History of ScareHouse Building
The 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, comradery, and community engagement for the citizens of Etna.
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 Margee Kerr 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 exulted 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.
These catwalks are precarious and a challenge for even the most agile. 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.
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.Read The ScareHouse History Page Two