Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States, but its size doesn't stop it from being one of the creepiest states in the country. From potentially haunted abandoned schools to the graves of rumored vampires, there's no shortage of spooky spaces to explore. But which towns in the state are the creepiest?
While Rhode Island is full of creepy cities and towns, none inspire as much fear or creep-factor as Burriville. Here, you'll find the house that inspired the first The Conjuring movie. If that's not enough for you, there's also the now-abandoned Zambarano Unit of the Eleanor Slater Hospital, the state's psychiatric hospital, which is reportedly haunted.
Cumberland overflows with creepy, potentially haunted places. While a 1950 fire destroyed some of a monastery that had been built in 1900, the public library stands inside what was left behind where there might be some ghosts. There’s the spot on the monastery grounds — a ten-mile hike from the library — that saw the torture of nine soldiers more than three hundred years ago.
But the library isn't the only haunted spot in Cumberland. There have been more reports of paranormal phenomena on the Tower Hill Road.
Rhode Island’s capital is also one of its most haunted cities. While this New England city might ooze charm, there's so much paranormal activity, Providence's City Hall was the focus of a Ghost Hunters episode.
Providence is also home to the library where Edgar Allen Poe and Sarah Helen Witman fell in love and are said to sometimes return.
Newport, Rhode Island, is known as a fantastic summer vacation spot, and between the coastal views and Gilded Era mansions, it's easy to see why. Take the estate-turned-park at Brenton Point State Park, for instance. The park is picturesque, with many using the grounds for picnics or to fly kites. But all that whimsy gets darker when you consider they might be enjoying themselves on cursed grounds.
Brenton Point State Park is far from Newport's only haunted spot, however. Ghost hunters and the paranormal curious will want to see the Artillery Company of Newport, the “castle” that inspired a book about its many ghosts.
Putnam Pike road in Glocester is home to not one but two reportedly haunted taverns. Some visitors have reported paranormal activity at Cady’s Tavern, originally a stagecoach stop built in the early 19th century. However, paranormal investigator Thomas D’Agostino argues that the Tavern on Main, located at just down the street from Cady's, is “the most haunted place in the whole state” because of the five, if not more, ghosts who call it home.
6. New Shoreham
New Shoreham is the name of the town located on Block Island, which sits off the coast of Rhode Island and is home to enough ghosts to warrant a book. Ghosts of Block Island by New Shoreham native Fran Migliaccio offers stories about ghosts in various homes on the island, including a ghost horse.
Exeter also boasts more than one creepy phenomenon. The Chestnut Hill Cemetery, a small, old graveyard in Exeter, is the resting place of Mercy Brown, a young woman believed to be a vampire by the people of the town in the late 1800s. Then there’s the abandoned Ladd School, a former mental hospital, that many believe is haunted by ghosts of mistreated patients.
Close to the Connecticut-Rhode Island border, you'll find the town of Foster where the Ram Tail Mill once stood. The mill, built in 1813, was owned by a handful of partners, including William Potter and Peleg Walker.
Legend has it Potter's sons managed the mill alongside with Peleg Walker. At some point, the trio get into an argument and Walker tells Potter's sons that, “You'll have to take the key to this mill from a dead man's pocket!”
The sons did just that. Today, the mill no longer stands, but hikers say they hear a bell ringing but there's no man and no bell to be found.
Cranston’s creepiness comes entirely from two institutions for young people, one long gone and one ever-present. The first is the Oaklawn School for Girls from the late 19th century, which may or may not still house several bodies buried on the grounds. The second is the less spooky, but still not exactly comforting, Rhode Island Training School for juvenile delinquents.
Like Burrillville, Scituate has a claim to fame, albeit less directly tied to any real or sensationalized events. According to renowned horror author H.P. Lovecraft, the Scituate Reservoir inspired his short story The Colour Out of Space, which sees a town transformed, physically and psychologically, after the landing of a mysterious, glowing meteorite. There’s something to be said for a place so spooky it served as inspiration for one of the great horror writers.
Anyone looking to stay in a haunted hotel in Rhode Island should book a stay at the General Stanton Inn. Located in Charlestown, the Inn stands on land indigenous people gifted to an English settler in the 1650s and is said to be haunted by at least one ghost. Employees and past residents have reported taps on their shoulders when no one was behind them and hearing things without a source.
12. North Kingstown
North Kingstown is home to another welcoming place that may include some non-living members in the welcoming party. Originally built in 1760, The Carriage Inn is now a banquet hall that may still have residents from the past residing there.
The space inspired several spooky stories, leading to a Ghost Hunters investigation in 2014.
13. South Kingstown
Not to be outdone by its northern neighbor, South Kingstown offers a variety of spooky spots, almost all of which are around the University of Rhode Island. With many paranormal phenomena, including possessed resident assistants and the ghost daughter of a former governor haunting a frat house, the college campus has a town's worth of creepiness packed into a small space.
Bristol is a beautiful seaport town in Rhode Island with several historic sites and, possibly, another haunted State Park. The Colt State Park in Bristol is said to be haunted by not one but two sets of ghosts: a pair of girls who are said to have drowned at the park and now follow hikers with creepy laughter and an old farm worker who plays with the lights and doors in the park office.
The town of Coventry offers visitors the opportunity to see the General Nathaniel Greene Homestead which is reportedly home to several spooky phenomena. The Homestead has everything from the smells of baking bread in a long-unused kitchen to the sounds of mysterious voices and footsteps and outright apparitions.
Middletown sits near Newport and offers its own creepy destination. Here you'll find Purgatory Chasm, a cliff with a great name and a spooky story to go with it. The spot was the site of a lover’s deadly leap centuries ago, and some believe his ghost still haunts the area looking for the woman he loved.
Pawtucket lands on the list for creepy kids but not for an abandoned school. The city is home to the Slater Mill, which began operation in the late 18th century when child labor laws to protect children didn’t exist. According to stories, some children who worked in the mill were significantly injured or killed while working and now haunt the space.
Near Providence, Warwick houses the Aldrich Mansion, a stunning estate built at the turn of the 20th century. Today, it's an event space despite the possibility of also being home to a ghost. Some say they’ve encountered the spirit of a young woman who died by suicide on the grounds.
There's something extra creepy about abandoned schools — something Rhode Island is overrun with. In Woonsocket, the Middle School was originally built in 1914 but closed in 2009 over health concerns from asbestos used during construction.
Today, the building still stands, and some Rhode Islanders claim to have seen ghosts lingering.
20. West Greenwich
Mercy Brown’s grave in Exeter isn’t the only vampire’s grave in Rhode Island – or is it? West Greenwich is home to the grave of Nellie Vaughn, which has been said not to grow any grass or even sink into the ground. But the whole thing may be just a mix-up started by some students who didn’t realize they were being told a story about Mercy Brown.