & emails, she then said she guesses she could leave the party she was at to do the tour, sounding very annoyed, then she went on to tell me about her being very stressed taking care of her parents, they decided to get away for a bit, that her son was having a party, but they would be home in 30-60min, sounding as if we were inconveniencing her the whole time. We were so disappointed, we had already visited the other sites in Alton & the shops were all closed, not much to do while we waited. Already too late to schedule a tour with one of the other groups, we decided to abandoned the whole reason for our trip to Alton and headed to St. Louis. 45min later we received a message on my voicemail from Mrs. Luedke saying "I am home now if you want to come by, I really think my mother is gonna die any min, but if you still want to come by I wont charge you and can show you around the grounds a little, let you in the cellar and show you some pictures. If you want to give a donation after that you can or not if you don't want to, that's all I can do at this point."

  7. Sorry to hear your experience was not a positive one. I know Sharyn's mother died earlier this week. I guess she could have been more on the ball with everything, but maybe she was distracted by her mom's illness. If you do give her a second chance the house is amazing to see.

  8. I am sorry that you missed your tour but PLEASE check back and look at the website for the next dates or mark your calendar for the fall campout..where you actually camp out on the lawn all nite(or inside during bad weather) I have been there as a videographer for 9 years and have the archives to proove it.. this house is a fantastic location so please..I ask you to return and I will let you use some gear while you are here..I have meters and lazer thermometers, nitevision cameras, that you can use to search for whatever you can find..give us a look on the facebook page for mcpike mansion.. or send me an e-mail at will be more than happy to give you a video(I have several) will try to accomodate you as best we can...jerome

  9. Try your visit again. The trip will be worth it. By the way; The Riverwind Storytellers will be telling haunting stories in the cellar (where the most activity of spirits are located) August 2, 2013 at 8 p.m. That should be an extra special event. The campouts are quite an experience as well.

  10. having been doing tech and video support with the mansion in the past 9 years and working there to do some much needed upgrades, as well as working the campouts and tours..especially the past few years..I come away with the positive attitude and proof that yes this house has activity..everything from orbs to evps, and shadow movement has been recorded in different forms on different media and with all kinds of equipment.we recently hosted 97.5 the rock doing an all nite radio show from there and during the show we recorded the goings on and experiences and they broadcasts our findings as the nite went on to the following was a lot of fun, we had troy taylor there for an interview and a darkroom session(of which he has done several) and overall even the radio station skeptic became a believer himself .. it was priceless the look on his face when he was watching the monitor I had placed next to his broadcast was showing the camera position in the front entrance and a shadow figure went down the stairs and down the long hallway and disappeared..he just was sooo cool to see his reaction to this..these folks were from the carlyle mount vernon area of illinois..a really fun and energenic crew...