"Is it haunted? People have been talking about this place for years. There have been several ghost hunters who wanted to investigate it in the past," Poor Farm Market owner Ray Gayhart said about the facility located at 3546 East County Road 100 South, Center Point. "A lot of other people have had creepy experiences here. As for me, if there are ghosts here, I don't bother them and they don't bother me. I don't think its haunted, but it sure is a creepy, creepy place."
Gayhart, and his wife Carol, bought the property in 2001 to create a flea market and auction house.
"We've had so many people tell us we should have a haunted house here because of the history connected to this place," Carol said. "There are a lot of stories about this place."
Built in 1856, for $2,100.25, this is the site of the first Clay County Poor Farm and Infirmary. There was a jail facility as well.
"People who needed a hand up or a place to live could come here," Carol said. "They lived together, worked the farm together."
People who were ill and needed medical attention could also get help at the Infirmary. Those who could be taken care of locally by the nursing staff remained at the farm. If a person needed better medical treatment they were sent to a larger city for care.
"It's said, if a person was worse off and couldn't be taken care of, they were taken to cell blocks," Carol said. "There are a lot of creepy stories about the cell blocks."
Through the years the facility went through several changes after being Clay County's first poor farm. Since he bought the property, Gayhart said he's heard many of the rumors still whispered today about atrocities during its time as an alleged asylum and finally a nursing home until the late 1980s.
"Some people said the nursing home took the worst cases for a reason," Ray said while standing in the dark, damp cellblocks. "Stories have it that those patients who were worst off were put in the cells."
When Christmas In The Park officials attempted to have a haunted house as a fundraiser at a couple of other locations, the Gayhart's made their "haunted house" available.
"It really turned out for the best," CIP Committee Member Peggy Brown told The Brazil Times. "We're centrally located and don't have to worry about tearing down and setting up every day, like in other places we tried."
In 2007, a group of volunteers created "A Night At The Manor" Haunted House and set about scaring more than 1,600 people in six nights before Halloween.
"It turned out to be one of our largest fundraising efforts for the year," Brown said. "The funds helped CIP to purchase toys for children at Christmas, sponsor the CIP festivities and helped pay the light bill at Forest Park."
"This has been a great way for us to help out and give back to our community," Ray and Carol said at the same time.
Although McCannell Manor is the highlight, organizers are always on the lookout for new ideas to scare people and ways to have fun. This year the haunted house has a new layout, tons of creepy surprises and spooks running wild outside to make visitors scream from the moment they arrive.
Haunted Hayrides, with a hearse pulling the wagon, refreshments and all types of scary, yet undisclosed, activities are planned for visitors to enjoy before entering the manor.
"We don't want to give away the element of surprise," Ray said. "I wasn't a big fan of haunted houses before this, but now I've realized I like to scare people. We had so much fun last year, and it is all for a good cause."
And for those courageous enough to stay the night, Ray said visitors could contact him about room reservations at 812-835-2144.
"There are a lot of rooms here in the manor if someone wants to spend the night," he said. "But I have to admit, there are some rooms that even the help and our volunteers won't go inside. One is the laundry room. People just won't go in there. If someone dares to stay, we'll see if we can make that happen."
For more information, log onto http://nightatthemanor.com or contact Ray and Carol Gayhart at 812-835-2144.
A Night At The Manor
The organizers of "A Night At The Manor" Haunted House want to know how many people are interested in spending a spooky night at the old McCannell Manor.
The large building -- which was Clay County's first poor farm, a jail, an alleged asylum, medical facility, and finally a nursing home until the late 1980s -- has a creepy past that remains whispered about today.
"If anyone ever wanted to spend the night in a creepy haunted house, now's their chance," Owner and event organizer Ray Gayhart said.
Although prices and the number of rooms available have yet to be determined because of the unknown level of interest, organizers confirmed all proceeds from the event would support "Christmas In The Park" activities.
For more information or to make a reservation to spend the night, contact Ray or Carol Gayhart at 812-835-2144.
Where is it?
The second annual "A Night At The Manor" Haunted House will be held at McCannell Manor (Poor Farm Markets), 3546 East County Road 100 South, Center Point, to support Christmas In The Park community projects.
A sneak peak of the new haunted layout will be Thursday, 7-9 p.m.
Regular spooking hours will be Oct. 17-18 from 7-11 p.m., Oct. 24-25 from 7-11 p.m., Oct. 30 from 7-10 p.m. and Halloween Night from 7 p.m.-midnight.
This is not a place for the squeamish or young children, but admission is $8 per courageous adult who dares to enter the manor.