UNL’s temple of terror; a haunted house with a history

 

Dillon Martinez as the "chainsawing clown" lurks, waiting for another group of victims.

Dillon Martinez as the "chainsawing clown" lurks, waiting for another group of victims.

Story and photos by C.L. Sill, NewsNetNebraska

Some years ago there was a theater professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln named Dallas.

He was an aging fellow with a short fuse. Fond of screeching chairs across the floor and hurling books at underperforming students. He didn’t put up with any guff.

Then one night he died at his desk.

And like any self-respecting teacher would, he came back to haunt the students. Or so they say.

The Temple building, home of UNL’s theater department, is filled with stories like this. Their rich history of strange occurrences and possible paranormal activity has led them to open their very own haunted house. Aptly named the “Temple of Terror,” this student run attraction is taking place this week Monday through Wednesday.

“People love this stuff, I love this stuff,” said David Fox, an undergraduate student who is helping run the haunted house.

Ramping up the exposure

The event has been held off and on for years, but Fox said this time around they want to up the scale of things.

“We’re taking everything that was a weak point last year and we’re strengthening it,” he said.

In hopes of a better turnout, the house tour has been made longer this year and the promotion of the event has increased dramatically. Graduate student David Tousley said not promoting the event in weeks leading up to opening night last year was a big mistake.

“It worked really well last year and it was fun,” he said. “But I come from an advertising background and I thought ‘we gotta get some flyers or something.’”

So far this plan has worked as opening night of this years event pulled in around 700 dollars, matching the total amount of money raised at last year’s “Temple of Terror.”

Yet, through all the work Tousley and Fox have put in this year, the best promotion for the event may be something they had nothing to do with, the history of the building itself.

Opening night

In the "prop shop." Things aren't going well for the project on the table.

In the "prop shop." Things aren't going well for the project on the table.

Monday night was stereotypically October, chilly with a little fog and some light rain. It was kind of creepy. And it was perfect for the opening night of the “Temple of Terror.”

Small groups of students and families packed the entry way of the Temple building awaiting a ride to the 3rd floor, and to the beginning of the haunted house.

Children looked nervously at their parents, students calmly shrugged off the chill running down their spin and acted like they weren’t anxious. A tour guide named Desiree was giving a history of her own strange encounters in Temple.

“I was walking through the attic and the power suddenly went out,” she says. “I looked up and there was a pair of leather gloves hanging from the ceiling, swinging back and forth.”

A run in with Dallas? Maybe.

The elevator door opens and they crowd in. The door shuts and the group isn’t seen again until they emerge out an exit on the other side of the building, looking a little shaken and sweating a touch more than when they were last seen.

Worth the trip?

A group is toured through the prop shop.

A group is toured through the prop shop.

“For being student run, that was really good,” said UNL student Megan Merrill. “It wasn’t really obvious when someone was going to jump out.”

Allison Wilson notes the house was scary, yet family friendly.

“It wasn’t over the top,” she said. “The kids had fun too.”

Mimi Potter, part of the same group, chimes in with agreement.

“It was just right,” she said. “No one peed their pants.”

 

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