There’s nothing quite like learning the Bed & Breakfast you’re staying at has a haunted history, but this one in particular will not only tell you ghost stories, they’ll give you an opportunity to experience them for yourself! Periwinkle Place Manor in Iowa is proud of the ghosts that may wander their halls, so much so that they host haunted murder mystery nights and sponsor ghost hunts within their walls. If you stay the night, would you see a ghost in your bedroom? It’s entirely likely, considering the history this colorful home boasts and the spooky happenings that have been recorded there. Today, we’re learning more about the proudest haunted house in Iowa.
Located in Chelsea, Iowa, the mansion was originally built in 1892 by Joseph Hrabak, the local city undertaker and funeral director. Immediately, the home was used as a funeral parlor for the community, with over a century of serving in that role. It was even reported to be the first funeral home in the state of Iowa. The business closed in 2003, 111 years after its founding, when the home was sold to a private owner. Thousands of bodies passed through the doors on their way to the local cemetery, and the rumor is that some of those souls remain in the home long after their burial.
The mansion is not without its own trials and tribulations, as a fire nearly destroyed the home while it was owned by a private owner. The new owner and “Lady of the Manor,” Jodi Philip, rescued the ailing building and turned it into a Bed & Breakfast with a fascinating history. Almost immediately, the spooky stories began to make themselves a reality as the re-building of the home was said to be plagued with pranks played on the construction workers undertaking the renovations. Tools would go missing, only to be found in unlikely places like the top shelf of a bookcase, or in a cabinet in the kitchen.
The Periwinkle Place Manor leans into its haunted reputation, sometimes being called a “Dead & Breakfast,” by locals and visitors alike. The spooky atmosphere of the former funeral home continues into several of their rooms, including one room where the beds are made out of actual coffin holders from the heyday of the funeral business. It’s even advised if you want to stay in this room, you have to sign a waiver acknowledging you may experience paranormal activity during your stay. More relics from the past are sprinkled throughout the bed and breakfast, including a vintage coffin and antique casket, making your stay that much more spooky.
Guests have experienced a myriad of paranormal activity within the walls of the home, including reports of full-bodied apparitions, dolls and a rocking horse moving on their own, and sometimes a specter may rip the sheets off of your bed in the middle of the night. Photos taken within the B&B often have a chance of turning out blurry, or with blue and green flashes across the photo. Capturing of orbs in photos is also common, and sometimes equipment brought by ghost hunters will malfunction without an earthly reason to do so.
Still more haunting events happen within the Periwinkle, including the banging of cabinets in the night, strange sensations like cold spots and a heaviness within some rooms, and sounds of humming or coughing resonating through the staircases on particularly empty nights. The owner of the bed and breakfast reported her most terrifying experience occurring in the carriage house next to the manor, where hearses were once housed, when a ghostly apparition of a man in a fedora appeared to her for a moment before disappearing in a cloud of shadows. Some say the man with the fedora is the original owner of the funeral home, Mr. Joseph Hrabak himself.
The eerie presence of the manor is accentuated with special events at the home, including murder mystery dinners with a twist- you might just see a spirit while investigating the murder. The owner says that something unexplained happens daily in the bed and breakfast, and the reports from guests continue to pile up and create a full picture of a haunted home with ghosts around every corner. Ghost hunts and murder mystery parties often end with a night of karaoke and dancing, but there’s no reports of whether the ghosts have a favorite song on the jukebox.
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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.