Is Horridge House Haunted?

Horridge House

Though Horridge House has been a museum for many years, the ghosts within may still call it home.

Ghost Stories at
Horridge House

  • EMF Spikes are commonly reported by investigators
  • An apparition with green eyes has been seen on the second floor
  • Phantom whistling has been heard in the apartment area
  • Objects, including furniture, has been seen moving without explanation
  • Shadow figures have been seen in the children’s bedroom
  • Sounds of growling and laughter have been heard in the basement
  • Potential EVPs have been captured in the house
  • Visitors to the basement have claimed to be scratched by unseen forces

Horridge House History

In the small town of Vinton, Iowa, a brick house doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd. But one old brick home just over the railroad tracks might be the town’s most unique attraction.

Whether it’s the numerous additions made over the years, or the big white sign in the front yard, you can tell Horridge House is one of a kind from the moment you arrive.

At over 150 years old, Horridge House has been part of the Vinton community for almost as long as the town has existed. Now home to the Benton County Historical Society’s Archives & Museum, Horridge House is a wealth of historical knowledge and artifacts… and maybe even ghosts.

But just who are these Horridge haunters? Are these ghosts from the house’s own history, or phantoms attached to the artifacts now stored within?

Timeline of Horridge House's History

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

Many claim the Horridge house is Vinton's most haunted location


Despite its name, Horridge House did not begin with anyone named Horridge. The house was first built in 1859 by Dr. Hewitt Clingan. In 1857, shortly before Clingan built the house, George Horridge arrived in Vinton aboard the steamship Export. An enterprising tinsmith, Horridge found both beauty and business in Vinton, and moved there soon after to work in the hardware store.

George quickly made partner at the store, and took over when the owner, Augustus Rock, died in 1861. George even married Rock’s widow, Elizabeth, in 1863.

Numerous investigators have found themselves uneasy in this room housing a display of dolls. One claiming to hear one move.


In 1869, Elizabeth bought Dr. Clingan’s old house for her and George to settle down in. While they laid down roots in the brick house beside the railroad, George hardly settled down. He worked hard at the hardware store and expanded his reach to other businesses.

By the late 1870s, he was part owner of a flower mill, a trustee at Coe College, a city councilor, a powerful landowner, and a partial stakeholder in an oil interest in Texas. George didn’t truly slow down until 1898 when, at age 65, he retired from the hardware business.


Antique typewriters line the sun room in the Horridge House's upstairs apartment


The Horridge’s success allowed them the time and wealth to travel. He and Elizabeth often spent time at a winter home they owned in Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was here, in 1900, that an elderly Elizabeth became deathly ill. Though she wanted to travel home to Vinton, she proved too ill to make the journey and died in Louisiana that year.

Her body made the long journey home, and a funeral was held in the Horridge House parlor. Just over a year later, George remarried to Carrie Smyth, a woman thirty years younger than him.

The Benton County Historical Society features a room dedicated to military history within the Horridge House


Over the first few decades of the 1900s, Carrie led a grand expansion of Horridge House. Add-ons included a second floor apartment, a downstairs sunroom, a screened porch, and a bathroom. A love for travel brought grand pieces of decor to the home, like a large French mirror and a piece of Italian marble now set into the parlor fireplace. She also moved her mother, who was in poor health, into the house.

There, Carrie’s mother died in 1926 at 100 years old. Just a few years later in 1930, George Horridge also died in the home, at 96 years old.

Another antiquity of the old house - lead type


After the death of her mother and husband, Carrie lived a quiet life at Horridge House for two more decades. She died at age 85 in 1949, and thus ended the Horridge family’s time in the home. Many memories of their time remain, preserved since the home came under the ownership of the Benton County Historical Society.

Carrie’s French mirror and the marble ensconced in the fireplace can still be seen by visitors today. But more than that, some say specters in the Horridge House keep its history alive through hauntings.

Paranormal claims have been cited in the basement, uneasy feelings.

Strange Happenings at Horridge House

While many visitors to Horridge House today say it’s haunted, questions remain as to who the spirits are. Some believe the ghosts are the Horridges, as well as Carrie and her mother. Others think the hauntings stem not from the family history, but from the museum artifacts now held within.

Many pieces on display in the museum were donated from far and wide, leading some to believe the donations brought ghosts along with them. Regardless of where the ghosts came from, they sure seem happy residing at Horridge House.

Shadows move in the dark corridors of the upstairs hallway

Shifting Shadows on the Second Floor

Some of the most common reports of activity around the house are shadow figures and apparitions. People have reported shadow figures lingering around the children’s room upstairs, also known as the doll room thanks to the exhibit of dozens of dolls there.

Also on the second floor, at least one witness has reported seeing an apparition with green eyes moving from room to room.

The crypt-like basement is said to house ghostly paranormal activity

Horridge’s Haunted Basement

Along with shadow figures, strange and unexplained sounds are also quite common in the house. In the second floor apartment, unexplained whistling has been heard by visitors. Ghost hunters who have come to the house have also reportedly captured EVPs throughout the home.

Down in the basement, some people have reportedly heard the sounds of both disembodied laughter and strange growling. The basement is also where at least one person has claimed to have been scratched by an unseen force.

Unexplained Energies in the Parlor

The ghost stories of Horridge House have attracted a lot of attention in recent years, both from ghost hunters and news reporters. One visiting news crew may have captured additional activity during their visit, noting they captured a dresser move without any known cause.

The Horridge House is now preserved by the Benton County Historical Society

A known hotspot for ghost hunters is the home’s main parlor, where EMF spikes are especially common.

While strange EMF activity can be encountered throughout the home, it is most often found in the parlor. There have even been claims of spirits in the parlor communicating directly through these EMF spikes.

Ghostly footsteps can be heard in the former sitting room of the home

Vinton’s Twin Haunts

Since opening to paranormal investigations, Horridge House’s haunted reputation has grown significantly. The happenings have become an exhibit in and of themselves now, permeating the museum and adding an aura of mystery to the home’s historic preservation.

And, it’s not the only Vinton landmark to see new interest from its ghost stories. Just a short walk down the block, visitors can find the Vinton Train Depot, another Benton County Historical Society property that is said to harbor hauntings.

Horridge House: Benton County’s
Most Haunted House?

Together, the Depot and Horridge House can be booked for ghost hunts, as well as traditional tours. It’s as easy as reaching out to the Benton County Historical Society’s Facebook page for paranormal tours, or getting in touch via email.

So no matter if it’s hauntings or history that interests you, a stop at Horridge House might be just right for you.

And between the ghost stories at Horridge House and the haunted happenings at the Train Depot around the corner, Vinton might just be home to the most haunted neighborhood block in all of Iowa.