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8:00 PM - 2:00 AM


Join American Hauntings as we journey to Edinburgh Manor, the notorious former poor farm, mental institution, and retirement home in Iowa! During its decades in operation, it has played hosted to sinister occurrences and has earned a reputation as one of the most haunted places in the Midwest. You’ve seen it on TV, but are you brave enough to experience it for yourself?

The hauntings of Edinburgh Manor can be found within its history. Located in what was originally the heart of Jones County, the land where the building now stands was originally planned for a courthouse. But soon after the property was acquired, the county moved its seat 10 miles west to Anamosa, leaving this land to become a county poor farm.

During the nineteenth century, poor farms were run by local governments as a way to care for and house the indigent and needy. Most were working farms and residents were expected to work in the fields and in the facility as the price for room and board. The poor house itself often held those who were believed to be incurably insane, those with disabilities who were unable to work, and elderly locals who had been abandoned by their families. The reliance on poor farms declined after the Social Security Act became law in 1935 and most had vanished from the American landscape by the 1950s.

The poor farm that had been located at the site of Edinburgh Manor served as a home for hundreds of inmates during its years of operation. Many of them lived there until they died. The dead were released to family members or buried in the pauper cemetery on the grounds. The number of inmates varied from year to year but at least 80 of them died on the farm.

The original poor farm building was used until 1910, when it was torn down and replaced with a new structure in 1911 – the current Edinburgh Manor. The building contains 12,000-square-feet, consisting of two floors and a basement and it served the elderly, the disabled, and the mentally ill. Male inmates were housed in the west wing of the building and women lived in the east. By the 2000s, there were between 20 and 40 residents and in an attempt to cut the high annual costs, the county hired a not-for-profit company to provide the care for the inmates. What followed was a scandal of mismanagement and abuse that led to the company being fired in the middle of a Medicaid fraud investigation and three employees at another nearby facility owned by the company being charged with the sexual assault of a resident. Edinburgh Manor was cited for being “dangerous… and not conducive to having disabled people live there.” It was shut down and the building was put up for sale.

The county sold off the building in September 2011 and although plans were made to turn it into a bed and breakfast, that never materialized. The current owners bought the building to preserve its history and didn’t have any idea of the paranormal events they were about to experience. Today, Edinburgh Manor sits alone at the end of a long road with grassy farm fields on either side of it.

It is said that the spirits of the dead roam the property at night.

Edinburgh Manor has played host to hundreds of visitors in recent years, from paranormal investigators to crews from television shows like “Ghost Adventures.” They have experienced everything from footsteps to mysterious laughter to malevolent shadows and apparitions. All of the lingering presences remain from the building’s years as a care facility – and those former inmates do not rest in peace.

Among the spirits is that of a little girl who laughs, plays, and sings in the first-floor hallway and the spirit of a man who allegedly committed suicide in one of the janitor closets. In a first-floor room where a brutal rape occurred, an uncomfortable presence can be found. Footsteps roam the building, tapping away into the night. There is an apparition of a woman – dressed in white – who has been seen on countless afternoons, standing on the second-floor landing. She vanishes without explanation. There is a toy firetruck, left abandoned in the building, that moves through the building on its own. The building’s stairway doors slam shut on their own accord.

Perhaps the most infamous spirit is one that has been dubbed the “Joker.” Said to inhabit the basement, it wanders between rooms, paying special attention to the boiler room and a small padded cell on the opposite side of the building. The stories say that this spirit is that of a man who was confined to that cell – and ended his own life there.

He is said to be tall and slender and possessing a malevolent expression and personality. The “Joker” has been seen, heard, and experienced, including a violent incident when dishes were thrown to the floor.

Edinburgh Manor can be an unsettling, sometimes terrifying, place and its not for the faint of heart. Some visitors cannot make it through the entire night in the building but if you think you can, we invite you to come along with us as we explore this chilling location for ourselves.