If you’re a fan of fantasy books, you’re probably well aware that Harry Potter sleeps in a secret cubbyhole under the stairs. Of course, when he goes to school at Hogwarts, there are plenty of secret passages to explore there, too.

Does your house have any secret passages? Wouldn’t it be cool if it did? Would you believe that some houses actually do have secret passages? It’s true!

Throughout history, all sorts of homes have been built with secret passageways, hidden rooms, and storage spaces out of plain sight. For some people, the reasons for these secret places are practical. Perhaps they fear they will one day need a place to hide from invaders. Or maybe they have valuables that need a secure storage spot.

For others, secret areas may be nothing more than a whimsical preference. After all, who wouldn’t like to be able to use a secret passageway to access a hidden area of the house? And who could resist having a bookcase that moves to reveal a secret room?

Here are some examples of interesting secret passageways, hidden rooms, and concealed storage spaces from some incredible houses:

  • Singer Sewing Machine Company president Commodore Frederick G. Bourne built a five-story castle on Dark Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River in New York. Filled with secret passageways, Singer Castle, as it is known now, was used by Bourne to host elaborate parties. So why the secret passageways? According to legend, Bourne liked to sneak out of his own parties so he could spy on his guests to find out what they would say about him when he wasn’t around!
  • Doug Carlston, founder of gaming software company Broderbund, created a home that was like one of his gaming worlds brought to life. The home contained over 1,700 feet of secret passageways and 1,100 square feet of hidden catacombs. Traveling through this maze of secret corridors, one can find treasure chests, caves, and even a “room of doom” that can only be escaped by swimming through a chute or jumping through a waterfall!
  • In 1710, Captain Jonathan Hunt built a house in Northampton, Massachusetts. He included a secret passageway as a family hiding spot, because he feared attacks from local Native Americans. Today, the house is a residence hall on the campus of Smith College. Every year, college students enjoy searching for the secret passageway!
  • The Octagon House in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was built in 1856 by trader Isaac Brown. The 12-room house was built like a fort with nine secret passageways and a hidden room, because Brown feared Native American attacks since the area was on the frontier at that time. Over time, the secret passageways and hidden room were put to good use as a stop on the Underground Railroad. They were a perfect place to hide runaway African-American slaves headed north.

35 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (30 votes, avg. 4.13 out of 5)
  1. Hi Wonderopolis!

    We have some connections in our houses. We have secret passage ways, hideouts, and doors!
    Some of us wish we had our own secret passageway! Some of us didn’t know secret passageways were real!
    We predict that tomorrows wonder is about a nose, a dog sniffing, a Blood Hound, a bear sniffing, animals, a mystery person, a mouse, and a canine.

    • Good morning, Froggy 1! Happy Tuesday to you! :)

      It sounds like our Wonder Friends have some super cool ways to explore your own houses– how neat! How did you discover these hideouts, doors and passage ways? What fun things to discover– Wonder is everywhere! :)

      Perhaps you can write a story about these cool places in your homes… you can share the story about how you are an explorer on a mission! :)

      We look forward to tomorrow’s Wonder and we are so glad you’ve been using your SUPER imaginations! Great guesses, Wonder Friends! :)

    • Have you discovered a super cool secret passage in your house, Noah? We Wonder where they could be hidden? :)

      Even if you don’t have a secret door or passage, you can pretend! We love using our imaginations to go on adventures with great Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • Nice work, Rebecca, you’ve been using your awesome imagination and today’s context clues to form your guess! We think it’s a woof-tastic prediction indeed! :)

  2. HELLO!

    Today’s Wonder was awesome because it showed us the secret passageways. We thought it was cool because some of us have secret spots in our homes. Our teacher told us that a moving bookcase is a way to conceal a secret spot. We saw another one where you lifted a bed and went down into a secret spot.

    We think tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will be about the Flu. canines or more specifically bloodhounds.

    Ms. G’s Class

    • Good afternoon, Wonder Friends in Ms. G’s Class! What a fun Wonder today! We love your cool new findings about secret passages and how they are hidden! A moving bookcase, a painting hiding a secret window or safe, a hidden doorway! We are excited to imagine all these cool passage ways, and we’re glad you shared your own! :)

      We look forward to WONDERing with you tomorrow! Sniff, sniff, we think you’re on the right track! See you tomorrow! :)

    • WOWZA Sally, that sure is a lot of secret passages! We Wonder if you counted all of them? How cool, we love learning about all the secret doors and passages in buildings all over the world. Thank you for sharing your Wonder comment with us today! Can you predict tomorrow’s wet Wonder? :)

  3. Thoughts: WOW! I never heard of secret passage before and now I learned a lot of things! I thought this video was very interesting by the way.

    Connections: This reminds me of my teacher, Mrs. Hess, read to the class about Harry Potter because Harry Potter’s house has a lot secret passages. This reminds me of my friend, Micheal Nguyen, (not my brother) because Micheal’s family has a secret passage near his house. P.S. His friends didn’t know Micheal has a secret passage.

    Predictions: How can monkeys and dogs sniff? Who invented noses? What kinds of foods can you sniff the most? What is your favorite food? Am I missing a nose? (<- haha) Why do some people eat foods that are fat? Can you lose weight that is fat? Can you eat more foods when you are skinny?

    • Kathy, we’re so glad you’re here today! Welcome back, Wonder Friend! We loved reading your thoughts, connections and predictions to today’s secretive Wonder! It’s so cool that you made so many connections to Harry Potter’s house and your friend Micheal’s house!

      Sniff, sniff, what’s that you smell? We think you’re on the right track with your Wonder prediction! What are your favorite types of scents, Kathy? :)

  4. If you have a lot of hallways and passageways in your house, how would you know where the room is?

    • Wouldn’t that be super, Caleb? Perhaps you can find a cool place in your house and use your imagination… you can create a secret passage way in your house! Grab a notebook, a pencil and some markers and create your very own secret passage way! We hope you have fun WONDERing! :)

    • How neat, Jesse T! How did you discover this secret passage in your house? It sounds like you enjoy exploring– good for you! We’re happy you’re here today and we are excited you shared your comment! If you could design a castle, what kind of secret passage would you like to build? :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis I think the video was cool and I wish I had my one secret passage that was in a big castle and it can be cool to have one. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about dogs’ noses.


    • Hey Jason, we’re glad you’re here! Thanks for telling us how much you enjoyed today’s Wonder video– we bet you’re doing a SUPER job of using your imagination to create a secret passage in this gigantic castle! If you could create this castle, where would you put it? Would it be out in the country, or perhaps in the middle of the city? Would it be in the United States, Canada, or maybe Europe?

      We look forward to tomorrow’s sniffing Wonder, Jason, and we hope to see you then! Great guess! :)

  6. Thoughts, Connections, Questions: Mrs. VanDusen shared about her sophomore history teacher who found a secret passage in his house. The secret passage connected a home in Michigan to (probably) somewhere in Canada during the Prohibition. It was also used during the Underground Railroad. Josh- My house is over 300 years old and has a big circle that used to be a tunnel that lead to somewhere and was a hideout for slaves on the Underground Railroad. Bryan- How many secret tunnels have been found in people’s houses? Hayden- Have any of the Wonderopolis people found a secret passage in their house? David- Why do people have secret passage ways? Cassie- Why are secret passages so popular? Michael- This is a connection to the clue for tomorrow: My dog is color blind.

    Predictions: Michael- Why do police use dogs? David- Why do animals sniff? Bryan- How do dogs have a good sense of smell? Aaliyah- Why do dogs make such good pets? Hayden- How do police dogs get trained? Sierra- Why are dogs used to sniff out things? Cassie- What does a dog have to do to become a police dog?

    • Good afternoon to our terrific Wonder Friends in Mrs. VanDusen’s Class! We are in awe of your awesome connections today! It sounds like you are experts when it comes to secret passages– how neat! :)

      Secret passage ways are mysterious, eerie, and sometimes sneaky! We Wonder how many secret passage ways are still hidden?! Perhaps only the people who created them know they exist! Can you imagine!?

      Thank you for visiting us today, we always enjoy WONDERing with you: Josh, Bryan, Hayden, David, Cassie, Michael, Aaliyah, and Sierra! Tomorrow’s Wonder might be slobbery, sniff sniff! :)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis
    I liked today’s video. I wish I had a secret passage in my house and If did I will go to that secret passage every day because having a secret passage is cool. I think tomorrow wonder is going to about police dog nose or how noses work. See you tomorrow .


    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your awesome comment today! We think it would awesome to have a secret hideaway passage at home, too! But even if it doesn’t exist in real life, that doesn’t mean we can’t WONDER about one! Using your imagination, what kind of secret passage would you build? Would it be underground, or would it be a super tiny secret door with a key? You can grab a pencil, some paper, and create your very own passage! Or, you can use your imagination to Wonder about what you would keep in this secret area! :)

      We love your guesses, Jennifer! We think you’re on the right track! :)

    • Thanks Destiny! We’re happy you’re here today! Do you have a secret passage in your home or school? :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,
    We made lots of connections to todays wonder. One of us even had a dream that we had a secret passageway in our own house. One of our students wishes he had a secret passage with silver and gold. We wonder why don’t all houses have secret passage ways?

    • That’s awesome to hear, Mrs. Barboza’s Class! We love when WONDERing helps you form cool connections and questions – it’s so much fun! :)

      We wish all houses had secret passage ways, too, but it’s okay, we can use our imaginations if we don’t have one of our own! From dreams to drawing to imagining our own passage ways, we can create all kinds of cool places… with silver and gold hidden inside!

      Thanks for visiting us today, we’ll see you soon! :)

    • Hey there Maya, we think secret passage ways are super cool, too! It’s okay if you don’t have a secret passage way at home, you can use your imagination to create your very own secret passage. What will it look like? Will it be aboveground or underground? What will you keep there? Is it a good spot for WONDERing? Use your awesome imagination, Maya! :)

  9. Well well,it’s been a long time since I read and leave a comment in the article. So, I once read a book about this woman and live together in a house, but her husband passed away. So, the woman keep expanding her house, because the sounds help her fall asleep. She had many doors, rooms, and stairs, and also a few floors. When she passed away, it became a tourist attraction, but be careful, some doors lead to the outside, and once you open a door, you will find more doors and rooms and hallways. :-P :-P :-D :-)

    • Hello Wonder Friend Carlos, we’re glad you’re here! It makes us smile when our Wonder Friends come back to visit and leave an awesome comment! HOORAY for you! :)

      Carlos, this book you read sounds very cool, and we’re glad you shared your story with us. You did a super job painting the picture of the house for us– so many rooms, stairs, doors, and floors! This must have been one BIG house! :) We Wonder if this book is fiction or non-fiction? What kind of secret passage way would you build in your home? :)

    • What a great guess, Megan! We think you’re on the right page, and we love learning all about the cool secret passages that exist… and it sounds like your school is full of them! How neat! Thanks for sharing your comment, Megan! Have a fantastic Friday! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Does your house have a secret passage?
  • What are some of the most interesting types of secret passages?
  • What type of secret passage would you build into a house?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Shhh! Today’s Wonder of the Day was super-secret. But you can go ahead and share it with a friend or family member now. In fact, ask someone special to help you explore one or more of the following fun activities:

  • Can you think of a favorite story from your childhood that featured a secret passageway? Where did it go? What was its purpose? Talk with friends and family members about their favorite stories that have featured secret passageways. Did any of the stories feature a secret passageway as a critical plot element? If you love stories with secret passageways, ask a local librarian to recommend some other stories you might like!
  • Do you think it would be easy to create a house with a secret passage? Think about what kind of engineering challenges secret passageways might create. Take a look around your own house. What features could you use to conceal a secret room or passageway? Do you think engineers would enjoy designing buildings with secret passageways? Why or why not?
  • So does your house have any secret passages? If your house is like most, it probably doesn’t, but it might have some cool “secret” places like an attic or a basement. Take some time to daydream about what kind of secret passages you would include if you were building a brand new house from scratch today. Would you build a room under the stairs where you could hide or read a book in peace and quiet? How about a special passageway that would allow you to escape to the backyard directly from your bedroom? Maybe a bookcase that hides a super-secret study room would be right up your alley. Think about the WONDERful possibilities that could be created and then draw a picture of your dream house with its secret passageways. Feel free to upload your picture to Facebook to share with your Wonder Friends. You never know when your idea might inspire someone else!

Still Wondering

Building a Sod House? It’s not as easy as it seems! In this interactive activity taken from the “OurStory” series produced by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, children will attempt to build a sod house by making choices regarding the construction of their house.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a closer look at a good sniffer!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.