Dark House is a podcast hosted by Alyssa Fiorentino and Hadley Mendelsohn, the style and design editors at House Beautiful. Combining true crime, history, and interior design with a touch of the paranormal, the hosts of the podcast explore the dark and twisted stories that lie within the walls of four infamous homes.
Old houses are filled with stories; tales that talk about the people who lived there, and the incidents that happened. Alyssa and Hadley want to peel back the wallpapers of these residences and uncover the stories hidden there.
The podcast gained a lot of popularity with listeners around the world because of the fascinating stories it told, and the way the hosts infused each tale with a touch of drama and humor.
The Creators Behind the Dark House Podcast
Alyssa Fiorentino is a former senior editor of content strategy at House Beautiful. Currently, she works as the director of brand strategy and audience development at House Beautiful + Delish. She covers several topics such as design trends and home decor. She graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Arts (BA). Apart from hosting the Dark House podcast, she is also the co-founder of Partier, a fashion brand that makes customized apparel for weddings, bachelorette parties, and other events. She has also held the position of social media manager at magazines like vogue and is a pop culture addict.
Hadley Mendelsohn is a senior design editor at House Beautiful. She writes on topics such as interior design, travel, social issues, beauty, fashion, relationships, and witches. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in narrative studies and went on to get a degree in English literature from the Queen Mary University of London. Some of her previous work experiences include being part of the editorial team at Who What Wear and Man Repeller. Her hobbies include reading, researching ghost stories, and checking out vintage shops.
Both of the hosts bonded over the love they shared for all things paranormal. Their interest in the supernatural stemmed from their childhood, especially from the stories they heard surrounding their own homes. It was this common interest that led to the birth of the Dark House podcast. Initially, the podcast was only supposed to be a 5-episode limited series. However, the fame it received led them to come back with a second season.
Themes and Topics Covered
In Dark House, Alyssa and Hadley handpick a few houses across the United States – houses that have been said to be haunted, and have found themselves to be stigmatized as a result – and uncover the stories behind them. Each of these houses have some sort of dark history.
The hosts break down various elements of these domestic residences – such as the architectural makeup, interior design, and location – and explore how each of these contribute to the legends surrounding them. They also talk about the notable players surrounding the legends – such as the occupants of the house, the murders (if any) – and what role they play in the ghost stories. In short, we get to understand the twisted stories behind certain homes and why these tales are important to us.
10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, CA
10050 Cielo Drive was perched on a private location up Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills, serving as a retreat for Hollywood A-list stars. Spread out across 3200 square feet, this house had a very rustic style that made it look like it had come straight out of a fairytale. It had been home to several of Hollywood’s stars. But its good fortune soon came to an end.
In 1969, Charles Manson, and his group of followers known as his “family,” murdered Sharon Tate, a rising actress, and a few of her friends who had gathered at the house, forever turning it into a murder house. The house was later torn down and rebuilt, but it couldn’t escape its dark past. Several people reported strange incidents that had happened to them there.
In this episode, the hosts discuss the house’s history, the events that led up to the murders, as well as Manson and his history to help us understand the murders better. Following this, they invite Scott Michaels, a celebrity death historian, to discuss the case and address the question: is the place really cursed?
Ackley House, Nyack, NY
The Ackley House, located at 1 LaVeta Place in Nyack, NY, was the first house to be declared “legally haunted” by the U.S. No murders took place here, but there have been several stories told by the Ackleys of the residence being haunted by many friendly ghosts.
When the Ackleys decided to sell the house, they found the new buyers claiming that they were never made aware of the place’s rumors. A legal battle ensued. So, what really happened to the house in the end? Alyssa and Hadley discuss it in-depth in this episode. They are also accompanied by Eric Goldman, a legal scholar, to explain the legal side of it.
Reach of the Dark House Podcast
The hosts of the Dark House podcast, Alyssa Fiorentino and Hadley Mendelsohn, have 3k and 1.8k followers on Instagram respectively.
As of January 2023, Dark House was ranked at #1665 on Apple Podcasts in the U.S.
Based on this analysis, we estimated that the Dark House podcast receives 1k – 2k listens every time an episode goes out across Apple, Google, Spotify, and YouTube podcast networks.
The Format of the Podcast
The episodes usually begin with something that captures the listeners’ attention. For example: a single dialogue by someone who has been the victim of the hauntings. Then, they move on to talking about the house – details about its architecture, the interior design, the location, and so on.
After that, comes the actual story. The costs start right from the beginning – who built the house, who was the first tenant, the events leading up to the murders/ hauntings, and what came after. They also discuss how each of the elements might have contributed to the spookiness behind the house.
This podcast features several guests that shed some expert light into the discussion for us. They are often interior designers, paranormal investigators, ghost hunters, psychic mediums, criminal psychology profilers, professors, and even horror show producers.
Some of the guests they have featured in the past year include Casey Lytle, a psychology instructor, Mikel Welch, an interior designer who is also the co-host of Murder House Flip, Eric Goldman, a legal scholar, Scott Michales, a celebrity death historian, and Sally Quinn, who was the former owner of Grey Gardens, a house they featured in one of the podcast’s episodes.
Reception and Impact
The podcast became popular among listeners because it is equal amounts spooky and entertaining. The hosts do a really good job of researching every aspect of the stories and presenting it to us. The conversation between them flows naturally and they make it a point of telling us how spooked they were when they first began uncovering the mysteries.