Chicago: Side Trips

Raven's Grin Inn Haunted House

Raven Jim Warfield
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With its wrought-iron storefronts and old Victorian structures, the town of Mount Carroll, Ill., already feels like a horror-movie set. This is where you'll find Raven's Grin Inn, a 19th-century mansion that's been turned into a wacky house of horrors. The house belongs to Jim Warfield (he lives in it), and, fittingly, sits just a block away from a cemetery in the small New England-esque town. Warfield saved the house from demolition 20 years ago, and has filled it with a crazy hodge-podge of his freaky old art projects, like "the last Elvis impersonator" who sits decaying in a wheelchair; relics like the "Poe-Lease" car, a black-and-white 1950s-era Hudson car protruding out of the second floor (three other autos also stick out of the house); and plenty of creaky, spooky secret passages. Oh, and then there are the slides: The four-story Bad Dream Bed-Slide takes you screaming from the second floor all the way to the wine cellar in the haunted basement, where sightings of the Lady in White have been reported.

Warfield gives regular tours of the house year-round. But if you dare, you can have your run of the place and play hide-and-seek. That requires groups of 10 people (or just pay for 10 at $10 per person per hour), so bring friends or try to corral some locals. For hide-and-seek, off-season visits and during the month of October, you'll have to call in advance for reservations. Before you make the 140-mile drive, calling ahead is a good idea in general — much like the tour, Warfield's daily messages are a kick.

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