In the hopes of raising enough pledges to fund a theatrical haunted house attraction inside one of Palestine’s historic homes, project coordinator and home owner Jeremy Janz is trying to gauge community interest toward his “Help Haunt Queen Anne: House of Nightmares” project.
“Our goal, is to have fun preserving and restoring one of Palestine, Texas’s beautiful historic homes. This 108-year-old Queen Anne style home is perfect for an exciting theatrical haunted house,” Janz said.
Janz, who works in the nutraceuticals industry as a sales manager and contract manufacturing consultant for Matsun Nutrition, moved to Palestine from San Diego, Calif. nine months ago to the historic home located at 621 S. Micheaux St. at the corner of Micheaux and Angelina streets.
“My grandparents, Mary and Joseph Andrews, and my ‘Mamaw,’ Mary Zell Campbell Lasyone — who was born in Palestine in 1907 and lived and died two blocks from our home, ‘Queen Anne’ — have lived in Palestine for as long as I can remember,” Janz said.
About five years ago, his mother, Abbie Andrews, retired from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department and moved back to Palestine with his brother, Joshua Janz.
“When Matsun Nutrition gave me the opportunity to work using a virtual office platform, everything web based, I took the chance to move from San Diego, Calif. closer to my family and a city, Palestine, that has a long personal history that I never really knew,” Janz said.
Getting involved in the Palestine Community Theatre during this summer production of “Willy Wonka,” Janz took on the role of Mr. Salt — where he first started developing the idea of the haunted house.
“After getting involved and performing in a summer production at the historical Texas Theater, we were overwhelmed with community support and volunteers anxiously awaiting to ‘haunt’ our ‘Queen Anne!’ We have the cast and crew needed to make her nightmares a reality,” Janz said.
After first moving to Palestine, Janz held a garage sale to downsize some of his family’s belongings and saw many people’s interest in the historic home.
“We ended up giving more home tours on request than we did sell anything,” Janz said. “That got me to thinking about this idea. I thought it would be a fun way to use the house in its current condition.”
Haunted Treats & Historic Open House Project Fund-raiser set Saturday, Sept. 22
To help get the word out about the “Help Haunt Queen Anne: House of Nightmares” project coordinator and home owner Jeremy Janz will host a “Haunted Treats & Historic Open House Project Fund-raiser” on Saturday, Sept. 22 at his home. The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at what could become “Haunted Queen Anne,” 621 S. Micheaux St. in Palestine. People will have the opportunity to tour the historic home and ask questions about the project.
The ‘Scary’ Story
With the help of theater friends, Janz came up with a fictional story about Dr. Gardener and his wife, Anne, who lived in the home.
As the story goes, Anne disappears mysteriously and the doctor when questioned claims his wife disappeared after suffering through a “year of terror” caused by his wife’s delusions. Her nightmares became reality, unleashing the ghosts and demons that haunt “Queen Anne” to this day, as the story goes. Anne Gardener was never found and Dr. Gardener swore it was the house that took her.
From there, Janz’s plan began to form. He kicked off the fundraising campaign and created a website for the project.
In Janz’s plan for the haunted house, guests would make their way through the 13 massive rooms of the home, experiencing the story of Dr. Gardener and his wife, Anne.
“Many, many long hours will be volunteered by our amazingly talented community, but we still need your pledges to help fund this theatrical productions’ developmental costs — such as sprinkler systems, permits, insurance, lighting, props, sets, audio and video equipment,” Janz said.
Janz is hoping to raise $17,500 for the project through Kickstarter.com, an Internet fundraising platform that uses “crowdfunding” by new media as a legitimate method of financing dreams.
“It’s very important for people to know Kickstarter projects are ‘all-or-nothing,’” Janz said. “If we don’t raise the full $17,500 by Sept. 24, nobody will be charged for their pledged contribution and we won’t have the budget for the haunted house production. Help us haunt Queen Anne!”
All funds raised through Kickstarter go directly to production costs. Every contribution over $10 is rewarded with incentives ranging from admission tickets, including live web streaming for those who can’t make the trip to “Create-A-Nightmare” room for $1,000. More details about pledge incentives are available on the website www.hauntedqueenanne.com.
“I am a big proponent of new media through my work in Internet media marketing,” Janz said. “So I’ve known about Kickstarter.com for a long time. It’s a community that really focuses on crowd funding where people can choose to invest in a project, but unless they raise the budget within a certain period of time, no one is charged for their pledge.
“Even if we don’t get to fund this project, I would love for the community to see how they could use this new media platform to do creative projects in the community.”
The home features 14 foot ceilings, 38 windows and 26 doors.
“I’m not used to living in an old home. It has its creaks and sounds which can be really eerie at night. With the 14-foot ceilings, when it’s dark, the home creates an almost vast endlessness,” Janz said.
While having a fun-natured approach to hauntings, Janz doesn’t believe his home is haunted, but he does have fun with the idea of paranormal activity and admits being in the home at night can be downright spooky at times.
“From the day I first saw our home, ‘Queen Anne,’ she captured our imaginations. Built in 1904, she has survived many stories and earned her place as a registered historical home. As a member of the Southside Historic District, she is only one block away from the old Palestine Memorial Hospital and two blocks away from the Museum for East Texas Culture. Both sites recently tested positive for paranormal activity by Sonshine Paranormal Investigators,” Janz said. “So this house is somewhat near a hub of paranormal activity.”
While considering the idea of putting together a haunted house attraction, Janz hasn’t forgot about the big picture — making sure he has the correct city permits and safety precautions needed to actually hold the event.
“I’ve talked to the city about permits and they were open to the concept and receptive. They were really appreciative that we were working to restore the home,” Janz said. “I’ve also talked to the fire chief twice about what our codes and regulations would be, which were my concerns before I could launch a project like this — things like having proper exits, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.”
If the haunted house event does come to fruition, Janz also doesn’t want to upset his neighbors by causing traffic issues.
“We are thinking about running shuttles from parking lots,” Janz said. “I want people to be happy, I don’t want to upset my neighbors.”
If the Haunted Queen Anne project gets a good response from the community, Janz would plan to open the haunted house on the following days: Oct. 19-20, Oct. 25-28 and Oct. 30-31.
“If you love a good scare, historic homes and supporting a wonderful community, ‘Haunted Queen Anne: House of Nightmares’ might just be the perfect project for you to check out,” Janz said.
More information can be found at www.hauntedqueenanne.com or searching “Haunted Queen Anne” on Kickstarter.com.
If the Kickstarter.com fundraiser doesn’t receive full funding by its ‘Haunted Treats’ event on Sept. 22, Janz said he will consider a contingency plan to use donations collected during the “Haunted Treats” event for the haunted house.
“At the end of the campaign if we don’t raise the funds, we will go ask for local sponsorships or see if we can put something together in a more traditional route in the community,” Janz said.
For more information about the project, visit www.hauntedqueenanne.com or call Janz at 951-552-3578.