By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Editor
Spring Break is in full swing across Texas and guests are pulling into Galveston to catch some of the promised fun during their time away from reading, writing and arithmetic. One tourist stop that is catching its share of guests is the Haunted House which is tucked away on the North end of Saengerfest Park.
Technically there is a bit of an alley in between the park and the haunted house. The actual address of Mayfield Manor Haunted house is on Harborside Drive, but you enter through the alley side which is by the park.
Galveston’s Mayfield Manor Haunted House is famous for being truly a scarry place to visit. Some visitors in fact have come out shaking their heads in disbelief at the incredible haunting experiences they had while making their way through the maze of fright.
Since the haunted house is so spooky, there is a less haunting option for those who dare not go or maybe are just a little too young to go through the haunting experience.
Pirates Legends of the Gulf Coast is housed alongside the haunted house. The makeshift pirate ship is an experience that feels almost real. Thanks to the new owner, Craig Corbell, some minor changes have been made to add to the authenticity of the make-believe pirate ship.
The cannons that once stood still and appeared menacing are now fully operational for a make-believe experience. A young child or anyone of any age can pull the cord on the cannon which will initiate the sounds of a real cannon. First a click then a sizzle as the fire runs up the rope and then, boom! Then the cannon ball is make-believe released. Along with the sounds comes a visual experience with smoke emitting out of the front of the cannons.
Corbell is running his new businesses, the haunted house, and the pirate tour with an emphasis on history. “I grew up in Houston and took Texas history but had no idea about the rich history of Galveston till I got involved with my tourism business here. I didn’t know Galveston was considered the Wall Street of the South,” shared Corbell.
To be authentic, Corbell is filling in the pirate tour with authentic Galveston artifacts such as the bearded pirate behind the glass box which was once an old Red Pappy in Galveston’s Emporium. Meandering in the make-believe pirate ship, one can watch the ocean waves in action as they look out of the Captain’s quarter windows.
Since Galveston has an infamous pirate history which was created by Jean Lafitte, Corbell has added features to educate guests on the significance of Galveston’s notorious pirate. Staff are quick to assure guests that Galveston had more pirates than New Orleans. Fact checking which city had the most is something enquiring minds can do on their own.
When Corbell purchased the business, there was a room used for children’s parties. Well, he found the party room was a great place for pirates to syphon off revenue, meaning it was not producing money but was a money losing venture. So, he converted it to an escape room.
His love of history is shaping up in the haunted house portion of his business as he is directing changes to emphasis educating and frightening guests through the true horrors of the Great Storm, the infamous hurricane that struck the island on September 8, 1900.
When guests enter the first chamber of the haunted house, screens above show the story of the storm. Guests are warned that there are some people who should not venture inside the haunting experience, such as persons with certain medical conditions.
Mayfield Manor was a real house at one time and was one of the buildings that had been used as a temporary morgue for the many victims of the storm. It is said that the house is haunted by more than just the theatrical and technical efforts of the business. Proving or disproving a true ghostly experience at Mayfield Manor is left for those who wish to delve into the subject at a deeper level.
In the next chamber, a ghoulish voice and figure appear on a screen depicting Doctor Mayfield, who had been a young physician in Galveston at the time of the Great Storm. He lost his fiancé and other family members. He is said to have lost his sanity as a result of the trauma. It is also said that he is a fictional character.
Most of all, Craig wants everyone who comes out to his haunted business to have a lot of fun and want to come back. “I love people, I love my customers, sometimes I stand here for three hours just talking with the people who come to visit Galveston. I want to create a great experience so people will want to come back,” explained Corbell.