Located at 1301 Kansas Avenue in Atchison, Kansas is the famously haunted McInteer Villa. John McInteer was born in 1827 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States alone when he was just a boy. He moved to Kansas in the early 1860s and went on to manufacture harnesses and saddles that he sold in a small shop he started himself. His business boomed as his products were recognized for their craftsmanship, and he accumulated enough wealth to invest in real estate in Atchison, Kansas, and St. Joseph, Missouri. The McInteer Villa was built in 1889-1890 for John, and cost an estimated $14,000 at the time. (Adjusted for inflation, it would have cost about $403,305 in 2019!)
John’s first wife, Alice, passed away in 1892. In 1895 he remarried to Anna Conlon, a widower with three sons. John passed away in 1902, and Anna continued to live in the home until her death in 1916. Anna’s brother Charles and his family made the villa their home until 1925, and it went on to act as a rooming home until it was purchased by Isobel Altus, a retired professional violinist and an eccentric, in 1952. Isobel wanted to restore the home, but lacked the funds to do so. She then sold it to George Gerardy in 1969, shortly before her passing, who began to rehabilitate it. The McInteer Villa was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 26, 1975. At some point, the home was also owned by a woman named Goldie who was said to be a witch. Naturally, the local rumor mill took off with this, but as someone who also practices witchcraft and sees it for the very normal practice that it is, I won’t put too much time into it. The villa has gone on to be known as one of the midwest’s most haunted locations, and is now owned by Stephanie Neal who will rent the night out to anyone who dares to step inside…
The rumored activity at this location is so vast and happens in nearly ever area of the home, so I will simply list it off:
- Lights turn on and off on their own in the tower, which has no electricity.
- Figures are seen in the windows when no one is inside.
- A speaker was thrown off of the counter.
- Boxes moved on their own in front of eye witnesses.
- A rocking chair, known as “Goldie’s chair” has been seen rocking on its own.
- Visitors hear doors slam on their own throughout the night.
- Footsteps are often heard walking on the second floor at night.
- A general feeling of un-ease and paranoia (like you are being watched) is felt on the second floor.
- Doorknobs will creak and turn on their own.
- Temperature will fluctuate dramatically.
- A Shadow Person has been seen on the second floor a few times. (See our Types of Hauntings/Entities page to learn about “Shadow People”.) One time it had glowing eyes, and on another occasion it was as large as the entire doorframe leading to the children’s room.
- Visitors have smelled powdery women’s perfume, and the hint of cigarettes.
- Voices are often heard, such as a baby crying, when no one is there.
- Apparitions often appear in the photographs people take in a mirror in the master bedroom on the second floor.
My Findings and Final Thoughts:
Prior to going, I already had a few ideas for debunking that I carried out first:
Many doors in the house are said to open on their own, so I found a video on the villa’s Instagram page of a specific door (the first door directly in front of the stairs that opens to Lucy’s Parlor) opening seemingly by itself. After arriving, Stephanie showed us more recent footage of that same door opening again, and it even did it just before we went upstairs. I noticed right away that the spring latch doesn’t go into the hole in the frame, so it cannot shut completely. I’ve concluded (after testing this myself) that it is just the spring loaded latch slowly pushing on the door frame that will open the door since it doesn’t go into the hole.
Because the hinges are so smooth, the door will slowly open nearly halfway on it’s own after being lightly pushed. As for the rest of the doors with rattling doorknobs, like the doorknob to the Library room, these ones couldn’t be debunked by me. Even my skeptical husband heard one of the doorknobs rattle during the house tour and couldn’t figure out what caused it or recreate it. I thought it was maybe because of changing pressures in the home from other doors being opened and closed, but also couldn’t recreate this. Even pushing on some of these doors isn’t enough to make the doorknob itself rattle, and would only make the noise when I physically grabbed the knob and jiggled it.
Next, I used my K2 meter to see if there is high EMF in areas on the second floor where people feel uneasy and like they are being watched; these are two of the most common symptoms for high EMF exposure. Of the many rooms on that floor, the only one that I got EMF spikes in was the break room which contains a router that puts off high EMF consistently. If someone feels uneasy in that room, I’d bet my money it’s just because of the router, but I cannot explain those feelings in the rest of the rooms on the second floor. There is also a router in the “Man Cave” room on the first floor with the TV. Some investigators talk about getting EMF spikes in that room, and this is likely why.
The mirror in the Master Bedroom on the second floor that people will photograph apparitions in is an old mirror with a lot of streaks and oxidization, so I assumed it was simple cases of matrixing, which is when you see a facial pattern in every day objects. But the photos I came across of apparitions in the mirror looked like actual living people. I spent a lot of time alone in that room and took plenty of photos myself inviting the gentlemen to be in the photo with me, and also tried to debunk these photos as being possible shadows. Fortunately/unfortunately, I could not debunk this or recreate it, nor did they show up in the countless photos I took.
I also noticed that it is easy to hear outside sounds in the rooms that face the street. Many people catch EVP’s or hear voices that almost sound conversational, and almost too good to be true, so I was going to leave my digital voice recorder in one of the rooms known as Lucy’s Parlor and go talk outside on the sidewalk and see if it picked up my voice. Just as I was going to do this, I could hear a dog barking outside and other sounds while inside the room. This makes it hard to trust some of the EVP’s that come from these rooms, but some of the EVP’s that I heard from Stephanie definitely weren’t outside noises, and were super creepy and compelling, like laughter and hushed, masculine voices…
Time to talk to some spirits!
I started in the Master Bedroom on the second floor with the mirror that apparitions will appear in, simply because the photos are that compelling. I set up my REM pod, K2 meter, digital voice recorder, some light-up motion balls that were already in the house, and my full spectrum infrared camera in the room. I proceeded to talk more to the male spirits that appear in the photos, and once again invited them to visit with me and be on camera with me. I sat on the bed and decided to introduce myself a little bit, hoping the spirits would interact with me more after getting to know me. I mentioned how I obviously investigate the paranormal, I’m an artist, I love animals, and then mentioned that I like tattoos. Mind you, I was wearing a cropped T-shirt and my back tattoos were showing a bit. Just as I mentioned my tattoos, I felt a pressure on the middle of my back as if a hand/palm was pressed on it.
One of the rooms I investigated next was the “Kids Room” on the second floor. I left my digital voice recorder going in the room while I prepared to experiment in there with a solo-version of the Estes method. (Check out the Spirit Box segment in the Equipment We Use page to learn about the Estes method.) I modified this method to work with just one person by making flash cards to hold up to the camera/possible spirits, with each one asking a different question. I blindfolded myself so I wouldn’t know which question was being asked, and listened for any possible spirit voices coming through the spirit box. Before I did this, my digital voice recorder captured numerous sounds of movement in the room (like tapping) and it also captured a whistle (sort of like a bird) that all occurred while I was still on the first floor. It was night-time at this point so no birds were out, but I realized that there is an old empty bird cage in that room. Could it have been the residual sounds of a bird that once lived in the cage? Who knows… (There is also some sort of motion alarm in the Library room nearby that I set off earlier that day, which sounded nothing like this high pitched whistle either, nor did I go into the Library and set it off around that time.)
I proceeded with the modified Estes method (which I did twice because I forgot to record the first time) and I watched the video back afterwards to see if any possible responses aligned with the question asked at the time. I got nothing compelling from doing this, but there was two times in this room during/after these sessions that I heard what sounded like a woman’s voice, but neither one was picked up on my recording devices and happened off camera.
In an attempt to be fun and appeal to any old-timey ghosts, I went up to the attic next where a bunch of tables and chairs are set up and I performed a “magic” card trick. I am sad to say that I received no standing ovation or responses from any spirits, but it was fun none the less!
I also took some polaroid photos while in the attic, but I deemed them as being inconclusive because a spec of dust was on the roller which contaminated all of the photos.
I also want to note that the attic makes a lot of very normal creaking sounds, which also get mistaken for being paranormal. The day before I went it about 50-60 degrees fahrenheit, and the day that I arrived was much colder, around 20-30 degrees fahrenheit. Changes in temperature like this will make wood expand and then contract, so creaking in an area like the attic is to be expected. This can also release trapped smells like the cigarette smoke and women’s perfume that some visitors smell.
While in the Library, I decided to give the card trick a second shot, and I’m glad I did because I finally got a possible response to it. It wasn’t much, mostly flashlights going off that had not gone off prior, and I did hear loud shuffling-type sounds coming from just outside of the room. They were loud enough that I assumed my husband decided to come check things out, but I got up and found him still sitting in the “Man Cave” room on the first floor.
The last area I investigated that yielded spirit responses was the cupboard under the stairs on the first floor in the Formal Entry Way. I started in the parlor on the first floor with purple walls where it is said that the spirits of children are heard and seen, but I experienced nothing. I then moved to the cupboard under the stairs nearby where one of the child spirits supposedly hides. Being someone who has worked with kids and is also a “cool aunt”, I decided to take a gentle approach for this seemingly shy or scared spirit child and sat outside of the cupboard to talk. (If this area is indeed a safe space for them, I didn’t want to intrude on it.) I talked gently while I asked them questions, and invited them to interact with the items I laid out, like my K2 meter, flashlights, and a light-up ball. As I sat there doing this while looking inside the cupboard, I saw what I believe was the manifestation of the child spirit. It was very brief, and of course I had the camera outside facing me and the gadgets in front of me, hoping to capture the devices being interacted with. What I saw inside was the silhouette of what did appear to be a small child. It was a head and shoulder/arm that had peeked out and then shot back in quickly. The strangest part was that it wasn’t a dark shadow, which is how I usually see spirits. Instead, it was almost bright, like a faint, soft white glowing light. I did at least capture my reaction to seeing this and quickly grabbed my camera and proceeded to film inside the cupboard.
I set one of the flashlights (which hadn’t gone off outside of the cupboard yet) inside the cupboard and it started to flash almost immediately to the questions I asked. I got the feeling that the spirit liked the flashlight, and seeing as it was only a $12 Maglite mini, I did leave it under the stairs for them to keep with the rest of the toys that other investigators leave behind for them. (I’m sure another investigator will pocket it, which is too bad. I could have just kept it, but wanted to hold my word with this entity and had said if they interacted with it, they could have it.)
This was one of the most remarkable experiences I have had because I have never seen an apparition appear as a soft white light. If you visit the villa, I ask that you please respect this spirits safe space under the stairs and consider sitting outside of it at first until the spirit is comfortable. If it is indeed a child spirit, it is a very sad situation. With that being said, many child spirits are actually different entities posing as children, so who knows…
There is a journal that is left on the table in the dining room that visitors can write their experiences in, so I made sure to do this before leaving.
This journal was very handy in the beginning for helping me know what areas to focus on, and what areas to leave alone that tend to have little-to-no activity, such as the basement. I do regret not taking photos in the basement, and will use this as an excuse to go back later this year!
My Tips for Visiting the McInteer Villa:
Staying here was such a wonderful experience! There could have been no paranormal activity and it still would have been worth it for the gorgeous house alone. It was very easy to book: I just went to the official website, found a date on the calendar that was available, and sent the owner an email to request it. She called me back within hours and I payed for the night over the phone, and that was it! (It cost $400 for us to stay on a Friday night.) I then met her there at 3 p.m. on the scheduled day, she gave us a tour and the door code, and we had the rest of the place to ourselves until 10 a.m. the next day. 10/10 would recommend, and I cannot wait to investigate here again someday and spend time in areas, like the basement, that I didn’t investigate in much.
If you do investigate this location, keep in mind the various debunking that has been done here. Something that I appreciated from Stephanie was that she warned us about the noise that the furnace makes. These sounds can mimmic footsteps and knocking, so it can be hard to conclude that these types of sounds in the house are 100% paranormal. Other than this, be sure to relax and enjoy your time there!
You can watch my full investigation for yourself (or at least the fun parts worth watching) right here on our YouTube channel!
Here is a photo dump from my time at the villa! This home is very beautiful, well-taken care of, and well decorated. I couldn’t help but use my down-time to have a little fun!