Pittsburgh January 10, 2017
The Story Behind Pittsburgh’s Most Haunted House Will Give You Nightmares
Congelier House in Pittsburgh, now little more than a stretch of road still swarming with paranormal activity (if you believe what some say), has etched itself into history as America’s most haunted house. Despite terrifying people for decades, historians have debunked much of the story of Congelier House. However, many still believe the local legend. Into which category do you fall: Do you still believe the tale or do you agree that it’s all simply a long-told myth?
Congelier House - also known as the House on Ridge Avenue and the House the Devil Built - appeared in Manchester in the North Side in the 1860s built, according to local legend, by a well-to-do fella from the south, Charles Congelier. The majestic home - mansion, if you want to get technical - housed Congelier, Lyda (his wife), and Essie (the maid).
Life in the Congelier House appeared to be a happy one but, as the old saying goes, you never know what's really going on behind closed doors. And, sometimes you don't even know what's going on in your own house. Lyda would find that out sometime in 1871 when, to her dismay and heartbreak, she discovered her husband and Essie were entwined in a passionate affair. That discovery sparked Lyda's own passion, the kind of passion that drives a modern day horror flick.
An enraged Lyda decided to confront her husband and his mistress - some say with a knife and some say a with a meat cleaver in her hand. With that knife or meat cleaver, Lyda took out her rage on both Charles and Essie, permanently ending their affair.
Out of her mind from grief or rage, no one really knows, she rocked back and forth on her rocking chair, cradling the head of Essie. That, so the legend goes, is just how she was found several days after the brutal murders had taken place. And, that is what lead to the House on Ridge Avenue remaining empty for nearly two decades.
Congelier House, despite its horrifying history, finally sold in 1892 when a local railroad company purchased it to provide housing for its railroad workers. But, by the century's end, the House on Ridge Avenue again had a for sale sign on the front lawn. With its workers chased out by the paranormal, including strange noises emanating from all corners of the house and figures seen walking down the hallways, the railroad company had no choice but to find a buyer, perhaps someone who had little clue as to what had transpired in that house.
And, along came a man known as Dr. Adolph Brunrichter, a recluse. Neighbors rarely saw the doctor, until one day they heard the shrill shriek of a woman coming from inside the home. By the time police had arrived, and discovered the bloody site and a decapitated young woman, the reclusive doctor had disappeared.
A different Congelier family is said to have lived in the House on Ridge Avenue back in the 1920s, after the Dr. Adolph Brunrichter debacle. Their daughter, Marie, tragically died, after being sliced with glass from a window broken during an explosion of a nearby natural gas tank.
Alas, the legend of Congelier House was discounted after researchers failed to find any records of a Charles Congelier, a Dr. Adolph Brunrichter, or evidence that a railroad company ever owned the House on Ridge Avenue.
The House on Ridge Avenue, long considered America's most haunted house, was replaced by a stretch of road. Some of those who believe in the paranormal still believe Congelier's House's haunted past and tell stories of seeing apparitions walking along the side of the road where the House on Ridge Avenue once stood.
Though now just a memory and despite claims of debunking its story, Congelier House in Pittsburgh remains embedded in local lure. You can still visit the site where Congelier House once stood, capturing the imaginations of Pittsburghers for decades, or
click here to visit eight genuinely haunted places (that are still standing) in the city.