Memories Of The Raven
Jim Warfield of the Raven's Grin Inn shares some
of his memories from working the Raven's Grin Inn
By Jim Warfield
And now for something different?
This haunted attraction was bought by myself, Jim Warfield, sixteen
ago to be eventually personified as my vision of what would constitute
entertaining experience for people trusting enough to give me some of
money (and time) to take them through this seven-level 1870 inn.
What I found out after getting the place that it already was a
house (just according to former tenants and most anyone living in the
over the age of 70!)
The day before I signed the papers, I was wading in the wine cellar in
1 1/2 foot of accumulated rain water(the house hadn't been lived in for
years, no electricity, means no sump pump!), my boot leaked and later
parent's house my grandmother asked how I had gotten my foot wet, after
told her, she had real terror in her normally very calm voice and said,
"Don't go down there(the wine cellar), that room has a bottomless pit
"Grandma, if there was such a thing, wouldn't all of the water run
and the room be dry?"
(I am still searching for the "Bottomless Pit" in that room, it would
quite a display, especially when the creatures that fell into it centuries
could be made to struggle to claw their way up it's side walls , using
small, tender children as "bait", WHAT A SHOW!)
Ironically, this room has had a ghost in it ever since at least 1925,
I know of.(Maybe she has the combination to open the "Bottomless Pit"?)
read that 65% of gossip is unusually true, maybe I should be more
when I'm working down there....
"Visit the Ravens Grin Inn in downtown Mount Carroll, Illinois, a
village in the middle of a big cornfield, that just so happens to have
sub-basement portal to another world underneath of it!?"
Does this sound like Madison Ave. ? Hollywood?
The bigger question is, what sort of tourists would show up here
such a promised thing? This is scary!
People all ask me if I'm afraid living in this house, I'm a lot more
than afraid. Almost everyone I have ever been related to is buried
my west window on the hill overlooking the town(city graveyard)(I bury
others like ex-wives, bad customers, etc on the other side of my house,
c, no markers, but don't tell anybody.)
I try to entertain people here, not terrorize or make them lose their
lunch, I have a steady summer business of families out for a weekend
trip(2 1/2 hours from Chicago, we is.) We have "Hyde & Shriek" parties
groups of ten or more, by reservation.
Any scare or startle , I really try to offset with a laugh .
People love to see their friends get "the treatment", and sometimes
help to scare them, this feature has brought so many back here over the
A tour of this house can require from one to one and a half hours , so
possibly the experiences here may tend to stick in their memories and
after all, it has to be "Worth-the-Drive", a ten minute haunted house
wouldn't qualify as a "destination" for most of these people, this is
why I rely upon my own artwork, and ideas, trying to create something
haven't seen before(because nobody else has it!)
In October when all that I can do is a ten-minute front room routine
night long, I still manage to find some fun for myself. Personally, a
successful front room routine is when I can make them laugh, frighten
then make them laugh again, then scare them yet again , all in about
The sound of people gasping in fear is my favorite customer sound
this means that they are so afraid they either can't scream or don't
scream and give away exactly where they are in the dark room that is
living room , and that they have all seen me drop the big steel bar
over it to securely lock it as they came in.
Throughout a week, I give many different styles of tours through the
because I have so many different groups and types of customers. from
birthday tours for small, nervous children who may have to have their
flashlight in-hand, to elderly who have their own very special needs to
navigate the place, to rowdy screaming wackos who need to meet our
My most fun group is usually either couples out for the night, or
summer-stock actors(the "imagination" factor really gets them going!)
Haunted-House people can be fun, but usually after they've been through
house already once and spent that tour squinting and figuring
out, second time, they relax and enjoy it, as it is meant to be, then
From the start, my ideas of what constitutes a "Haunted House" were
quite a bit outside of the "norm", and even after 16 years of being
business 301 nights a year and a whole lot of Saturday and Sunday
there still are very few things to be found here during the house tour
you may see or find in any other haunted attraction.
Maybe its because my "Monsters" come from a more personal reference
like the Nazi-Babes half naked on top of the almost full-sized Panzer 4
in the upstairs of this house.(O.K., I admit it, the tank wasn't there
I bought the house, I built it!)
When I was growing up in the 1950's. (will Peter Pan ever grow up?) I
see these Men's Magazines that very often had these fantastic,
fictional pictures of these,
"creatures". They were beautiful, yet evil women whipping little dog-face
in a prison camp setting, talk about a "Monster" evoking mixed emotions
the part of the audience, "She's so foxy, yet there's that evil
over her uniform and she's doing bad things to people!"
Admittedly a swastika gets some people vocal when they are about to
this area and all that they see is a swastika, but once they see it in
context of this goofy display, I think any ire stemming from their
political-correctness gets diffused.
This is the historically illustrated account of why the Germans lost
battle for Stalin grad, they forgot their winter uniforms! Bring the
disinterested teenage boys here teacher and history becomes more
So for something really "New and Different" for a haunted attraction,
closed the house to regular tours from 9 O'Clock on ,October 31st and
a "Ghost seekers" event.
After many expressed a lot of extreme interest in doing this and the
cleared (as did their checks!) I had eleven paying patrons for the
For $70.00 per person we all had some very fancy and delicious
and desserts at the Mad Hatter Tea Room which is now just around the
from my house in an antique mall.
The library room there looks like a movie set and we kept an eye on
those old books to see it a whole wall of them would do the "Stooge
Spin-around" or not!
Then we went to my house and I told them in great detail the haunted
history of this house, complete with printed hand outs, then a
of the place, then they divided into groups to spend time in the wine
The second such group of four people had been in that room in total
darkness for 45 minutes when one guy noticed that he could suddenly see
hands in front of him!?
The illumination for this was coming from a glowing mist floating
As all four of them watched, the mist moved back and forth, up and
then eventually went into the solid stone wall they all had their backs
as they sat on a bench, then the mist came out of the wall on the other
of them, took on sort of a reddish hue and continued its show.
They all saw this and it went on for 20 minutes, when they came here
night, there were two skeptics in this group, there were no skeptics
they went home at 4 AM!
I will not have a booth at Transworld this March selling "The Glowing
Display", because I don't know how to do this!
Just as I have never had a "Lady-In-White", floating out of the corner
wine cellar", either, because, no matter what some of my customers
don't know how to do this either!
The main reason that I had this Ghost seekers event was because the
supernatural activity in this house had been becoming so regular here!
Last August there were four nights in a row of such goings-on.
When I have the time and energy, I will tell as much of this haunted
as I can (I ask the customers first, I don't want to waste my efforts
they don't have the time to hear it)
I have never "made up" anything concerning the supernatural here, I
this house and my hope is that maybe someday, someone will be able to
me some answers or insight as to the "Why's" and "When's" of this
stand there and spout fiction would be a waste of my time.
Some of the things that have happened here sound as if they were made
a ten year old child, but they weren't, they actually happened. The
doesn't have to sound believable, after all, because it is the "Truth",
whereas a lie has to really sound believable to have half a chance of
taken as the truth, because it's just a "lie"!
When my now ex-wife would tell me about a voice calling her name in
part of the house above the wine cellar, I admit it, I did believe her,
but then, last August after the voice from the back of the wine cellar
called my name, well, let's just say that it severely modifies your
perspective on such things!
When this name-calling happened, I was walking toward the stairs to
the room, the lights were all on very bright, of course I hesitated
happened, but I continued walking to and then half-way up the stairs, I
turned and said, "Well, after 16 years, you finally know my name!"
(What else could I do?)
Yes, I'm living in the old definition of the term "Haunted House",
big, old creepy house at the edge of town that people are afraid of ,
want to live in or walk too close to, maybe next to the graveyard?"
The graveyard is my westerly neighbor on the next hill, as the leaves
you can see the stones now, look, the tallest one up there just so
to have my last name on it,
"Beelzebub!", err, no, "Warfield, Warfield"!
That stone belongs to my great-great Grandfather, we think that stone
where he spent ALL OF HIS MONEY!?
See me at: hauntedravensgrin.com