Ashmore Estates repurposed under new ownership


Katie Smith, Online Editor

The haunted attractions traditionally made available at Ashmore Estates in the month of October will no longer be provided due to increasingly strict Illinois laws regulating haunted houses.

However, the building will remain open for tours and paranormal investigations, current owner Robbin Terry said.

Terry purchased the building in May, despite significant damage to the roof and support beams after a 2013 storm with winds between 80-100 mph tore through the town.

“I came over in April and looked at it and it was a mess. They were doing a haunted attraction and they had stuff everywhere,” he said.

Rather than opening its doors as a haunted attraction, Terry will screen movies, give tours, and have an open investigation on Halloween, in addition to the tours and investigations available through Terry on a regular basis.

Terry said a force beyond his understanding compelled him to make the purchase.

“I went through. I just felt like there was something pulling at my arms saying, ‘Buy this; help us,’” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily the spirits, they don’t need any help – it was the building.”

Earlier in the year, visitors to the building became ill with histoplasmosis, a respiratory infection that develops after inhaling fungus spores found in bird feces. Terry attributes any related cases of the infection to a pigeon inhabitance present before he purchased the building.

“When I bought it there was no roof on the back. The birds would fly in and out the back. It was like a freeway,” Terry said.

For 10 years the building only had one installed window.

“We cleaned the whole place out,” he said. “Since then we’ve had probably 300 or more people through the building and we haven’t had a problem.”

Terry has spent every weekend at the building since he purchased it in May, making repairs including new siding, doors, windows and roofing.

Physical renovation was only part Terry’s responsibility for Ashmore Estates, he said.

A believer in the spiritual world, Terry hopes to complete his repairs while remaining respectful of any lives that were lost during the building’s day as a poor house and asylum.

“We’re trying to put it back to the way it was when they were here,” he said.

“When I bought it there was no doubt in my mind. I was not even thinking about opening it up as a haunted attraction.”

Terry began his process by removing disrespectful graffiti left over from the building’s time as a haunted attraction.

“The graffiti on some of the walls in here, like the word die, I found some of them and painted over them because I think that is disrespectful,” he said. “Those people — they have passed away.”

Katie Smith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]