Edinburgh Manor

Iowa’s Edinburgh Manor has played host to darkness, earning a reputation as one of the most haunted buildings in the United States.

Edinburgh Manor’s Illustrious Paranormal Claims


  • A supposedly evil entity is said to reside in the basement and appear as an apparition
  • Visitors have reported being grabbed and choked by the evil 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 a suicide reportedly occurred
  • Apparitions are frequently seen throughout the second floor

Just a few miles south of the rural hamlet of Scotch Grove, Iowa, amongst an endless sea of farmland traversed by slim gravel roads, sits a nearly forgotten curiosity of history – Edinburgh Manor. A sudden departure from the regular scenery of the area, Edinburgh’s sturdy brick exterior and bright white roof dormers set it apart from surrounding structures. Though most human activity is gone from this old building now, some people do still pay Edinburgh Manor visits, mostly 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.


Edinburgh Iowa before Edinburgh Manor

Few formal settlements existed in the area in the 1830s. Originally established with the hopes of growing the hamlet, Edinburgh did not expand much after its founding. After a debacle regarding the county seat, Edinburgh soon faded away as residents moved to more developed areas of the county. Eventually, Jones County, where Edinburgh resided, decided to deal with its growing impoverished population with a depressing solution: the Jones County Poor Farm, built around the former Edinburgh settlement, wherein poor, infirm and insane county residents were to be housed.

How a Poor Farm Works

The Jones County Poor Farm opened in 1850 and kept the poor, elderly, and disabled from languishing on the streets. Those who were able enough to work were required to do so, often on farmland owned by the poor farm to help produce food for the farm’s kitchens.

The new Edinburgh Manor served the county and its insane and indigent citizens well over the decades that followed, but soon the era of poor farms reached its end. Following the creation of Social Security and the expansion of other social safety nets, many people were able to get help before ending up at poor farms, and the population of Edinburgh Manor began steadily decreasing. To avoid closure, Edinburgh Manor slowly transitioned to acting more as an asylum for the insane than an almshouse, proving fruitful for its longevity.

Is Edinburgh Manor Haunted?

After some years in abandonment and limbo, Edinburgh Manor was bought by a couple hoping to preserve its history. But, soon after purchasing the building, the new owners noticed many strange happenings and unexplained occurrences around the old structure. Interested in seeing what this activity was about, and whether or not Edinburgh Manor was as haunted as it seemed to be, the owners opened the building to paranormal investigators and supernatural enthusiasts.

The investigations that followed uncovered much more activity than anyone had likely anticipated and built up Edinburgh Manor’s reputation as one of the most haunted places in Iowa.

Edinburgh Manor’s Most notorious haunting

One of the most well-known spirits who resides there is known as The Joker. Not much of a trickster, this specter has become infamous around Edinburgh for accosting people, grabbing them, choking them, causing uneasy or anxious feelings, and often creating anomalies in peoples’ photos. His entity has been reported throughout the basement but is best known for residing in what is known as the ‘padded cell’ (though don’t expect to find any pads remaining). Be careful not to linger too long, as The Joker will shoo you out if you’re there too long.

A Ghost in the childrens wing of edinburgh manor supposedly will roll a ball back when asked

Edinburgh Manor’s Younger Spirits

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 and hearing her small, soft voice echo through the hallways. Some investigators have tried to play with her, giving her balls and other toys, and some have said that she will gladly roll a ball back to you if she’s in a playful mood.

Another ghost said to haunt the first floor is that of a janitor who reportedly hanged himself in a room at the end of the main first floor hallway. People who enter this room sometimes report an oppressive or negative feeling about the room and an unexplained sudden sense of unease.

Wandering Spirits on the Second Floor

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, only to disappear moments after being spotted. Others have reported seeing her figure, or figures similar to hers, wander up and down the second floor hallway and from room-to-room.

Edinburgh Manor’s Reputation Lives on

Since being opened up to ghost hunters, Edinburgh Manor picked up steam quickly and soon became one of the most popular paranormal investigation stops in the Midwest. The building’s reputation got an additional boost when it was featured on Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures as the team hoped to contact the malevolent Joker spirit.

Since then, Edinburgh Manor has been the subject of numerous news stories, documentary shorts and films, and countless further investigations from teams throughout the nation. So though the original town of Edinburgh couldn’t attract enough citizens to stay afloat, the asylum named in its honor attracts so many people there’s a waitlist just to get inside. Though if you visit, watch out for anyone resembling The Joker. His jokes might just be at your expense.