A Memphis haunted house with an inspiring story

The quiet Arlington, Tennessee suburb of Memphis is known for its small town feel, friendly neighbors, and distinct “everyone knows everyone” feel. On a quiet street in Arlington, there’s a haunted house that makes its own impression… but it’s only “haunted” for a limited time, and its story is just as heartwarming as it is frightening.

We spoke with the owner, Michael, who is organizing his Haunted House Tour to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. What started out as a fun way to give back to the community has become something of a tribute to his late wife, Jenn, who sadly passed away shortly after the first annual haunted tour. We spoke to Michael about his inspiration, his process, and what drives him forward.

In the photo, the haunted house! Delightfully scary, right?

7 questions to Michael, the owner of the haunted house

How long have you been hosting this haunted house?

Our guided haunted house tour started in 2019. Prior to that, we did some static interactive exhibits while handing out candy to the kids. This whole Halloween decorating explosion happened in 2015 when I got home from work and noticed Jenn had bought a few Dollar Tree tombstones that were crumbling in the wind. I was like, “there has to be a way to make this more stable and more realistic”… and that’s how we got there. It all started with one gravestone and the desire to create something special.

We’re a military family and moved around a lot, but we decided Arlington was a place where we could take root and grow old. If we stay, why not build a haunted house? We can build it and raise money for St. Jude. Let’s go crazy. It took three months of hard work, but we did it by raising $ 614 from over 700 generous visitors in the first year!

We couldn’t wait to see what next year had in store for us. Sadly, my beautiful wife, Jennifer, passed away unexpectedly in January 2020, so the next year never came for her. It has been a difficult year losing my wife and my best friend. The isolation of COVID has further complicated grief and loss. Alone and heartbroken, I almost gave up on the Halloween dream. How could I do this without her? With only a week before Halloween, I dreamed of Jenn. I felt compelled to continue this tradition. For the community, for me, for her, for us. That night we raised over $ 1,600. I only hope it made her smile and made her proud.

Pictured is Michael’s late wife Jenn in her Halloween outfit.

What inspired you to create a haunted house?

The reason I do this, and I continue to do this, is to build memories. There are so many people looking forward to this every year. It is now their family tradition. For me, looking back, the memories of my mom and dad spending hours on my costumes and makeup are such wonderful memories – bonding moments that have had a profound impact on my life and love for everything. which is scary.

I’m doing this because I want to give back. I want people to have the same feeling about Halloween that I have when I think about all of my memories and experiences. But the main reason is that I want my son to know that this is a tradition that I do for us and for his mother, because I know that she would like us to do this. I almost gave up. I almost quit. I keep doing this to be a role model for my son, to show him that anything is possible. I want him to know that even when you are in the dark, you can still be the light for someone else.

Do you make your own Halloween decorations, or do you buy them?

It’s a mix of the two. I am inspired to build props from YouTube and Halloween groups on Facebook. I usually start building new things in August. Headstones are a combination of hand building and store buying. I would say it is 75% made and 25% bought. I prefer to do things myself.

The majority of Michael’s accessories are homemade!

The haunted house is quite a business. Where do you put everything when it’s not Halloween season?

I put everything here. I had plywood laid over the exposed rafters of the attic. This added about 600 square feet of space. Almost everything is made from insulating foam – strong enough, but light enough to lift. When building or buying decorations, I always think about how to store them. Making sure things break down into smaller components is essential.

RELATED: 7 Podcasts Perfect For The Halloween Season

Do you keep the same theme every year?

The theme is “Dark Crossing Hotel”. I keep the same theme but just add more each year. I want it to be as beautiful by day as it is at night. I want to give something new to our returning visitors every year.

Memphis haunted house

The theme of the Haunted House Tour is “Dark Crossing Hotel”. Enter if you dare!

Are you doing everything for Christmas too?

Oh no, because I would go to a huge rabbit hole. Besides, where should I put everything?

RELATED: The Spookiest, Most Haunted Places In The South

How much did you raise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?

Just over $ 3,200. Not only do we receive nightly cash donations, but people all over the world have donated when I share on Facebook.

If you would like to visit the Haunted House at 6279 Burren Way on Halloween night, volunteer or send a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, please email [email protected] for more information!

All photos courtesy of Michael! Now get out there and get scared for a good cause!

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Raymond I. Langston

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