Capital Region Scrapbook: Haunted house helped museum scare up funds

Capital Region Scrapbook turns the pages back to the fall of 1972, when the Friends of the Schenecta
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Categories: Life & Arts

There might have been 13 ghosts in the weird house on Broadway during the fall of 1972.

Probably not — the 13 rooms in the place were already booked with witches, goblins and vampires.

The Friends of the Schenectady Museum filled the building at 240 Broadway with spooky sensations. The fright nights before Halloween helped raise funds for a children’s educational program. Museum officials contracted with nocturnal oddities for several autumn engagements during the 1970s.

In 1973, the sheet and scepter set took over the Schenectady Police Department’s former headquarters at Clinton and Smith streets. Opening day was a monster — 4,200 adults and kids paid 50 cents admission to challenge the unknown. Another 25 cents bought passage into the “super scare” in the “dungeon.”

“This is so scary” said Melissa Mosher, as she investigated weird noises and dark tunnels on Broadway. It wasn’t all that ghastly for the eight-year-old. She ran through the house by herself, and left her family behind.

Kevin Burns played the Frankenstein monster, and the gig did nothing for his love life. He made attempts to kiss teen girls, but would have had better luck mugging the Mummy. “No thanks, mister, I can do without it!” shouted one girl, who ran to the next room.

Burns didn’t turn on his universal charm for younger visitors. The kids got less scary experiences, hellos and Halloween cheer from friendly witches and their friends.

“Do you want to shake hands?” asked one witch, to Christie Powers, 7.

“No,” Christie answered, promptly.

Schenectady Gazette reporter Meg Betts, who went undercover inside the spook house, learned more than 300 volunteers worked on the project. It sounded like teens had the most fun.

“One of the most effective rooms is the ‘graveyard,’ where three Niskayuna High School girls, painted a dull shade of gray and wearing white gloves, periodically rise out of their graves on the floor and clutch at the feet of passers-by,” Betts wrote. “It is probably the most quickly traveled room in the whole haunted house.”

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