Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Murder Castle - Today! (or, Good Grief - MORE H.H. Holmes)
NOTE: this site has been replaced by a much bigger, more detailed one that I wrote after a trip into the basement of the post office with the History Channel in June, 2012. CLICK HERE for the new one!
The murder castle of H.H. Holmes was torn down in 1938. There were rumors that it was haunted while it was still standing, and a few stories now circulate about the basement of the current building on the grounds.
The government bought it in order to put up a post office on the site. This one, to be specific:
INotice the fallout shelter sign on the door - apparently, nowadays people go to the basement to LIVE (at least in theory). t doesn't occupy the EXACT same footprint - the left hand side of the building would have been in the middle of Wallace Street in the Murder Castle's time - but it does occupy a portion of the grounds. The drugstore Holmes ran would have been on the right hand side, possibly stretching into the empty space besides the station. Dr. Holden's pharmacy, the other drug store Holmes took over, was across the street (in what is now an Aldi parking lot). As far as we know, not a bit of structure from either building remains, though I suspect we might find some foundation if we dug the place out. I don't think they'll be letting us do THAT anytime soon, though (update: the basement below IS said to be partly original - we'll have a full report late in 2012).
Here's a diagram showing what overlap there was, based on overlaying three versions of the Sanborn fire insurance maps. The "Castle" is in blue:
As you can see, there's SOME overlap, but not a lot. The mysterious gas tank said to be used for cremations was well away from the post office itself. But I always say that if someone can come back from the dead, surely they can walk down a hall, too, right? Check back on this site for photos soon.
I DID just have a woman on the tour who lived near the castle when she was young - when it was still standing. She said remembered feeling spooked by the place - enough so that she'd cross the street so as not to walk by the site - but didn't know why until decades later.