Historic Adams House hosts Spirited Tours

The Historic Adams house hosts Spirited Tours in October.

Kacie Svoboda

The Historic Adams house hosts Spirited Tours in October.

Deadwood is long known for a history filled with gamblers, prostitutes, miners and bandits. Some of Deadwood’s current residents would add ghosts to this list of colorful characters.

Their reasons range from hearing the clanking of dishes in a deserted ballroom to the smelling cigar smoke and from seeing a shadowy figure in a window to hearing strange voices in an empty hallway. Though many of Deadwood’s buildings claim to be haunted, one of the more prominent has to be the Historic Adams House, which sits only a few blocks away from Mount Moriah Cemetery.

The house has had a long and sometimes tragic history since it was built in 1892. This past is prime fodder for ghost stories, which have been attributed to the building since before the last Adams to live there abandoned it.

“Mary Adams spread rumors that the house was haunted,” said Historic Adams House tour guide Tamara Schoenberger. “I believe that is one of the reasons the house wasn’t vandalized when she left it empty for 51 years.”

Adams was not the last to take advantage of the buildings haunted history. The current sponsors of the housea��the City of Deadwood’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Adams Museuma��have used it to provide one of the areas signature Halloween experiences.

This year, the Adams House is again hosting its Spirited Tours, which were created to capitalize on Deadwood’s grisly past and attract people who wouldn’t normally visit the building. Though full of historically accurate stories, these night tours are a little twisted compared to any daytime visits.

The tour begins with a warning to the faint of heart or those with a heart condition from your guide, Curator of Interpretation Ellyn Van Evra’dressed in period, black, funeral attire. She leads about a dozen brave souls, armed with flashlights through the history, surprises and scares lying in wait in the curiously dark Adams house.

The tour blends the usual antics of a haunted house with historical facts. For example, they set up a coffin in the parlor to imitate the wake of Anna Franklin, which was held there after her death. The stories of the past residents of Deadwood are enhanced with the unexpected appearance of “spirits’ or “paranormal activities’ throughout the tour.

However, the curators claim to have real life encounters with the spirits inhabiting the Adams House.

“Almost everybody who works here has had at least a small (unexplained) experience,” Schoenberger said.

Schoenberger has even had a paranormal encounter herself.

“I was on the servants stairway, and I heard a man growl behind me,” she said. “I’ve tried many times to duplicate the sounda��but I couldn’t.”

Though there is always the possibility of a legitimate ghostly experience during a visit, Ellyn and the volunteers ensure you don’t leave without a fright.

Lots of preparation goes into making these tours successful. Van Evra, scripted, developed and held rehearsals for the project’recruiting participants from Lead-Deadwood High School. Students join the project as actors in order to fulfill their community service hours, which are required to graduate.

The Spirit Tours will be held Oct. 24-26 at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 or $5 for Adams Museum members. These tours are very popular so reservations are recommended. More information can be found at AdamsMuseumandHouse.org.