Raven's Grin Inn – Mount Carroll, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Raven's Grin Inn

Mount Carroll, Illinois

Former hotel turned into haunted playground. 

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Raven’s Grin Inn is a sprawling 5-story Victorian building that was originally a hotel, bought for $3000 by the current owner/mad scientist Jim Warfield back in the ’80s. Ever since then, he’s been rigging the place up as a full-time, Halloween-themed fun-house and guiding tours through the space. Groups of 10 or more can also just rent the whole place and play hide and seek.The tour starts out with Jim’s lecture/rant on the history of the building and key events in his life, delivered in a manic, partly in-character patter calibrated to weird everyone out without actually scaring anyone. Tour participants then follow Jim through the house, outside into his haunted sculpture garden, back in through a labyrinth of secret passages and dioramas, up stairs, down slides, into the ancient wine cellar which apparently used to be a speakeasy bar, back up via yet another secret passage and finally out into the real world. Tours can last anywhere from 1-3 hours and Jim keeps up his running commentary throughout, in addition to playing pranks. 

If you remember the ’70s 3-D board game “Haunted House” (a.k.a. “Which Witch”), touring the Raven’s Grin Inn is very much like walking (and climbing, and occasionally crawling) through that game. It’s a truly eccentric, wildly unusual experience. 

Know Before You Go

It's hidden behind the main square in town. Wear sensible shoes.

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June 16, 2009

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