Theatrical quality was on full display during my recent visit to Blood Manor, the must-see Halloween experience in downtown Manhattan. Just walking up to the entrance is daunting itself with its spooky and creepy design, and characters standing about already waiting to scare the bejesus out of its victims. A crowd had already started queuing up as my companion – fearless daughter, Emily – and I took a few deep breaths, and summoned up all the bravery and courage we could find and prepared to step through the doorway. “You go first,” Emily said, which I thought was absolutely hilarious since my taking the lead was like sending a babe into the woods. But, as the elder, I agreed for if anything was going to happen, let them take me first.
(Photo: MJ Hanley-Goff)
Evidently, since I am writing this, we survived the tour. Interesting to note, besides the ghoulish route, was that we were being escorted through what is actually an historic, and reportedly haunted, landmark building on Broadway, between Leonard and Franklin Streets. Dating back to 1852, it was used by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady for his portrait studio business. In fact, notes the press release, “The portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the $5 bill was shot right [here] in the studio.”
Photo Credit: Union Square Advertising
In the off-season, there are reports of shrieks of terror late at night, flashes of an old-fashioned camera, and shadows darting across the windows says Blood Manor’s owner, Jim Lorenzo. A former Blood Manor employee, he says, reported seeing a character in a Civil War uniform, then realized none of the characters were dressed in a uniform. “She left and never came back.”
Photo Credit: Michael William Bernstein, A Certain Light Photography
This night, shrieks were indeed heard, most coming from myself and my companion. The layout is so creative, and the chills and surprises are over the top. Kudos all around, from the design, the characters, the acrobatics, the costumes, and truly all-around spookiness! And, that my friend, is all you are going to get out of me. Experience it yourself, and then YOU can boast that you survived Blood Manor.
bloodmanor.com (recommended for ages 14 and over)
The Mysterious Book Shop
Photo by MJ Hanley-Goff
For those who prefer a more academic approach to Halloween and the mysterious, make a seasonal visit to The Mysterious Bookshop, downtown at 58 Warren Street. Originally located in midtown, it was mysterious to think that I’d not come upon it before.
Photo by MJ Hanley-Goff
Considered the “oldest mysterious specialist bookstore in America,” you’ll find mystery books of all kinds, from the oldest to the newest, neatly displayed in what I imagined was what Sherlock Holmes’ own home library would look like, lots of wood, high shelves, neatly laid out, and with sliding ladders so staffers can reach that one particular book customers have been searching for.
Top photo credit: Michael William Bernstein, A Certain Light Photography