A haunting in Georgetown

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Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

With fall officially in session and Halloween fast approaching, there's an amazing opportunity to get in the spooky spirit this year: visiting the iconic Georgetown Morgue.

The Morgue, built in 1928, has a unique and checkered past. Located in Seattle's Industrial District between Georgetown and SoDo, the space was originally Kolling Mortuary Services of Seattle, owned by Scottland Timothy Kolling. The building's initial purpose was to process and prepare the deceased. It changed ownership several times over the years (in 1939, 1969, and 1989), as well as function, from a funeral preparation home to a crematorium to a morgue.

It has a dark history of deaths, suicides, and stolen corpses, and was the site of the infamous Seattle Crematorium Massacre of October 25, 1968, when (allegedly) nine employees were forced into the crematory and burned alive. The Historic Morgue Society ranked the Georgetown site number 4 on its "Most Intriguing Urban Historic Morgues" list in 1999.

Courtesy photo  

Blood runs like water
I had the absolute treat and privilege to get a behind-the-scenes tour of this haunted house (rated in the top 25 out of over five thousand in the country) with the owner, Scary Scott, who has been running it since its inception 16 years ago. He gave me the full breakdown of his operation.

On any given day, it is run by about 50 staff members, including walkabouts, security personnel, and ticket sellers. Forty percent of the interior changes every year, so longtime guests have something new to look forward to.

The scares and jumps are half run by staff members in full costume and character, with the other half being occupied by intense animatronics. Blood runs like water, and you are constantly sprayed in the face by sneezes and coughs expelled from ghouls and goblins popping out from the most unexpected places. The floors move, wind blows in your face, and wriggling body bags hang in your path from the ceiling.

The layout of the Morgue transitions as you're scared along its dark and winding path, from a bloody morgue to a run-down shanty town to rooms with exposed electrical elements to a sort of voodoo taxidermy house. This is a very intricate experience, giving visitors the feeling of were walking through a Costco-sized space, even though the layout is much smaller.

As intense as this haunted house is, there are also clearly marked exits for guests to leave at any time if things get too overwhelming.

Although the Morgue's operations are seasonal, there is a set of four different escape rooms (the Georgetown Morgue, Cell Block 12, the Bank, and Abducted) running year-round next door that keep the employees busy year-round. These experiences are usually done in groups and last for one hour. If you don't figure out the clues and escape with your team in the allotted time, the lights come on and your team loses.

Love and community
It's important to note that a lot of love is put into this particular haunted house. It's a family-owned operation, and the team behind it wants you to be entertained from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.

Scott has been working at haunts for 34 years, 16 of them at the Morgue. When asked if people get scared enough to hit the actors, he replied, "If the actors are getting hit, they're doing it right." I was informed that this haunt is so scary, the actors get hit by patrons every evening.

The Morgue also likes to give back to the community. There is a canned-food drive every Sunday: if you bring four cans, you get a certain dollar amount off of your entry fee, with donations being given to local food banks.

The business also host blood drives, and participants can get to the front of the line if they donate. The owners are also avid supporters of the "Don't Be a Monster" program, which aims to provide free bullying prevention assemblies to schools across the US, thus making "a world where kindness is empowering and uniqueness is celebrated."

Georgetown Morgue is a seasonal haunt running from September 22 to November 4. It is located at 5000 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, WA 98134. You can buy tickets at https://seattlehaunts.com/tickets. You can support the "Don't Be a Monster" program at https://www.dontbeamonster.org