The House of Death: Where Shadows and Spirits Dwell

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 21 July 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.


Nestled in the historic Greenwich Village, the House of Death stands as a foreboding brownstone townhouse with a dark history shrouded in paranormal activity. This ominous residence is notorious for its haunting reputation, believed to be the dwelling place of multiple spirits, including the renowned author Mark Twain.

Over the years, residents and visitors alike have recounted spine-chilling encounters with ghostly apparitions, heard mysterious voices, and experienced unsettling phenomena. Step into the House of Death, where shadows dance and the realm of the living intersects with the ethereal plane.

History of the House of Death

The House of Death
Mark Twain House (Aka House of Death)
Credit Ajay Suresh

The “House of Death,” located at 14 West 10th Street in Manhattan, New York City, is a 19th-century brownstone marked by a rich, albeit macabre, history. Constructed in the 1850s, the structure reflects the prevalent Greek Revival architectural style of the period, which is particularly noticeable in the building’s facade.

The building began its life as a single-family home before being partitioned into apartments later. Its list of inhabitants includes some notable personalities, the most famous being Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Twain resided in the house around the turn of the century, from 1900-1901. Despite his brief tenure, he has been intertwined with the lore of the building, often cited as one of its spectral inhabitants.

However, the lore of the “House of Death” extends beyond Mark Twain. The house is notorious for being the site of numerous tragic events and uncanny incidents.

Haunting Legends and Eerie Encounters

The House of Death has accumulated a plethora of haunting legends and unsettling encounters over the years. Some of the paranormal activities reported by witnesses include:

  • Ghostly Apparitions: Residents and visitors have reported sightings of ghostly figures within the house. These apparitions range from shadowy figures lurking in the corners to full-bodied specters manifesting before startled eyes. The spirits are said to be trapped within the house, forever haunting its dimly lit rooms.
  • Mysterious Voices: Eerie disembodied voices and inexplicable whispers have been heard echoing through the hallways of the House of Death. These spectral voices seem to come from unseen sources, whispering secrets from beyond the veil of the living.
  • Unsettling Experiences: Those who have entered the House of Death have described experiencing unexplained sensations of being watched, cold drafts brushing against their skin, and an overwhelming feeling of unease. Objects moving on their own accord and unexplained temperature fluctuations contribute to the unsettling nature of these experiences.
  • Poltergeist Phenomena: Witnesses have reported instances of poltergeist activity within the House of Death. Objects have been known to move or fly off shelves, doors slam shut or open with great force, and furniture rearranges itself inexplicably. These disruptive manifestations suggest a mischievous and potentially malevolent presence within the house.
  • Intense Cold Spots: Visitors and residents have experienced sudden drops in temperature in certain areas of the house, often accompanied by an oppressive feeling of heaviness. These cold spots are distinct from normal temperature variations and are commonly associated with paranormal phenomena.
  • Electrical Anomalies: The House of Death is known for electrical disturbances and unexplained malfunctions of electronic devices. Lights flicker or turn on and off by themselves, appliances act erratically, and batteries drain rapidly. These anomalies suggest that the spirits within the house manipulate electrical energy as a means of communication or manifestation.

In the late 1930s, an intriguing encounter with Mark Twain’s ghost unfolded. By 1937, the residence on West 10th Street had undergone a transformation, becoming a co-op building with ten luxurious condo apartments.

mark twain
Statue Of Mark Twain

Shortly after this conversion, a mother and her daughter, new residents of the building, unexpectedly stumbled upon the spectral presence of Mark Twain. Perched on a window seat, he casually approached them and introduced himself as Clemens, expressing a pressing need to resolve a certain matter. However, he vanished into thin air moments later, leaving behind the enigma of his undisclosed problem, likely of financial nature. It’s a poignant reminder that even in death, the burdens of money can prevent one from finding eternal peace. The persistent presence of Mark Twain in a place where he didn’t meet his end, as he died in Danbury, Connecticut, adds yet another layer of mystery to this perplexing tale.

Jan Bryant Bartell and her daughter claimed the top-floor apartment in 1957. The renowned actress, psychic, and writer inhabited what was once a servants’ quarters. Almost immediately, Bartell encountered a relentless, dark presence that trailed her throughout the spacious abode. On one occasion, she even witnessed the ghostly silhouette of a man in a hallway. Fearlessly, she extended her hand to touch the apparition, but the sensation was unlike anything she had ever felt before—an intangible substance, chilling and damp, akin to marsh mist or ethereal clouds. Her fingertips turned numb yet tingled, and in that fleeting moment, an unbearable, sickeningly sweet fragrance permeated the air. However, this unsettling aroma was not the only peculiarity experienced by the Bartell family during their tenure at The House of Death. Without explanation, spoiled food materialized on their table, as if it had been decaying for days without end. Moreover, their beloved pets often displayed unwarranted aggression, as if provoked by invisible foes lurking within the building.

These paranormal activities deepen the enigma surrounding the House of Death, creating an atmosphere of both fascination and trepidation for those intrigued by the supernatural. As the spirits within continue to make their presence known, the house remains an enduring enigma, inviting speculation and exploration into the realms beyond our understanding.

The Spirit of Mark Twain

Among the multiple spirits said to inhabit the House of Death, one of the most prominent is believed to be the ghost of Mark Twain himself. While residing in the house, Twain experienced personal tragedies, which some believe tethered his spirit to the premises. Witnesses have reported encounters with a spectral figure resembling Twain, dressed in his signature white suit, wandering the rooms of the house. The presence of the celebrated author adds a layer of historical intrigue to the House of Death’s haunted reputation.

mark twain
Mark Twain – Credit Recuerdos de Pandora

The spirit of Mark Twain, one of the most prominent and intriguing entities believed to reside within the House of Death, captivates the imagination of visitors and paranormal enthusiasts alike. During his time in the house, Twain experienced personal tragedies that some believe tethered his spirit to the premises, forever etching his presence into the fabric of the dwelling.

Witnesses have reported encountering a spectral figure resembling the iconic author, dressed in his signature white suit, wandering the rooms of the house with an air of melancholy. The ghostly apparition of Twain evokes a sense of intellectual curiosity and literary mystique, leaving those who have witnessed his ethereal presence in awe and wonder.

It is as if the spirit of Twain continues to be drawn to the place where he once resided, perhaps seeking solace, leaving an indelible mark on the House of Death’s haunted legacy. The enigmatic presence of Mark Twain adds a layer of historical significance and literary allure to the house, inviting speculation about the connection between the celebrated author and the spectral realm that lingers within the shadows of the residence.

Credit Curbed

Pop Culture and Media Coverage

The infamous House of Death in Greenwich Village, New York City, is a site steeped in eerie lore and has had a substantial impact on pop culture and media. Known for its alleged hauntings, this hauntingly beautiful brownstone has been the subject of significant attention, inspiring everything from ghost tours to literary works.

Featured in television series such as “Celebrity Ghost Stories,” the House of Death has been profiled for its chilling history and alleged spectral residents, including the ghost of Mark Twain who once lived there. These portrayals have further reinforced the house’s reputation as one of the most haunted locations in New York City.

The House of Death also holds a spot in literary culture, serving as the setting in author Jan Bryant Bartell’s book, “Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea“. Bartell documents her experiences while living in the house, including encounters with apparitions and an overwhelming sense of dread.

Preservation and Urban Lore

Despite its dark past and paranormal tales, the House of Death remains a private residence. While public access is limited, the stories and legends surrounding the house have become part of Greenwich Village’s urban lore. Ghost enthusiasts, thrill-seekers, and those curious about the supernatural are drawn to its enigmatic facade, eager to catch a glimpse into the mysterious world that resides within.


The House of Death stands as a testament to the mysteries that lie beyond the mortal realm. With its history steeped in tragedy and a myriad of supernatural encounters, it continues to be an enigmatic presence in the heart of Greenwich Village. As long as the spectral inhabitants linger and the legends persist, the House of Death will remain an unsettling reminder of the ethereal forces that intertwine with our world, inviting us to explore the boundaries between life and death.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the House of Death

Q1: Where is the House of Death located?
The House of Death is situated in the historic Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

Q2: Who are the spirits believed to haunt the House of Death?
The house is believed to be inhabited by multiple spirits, including the ghost of Mark Twain, as well as other unidentified apparitions.

Q3: What paranormal activities have been reported at the House of Death?
Witnesses have reported ghostly apparitions, mysterious voices, unsettling experiences, and encounters with the spirit of Mark Twain.

Q4: Can the public visit the House of Death?
The House of Death is a private residence and is generally not open to the public. However, its haunting reputation has made it a subject of interest for paranormal enthusiasts and urban explorers.

Q5: Is there any historical significance to the House of Death?
Aside from its association with Mark Twain, the house itself has a historical significance as a part of Greenwich Village’s architectural heritage.

Q6: Are there any efforts to investigate the paranormal activities in the House of Death?
While the house is not formally investigated, its haunted reputation continues to attract those intrigued by the supernatural, leading to occasional independent investigations and explorations.

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