When Aaron and Erin Clark bought their dream fixer-upper six years ago in Jefferson City’s historic district, they didn’t expect it to become their worst nightmare.
The house was adorned with a new front door, modern windows and updated electricity and plumbing, but that was it. “You could see through every single wall,” Aaron said. They immediately started renovating. Eager to start their life in the new home with their young family, they moved in while it was still a construction zone. “Pretty much right away we started having what we would call weird, spooky stuff that we didn’t think was spooky at the time,” Erin said.
It started small. They could tell their dog hated the house, and they were having weird electrical phenomena, like lights, fans and heaters turning on and off on their own. “We used to joke that when we first saw the house, one of the main memories that I have is the basement, the lights were flashing,” Aaron said.
It didn’t take long for the situation to escalate.
For instance, one fall afternoon, Erin was playing with her kids in her daughter's bedroom, when the door deadbolted from the inside. “[My daughter] didn’t lock it, my son couldn’t reach it. Things like that were just starting to happen,” Erin said. “It really started scaring us. It turned from, ‘This is stupid,’ to, ‘I’m freaking out.’”
Their daughter, who was 7 at the time, began sleepwalking at night. They’d find her walking through the hallways, wide-eyed and talking, with no memory of it by morning. If she wasn’t sleepwalking, she was often having night terrors.
Many mornings, they’d find the lights on in their toddler son’s room. He slept in a crib, and the only way to turn the lights on was with the pull chain.
There began to be random banging at night, funky smells, odd behavior from their daughter and flickering lights. They would hear voices greeting them as they walked through doors. “It was like every night the house just came alive,” Erin said. “The daytime would be fine and then at 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night, things would just get loud and crazy.”
“Thick,” Aaron echoed. “Real thick.”
The Clarks began to collect stories like these; there were constantly new, creepy experiences in the house. Erin even went as far as to compare their encounters to a less-dramatized version of “The Conjuring.”
They tried many remedies to convince whatever was haunting their home to leave. They tried sage and even had an acquaintance travel from Kansas to clear the house. During that week prior to the clearing, the Clarks were advised to laugh and be joyful in the house and wear cross necklaces, but it didn’t take long for Erin’s to mysteriously go missing from her neck. “We spent the whole day in the house looking for this necklace, could not find it. I looked everywhere — I looked in the driveway — I looked everywhere,” Erin said. “My daughter comes home, five seconds after getting home she finds the cross necklace on the wooden set of stairs. Right in the middle of the stairs.”
The house was built in 1910. By the looks of it, it’s a beautiful, red-brick manor with lots of character, a dreamy front porch and perfect landscaping. It boasts two stories with an attic and a basement. However, when it comes to haunting, no corner of the house is safe. Rumor has it the basement housed prisoners, a rumor that is backed up by the cell-like cages found when the Clarks purchased the house. On multiple occasions, while resting in bed in the master bedroom at night, Aaron could hear what sounded like a box dropping and sliding on the ground in the attic. The Clarks have contacted previous owners and tenants, and almost all of them have confirmed the ghostly affairs.
After less than a year in what was supposed to be their forever home, the Clarks were ready to leave. Erin couldn’t stand the thought of selling the house to another family knowing the haunted condition it was in. Plus, a lot went into repairing and updating the house. “Part of why we refused to sell this is because we worked really hard on it,” Erin said. “My now 82-year-old grandfather was on his hands and knees working on the floor and fixing the fence, here dang near every day.”
Instead, they turned their haunted house into a haunted Airbnb. “We think it brings value to the city, it’s not hurting anybody. We can’t sell the thing because whoever buys it and lives here a long time will go through what we went through,” Erin said. “People are safe for a weekend.”
Starting at around $300 a night, up to 10 guests can test their luck and stay at the house. Bookings tend to pick up in the fall, but, surprisingly, the Clarks haven’t had anyone stay there on Halloween in two or three years.
The Clarks have had ghost hunters, psychics, mediums and guests just interested in having a paranormal encounter lodge at the house. Hobo Hill House was even featured on “The Dead Files” on the Travel Channel in 2019, as well as in the New York Post, Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan.
If you want to try your luck at a ghost sighting, search “The Hobo Hill House” on airbnb.com to book your stay. Maybe you can find an explanation for the creaks in the floor or for the eternally wet spot on the basement floor.