CHICAGO (CBS) — From this weekend through Halloween, suburban Rosemont is home to a haunted house based on America’s first known serial killer.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, at the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, Dr. H.H. Holmes was living a secret life in the Englewood neighborhood mansion he built. Its interior contained torture chambers where he murdered his 200 victims.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports
Holmes confessed to 27 murders but was suspected in some 200. There is even a recent theory that Holmes also was London’s Jack the Ripper.
Now, Chicago-area dentist and history buff Mark Kaschube has designed a haunted house based on what later became known as “the murder castle” for the exhibit “Screams in the Park.”
“I love Chicago history. I’ve done the ghost tours. I’ve done all that kind of stuff. Haunted houses are right up my alley,” Kaschube said.
The exhibit will be on display in the parking garage basement of MB Financial Park, at 9703 Bryn Mawr Ave. in Rosemont.
“Thirty-three rooms – huge – it takes you at least 30 to 40 minutes to get through it,” Kaschube said. “Most haunted houses are short and sweet. This one, you get to spend some time down there.”
Kaschube says he has spent two years trying to make his Holmes haunted house, authentic.
“He had gas chambers, he had secret doors that he could just push bodies down chutes into his basement,” he said.
Holmes’ three-story, block-long castle was located at 63rd and Wallace streets – now the site of a post office. He opened it as a hotel for visitors to the World’s Fair a few miles away in Jackson Park and along the Midway Plaisance.
But in the castle, Holmes tortured and killed employees and hotel guests – most of them women – turning on the gas in some victims’ rooms and leaving others to suffocate in a bank vault.
Down the basement chute, Holmes dissected and stripped the bodies of their flesh, and sold the skeletons off to medical schools.
Holmes’ horrifying story is best known from the best-selling book, The Devil in the White City by author Erik Larson.