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Is this Beijing building really haunted?

By Ke Feng, CNN
October 31, 2013 -- Updated 0420 GMT (1220 HKT)
This locally famous "haunted house" is on one of the busiest streets in Beijing. Now that Halloween has rolled around, locals are flocking to the century-old building for seasonal thrills. This locally famous "haunted house" is on one of the busiest streets in Beijing. Now that Halloween has rolled around, locals are flocking to the century-old building for seasonal thrills.
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Building no. 81
Caution: This place is haunted. Maybe
Sound effect-equipped
What phantom wouldn't want to live here?
The ghosts of bureaucracy
Halloween's popularity grows in Beijing
Scared yet?
Not everything is authentic
House of birthday horrors
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A century-old 'haunted' building on busy Beijing road is attracting Halloween thrill seekers
  • Legend says building haunted by people who died mysteriously on the property
  • Current owner claims it's not really haunted, police say no record of deaths

Beijing (CNN) -- In recent years Halloween has become a big deal in Beijing, with locals and foreigners hitting up dozens of themed parties around the city in their wackiest costumes.

Some, however, seek out something truly macabre -- an authentic haunted house.

Among the freakier options in the city is a building simply called "no. 81."

Unlike your average haunted house, found hidden in some dark alley or unlit street, this one sits on one of Beijing's busiest thoroughfares -- Chaoyangmen Inner Street.

The area is famous for its Western-style clubs, restaurants and concerts.

But these days No. 81 has been giving the street a ghoulish boost due to its alleged ghostly residents.

Decrepit is kind of scary

"The only word to describe that house is 'decrepit'," says Guo Tao, a former resident of the neighborhood.

Macabre Halloween display are increasingly turning heads in China.

"The broken windows, the crawling ivies ... not many people want to stop at that place."

The building has grown in infamy. Beijing taxi drivers have no trouble finding it when you tell them you're looking for the haunted house on Chaoyangmen.

Numerous mentions online have made it a popular site for young adventurers.

"I came here to celebrate my birthday," said a middle school girl visiting the building last week. "Almost all of my friends have been here, and I thought it would be nice to come here for some fun, especially as Halloween is approaching."

With theme parks getting more expensive, more young people are opting to get a "free ride" in the city's old, broken buildings, ignoring 'Danger! Do not enter' signs in the front.

Next to the "danger" sign at No. 81, there's a more intriguing handwritten warning on a window pane: "There are ghosts."

Is the place even haunted?

Building no. 81 was built in 1910 to serve as a language center and rest area.

When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, administrative departments moved in and used the building for offices.

Local resident Guo says that in the 2000s, the building was abandoned due to a lack of funding.

Over the last decade, it's deteriorated to its current state, giving the building an eerie edge that's led many to assume -- or hope -- that it's haunted.

Where do the ghost tales come from?

Various accounts are making the rounds, but the commonly accepted yarn has it that a number of people have unexpectedly died on the property, including workers, adventure-seekers and other innocents who for some reason or other made their way into the building.

Spooky as it all sounds, a recent Xinhua state-run news agency interview with local police attempted to clear up the rumors, saying no deaths were reported to have ever taken place in the building.

Meanwhile, the company that currently owns the building told Xinhua that its famously haunted space isn't actually haunted at all.

Ghosts or no ghosts, for young adventurers the place is still a spooky destination -- especially around Halloween.

"I heard the building is going to be demolished or renovated soon," said one student who recently visited the site. "I'm not sure if it's true, but I really wanted to take a look before it changes."

Not freaky enough for you? Other ghoulish options in the Chinese capital include a haunted walking tour or the Beijing ghosts tour.

Susan Wang contributed to this report.

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