Haunted History

Our historic building holds decades of secrets and haunted history.

ScareHouse is located at 118 Locust St in Etna, PA. The ScareHouse has embraced and integrated the historical foundations, secrets, and atmosphere of this unique building into the design of our haunted attraction. 

The building was first constructed in 1915 to house the First National Bank of Etna. While the first floor of the building was home to First National Bank, with an entrance on Butler Street, the second and third floors were dedicated to employees of Spangs/Chalfont, one of the town's primary employers. 

Employees had available, through the entrance on Locust St, a swimming pool, a full gymnasium, restaurant, kitchen, library and an all purpose meeting room.

 

Enter the Elks

Although Spangs/Chalfont mill employees paid only nominal sums for membership, utilization of these facilities was minimal and by the late 1920's Spangs was prepared to abandon the building.  

This provided the opportunity for the Elks, who first incorporated Etna Lodge No. 932 in 1904 on 319 Butler Street, to move into the First National Bank Building in September of 1929.

The Elks, or Benevolent and Protective order of Elks, were originally known as the Jolly Corks. 

"Starting as a group of actors and entertainers bent on having fun AND avoiding a New York Excise tax in 1867 (Sundays were the ‘dry’ day), this convivial group called themselves the Jolly Corks (for a clever trick with corks they performed on the uninitiated to win rounds of drinks). That same year as membership grew, some members saw the vision to become more helpful in the community....In February of 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was chartered–and with a great new spirit and direction, began to help Veterans, Scouting, Scholarships and more–wherever Charity, Justice and Brotherly Love were needed!"

 

Lodge No. 932

Etna Lodge No. 932 enjoyed over 70 years at 118 Locust St. Their membership grew quickly during the first half of the 20th century, in part because of Pennsylvania's 'dry' heritage which forbid the sale of alcoholic beverages in public facilities past midnight on Saturday or Sunday. 

On the weekends the lodge was filled with hundreds of patrons who came to dance and dine. The Elks lodge managed to survive through the challenging times of World War I, the Depression of the 30's, the flood of 1936, and World War II. The lodge provided a critical source of support, camaraderie, and community engagement for the citizens of Etna.

 

Growing Membership

In 1947 with membership continuing to grow, the facility was expanded to include 8 bowling alleys, grill and games room, and improvements to their meeting rooms and library. Members went to Lodge meetings on Tuesdays, enjoyed bowling on Thursdays or Fridays while their wives bowled Monday or Wednesday. The lodge participated in many charities and scholarship programs and received national honors from the Elks national order, including winning the state Ritual Contest twice (1957, 1965), and having one of their own members appointed to the high office of Grand Secretary of the Benevolent and Protective order of Elks in 1954.

 

In their own words

Howard Schran, who joined the Lodge in 1949 sat down with ScareHouse staff to talk about his experiences with the Elks 932 and his involvement of over 50 years. Howard occupied just about every position in the lodge, from state secretary, to treasure, and to exalted leader. He shared some enlightening stories of what it was like in the peak days of membership, "Most nights in the hay day you couldn't find a seat at the bar."  Stories include a recap of their late night adventures with dancing, roller skating, bowling, and even a zip line they constructed from the balcony on the 4th floor down to the stage on the 3rd floor.  On the release of an air cannon they would send a stuffed dummy down the zip line to knock an unsuspecting member off their feet.

 

The Boy Who Fell

One especially touching story involves an evening when one of the members of the Boy Scouts, who were allowed to meet on the fourth floor, went on an adventure into the hidden catwalks in the ceiling. 

One evening this particularly adventurous scout attempted to navigate the catwalks and fell. Down on the 3rd floor the bartender heard the commotion and jumped to action and actually caught the falling scout as he fell through the drop ceiling above.

 

Friendship

While Schran recalled fun stories of parties and entertainment it was really the friendships and community that kept him and others involved with the lodge. Lasting friendships were built as members supported each other and their families through challenging times of war and the shifting economic base in Pittsburgh. Schran sadly recalls the declining membership into the 1990s and 2000's which eventually led to the lodges closure in 2006. No. 932 merged with the Sharpsburg lodge which also was struggling with declining membership and eventually was absorbed by the Oakmont lodge.

 

Last Man's Club

The Elks lodge No. 932 also was host to a very special group called 'The Last Man's Club'. This club, founded in 1947, was only open to WWII veterans who were also members of the Elks Lodge No. 932. Membership was open for only a few months after which no one could ever join the club. The mission of the club was to host a space for survivors to come together once a year for a meeting, dinner, and night of entertainment. The Last Man's club had very strict directions regarding attendance--if a member was not able to attend the annual meeting they must submit an excuse in writing, failure to do so resulted in expulsion from the group. The meeting minutes from this group have been archived at the Heinz History Museum, review of these minutes does clearly note that members were expelled for failure to follow protocol.

 

Last Man's Club Traditions

The group invited a number of famed guests in for their entertainment. In 1962 they hosted the ex-welter weight champion of the world, Fritzie Zivic in addition to a wide variety of ventriloquists, comedians, and speakers on a variety of topics.  Review of the minutes from the 50 years of meetings reveals the good-hearted nature of the group:
From April 25th, 1962:

"Jim Rylands then took the floor and complaint that the whiskey being served was under 12 years of age and that the table covers were put on in reverse. The complaints were given the normal attention--none. ...Jim then complained that the Commander mouths off too much, and that the pie ala mode was served without pie. This was referred to the non-existent steering committee." 

The group also provided integral support for families of lost members of the Last Man's Club. From Article 8 of the Groups Articles of Formation: 'It will be the duty of each member to attend the funeral of each deceased member (if able) and it will be the duty of the Secretary to see that an appropriate floral tribute be sent to the home of the deceased member regardless of the place where the remains lay'. 

 

The 'Trophy'

The Last Man's Club also including the sharing of a 'Trophy' or 'Treasure'. The Trophy was a decanter of aged bourbon. This trophy was entrusted to one member of the club each year, at which time that member would have their name engraved on the decanter. At the final meeting of the Last Man's Club in 1996, their 50th anniversary, the bottle was opened and each surviving member (nine present) toasted to their legacy.

 

Legacy

The group enjoyed many evenings in what is now the upstairs wardrobe and makeup area for The ScareHouse.  There are still many reminders of the Elks Lodge No. 932 and the Last Man's Club throughout the building.  On quiet nights you can still hear the laughter and revelry echoing through the floors of this historical building. Many locals and haunt employees suggest that the building itself is haunted, and most of our crew members have experienced multiple encounters with strange sights and sounds, possible paranormal phenomenon.