Terror of Tallahassee's History
Above: The original North Monroe location before demolition.
Terror of Tallahassee has its roots to Tallahassee's first commercial haunt, built by Kurt Kuersteiner of Monsterwax Trading Cards and Brian McAfee of McAfee Construction Company in 1999. It was originally called "The Mystery Playhouse of Terror " and was located at 2576 North Monroe Street (see photo). Brian left in 2000 to work on other McAfee Construction projects, but Monsterwax has continued to sponsor the haunt ever since. The building was previously an old restaurant called The Brooklyn Pasta Factory (and before that, Eastside Marios). In 2003, the building was torn down to provide parking for Goodwill, so the haunt was moved to a new location at 826 West Gaines Street.
Above: The first of 3 connected warehouse that formed the Terror Of Tallahassee 2nd location (from 2003-2013) before it was also demolished.
That location had three giant warehouses (all connected to each other), plus a 4th unattached building, and included a large fenced-in yard in the back. It was originally an F-R-M. grain business built next to the railroad tracks. Years later, the tracks were buried and the main building was converted to The Milk Bar nightclub. In 2000, it was converted again, this time into a haunted house (Nightmares) which closed after two seasons. It reopened in 2002 under new management as Bloodlines, but closed again after one season. In 2003 (the same year his first haunt was demolished), Kuersteiner invited Terror On Highway 12 (operated by Tanner Enterprises) to combine forces and reopen the Gaines Street haunt under the new name of Terror of Tallahassee. (It was successful, but it was very long commute for the Tanners, so they returned to their own Havana haunt the following year. (But they eventually returned to Tallahassee as Castle Dread to haunt the Tallahassee Mall!)
In 2005, Kuersteiner traveled across the country to film surviving Spook Show magicians for a documentary on their craft. He met with Phillip Morris, Harry Wise, Roy Huston and other pioneers of macabre magic. Many of their trademark illusions were revived at the haunt, along with the classic actor-based scares and interactive themes. But while the new Gaines Street location grew to 20,000 square feet (by adding another 8,000 feet in outside exhibits like "the Hallucination Hangar"), rumors of a massive new developments along the street threatened to sell the building and force yet another move. In early 2014, that threat became a reality, and The Terror was notified it had just two months to find a new location and move (or lose any inside contents). Kuersteiner asked his staff if they wanted to attempt a move, given all the chaos a last minute search and move would require-- or just close shop. The response was overwhelming. They wanted to continue The Terror.
A desperate search began to secure a new location. Several sites were considered: House of Plywood at 618 McDonnell Drive in Railroad Square Art Park was a contender (but was too small). The closed Capital Cash & Carry hardware store at 1021 Railroad Avenue was also investigated, but its owners were not unified about what to do with it. An old Work Release Center at 3188 Springhill Road was explored, but it was miles away, the auction date was uncertain, as so was the price. However, there was an old, abandoned stone factory just 1/2 mile down the road (at 1408 Lake Bradford Road) from Gaines Street. It appeared deceptively small in the front, but was large and roomy in the back... although most those rooms were filled with heavy rock and marble! Otherwise, it was ideal. In just sixty days, it was secured and all the old props, walls, and even the old screws and fire system, were removed from the old haunt and piled into the new location (while all the stone was moved out). The new location was also near the railroad tracks-- ones that are still in service and add late night freight horns, and a deep rumbling train vibration at no extra charge!
Above: The latest (and last?) location for The Terror is on Lake Bradford Road. Terror Of Tallahassee3
But moving was only the start. A race against time ensued to get everything up and running in time for Halloween. After lots of spilled sweat, lost sleep, and borrowed money-- the new location was finally approved by city officials on October 18th, 2014... and so The Terror continues in its third incarnation.
Although the original Monroe street building and the 2nd Gaines Street building have both been demolished, their memory still endures. (And so do many old photographs and stories.) They formed the foundation of a continuing Halloween tradition at THE TERROR OF TALLAHASSEE!
Below: Kuersteiner and ghoul (Shawn Keeney) outside the original Mystery Playhouse of Terror on North Monroe street, before the name and location change in 2003.
To read archived articles & ads about the haunt, go here.
If you wish to learn about our limited edition trading card series shot on location at both locations, go here.
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