Terrifying Texas

It's October, and you know what that means: it's time to get freaky!

This week we're highlighting some scary attractions in the Lone Star state. Hey, it's a big place.

OUT OF TOWN

The Munster Mansion

The Munster Mansion, photo taken from Facebook

The Munster Mansion, photo taken from Facebook

Just beyond the southern suburbs of Dallas is the little town of Waxahachie. Known as the “Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas,” Waxahachie is also famous for a spooky attraction: the Munster Mansion—a replica from the 1960s sitcom The Munsters.

That’s right. Sandra and Charles McKee spent nine years transforming their Victorian home into the beloved mansion on 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

The re-creation was a labor of love—one that involved intense research (no floor plan existed, so the couple watched all 70 episodes of the series to develop one) and insane attention to detail.

Charity Event at Munster Mansion, photo taken from Facebook

Charity Event at Munster Mansion, photo taken from Facebook

The mansion includes the infamous oak staircase, which raises up to unveil Spot, Eddie’s pet dragon; the coffin-shaped telephone booth; Grandpa’s electric chair; Grandpa’s lab (and the trapdoor that leads to it); and so much more!

Since this is the McKees' residence, the house is not open to visitors year-round. However, once a year, the couple hosts a charity event and invites guests to tour their abode. While we couldn’t find any scheduled tours on the Munster Mansion website, previous events have taken place in October, specifically Halloween!

Website: http://munstermansion.com/

Screams Halloween Theme Park

Screams Halloween Theme Park, photo by Richard

Screams Halloween Theme Park, photo by Richard

Located along a desolate farm road in Waxahachie, TX, Screams is a one-of-a-kind experience for the avid haunted house goer. It's a Halloween-lover's dream (or nightmare) if you love getting spooked and startled. The park features 5 haunted houses—Castle of the Doomed, Hotel of Horror, CarnEvil Clown Maze, Ghoulish Graveyard, and 3-D Pirates of Peril Point—that [successfully] aim to scare the pants off of you. Enter at your own risk!

For those not willing to brave the haunted houses, the park offers plenty else to do, like a climbing tower, scary-oke (aptly named, but hells yes), live music, theme-related vendors and activities, rides, games, and a souvenir shop. [Did we mention they also serve beer?] Oh, and there are creepy characters roaming the grounds, looking to scare their next victim, so watch your back!

The park is open Fridays and Saturdays in October, from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Entrance fee is $27 (or $20 if you have a discount coupon) with group discounts available. We highly recommend visiting Screams in Waxahachie if you get the chance. You can even visit the Munster House, which is also on our list!

Screams Halloween Theme Park, photo by Richard

Screams Halloween Theme Park, photo by Richard

Screams® Halloween Theme Park, just 30 min south of Dallas in Waxahachie - Haunted Houses and a whole lot more! Open Friday & Saturday nights in October.

LOCAL

In the midst of the DIY revolution, you have to ask yourself one question when planning your Halloween activities: why should I pay someone to scare me when I can scare myself for free? What follows is a list of haunted places in San Antonio. Take an evening and drive by each one and see whether or not they live up to the hype. Some, like the asylum, are on private property and don't allow trespassing. It'll be up to you to decide how scared you want to be. I hear a night in Bexar County lockup can be pretty scary, but that may not be the type of scare you're looking for. I don't think they have good candy.

The Southwestern Insane Asylum

Southwestern Insane Asylum Post Card

Southwestern Insane Asylum Post Card

Opened in 1892, the Asylum was once home to the city's and neighboring areas' mentally ill, or “insane/lunatics” as they were called at the time. Over the years it grew to house as many as 2,732 patients and employed 450 people. After doing some research online, I found a great description from Mix 96.1. Check it out below:

“There are currently four structures still standing. A guard shack or security housing, the main office building and home for well behaved patients, a maintenance building, and the disciplinary unit for the bad patients—the largest building. According to locals the property was permanently abandoned in 1996 for unknown reasons. Some say the building hadn't been used as a hospital for quite some time, and that it had become a nursing home. Other reports on the Internet from those who have been inside the building wonder if it was used for some governmental purpose, such as a fire department or fire training location. Their reasoning . . . the hundreds of pages and files on fire reports strewn about the place. Whatever it was when they finally abandoned the place, they left in a hurry. There are apparently many pieces of equipment left behind, and a storage room that is full of unopened boxes. In the 'Disciplinary' building there are still file cabinets full of charts and patient information, and some evidence jars.

"According to those who have been there, the disciplinary unit is the most bizarre building of all. Most of it is still intact, there is a room with padded walls, and it was in this building that the electroshock therapy took place. . . . Back in the '40s when this was the method of choice, many patients died at the San Antonio Insane Asylum from the procedure. Hundreds of patients who either had no family or no money—or were in a nonverbal state and had no identity—are all buried on the property out behind the buildings in unmarked graves.

"There is very little information surrounding the San Antonio Insane Asylum. No one seems to know what went on there or why it was abandoned. The site is heavily guarded and there is a constant police presence—not to mention the man who lives across the street and shoots his shotgun up in the air to scare anyone who tries to get in. Some say that he owns some of the property, which is why he shoots. We still cannot confirm this information.

"To warn you and give you more reason NOT to go to the Insane Asylum, White Supremacist groups apparently frequent the main building for meetings or ceremonies. It is a constant place for squatters and the homeless, and many say that because the grass is so high, Texas Rattle Snakes are all over the place. NOT TO MENTION IT IS PRIVATE PROPERTY AND YOU WILL BE GIVEN A TICKET AND/OR JAIL TIME FOR TRESPASSING.”

Hertzberg Circus Museum

Before the Briscoe Western Art Museum moved in, the building sitting at 210 W. Market Street was home to the Hertzberg Circus Museum, a place I, along with a lot of other San Antonians, was thoroughly amused and creeped out by. My father would take us here once a year to visit Tom Thumb's wedding cake and carriage and stare in amazement at the miniature circus under glass. He would also, as he loved to do, tell us stories of how the museum was haunted and warn us to watch our backs while we were in there.

Image from mysa.com

Image from mysa.com

I did some digging online and found this great article from the Express News. Check it out and then go check out the Briscoe Museum and see if any of the ghosts remained or if they all packed up in Tom Thumb's carriage and moved to the Witte.

“[T]he land on which the former museum stands has had some interesting past lives. Before it was the Hertzberg Circus Museum . . . the building at 210 W. Market St. was the main San Antonio Public Library, successor to the Carnegie Library built around the turn of the last century. Going back further to a tragic event of the mid-1800s, there was a house on the riverside property. As legend has it, that's where the hauntings began.

It was the home of John McMullen. . . . His successful career came to an unlucky end Jan. 20, 1853. A thief may have entered the wealthy man's home or, some say, a greedy adopted son cut McMullen's throat and made off with some of his possessions. McMullen's restless spirit is said to "walk the hallways of the library building that was built on the site of his old home. . . .

[S]everal members of the Hertzberg staff . . . experienced what felt like paranormal phenomena: cold spots in the building's river-level basement and elsewhere, a shadowy apparition, a shimmering light, loud banging voices and soft whispers.

St. Anthony Hotel

One of the most-talked about haunted locations in San Antonio is the St. Anthony Hotel. It was home to a gruesome crime back in the '60s that involved a hotel bathtub and a meat grinder . . . We've included a link below to an article on the Examiner's website that tells all the gory details.

Also located in the St. Anthony Hotel is the new bar Haunt. Our very own Catherine Contreras visited recently as part of the She's Crafty Podcast duo to interview the barkeep and explore the hotel. Be sure to download the episode, which is slated to be released by the end of the month.

The St. Anthony Hotel Post Card

The St. Anthony Hotel Post Card

Have fun this Halloween season! And if you have a paranormal experience you want to share, leave a comment below!