In some hauntings, the story behind the paranormal activity can be fascinating. Other times, it can be tragic and heartbreaking. This haunted house in Arkansas has more than enough grief and intrigue woven into every brick and corner, it’s not hard to see why some call it the most haunted house in America. Today, we’re exploring a story about love letters, cyanide, and grief with the Allen House in Monticello, Arkansas.
Built in 1906, the home was designed in a Queen Anne style that was popular during the late years of the 19th and early years of the 20th century. Some might say it looks like a home straight from American Horror Story, but that’s not where the similarities end. The original owner, Joe Lee Allen for which the Allen house is named, hoped to make the home the glittering star on mainstreet. The design of the home was meant to combine many forms of architecture, evidenced by the giant columns on either side of the front door.
Allen, his wife and three daughters would move into the home, and Allen’s business ventures continued to flourish until his unexpected death in 1917. His family continued living in the home after his passing and were content for a long while while living there. But the unfortunate turn of events would eventually catch up to the happy family in the opulent home.
In 1948, a tragedy rocked the Allen family when their second-eldest daughter, Ladell, would commit suicide by cyanide, dying 8 days later in her room of the mansion. So grieved by this, Mrs. Allen sealed the room in which her daughter passes and would keep it locked up for nearly 40 years. The tragedy of her daughter’s death proved to be too much for Mrs. Allen, and she would also pass away just a few years later in 1954. After this, the home was segmented into apartments for rent from 1956 to 1986.
In 1985, the suite that Ladell Allen had died in was opened for the first time since her death in 1948. The new owners of the home found a half-empty bottle of mercury cyanide on the shelves of the room. Years later, nearly 90 love letters from Ladell to her lover were discovered beneath the floorboards, telling a tragic story of lost love and the desire to take her own life with cyanide on Christmas morning. She, obviously, followed through with the plan.
During the years that the suite was closed, almost 40 years, reports would come in about a sad looking woman standing in the window of Ladell’s home. Being nearly boarded up, many local residents were unnerved by the appearance of anyone in the window, let alone someone who looked exactly like the tragic Allen daughter. More paranormal activity was recorded by several of the owners through the years. The most active room in the home is Ladell’s former room, seemingly her spirit still attached to the home she’d spent her childhood in and had her adulthood cut short.
Shadowy figures appear in photos taken by the owners and visitors alike. The sound of pained sobbing could be heard throughout the home with no evidence of its origin. The day of the first paranormal investigation of the home, a tree limb fell suddenly on a powerline near the house, dramatically canceling the planned investigation. When the investigators were able to enter the home a few months later, they claimed to have captured over 40 examples of EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) also known as voices from beyond the grave.
The current owner of the home was skeptical of the paranormal activity, until he and his family began to experience shadowy, faceless figures, footsteps throughout the home, and doppelgangers, a phenomenon when a loved one will appear or call for someone in the home when the real person is seemingly elsewhere.The police were even called to the home several times for fear of intruders, but no one would be found when they checked the house. Mark Spencer, the owner, wrote a book about his family’s experience called “A Haunted Love Story,” which became very popular and continues the prestige and legend of the mansion on Monticello where tragedy struck.
Today, the home is a private residence, but offers tours throughout the year to interested parties. In the fall season, the owners even put on a haunted house for locals to enjoy, a little more camp fun than the cyanide and love letters for which the home had become known. If you’re brave enough, you might be able to step into Ladell’s room and feel the sadness and sinking feelings many experience when stepping into the home.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.