Keelung Ghost House 基隆鬼屋

Keelung Ghost House 基隆鬼屋
Outside the infamous Keelung Ghost House at the foot of the harbour.

Keelung Ghost House 基隆鬼屋, formally the Línkāiqún Mansion 林開群洋樓 (and sometimes Keelung Lin Residence 基隆林宅), is one of the most famous ruins in Taiwan. Much like Minxiong Ghost House 民雄鬼屋 and Xinglin General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院, it commonly appears on lists of the most haunted places on the island. This ghostly reputation makes it difficult to separate credible information from the many tall tales that are told, particularly through the dark glass of machine translation.

From what I gather it was built in the 1930s by the wealthy Lin family who resided there for many years. In the 1950s at least part of it was turned into a business by the name of Majestic Bar 美琪酒吧 that catered to American soldiers1. It is at this point in history that the ghost story begins. The usual tale involves a pregnant local woman scorned by her American lover who sets the bar on fire, injuring or even killing dozens trapped inside. Naturally there are accounts of seeing strange lights at night, spectral figures with charred faces in the broken windows, and all the other trappings of ghost stories worldwide.

Whatever the case, the building was later abandoned and now looks completely out of place on a block of more modern buildings. Given the prime location—at the foot of the harbour almost at the very center of downtown—it is natural to speculate about why the owners wouldn’t redevelop it. My guess is that the building is now owned by a sizable number of descendants of the original owner who can’t agree on what to do with the place (a common story explaining Japanese colonial era ruins all over Taiwan—see Jukuiju for another great example of this).

You may notice that I’ve not posted more than a single image. The reason for this is simple: I haven’t yet found a way inside. This is highly unusual for ruins in Taiwan, almost all of which are accessible to those who look closely, but it’s also located on one of the busiest street corners in the city. Perhaps another time—and until then, this postcard.

  1. There should be some photos of this place around somewhere but I haven’t found any great ones yet. This post contains one image of the old house in the early 1960s; have a look at photo 19. The mansion also appears in The Sand Pebbles, a 1966 movie partly set in Keelung; see this still

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