Hannah House

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In a room where a tragic event took place,
startling activity can be pleasant, or very unpleasant.

Spirits are possessive of their space.

There are unmarked graves left over from the 1800s’.


Hannah House is described as a “stately red brick mansion,” perfectly suited for the Indiana State Legislator, Alexander Hannah, who built this twenty-four room mansion, that has two floors, an attic and a basement, and a north two story kitchen wing.

“It is a 2 1/2 story detached residence; a large block connected to a smaller two story wing with gallery.”

In the main house, ceilings are fourteen feet high, and all the rooms have fireplaces. The fireplaces in the parlors and sitting room have their original Greek Revival mantles.

This mansion was built in 1858, making it a pre-civil war era, “Italianate-style” of architecture. Mr. Hannah chose a style after looking at the many trade publications and architectural guides which were popular sources to study to decide what kind of forever home you wanted to build.

The first floor features a wide central hall that runs through the main house and continues outside as the gallery to the north kitchen wing. There is a staircase in the gallery that  leads up the the second floor of the kitchen wing. There is a small room, perhaps a nursery and a large bedroom

In the main house, there are the customary four rooms; two parlors on one side of the main hallway and the dining room and sitting room on the other side of the main hallway.

The dining room connects to the kitchen wing, which has the pantry, kitchen and a small hallway with “three run stair to the second floor.”

The second floor of the main house also has a main hall  with four bedrooms and a sitting room off this main hall. Most rooms have their original Greek Revival fireplaces.


Born in 1821, Alexander Hannah was raised in Wayne County, Indiana. He was apprenticed as a harness maker and started his own business making harnesses. Having an adventuresome spirit, he decided to leave his successful business and head to California in 1850 to try his luck in finding gold during the Gold Rush.

He made enough money prospecting to become a part-owner of a barley and vegetable ranch in California for five years, learning how to grow food successfully. After he sold his interests in the ranch, he returned to Indiana where he went to work for the Indiana Central Railroad where his father Samuel was the President.

Alexander Hannah bought two hundred and forty acres from his father and also started farming as well; using the latest scientific techniques in agriculture. He raised animals and crops very successfully.

On the land he bought, he built his forever home, known as the Hannah House. Alexander was very anti-slavery. So, before the Civil War, Hannah hid runaway slaves in the mansion’s basement, until they could be moved to the next underground spot.

After fifty-one years of being a bachelor, Alexander finally married the love of his life, Elizabeth Jackson in 1872. To celebrate, he built a new addition that contained the smoke house, wash house, milk cooling room, summer kitchen and servant’s quarters.

Alexander Hannah lived a peaceful life here with his wife. The tragedy that they got through together was the miscarriage of their unborn child.

According to an Indianapolis psychic, Lynn Dohrenwend, Mrs. Hannah had given birth to a still-born child in a second floor bedroom. A visit to the Crown Hill Cemetery to where Elizabeth & Alexander Hannah are buried, found a small, unmarked, infant-sized gravestone in the family plot, with only a single date etched in the stone.

Chin up! Onward ever upward! The couple continued to entertain, and participate in prominent civic events, and found other things to do, enjoying the experiences together.

In his later years, Alexander was elected to public office such as serving in the Indiana General Assembly, as well as serving “at various times as postmaster, sheriff, and clerk of the circuit court.”

Elizabeth died in 1888, leaving Alexander to be a widower. After Alexander Hannah died in 1895, The Hannah House was put back onto the real estate market.

After four years on the market, a prosperous Jewelry businessman, Roman Oehler bought this house and twenty-one acres of surrounding property. Roman replaced the creaky wooden front porch with a wider, concrete one.

Oehler’s daughter Romena Oehler Elder and her husband and their family became the third owners of this lovely house and stayed there until 1962.

In 1962, David Elder took the responsibility of care-taking the place, but didn’t live there. The mansion was vacant of the living for six years. The Elder family didn’t want to sell the forever family home just yet.

From 1968-1978, Mr. & Mrs. O’Brien moved into the mansion, and opened an antique store in one part of the mansion, and lived part time in the other parts of the mansion. They are the ones who first experienced paranormal activity.

Hannah House was listed in 1978 as a recognized historical landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior and also listed on The National Register of Historic Places.

The spirits were inadvertently provoked in 1980 when the mansion was first used as a venue for a haunted house-themed fundraiser. Paranormal activity became active.

Since that time,”the property has played host to news crews and psychics and paranormal professionals, many of whom have reported unusual occurrences.”

The Hannah House until recently was the Hannah House Museum and was rented out for social events as well.  When the owner responsible for this property recently died, everything was closed, once again leaving this mansion to Mr. and Mrs. Hannah to enjoy in peace.



Mr. and Mrs Hannah loved their forever home while alive and seem to still love it as spirits. They loved having it all to themselves for six years! Besides loving their home, there were two instances of tragedy that happened in the mansion that have caused the hauntings here as well.

When a house is vacant for a time, the spirits who loved this home can decide that the house belongs to them again, and it is hard to share it once again with the living.

Dutton House Shelburne Museum, Vt (Before being moved to the Shelbourne Museum, it had been vacant for years. A male spirit dislikes the tours coming through his home).

Hampton Lillibridge House, GA (Spirits were not pleased when this long vacant house was moved and renovated).

Monmouth Plantation, MS (This plantation house had been vacant for a time. A distrustful former owner had to be won over to be helpful, not angry).

Hannah House, IN (For six years, this mansion was vacant, until the Bryans moved inside. Yikes! We have to share our home with the living once more!).

Slaves who wanted so much to escape their bonds on the Underground Railroad, sometimes died on the way to freedom. The spirits are still where they died, hoping to get to Canada.

Slippery Noodle Inn, IN (A spirit of a slave was still waiting for his papers in the basement so he could join another group of escaped slaves heading north).

Octagon House, WI (A slave boy must of died here, because he is still staying in the house area).

McClellan Pomeroy House, Chambersburg, PA (In the dirt floor basement, the unseen presences of nervous slaves or their residual energy could be felt there. Needless to say, the Pomeroy family stayed out of the basement and never used it, even to store items).

Hannah House, IN ( One night, a lantern was accidentally knocked over, which caused a fire in the basement, killing many of the slaves hiding there. The dead slaves were buried in simple coffins in the basement).

Tragic losses of children and babies can cause hauntings.

Infirmary for Women. KY (Spirits of women who died in childbirth were very upset until they found out that their babies lived and did fine).

Deerfield Burial Mounds, MA (The spirit of the Pastor’s wife still looks for the graves of her infant and two year old that were butchered during an attack).

Carelton House, Fort Huachuca, AZ (A spirit of a young woman looks for her stillborn infants unmarked grave).

Hannah House, IN (Mrs. Hannah had given birth to a still-born child in a second floor bedroom. She never quite got over the experience, and has carried the sadness of losing her child).



David Elder was the first one to suspect that the place was occupied with unseen residents as he took care of house maintenance during those six years.  The O’Brien family who leaved the house from David Elder were treated to the full treatment of occurring manifestations, as well as seeing an apparition several times.

Activity increased greatly after the O’Brien family moved inside and continued until 1972 when they were finally accepted by the spirits already in the house: Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Hannah.

Noises in the Basement

While working about the mansion, doing various upkeep chores, Elder suddenly heard a terrific crash of breaking glass, like jars breaking into a million pieces, resounding from the basement.

Elder rushed down to the basement, and found nothing amiss at all.

Elder then noticed fruit jars that were being stored in the area where the slaves that were killed in the fire and were buried so many years ago.

Mrs. Hannah’s Specialties

She has appeared to the living on the second floor.

This spirit is talented in creating both awful and pleasant odors.

The second floor bedroom, where Mrs. Hannah gave birth to a still-born baby was normally locked up and used for storage. However, it seems to be a center of supernatural activity.

Occasionally, the horrid smell of rotting flesh emanates from this room, strong enough to gag the living, and make them run for the outside.

From the same room, the strong, sweet aroma of roses permeates the air.

Visual Activity

Spoons had the tendency to fly across the room, and wall hangings would swing by themselves.

Mr. O’Brien also witnessed the door to the attic open by itself, after the handle deliberately turned by itself.

The door to this odor-emitting room freely swung open at will, even when the room had been securely locked.

Auditory Activity

When the door did open up, other unexplainable manifestations happened.

Disembodied voices have been heard.

The living heard strange noises, footsteps of the unseen, mumbling voices, felt cold drafts in places where there were no sources for them, and saw other doors and windows open and close without help from the living.

Despite the fact that the staircase leading to the second floor was carpeted, the sound of footsteps of varying loudness, along with rustling clothing could be clearly heard.

Unseen Supervisor

You will not paint my house!!!

Do a good job painting my house!

A painter who was hired to spruce up the place had the unnerving experience of having doors swing open and pictures slid from their moorings as he walked by.

The painter had had enough and fled after a spoon that Mrs. O’Brien had put on a tray flew across the room.

Because the original house painter fled, Mrs. O’Brien’s son volunteered to finish the job. On his first night, he felt that he was being closely watched by an unseen presence, which was a very uncomfortable feeling.

Alexander Hannah likes Children

So, on the second night of painting, Mrs. O’Brien’s son brought his wife and two little daughters to keep him company, as well as help with the painting. While three of them worked in one room, the youngest little girl played on the stairs.

They heard the little girl talking with someone, and came out to investigate.

She showed no fear, and was talking to a grandfatherly type man, which she could see, and her family couldn’t see.

The rest of her family watched her carry on a conversation, mesmerized. Then, the little girl said that “Dad” was climbing back up the steps.

Totally spooked, the family left promptly.

Personal Appearance One

Spirit of Alexander Hannah – Early one evening, while the antique shop on the first floor was still open for business, Mrs. O’Brien looked up toward the second floor, and was startled to catch a glimpse of a man in a black suit who was walking across the upstairs hallway.

Thinking it might be a customer, who had wandered onto the second floor by mistake, she went up the stairs toward him to guide him back down to the shop.

When she reached the top of the stairs, the man had vanished into thin air.

Second Sighting of Alexander

Mr. O’Brien also saw a transparent, apparition who was standing in an archway on the stairs.

He was wearing an old fashioned, black suit, and had mutton-chop whiskers.

He melted away before Mr. O’Brien could reach him.

Mrs. Hannah’s Auditory Sounds

Loud groans from somewhere down the second floor hallway were heard by Mr. O’Brien one night as he was watching TV in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Annoyed, Mr. O’Brien yelled down the hall, scolding the spirit to stop its “bellyaching” and leave them in peace.

Unintended Provoking

From 1980-’82, Hannah House was used as the annual haunted house project of the Indianapolis Jaycees. They would take kids on a tour of the spooky old mansion, with special scary effects added for entertainment.

While taking a break from the project, the coordinator and fellow workers were sitting in the summer kitchen, which was located right next to the staircase used by the servants to go up to the second floor, many years ago.

Suddenly, loud scratching sounds were heard coming from inside the staircase landing wall. Despite quickly moving to investigate, the source of the noise was never located.

Turn it Off!

One evening, while listening to the spooky sounds coming from an installed stereo unit, the coordinator and a friend, who were the only ones in the mansion, were puzzled when the sounds suddenly stopped.

Investigating the trouble, they found that the on/off switch to the unit had been deliberately pushed to the off position. Awhile after restarting the unit again, the off switch was again activated.

The only explanation is that some annoyed entity took matters into his/her own hands and stopped the sounds.

TV Crew’s Experiences

October 1981 – A TV crew went to Hannah House to film a segment on the Jaycee’s Halloween House. A cameraman stood in the dining room doorway, planning to get a shot of the room from that point.

After he commented about that wouldn’t it be unnerving if the room’s chandelier would start to swing, the chandelier started to swing in a six-inch arc.

After investigating, the swinging chandelier had no reasonable cause to make it do so.
A psychic, Allene Cunningham, was brought by the crew into the mansion on the same day. She felt cold spots and presences in the house.

Scary Tricks

At the end of the filming of last shot, the cameraman stood in the dining room doorway, to film the host of this Halloween segment who was standing in front of a propped up coffin.

Suddenly, a picture hanging on the wall above the coffin fell down with a crash.

After seeing that the nail was still in it’s upward position, and the string in back of the picture wasn’t broken, it was deducted that something had to deliberately lift the picture off the nail.

Some unseen entity was up to the old tricks, to try to scare the living, and let them know that spirit people were there.

Still Hiding

Various apparitions of slaves have been seen still hiding in the basement; waiting to be moved on to the next Underground Railroad station, not knowing that they were already freed.


Besides the O’Brian family, other owners, docents and visitors of the Hannah House Museum have experienced the antics of Mr. and Mrs Hannah. Film crews have also had personal experiences.

Hard evidence has been caught by numerous paranormal investigation groups and psychics as well. The spirits of Mr. and Mrs. Hannah have accepted their roles as being spectral hosts who occasionally have to discipline the living visiting them.



Yes. The apparition of Alexander Hannah and that of Elizabeth Hannah have both been spotted on the second floor. Various apparitions of slaves have been seen still hiding in the basement.

The moving of objects and unaccountable sounds still occur in front of the living.

Elizabeth Hannah is still working through her loss of their child, with the full support of her husband, Alexander. It may be easier for her to do so now that she has complete privacy with no living people in the house for the moment.


Hannah House
3801 Madison Avenue,
Indianapolis, Indiana 46225

Hannah House can be found on Madison Avenue, in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. It is privately owned, so the privacy of the owners must be respected. The Hannah Mansion can be found on the corner of National Avenue and Madison Avenue.






Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Indianapolis Haunts in Indiana