Is Hannah House Haunted?

Hannah House

Unexplained mysteries haunt this historic Indiana home, with no one sure who the ghosts within are

Paranormal Activity at
Hannah House

  • Unexplained smells have been reported from certain rooms
  • Shadow figures have been seen lingering in the home
  • The apparition of Alexander Hannah has been reported
  • Cold spots have been felt around the house
  • Doors in the house are said to open and close without known cause
  • The figure of Elizabeth Hannah has been seen in windows from outside
  • Disembodied voices and moans have been heard in the home

Hannah House: A Storied History

In the midst of the urban expanse of southern Indianapolis, Indiana, is a property where time sits still. While it was once the heart of a massive piece of land, the Hannah House is now nestled close to modern roads, gas stations, and auto part stores.

Its Italianate design and faded brick exterior stand in stark contrast to the urban sprawl around it, a testament to the home’s long and storied past.

It served as the home to numerous prominent and wealthy families over the years. And while it hasn’t been a private residence in many years, local lore suggests plenty of spirits still call the Hannah House home.

Whether it’s reports of the ghosts of former owners or tales of slave spirits from the Underground Railroad, there’s something undoubtedly mysterious about this historic mansion.

Timeline of Hannah House's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Hannah House through the years


Alexander Hannah was born in 1821 in southern Indiana. While his family had found success in the area and he made a good living as a harness maker, Alexander had bigger dreams. He left Indiana in 1850, hoping to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush. While not made filthy rich by gold alone, Alexander did well for himself out west prospecting and running a ranch.

After five years, he returned to Indiana a much wealthier man. In 1858, he bought a 240-acre plot of land with his wealth and built a grand mansion for himself: the Hannah House.


Hannah’s new home and farm became a quick success for him. He raised a variety of crops and collected tolls from the Indianapolis-Southport toll road that crossed his property. But Alexander, a longtime bachelor, soon found himself lonely in his expansive new estate.

He married Elizabeth Jackson in 1872, the same year that he expanded his house to include large servants’ quarters on the back. The add-ons also included a milk storage room, a meat smokehouse, and a summer kitchen.


Alexander and Elizabeth grew old together in the Hannah House. They tried to have children many times, but the only one carried to term ended up being stillborn. Despite their lack of children, the Hannah’s property remained busy with workers and servants throughout the 19th century. The couple also built up popularity with the community as civic-minded and engaged townsfolk.

Elizabeth died in 1888, while Alexander lived a few more years before passing away in 1895. After their deaths, the couple’s stately mansion sat empty for four years.


In 1899, Hannah House came under the ownership of Roman Oehler, a local jeweler. The Oehler family put down long-term roots on the property, and the mansion soon became a family property. While the property’s size decreased significantly, down to just over 20 acres, the Oehler’s built many new buildings and replaced the front porch in the early 20th century.

After Roman’s death, his daughter, Romena, took over ownership of the home. She and her husband lived there until 1962, after which the historic home would sit empty once more.


A few years after Romena Oehler left, an auction emptied out much of what was left in the house. After a few empty years, the O’Brien family moved in and filled it with antiques, opening it as an antique store. The store found some success early on, but ultimately did not last.

After about a decade, the store closed, and left the Hannah House dormant once more. In 1978 the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places, helping ensure its preservation.


From the 1980s into the 21st century, the Hannah House sat mostly empty. Each Halloween season, the home would open as a haunted house attraction. Though the haunted house concluded in the early 2010s, another variety of spooky adventure soon arose at the Hannah House. In 2013, the home started offering overnight stays, quickly becoming an event all its own.

Hannah House had long been said to be haunted, but recent overnight stays have left some swearing that the home is even more haunted than local lore suggests.

Is Hannah House Haunted?

Many claims of hauntings around the Hannah House stem from one popular legend about the home’s early history. It is said that Alexander Hannah kept space in his home for runaway slaves during the Civil War.

Hannah was well-known for abolitionist attitudes in his life, though no record exists of him actually opening his home to runaway slaves. Despite the lacking historical record, many people around Indianapolis believe it to be true.

As the story goes, one group of runaway slaves at Hannah House never left the house alive. One night in the early 1860s, a group of runaways hiding out at Hannah House purportedly knocked over an oil lamp and started a fire.

By the time the fire was doused, several of the runaways had died. Rather than report the fire and reveal the Underground Railroad, Alexander Hannah had the bodies buried in the cellar dirt. Or so the story goes. Now, historical record or not, many claims of paranormal activity stem from this tale of lost slave souls.

Strange & Spooky Smells

One early report about the Hannah House’s hauntings focuses on an upstairs bedroom. There, visitors often reported the sudden and unexplained stench of death. It was as if something, or someone, had recently died in the room.

But, even more strangely, some people claim the smell in the room changes almost instantly. In one moment, it would smell of rot and decay. But in the next, the smell would turn pleasantly floral. Some have suggested this activity is a result of residual hauntings from the Underground Railroad fire.

Similar smells of rotting or burning flesh have also been reported in the old cellar area, where the runaway slaves were reportedly kept hidden.

Shadowy figures have also been seen around the house and cellar, with witnesses saying that the figures looked a lot like runaway slaves in hiding. But, these figures are not the only ones you might see floating around Hannah House.

The Hannah Family Phantoms

The figure of Alexander Hannah has also been seen throughout his old house. His figure is best known for the fancy and well-kept suit he is always seen wearing. Even Elizabeth Hannah’s specter has been seen by visitors at times, though most often only through windows from the outside.

Those who have seen her apparition say that she appears to be cradling something as she stares longingly out the house’s windows. Many figure that Elizabeth is holding her stillborn child in spirit, though no formal record of the child’s birth has been found.

The apparition of

Chilling Voices Echo Through These Halls

Unexplained activity has been encountered all throughout the Hannah House. Strange cold spots have been noted through the home, known to change location instantly. Doors have also been known to swing open and closed without known cause.

Visitors have heard disembodied voices echoing through the house’s corridors. Witnesses have said the voices range from distance voices to unintelligible, ghostly moans. Many visiting ghost hunting groups have left their overnights at the Hannah House with purported EVP recordings of these disembodied voices and sounds.

Mystery Lingers at Hannah House

While some of the most important aspects of the Hannah House’s haunted history remain unverified, many of the home’s visitors swear it is haunted. Whether those ghosts are long lost souls of runaway slaves, the lingering specters of the Hannah’s and their stillborn child, or totally unknown entities remains a mystery.

And, the identities of who haunts the Hannah House will likely never be fully known. But, to some, that helps add an extra aura of mystery to the historic and haunted mansion on Indianapolis’s south side.

While haunted houses are no longer yearly fixtures of the home, it seems the hauntings and ghost stories at the Hannah House are here to stay. Anyone interested and brave enough for an overnight stay can still book one through the house’s website.

Maybe you might positively identify a lingering specter or two, and help solve one of the many mysteries haunting the Hannah House.