Boo Factor Rises with “Literally, a Haunted House”

A preview of a Demonic Possession themed haunted house that raises money for the Restoration of the Culbertson Mansion


Candace Leilani

Holly Johnson, one of the directors of The Friends of the Culbertson Mansion and the creature featured left, gave some encouraging words to other hauntly, death looking actors for opening night Friday, Sept. 28.

Candace Leilani, Staff Reporter

You stand, signing your life away as you are blessed by Father Dan with holy water before being confronted with the humans prepared to scare you. But it is all for a good cause! In exchange of your screams, frightening feelings and jumps of unexpected laughter, you are helping restore what was the Culbertson Mansion of Downtown New Albany, Indiana.

Gary Collins, one of the 7 directors of “The Friends of the Culbertson Mansion,” has been working all year to make the 3 story carriage house, turned haunted house, something from another world. His 17 years working at the Culbertson Mansion site, out of his 33-34 years within the haunting industry, has given him many chances and hours — over 2,000 hours a year to be exact — to create a themed haunt that changes each year. Every room is rethemed, redesigned, rebuilt and revamped with volunteers every year.

“When we met up last November for this year’s theme, I said we should take on a demonic possession theme from an idea from a Halloween trade show,” Collins said.

Each year, volunteers try out for casting parts in the haunted house. Volunteers from a private group chat of 96 help suggest act ideas, room designs and other ideas that should be incorporated into the theme.

1985 was the first year the Culbertson Mansion began hosting haunted houses. Since then, the haunted houses have brought in over $1 million and 50,000 dollars towards restoring the mansion to its original glory. The haunted house’s sole reason to be is to bring in money to restore the mansion that may or may not be haunted itself.

“We run this haunt strictly as a fundraiser to restore the mansion,” Collins said.

Jessica Stavros, southeast regional director of the Indiana State Museums and Historic Sites, shared how much this haunt has really given towards the mansion. “The haunt raises between $20 to $25,000 dollars a year. I always tell people we’ve raised over $1 million by chasing people with a chainsaw.”

Stavros and Collins gloat over that fact that the Culbertson Haunted House is the longest running haunt in Kentuckiana at 34 years going, and now it is the only haunt in Southern Indiana.

Visit the Culbertson Mansion and see the renovations that the haunted house has funded. The Mansion is open Tuesday to Sunday 10AM-5PM.

“Literally, a Haunted House,” the Demonic Possession Themed attraction runs throughout the month of October on Friday and Saturday nights from 7-9PM until the 26th of October.