Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The haunting of Houdini's 278

In 1927, Bess Houdini sold the house at 278 West 113 Street to her neighbors, John and Filippina Bonanno. The Bonanno family owned 278 for the next 53 years, with their daughter, Rose, occupying the house until her death in 1979.

Recently I found this incredible article about how the Bonanno family believed the house was haunted. This appeared in several newspapers in late October 1949. The following clipping is from the Hartford Courant:

Click to enlarge.

That year Joseph Dunninger held his annual Houdini seance inside 278 (it was Dunninger who started the annual seance tradition in 1947). During the midnight proceedings there was a curious incident, as reported the next day by The Evening Sun:

Click to enlarge.

The Bonannos weren't the only ones who claimed contact with Houdini inside 278. Mr. Wilkes, who lived in the house alone during the 1980s, said the spirit of Houdini was a regular visitor. This is according to Dixie Dooley who spent a stormy evening inside 278 with Mr. Wilkes in 1985. Wilkes told Dixie: "He'll educate you too, he's educated me!"

Fred Thomas, as far as I know, made it through his 26 years in the house spirit free.

Last week came the news that 278 now has new owners. Might they find themselves dreaming of Houdini? Or maybe a plaster dog with one ear?




  1. "...a buxom spinster"

    Try getting away with using THAT description in today's PC climate.

    For those unaware, there are two photos of Rose Bonanno on page 220 of Gibson's "Original Houdini Scrapbook".

  2. These are great, John! I never thought about ghosts until I encountered one in a friend's house some years ago. After that terrifying event, I had no doubt they exist, especially when numerous subsequent visitors who didn't know about my experience also had their own encounters. Considering Houdini's untimely death, not to mention his powerful energy, it wouldn't surprise me if something was going on in 278 as the stories above suggest. Thanks for sharing!


    1. It's fun stuff. Not sure how much I trust these stories, especially with Dunninger in the mix. I wonder if Fred ever experienced anything strange? Can't say I felt anything when I was there -- except out of my mind excitement! But recall my attention was drawn to the clock at exactly 1:26pm for some reason.

    2. I think your having looked at the clock at 1:26 is a very cool thing! (As you know, Fred said in the NY Post article that he hadn't experienced any hauntings. Then again, as an engineer, even if something strange occurred he might have had a logical explanation for it!!)

    3. I guess Harry has finally "left the building." :)

  3. Ha! But who knows, John? Maybe he decided to relocate to Catalina!