From about 2001-2012, I put together a haunted house for my mother’s after-school and summer recreational program, as a fundraiser. The first 3-4 years, were in her building, but in the long run, it was taking away everyday space from the kids dealing with their snack, homework and arts/crafts space, and we didn’t want to do that.  Then we did one year at our local fairgrounds, and it was nice but too big an area for what we needed.

Then a newer place opened up that would be for local benefits, concerts, parties, etc. Still too big for an area with cords running in directions because we had to be “careful” of the venue. So we decided to look for other options, the only kicker was that we would have to have a place just the right size, willing to donate electricity and possibly heat.

So, a place in our town heard of us looking for a new venue. The Elks Lodge in town said they would love it if we would do our haunted house up on their top floor (an old ballroom.)  The first year was…..interesting. I had heard of the rumored “Haunted Elks Building” And I had always been a believer, but no experiences had ever happened, so didn’t think anything of it.  The way we built our haunted house was building the whole maze from scratch.

Four 2X4’s in a square, screw them together, stand them up, in a winding hall-like fashion, and then more 2X4’s up on top to brace them together. Around 384, 2X4’s were donated every year by a local lumberyard, along with professional plastic tarps donated by a local Industry Company. Then we would line the hallway like a maze with the plastic on the inside and staple them up, from floor to top.

Plus the lights, cobwebs and different decorations that came along with haunted houses. And always having a tour guide so no butt-head bullies would try to knock over our actors or decorations or people in general. Then the high school and college kids and even grownups would volunteer as actors.

Every year we had a theme. Horror movies, deadly nursery rhymes, stories from the US, stories from around the world. And I always had an amazing crew.  The bartender at the time was showing us around. Where the bathrooms were, where we could put all of our stuff and when we could start building. You would come up the three flights of stairs from the street level, up to the 3rd-floor landing. To the right: a hallway.

In front of you: French doors leading to a sitting parlor, another hallway, and the ballroom. The left: the main French doors to the ballroom, and two small flights of stairs leading to a storage room, an old apartment, and the balcony to the ballroom.  We didn’t notice any activity until we started building the walls of the maze. I had an amazing crew every year, but that first year we were in there, we knocked out that maze in about a week and a half.

I would design the maze, come up with the stories and how many actors we would need in July, have actor meetings around August, and start building in September. With time for the actors to decorate their costumes that way we would have enough time to tune fine everything.  So, by this time, we had been in the building for about two months now, and then when building was underway, is when things started happening. 

I had a crew of 7-8 people helping put all the walls together. We would make an assembly line and put down all the 2X4’s in squares, all along the floor, and then another couple of people would go around and start screwing them together. In about an hour, we had over half the walls put together.

We laid out the next set of walls to be screwed together, and then we decided to grab some dinner. We told the bartender downstairs we would be right back. We ate and came back, poking my head into the bar telling the bartender we were back. He looked at me funny and said, “you mean you’re back…again….?” I said no, we just came back from dinner. He then sighed and said, “come on, we’ll see what happened.” He didn’t say anything else as we went up the two more flight of stairs; he only came into the ballroom to see all our 2X4’s scattered all over the floor. I looked at the bartender, and he said, “This is why I had thought you had come back…..” That was just first of many encounters.

Then, our string of lights that we would lay in a straight line from untangling them from the box, of course, coming back into the room to find them all bunched up into a huge ball in the middle of the ballroom. Little things getting moved around here and there. My iPod station was getting moved around on the stage and turned on and off. 

But the most convincing story to date in the last 5-6 years we were there…. My friend in college was staying in town for fall break, and she had heard that I was doing this haunted house, and she wanted to see what all we did. The bartender was there and we asked him to give us “the tour” (he was the one that some experiences happened to, he had a couple of pictures and just enjoyed doing these tours especially around the fall and Halloween season).

We toured to the right, saw the ladies parlor, with the restrooms and an old time bar, a back hallway with an old fashioned long bar, another small storage room, then turning around, another long hallway with 3 big storage rooms and another restroom, then leading into that first sitting room from before. We were headed down the back hallway with the long bar, and my friend called my cell and asked when he and our other friends should stop by and help. The bartender was in front of me about 5-6 feet, and my friend was about 6-7 feet behind me.

The bartender was leading us down the hallway to the three storage rooms and bathroom leading into the sitting room. At the time I was wearing this headband that had clips on top of it, and then you could twist your hair and put them on these clips for extra height. I was in the middle of the hallway at this time; I told my friend I’d call him when my friend and I were done with dinner.

I hung up and felt my friend pull on my headband and pull it almost all the way out. I turned around expecting her to have snuck up on me and cussed at her, but she was standing in the doorway, to the hallway...around 8-10 feet behind me. My friends face turned white as-a-you-know-what. The bartender heard me, turned around and quickly ushered us out of the top floor.

My friend and the bartender examined my head closer now that we were in the bar with more light. The headband had ripped out my hair in different areas to make my scalp bleed. The bartender said, “He’s never hurt anyone before…” Ever since then in 2005/2006, I have never set foot in that hallway.  I have many stories that go along with each year we did our haunted house at the Elks Lodge from 2005-2012, every year something else happened. But that first year was the most memorable to ingrain in me, what spirits can do, and then the last year, a whole different set of stories.



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