The house is called Gracey Manor, according to an address on a wooden crate formerly located nearby in Liberty Square that was added in 2012. The crate was replaced in 2014 with another crate marked "English Tea." The removal of the reference to "Gracey Manor" may be an indication that the name is not canonical. Previously, there was a wooden directional sign in Frontierland that named the house Gastley Mansion, but the sign was removed in either 2011 or 2012. The house is referred to as "The Haunted Mansion" everywhere else in the attraction and its surrounding area (including twice in the narration).
The mansion's external-architecture is designed to resemble "stately old manor houses" from the New York's lower Hudson River Valley in order to generate an atmosphere similar to old ghost stories told by the state's English, Dutch and German Colonists (most notably, Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with stories like Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman).
Despite the intention of making the manor resemble a pre-American Revolution estate, the mansion's real world inspirations like the Joel Rathbone Residence and Pennsylvanian Harry-Packer Mansion were built in Victorian Era. To make it fit in better with it's colonial setting, the mansion's design incorporated more pre-revolutionary design elements such as; upwards thrusting arches, large stone foundations and cornerstones, and the stone/brickwork common to the English Tudor Style. The manor's design in general is made to appear Dutch, something done in order to make it fit in better with it's Sleepy Hollow-inspired atmosphere.
Along with this, this mansion's design was made by imagineer Claude Coats to be much more Gothic and Intimidating than the ride's predeceasing Disneyland counterpart as the original was instructed by Walt Disney to look more appealing to guests. Disney World's Mansion as a result uses Perpendicular Style to make the manor look more towering to guests. It also has it's wings on an open slant to give the house a claw-like appearance that guests walk into.
From the outside, the mansion is a brick and stone Dutch Manor with two floors. The Mansion has a tower and cupola located above the front-doors which guests do not enter from. From where guests enter the mansion (excluding the cupola), six windows are visible; four at the house's front, and two at the far-side of the west-wing. Adjacent to the west-wing is a mausoleum with the crypts of Bluebeard, his wives, and several others. The far-side of the East-Wing has a glass-and-steel structure which serves as the mansion's conservatory. At the top of the tower is a weather-vane ornate with a metal bat. At night lights can be seen moving through the windows and conservatory.
The mansion's gates are built of brick with pawn-like stone structures to ornate them and metalwork connecting the gates with a devil/bat-like design. The plaque found upon the gates identifying the estate as "The Haunted Mansion" is rusted over and brown. Upon entering the guests find themselves at a large patio with a black-hearse pulled by a phantom horse, parked nearby a decrepit bird-fountain. To the west is Pet Cemetery built into a berm and to the east is another burial ground.
These burial grounds feature a Family Plot where one of the families which owned the mansion are laid to rest, often with rhyming and/or humorous epitaphs. The most notable tomb here would be that of one, Master Gracey who has a fresh rose laid on his tombstone every day. Also found here are the crypts of a composer, a mariner and a poetess. A bride's wedding ring can also be found stuck within the pavement.
There are twenty-two known chambers within this Haunted Mansion including (but not necessarily limited to):
- The Foyer
- The Stretching Room
- The Cupola
- The Servants Quarters
- The Portrait Gallery
- The Portrait Corridor
- The Library
- The Music Room
- The Endless Staircase
- The Endless Hallway
- The Conservatory
- The Corridor of Doors
- The Séance Chamber
- The Grand Hall
- The Attic
- Ambassador Xavier's Lounging Lodge
- Madame Leota's Boudoir
- Grandfather McKim's Resting Room
- Uncle Davis's Sleeping Salon
- Master Gracey's Bedchamber
- Colonel Coats' Bivouac Berth
- Prof. Wathel's Reposing Lounge
Gracey Manor is a brick manor located in what is believed to be a small town or village nuzzled in the Hudson River Valley of New York State and according to some locals was built on sacred Native-American burial grounds. The mansion would have been built prior to the 1690s when it would have been owned by the Gracey Family which would come to be buried in Family Plot. During this time a witch who came to the town/village after fleeing prosecution from the Puritans in Salem and would open a shop called Memento Mori. This witch whose name was Leota would come to be very close to the Gracey Family where she was apparently beloved by all and upon her death was buried within the Gracey Family plot.
At some point in time the mansion would become known as "Gastley Mansion", likely having been owned by a family of the same name but knowledge of them remains unknown. At another unspecified point in time a transatlantic man (who was possibly the manor's owner or a head-of-staff) commit suicide within the Mansion's cupola by hanging himself to death and went on to become the estate's "Ghost Host".
By 1877, the Mansion came into the ownership of a wealthy man named George Hightower who is believed have been related to New York City hotel-owner, Harrison Hightower III. George married a beautiful woman named Constance Hatchaway who was secretly a gold-digging serial-killer and was only marrying him for his fortune as she planned on murdering him after the wedding; something which she had already done four times prior with four different wealthy men. Constance succeeded in murdering George either with a blow to the skull with her hatchet or by decapitating him with it, and she subsequently inherited ownership of both his wealth and the Haunted Mansion. With her fortune in blood-money, Constance stashed all the evidence and twisted "souvenirs" from her life of crime within the mansion's attic and went on to live well into her old age. After her own death, she became the Black Widow Bride of the Haunted Mansion.
At another unspecified time in likely either the late-19th century or early-20th century, the mansion was owned by the Dread Family. The family was lead by one Jacob Dread who was a very wealthy man that was killed by his relative Bertie Dread who poisoned him for his fortune. Bertie was shot to death by Jacob's widow Florence through the use of a flintlock as she wanted vengeance on his killing of her husband. Florence was murdered by two twin-children in the family named Wellington and Forsythia Dread as they suffocated Florence to death within a sack of canary-seed. The twins however were murdered in their sleep by Maude who was either a family-member or the twins's governess as she hit their skulls with a hammer. To Maude's dismay however, the matches which she used for hair-pins ignited in her sleep causing her to burn to death.
By the anachronistic-time that the ride takes place, the mansion is occupied by 999 "happy haunts" from all over the world who have come to retire there and the only known mortal resident of the mansion in it's caretaker, Silas Crump.
- This Haunted Mansion's setting was inspired in-large part by the atmosphere of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and the mansion being pre-revolution, Dutch, and located along the lower Hudson River Valley (in notes from Imagineers) are all examples of this influence.
- According to a Disney World urban myth, the design of every chess-piece except the knight is worked into the architecture of the mansion with the knight's absence being due to it always being night in the Haunted Mansion. This is untrue however but there are turrets which do resemble chess-pieces albeit by coincidence.
- This Haunted Mansion is the titular location of the cast-member made unofficial Ghost Gallery storyline. In this story the mansion was built October 31st of 1671 by the town's Dutch Bergermeister, Ub van der Iwerks overtop of native burial-grounds. Construction was plagued by accidents causing Iwerks to go mad and become obsessed with completing the estate himself, accidentally sealing himself in a crypt where he died. In the years to come the house served as army barracks for the American Revolutionary War, a hangout for pirates like Captain Francis Xavier and Whitebeard, and a brothel. In 1871 it was obtained by one Colonel Ronald Stevens in a riverboat card-game who was a wealthy publisher that aimed to renovate the mansion only for it too to be plagued with accidents which drove Stevens mad until he died in a boiler explosion. Stevens's family sold the estate to the American Spiritualist Society which used it to summon spirits for contracts, having summoned at-least 900 spirits before selling the mansion in 1914 after they disbanded. The house was sold to George Gracey Sr. (George Hightower) who was murdered by his wife Mary Gracey (Constance Hatchaway) after he informed her he had an affair. Mary left the country afterwards and the house was inherited by their son George Gracey Jr. (The Ghost Host/Master Gracey) who used it to hold all the macabre artifacts he collected and where he lived with; his melancholy wife Lillian Gracey, his mistress/clairvoyant Madame Leota, his illegitimate daughter with Leota "Little Leota", his pet dog Hellhound, his aunt Victoria Abigail Boufont, his other aunt Elma Belle, his deranged second-cousin Gus Gracey, their live-in organist Wolfgang Elias Furlong (the Organist), the manor's librarian Elizabeth Barrett, and several servants. Over the years many died in murders and accidents including Mistress Lillian causing George to remarry to a wealthy teenaged girl named Emily Cavenaugh who was murdered on their wedding night by the jealous Madame Leota. When George learned about Leota having murdered his wives she decided to try and trap him in her crystal ball only for him to commit suicide first resulting in Leota's own spirit getting trapped within the ball.
- ***Warning. The following contains a quote with an offensive racial slur*** In a removed spiel from the Liberty Square Riverboats, it was suggested that the mansion was built on Native American burial-grounds with the script saying, "You see that brick mansion back over yonder there in the woods? I've heard folks hereabouts say it's haunted. They say it was built on sacred
Indianburial grounds, and now it's filled with spirits".