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H.H. Holmes Murder Castle

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art ()

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Dr. Henry H. Holmes was a philanthropist in Chicago during the late 1800's. He worked as a pharmacist until he took over the business and became owner. He bought a plot of land across from his drugstore and built a three-level business, where he rented out the lower level for different businesses. The people of Englewood soon called his property the "Castle" and would later be called the "Murder Castle". The top two floors were off limits until the World's Fair in 1893, where he than rented out rooms, mostly to young woman. By 1896, Holmes was executed for his crimes. The "Murder Castle" was sold and was going to be a museum for Holmes' crimes but burned down before this could happen. It was later torn down to make way for the Englewood Post Office.

Herman Webster Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes.
H.H. Holmes "Murder Castle" on 63rd and Wallace St in 1893.
Englewood Wood Post Office in Chicago, Illinois.

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  Herman Webster Mudgett was well known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes or Dr. H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer. Along with being a serial killer, he was a swindler, forger, arsonist, thief, kidnapper, and bigamist. Holmes attended the University of Michigan after studying medicine at a school in Vermont. In 1885, Holmes moved to Chicago and got a job at a pharmacy. As time went on the owner of the pharmacy grew ill and passed away. Holmes wanted the pharmacy for himself and conned the widower of the owner to sell the pharmacy to him. He succeeds.

Holmes saw an opportunity to build the "castle" across the pharmacy on an empty plot of land. In 1887, he started the construction of his three-story building with a cellar. No one knew of Homes' building plans during the construction. Many people came and went during construction of the "Castle" named by the people of the town because of its looks. Because of the many employees, Holmes was able to create the delusion that some rooms were not there or rooms with trapdoors. The "Castle" was finally completed in 1892.

The first floor was open to the public with stores, one of the stores being a new pharmacy ran by Homes himself and other stores run by merchants of different trades. Homes announced that for the World's Fair in 1893, he was going to open the top floors for guests to stay in while visiting. He had the idea to rent rooms to unexpected victims, mostly woman whom he raped and killed.

The most confusing floor was the second. It contained more than 50 doors and at least 6 hallways. Only thirty-five rooms were actual bedrooms used for guests while the other rooms were soundproofed. Some were even lined with “asbestos-coated steel plates”. The rooms came with low ceilings and some were as small as closets. There were also gas pipes constructed to the rooms to gas the occupants and as well as peepholes. Holmes put alarms in rooms so that occupants could not escape and if they did, he would know. There were trapdoors, secret passageways, hidden closets, and even a shaft down to the cellar to dispose of the bodies and such.   

The third floor was confusing but furnished, guests may have had trouble locating rooms at all on the third floor. Rooms did not appear to be normal, they were scattered and oddly angled. The lighting was poor and gas lamps were spaced. Not only were the rooms confusing, there were dead ends and staircases led nowhere. Holmes had a key for every locked door.

Holmes was arrested in 1894 and confessed to 28 murders along with insurance fraud. He was executed on May 7, 1896 by hanging. The "Castle" was built by a man named A.M. Clark, who wanted to make the "Castle" onto a museum of H.H. Holmes. People began calling it the "Murder Castle". But in 1894 the "Castle" caught on fire and the building was destroyed except that the first floor was salvageable. It was built into a sign store and bookstore until it sold again in 1937. It was then torn down and built into the Englewood Post Office that is there today.    

Sources

Benzkofer, Stephan. Chicago's First Serial Killer. Chicago Tribune. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 01, 2017. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-serial-killer-white-city-flashback-1026-20141025-story.html

Glenn, Alan. A double dose of the macabre. Michigan Today. October 22, 2013. Accessed October 01, 2017. http://michigantoday.umich.edu/a-double-dose-of-the-macabre/

Whalen, Lauren. A History Of Chicago's Murder Castle. Chicagolist. November 02, 1015. Accessed October 01, 2017. http://chicagoist.com/2015/11/02/i_was_born_with_the_devil_in_me_a_h.php.


 


Address
611 W 63rd St
Chicago, Illinois 60621
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This location was created on 2017-10-01 by Kirsandra Travis .   It was last updated on 2017-10-09 by Kirsandra Travis .

This entry has been viewed 115 times within the past year

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