(Mark Twain House)

14 W 10th Street, Manhattan, NY

Status: Private Residence; Famous Haunted/Cursed House; Urban Legend


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Reader Discretion is Advised

This article contains child abuse and murder as well as spousal abuse.


Built in 1856 this brownstone started off alright before earning it’s reputation and foreboding name.

In the 1880’s the house was owned by the widow of the founder of Metropolitan and Broadway’s Underground Railways.

In 1897 the house brought it’s first, of many, bouts of bad luck to one of it’s owners. Cycling celebrity Fred H Andrew (who was the new owner of the house) was apparently engaging in “reckless cycling” and hit an 8 year old boy on the street.

The boy suffered a broken leg and Andrew was jailed. Considering what the house is said to be responsible later these two may have been the luckiest of it’s long list of victims.

The next owner was not other than the acclaimed author Mark Twain who suffered both financial difficulties – near bankruptcy – as well as emotional issues – depression – but also wrote some of his best stories while living in the house.

Mr Twain is also the first – despite being an ardent non-believer – person to have a paranormal episode in the house. He watched a log of wood float across a room; which he blamed on rats; and – as any normal person would do – he shot it. The wood landed on the floor with a few drops of blood he maintained came from the aforementioned rat.

In 1937 the house was converted into 10 separate apartments.

In 1957 Jan Bryant Bartell and her daughter moved into the apartment on the top floor where the servants used to live. They suffered extreme paranormal experiences and Jan wrote and published a book in 1974 called Spindrift: Spray From A Psychic Sea.

The book records 9 deaths beginning with her dog and ending with them moving out of the house. Shortly after she published the book Jan, herself, died making some people believe whatever is in the house followed her making her it’s 10th victim.

Jan also suffered from depression and there were rumors of suicide attempts; or so the skeptics say.

At 6:40 am on November 2, 1987 911 got a call from the house from the house’s owner – Hedda Nussbaum a children’s book author – saying that her daughter, Lisa, was not breathing.

The first responders entered the house to the scene of a nightmare.

6 year old Lisa was naked and unresponsive on the floor while her brother was tied to a playpen sitting in his own urine. Hedda was covered in bruises and had multiple broken bones. They were also large amounts of illegal drugs and paraphernalia in the house.

Lisa could not be saved, and it was later determined she was killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

Both Hedda and her husband, Joel Steinburg, were charged with 1st degree murder. Hedda avoided charges by giving testimony indicated Joel had come home in a cocaine fueled fury and attacked both Hedda and Lisa.

Steinburg was sent to prison for second degree manslaughter; he was released in 2004.

Today, the house is still a private residence but there are continuing stories of paranormal activity in both it as well as in some of the neighboring houses now.


Paranormal Activity

There are rumored to be at least 22 ghosts of former residents including the famous non-believer himself; Mark Twain. Although he uses his real name – Samuel Clemens – rather than his pen name.

Mr Twain is generally clad in a white linen suit and has repeatedly communicated with the living. Before you ask, no he did not die in the house – and only lived there for 1 year in 1900-1901 – however his ghost has been confirmed both here and no 12 as well as this house.

Clemens has been seen throughout the house by these days he is only seen on the first floor and on the staircase to the basement.

Ms Bartell (see above) recorded the following activity: a large monstrously shaped shadow the followed her and moved about the apartment; a chilly damp mist that would numb the fingertips to touch and smelled sweet; rotten food the family had not purchased would appear on the dining room table; the apparition of a man in the hallway; other unexplained phantom smells including a very bitter one and the family pets would become suddenly very aggressive toward entities that could not been seen.

Both in the “House of Death” and in neighboring houses the apparition of a woman in a long gown has been seen floating over the floor and has been reported move through doors. Flickering lights and feelings of not being alone are also frequently reported.