Is Edinburgh Manor Haunted?

Edinburgh Manor

Edinburgh Manor is known to ghost hunters as the most haunted asylum in Iowa, possibly the entire Midwest

Paranormal Activity at Edinburgh Manor

  • A supposedly evil entity is said to reside in the basement and appear as an apparition
  • People report being grabbed and choked by the evil basement spirit
  • A little girl can be heard laughing and playing in certain rooms
  • The little girl's ghost will reportedly roll balls and play with toys provided for her
  • People report strange, oppressive feelings in a room where someone reportedly died by suicide
  • Apparitions are frequently seen on the second floor
Edinburgh manor asylum in Iowa is haunted by former patients

Edinburgh Manor sits a few miles south of Scotch Grove, Iowa surrounded by an endless sea of farmland traversed by slim gravel roads. Though no longer in service, some people do still pay Edinburgh Manor visits. Most to see what supernatural activity might still remain. And, if some visitors’ stories are true, Edinburgh Manor might be more active in death than it ever was in life.

Timeline of Edinburgh Manor's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Edinburgh Manor through the years


Few formal settlements existed in the area in the 1830s. A debacle about the Jones County seat moved power and importance away from Edinburgh. The town soon faded away as residents moved to more developed areas of the county. Jones County dealt with the growing impoverished population by building a poor farm. The Jones County Poor Farm, built around the former Edinburgh settlement. This was a facility wherein poor, infirm and insane county residents were to be housed.


The Jones County Poor Farm opened in 1850. The operation kept the poor, elderly, and disabled from languishing on the streets. Those who were able enough to work were required to do so. Often tenants would work on farmland owned by the poor farm to help produce food for the farm’s kitchens. Although referred to as “inmates”, tenants found this life preferable to other options.

This poor farm operated from 1850 to 1910, over which time it is estimated that over 150 inmates died there. As society of the time gave few options to citizens in need, poor farm deaths were regular not uncommon.


After 30 years of service the operation was beyond its useful life. After demolition, it replaced with the current structure on the site: Edinburgh Manor.

The new Edinburgh Manor was a huge improvement. It was built of sturdy brick and spanning over 12,000 square feet. It served the county’s insane and indigent citizens well over the decades that followed. But, the era of poor farms soon reached its end.


After the creation of Social Security, social safety nets change options for the poor. Many people were able to get help before ending up at poor farms. This saw the population of Edinburgh Manor began decreasing. To avoid closure, Edinburgh Manor transitioned to acting more as an insane asylum. This proved fruitful for its longevity.


By the late 20th century, Edinburgh Manor’s poor farm days were well behind it. The facility was functioning as an asylum for the insane and nursing home for the infirm elderly. Edinburgh Manor was cemented into mental health history in Iowa. Yet, as societal and medical advancements, it was not long before the old building was unable to keep up. After cuts to mental health care funding, Edinburgh transitioned to nursing home care.


Soon more advanced nursing homes opened in the county. With competitive pricing, many families could afford better. This resulted in Edinburgh Manor closing its doors in 2010. Remaining residents were moved to facilities in Anamosa.

The Large rooms in this haunted insane asylum once held numerous patients referred to as 'inmates'


The building spent some years as the premier abandoned insane asylum in Iowa. Finally, it was purchased to preserve Edinburgh Manor as an historic Iowa institution.

Is Iowa’s Edinburgh Manor Haunted?

The new owners soon noticed strange and unexplainable occurrences around the old structure. They were interested to learn about Edinburgh Manor’s paranormal activity. Shortly thereafter, the owners opened the asylum to ghost hunters and supernatural enthusiasts. The following paranormal investigations uncovered much more activity than anyone had likely anticipated. Edinburgh Manor’s reputation was minted as one of the most haunted places in Iowa.

Edinburgh Manor’s rumors and legends of the paranormal

One of the most well-known spirits who resides there is known as The Joker. This specter has become an infamous Iowa urban legend for accosting people. The ghost is known for grabbing, choking, and causing uneasy or anxious feelings. The Joker is also often cited as creating anomalies in peoples’ photos. This entity has been reported throughout the basement but is most active in the ‘padded cell’. This is a basement room that was once padded, now a storage space. Be careful not to linger too long, as The Joker doesn’t take kindly to visitors.

The Ghost Girl in the Jones County Asylum

But don’t go thinking every spirit at Edinburgh Manor is out to get you. Some just want to play, like the spirit of a little girl noted to reside on the first floor. Visitors often report hearing this little girl giggle. Some have claimed to hear her a soft voice echo through the hallways. Investigators have tried to play with her, as well as bringing gifts such as children’s toys. Some have said that she will gladly roll a ball back to you if she’s in a playful mood. Over the years she has come into the name of either “Sally” or “Sarah.”

A basement laundry room where people claim the spot a ghost nicknamed The Joker

The Shadow Of A Tragedy

Another Edinburgh Manor ghost sighting is decidedly less lighthearted. Across the main first floor hallway is a dark, cramped closet-sized room. Inside of this space, a janitor on staff reportedly hanged themselves using the door knob and a belt. People who enter this room report oppressive or negative feelings and an unexplained sudden sense of unease. Others have mentioned seeing a shadow figure wandering the first floor in this area.

Edinburgh Manor’s Apparitions and Shadow Figures

On the building’s second floor, apparitions are a common sight. Many people report seeing a woman in a flowing white dress appear on the second floor stair landing. Ghost hunters’ reports continue to describe her disappearing moments after being spotted.

Visitors have also seen shadow figures wandering the second floor hallway from room-to-room. Some mentioning the sounds of bare foot falls on the carpet of that level of the building. These seem to be a residual hauntings at Edinburgh Manor. This means the ghostly activity seems to happen regardless of interaction.

Some paranormal investigators have captured these supposed apparitions in photos and videos. Others have captured full-bodied apparitions, like those of children on the second floor.

A malevolent is said to be most active along this hallway in the basement of Edinburgh Manor

Who is Edinburgh Manor’s ghostly woman in white?

Unexplained noises including disembodied voices are often reported as well. These noises sometimes react to investigators’ questions or statements, indicating an intelligent haunting. Psychics and mediums visiting Edinburgh Manor say the ghost is that of a woman left at the asylum by her family. There is no direct evidence of this, but in this era, abandoning someone at the asylum was not uncommon.

Edinburgh Manor’s Ghost Adventures Episode Evidence

During a visit from Ghost Adventures, Edinburgh Manor produced startling paranormal evidence. While performing an EVP session in the basement’s laundry area a cup appears to be thrown at the hosts. This aggressive poltergeist activity was attributed to the malevolent Joker spirit. This has become a prominent ghost story tied to the building since.

Edinburgh manor, the most haunted asylum in Iowa

Edinburgh Manor Tours and Investigations, Ghost Hunters Welcome

Since opening up to ghost hunters, Edinburgh Manor picked up steam quickly. It soon became one of the most popular haunted Iowa attractions. Edinburgh Manor has since been the subject of many news stories, YouTube videos and films. Countless paranormal investigations have been conducted by teams from across the nation. Edinburgh Manor doesn’t just hold the crown for haunted places in Jones County, Iowa. No, it is the most haunted insane asylum in Iowa, perhaps the entire Midwest.

The basement cafeteria where The Joker is said to reside

For those looking to visit, Edinburgh Manor tours are offered daily. This service is by reservation only, and has a small fee associated. More intrepid ghost hunters can rent the building overnight for a reasonable price. Included in the price is a small house on the property where investigators can rest. This is one of best value locations when looking to investigate haunted places in Iowa.

The original town of Edinburgh, Iowa couldn’t attract enough citizens to stay afloat. Yet, the haunted insane asylum named in its honor attracts so many people there’s a waitlist to get inside. If you visit, watch out for The Joker – his jokes might be at your expense.

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