The House the Devil Built: The Chilling Case of the Congelier Mansion

  • Written by Occult Museum
  • Published in Mysteries
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Is Pennsylvania’s Congelier Mansion the most haunted house in America?

When you think of the most haunted house in the America, you probably jump right to the sinister looking colonial in Amityville,
Long Island. Or even the home in St. Louis that inspired The Exorcist. But not every famous haunt has an empire of entertainment
media to boost its reputation. Some of it is part of a local oral history. And for residents of Pennsylvania’s most western
city, Pittsburgh, the stories of the Congelier Mansion made it more than deserving of the title “most haunted home in America.”
It’s been given several other monikers through the years, including “the house the devil built.”

Origins of Evil

According to legend, the house on 1129 Ridge Ave. was built in the 1860s in the Manchester neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s
Northside. Charles Congelier was the original owner and inhabitant, along with his wife Lyda and their maid Essie. Congelier
made a fortune as a direct result of the Civil War and moved his family north to settle in the booming industry town of
Pittsburgh. Like many great tragic stories, it ends with infidelity and a jealous wife. Lyda, after discovering her husband and
Essie were having azand his paramour. She was found by a neighbor several days later, calmly sitting in a chair with the severed
head of the maid in her lap.

The Mad Scientist

After the grisly murders the house was dormant for quite some time until a railroad company purchased it in 1892, planning to
convert it into housing for their staff. After several workers complained of strange noises and unexplained happenings in the
house, the railroad abandoned it and put it up for sale where it remained on the market for several years until 1900 when Adolph
C. Brunrichter, a German-born doctor, purchased the house. Brunrichter was described by his neighbors as a recluse who did not
often partake in socializing and spent much of time in the house by himself.

But on the night of August 12th, 1901, neighbors reported the sounds of a woman screaming and strange lights in the home. The
police were called and were appalled to find the body of a decapitated woman and the doctor, nowhere to be found. What comes
next is straight out of American Horror Story as they discovered a laboratory in the basement with several more body parts and,
most horrifyingly, a severed head that Dr. Brunrichter had used in his ghoulish experiments to keep victims of decapitation
alive after the fact.

The doctor was never seen again, though almost 30 years later some believe he emerged from hiding in New York, drunk and
claiming to have conducted strange experiments in Pittsburgh. Police did not put much weight on the man’s claimed identity and
eventually released him from prison, deeming him harmless and never to appear in history again.

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