THE BLOG
10/30/2014 11:26 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Visit a Real Haunted Location This Halloween, the Feds Can Help

Halloween is a great time to visit your local haunted locations. I am sure your neighborhood ghost will appreciate it. In fact, ghosts might moan just to dramatically make it known they are bored, just like your kids do.

National Historic Landmarks are some of the best places to find some ghosties. I was actually tipped off to this fact by the Maitland Art Center near Orlando, Florida. They are the latest haunted location to be given the National Historic Landmark designation.

According to the National Park Service's National Historic Landmark Program, "National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States." And sometimes they are haunted (I added the last bit).

2014-10-30-20141009_MAIT_1047.jpg

Mayan Revival architecture at the Maitland Art Center.

André Smith originally founded the Maitland Art Center as an artist colony in 1937. Smith's first career was as an architect, but he later became a war artist for the U.S. Army in World War I. After the war, he eventually retired to Maitland, Florida, just north of Orlando, and established the Maitland Research Studio. It was designed using a style called Mayan Revival, a style considered fantasy architecture.

Smith passed away in 1959, but according the visitors of the Maitland Art Center (MAC), he may have never left. According to Andrea Bailey Cox, the CEO and Executive Director of MAC, there are three types of sightings. She says sometimes people actually see Smith wandering the grounds or in one of the artist studios. She says other times people just feel his presence, especially artists when they are working in their studios.

2014-10-30-andrecourtyard001.jpg

André Smith

The third type of sighting might be more accurately described as a smelling. According to Cox, "[Smith] was an avid cigar smoker, and people will sometimes say they smell cigars around the campus when no one is around smoking."

Cox says she also has seen what she believes to be Smith's ghost. She says, "He was sitting working on one of his studios when I came to work one morning."

"One of the beautiful things about [the architecture] is the enormous casement windows," Cox continued. "So I walked up and I saw him through one of these casement windows, and at first I thought someone had arrived on campus before me. It was very early in the morning. And so I came around the other side of the building, again almost all windows, walked inside expecting someone to be there and no one was there."

She says she wasn't freaked out, and her experience was like others who have met the resident ghost. She says it was very "benign." In fact, Smith is considered a friendly ghost on the ghost hunting websites.

Cox says, "There is this kind of a great sense that he's happy with the fact that we are continuing in his legacy here as an artist colony."

You may be thinking, "That is all well and good, and when I visit the Orlando area I will be sure to pop in on André. I mean, who doesn't want to visit a friendly ghost? But Halloween is this week, and if I'm gonna go visit a ghost, I need something a little closer to home."

Well, the federal government has got you covered, because the website Recreation.org has a page dedicated to haunted locations across the country. The site says, "America is filled with spooky little hidden corners and old colonial towns accompanied by legends, ghost stories and the like."

From Alabama to Wyoming, they've got you covered. They even have haunted sites in New York City. Each site is listed with a short description of the type of haunting.

Halloween actually goes back many years, and was once more than just an excuse to put on an inappropriate costume and get drunk. It used to actually be a time to remember the dead.

So, go visit a ghost, give him or her a fist bump, or a high five, take a selfie, or at least throw them some deuces. Then you can get to your party.

All images courtesy of the Maitland Art Center.