Seattle, Washington's - The Georgetown Morgue
By Hauntworld Magazine
Seattle Haunted Houses are some of the scariest and best in America! Hauntworld.com rates and review the best and Scariest haunted houses, haunted attractions, and Halloween events in America! The Georgetown Morgue is located in Seattle and has one of the scariest haunted houses in America! Prepare to scream! Sit back and prepare to scream through our review of The Georgetown Morgue. This Halloween you can't miss the scariest and best haunted attraction in the entire state of Washington, The Georgetown Morgue. The haunted house industry in Seattle has barely begun with very few haunted houses however the Seattle market is one of the biggest in the country and haunts are bound to start sprining up. Seattle Washington Haunted Houses are coming on fast and if you are looking for simply the best and scariest haunted house Seattle then you've found it the Georgetown Morgue. Now sit back and read all about the scariest Haunted Attraction in Seattle.
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The Georgetown Morgue (1928-1983)
Author: James Henrikson February 12, 2000
The Georgetown Morgue stands out among historic morgues, not for its unusual industrial surroundings, but for what can only be described as a series of colorful (albeit at times horrifying) events in its relatively short (and fairly recent) history.
Some people have questioned why this little-known morgue made the Historic Morgue Society's "Most Intriguing Historic Urban Morgues" list in 1999, but with a little background, the reader should have no problem understanding why.
History of the Georgetown Morgue:
Original Name: Kolling Mortuary Services of Seattle
Original Owner: Scottland Timothy Kolling
Original Purpose: Processing and preparation of the deceased.
Kolling Mortuary Services of Seattle constructed the 3-story facility in 1928 as a single-purpose funeral preparations facility.
Change of Ownership: 1939
New Name: Broughton Brothers Funeral Services
Owner: Charles and Henry Broughton
Owners Charles and Henry Broughton, 1946 From Seattle Times archives, the Broughton Brothers purchased the facility in 1939 with more ambitious plans, transitioning it from a simple funeral preparations home to, by 1943, a 100-body-per-day Crematorium. The extended facilities were erected from the South-facing wall, including two 110-foot smoke stacks (approved by the City of Seattle but not without some degree of public outcry). In addition, Charles Broughton built a small brick home on the west side of the property, where it remains to this day.
On April 29th, 1965 a 5.7 magnitude earthquake rocked the Puget Sound area, and while other businesses in Seattle suffered only moderate damage, tragedy struck the Broughton Brothers when crematorium Tower 1 collapsed into the west side of the building, taking out the upper floor, and killing Charles Broughton.
Brother Henry Broughton continued the business, and necessary structural renovations included the removal of the third floor. Tower 1 was rebuilt in 1967.
Change of Ownership: 1969
New Name: The Georgetown Morgue
Owner: City of Seattle
City of Seattle's Georgetown Morgue: The City of Seattle acquired the facility after Broughton Brothers Funeral Services defaulted on their loan. Once again, the facility underwent a significant change. The City converted it to a morgue. At that time, the area was part of the Georgetown District, and the City chose the Georgetown Morgue as a suitable name. Interesting side note: the City did not abandon the crematorium part of the facility, and instead continued to utilize it for the purpose of processing animal carcasses for their Animal Control Department.
The City operated the Georgetown Morgue until 1983, when a modern morgue was erected in Downtown Seattle at 5th Ave S. and Seneca Street. The City offered the property for sale, but received no interested buyers until 1989 (perhaps due in part to its intriguing albeit morbid history).
Change of Ownership: 1989
Owner: Richland Processing Corp.
The Richland Processing Corporation purchased the facility from the City of Seattle with the intention of converting it to a meatpacking transfer station. They sold crematorium towers 1 & 2 to nearby Simmons Foundry Works, where they were relocated in 1990.
The Building Today:
Once home of the late Mrs. Charles Broughton, the building has undergone significant structural change and bears only a slight resemblance to the former Georgetown Morgue. The footings of the former crematorium smoke stack towers are still evident along the South-facing wall of the Richland Processing facility. The adjacent brick home of Charles Broughton’s widow (who remained at the residence until she claimed her own life in 1979) still remains.
The Fascinating Historic Backstory of the Georgetown Morgue...
The Georgetown Morgue had a strikingly colorful 43-year history as a funeral preparations home, crematorium and morgue. City of Seattle public records, Police Department records, and Seattle Times microfiche records paint a colorful and horrifying picture. We will summarize a few of the more intriguing events below.
1940's Jazz Great, John "Figgy" Dorsey:
When jazz trumpeter and nationally-acclaimed band leader John "Figgy" Dorsey died in 1947, he was brought to Broughton Brothers for funeral preparations. At this point, events turned horrific. According to police reports, Charles Broughton reported a break-in to the facility, and during the police inquiry, the body of Mr. Dorsey was discovered to be missing from the embalming procedure table. The following morning came the gruesome discovery by Mr. Dorsey's wife of her late husband's dismembered body on the front lawn of her home at 5465 Eldridge Ave. in Ballard. Not to be deterred, Mrs. Dorsey had the body returned to Broughton Brothers Funeral Services to be reconstructed for public viewing at his funeral. Media reports at the time were sensational, making for an even higher profile burial of the already high profile musician.
"Seattle Crematorium Massacre" followed by the Change of Ownership to City of Seattle in 1969:
The transfer of ownership from Broughton Brothers Funeral Services to the City of Seattle in 1969 followed one of the most gruesome crimes on record. Coined by the Seattle Times as the "Seattle Crematorium Massacre", there has been a great deal of unresolved speculation as to exactly what occurred during the evening of October 25, 1968. On that evening, during a business meeting on the premises, 2 (perhaps 3) suspects (assumed to have been armed), entered the building and forced all 9 attendees (the entire facility staff of Broughton Brothers Funeral Services, including company owner Henry Broughton) to be bound. In what is considered to be the most horrifying unsolved crime in Seattle history, each attendee was forced into the crematorium chamber. There were no surviving witnesses, nor were suspects ever identified. This crime is unique in its nature. Speculation has always abounded in regard to motive, but character witness testimony on police record does indicate a suspicion of less-then-legitimate business practices at Broughton Brothers. As a result of the crime, Broughton Brothers Funeral Services had no living employees. Broughton family members had no choice but to foreclose on its loan, at which point the City of Seattle acquired the facility.
Public outcry over the construction of the two 140-foot smoke stacks in 1943:
The industrial boom of the early 1940's to support the war, while critical for the nation's production of needed materials, did have the unwanted effect of contributing to some of the worst air quality in the nation. Seattle citizens groups took interest in preserving air and water quality in the Puget Sound area. The sensational nature of the proposed crematorium smokestacks made for high profile headlines. However, the City of Seattle eventually approved the construction of the stacks in 1943, and the project was completed and in production by 1945. The Georgetown Morgue ranked number 4 in the Historic Morgue Society's "Most Intriguing Urban Historic Morgues" list in Sept., 1999.
Written by freelance writer and easy screamer Denise Roundy of Kingston, Washington
The Georgetown Morgue: Northwest Premier Haunted Attraction
The KUBE 93FM Haunted House at the Georgetown Morgue in Seattle attracts more than just adventurous city folk looking for a good scare. Thrill-seeking guests make the journey from all over the Puget Sound region, because the Georgetown Morgue isn’t just a haunted house, it’s legendary. And now the legend has spread: The popular Seattle haunt is the first in the Northwest to be selected as an affiliate member of America Haunts, the premier group of haunting attractions.
A modest building on the exterior, this haunt blends into its industrial surroundings. It sits just a few miles south of Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market and the sports stadiums for the Seahawks and Mariners. Visitors flock to the haunted house—even if it means a train or ferry ride—for what is guaranteed to be the Pacific Northwest’s best fright. While rumors of a rainy Seattle are not exaggerated, owner Scott Kolling says wet weather doesn’t discourage visitors from making the haunting pilgrimage. “If they’re planning on going, they just go,” Kolling says. “One night, it was raining so hard the street was flooding, but it was our busiest night of the season.”
Especially popular with college students from the nearby University of Washington, last year the haunt welcomed four busloads of students from sororities, prearranging their visits online with group rates and times to accommodate their numbers. Groups are especially welcome at this haunt. — Who will notice a lost coed or two in the morgue?
Even in a long, rainy line, guests huddle together, getting a taste of the frights inside. Performers get up-close-and-personal right from the get-go, sometimes stalking the folks still getting out of their cars. Loud BOOMs and screams from behind the haunt’s walls keep visitors alert and full of horrific anxiety.
Georgetown Morgue, owned and operated by Kolling’s parent company, SeattleHaunts, makes for a first-rate fright. When you come to visit, prepare for some chilling scenes: dismemberments, disemboweling, demented janitors and the lingering dead. What can you expect from a place with such dark history?
Kolling and crew make the most of their morbid theme, with a 1970s red Cadillac hearse (nothing but the best for Georgetown Morgue’s deceased), bloodied morticians, corpses, and wanna-be corpses. FYI, it’s an open casket event. But while guests will encounter a gruesome fright, the emphasis is on the scare. Kolling prefers to keep the gore to a minimum, and credits talented, well-placed actors with providing the true old-fashioned scares. His haunt boasts some impressive FX of animations, automations, pneumatics and more, but their primary function is to strategically position the visitors as haunt targets for the performers. A demonic automation might be cool, but it’s the reaching zombie, and the specter zeroing in, that will make grown men scream like little girls. “If you have a dark room with nothing in it, but you have a good actor in there, they’ll still scream their heads off,” Kolling says.
In the late 1970’s, Scott Kolling was finding his love and passion for haunting. His father was a member of the Jaycees community service group, and he remembers following his father around the haunted house they were organizing as a Jaycee haunted house fundraiser. He helped to build many haunted rooms, and enjoyed going through the haunt when all was finished. Many memories, fun times, creativity, and the camaraderie of the experience would stay with Kolling for the years to come.
In his early 20s, Kolling joined the local Jaycees as a volunteer and was nominated as president during his second year. He decided to join the ranks in the haunt industry by building his first haunted house as a way to earn money for their community activities. It was a great success. The location of the haunt was moved to a more central location at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Wash. This proved to be a good location for haunting with another year of fright-filled success.
Kolling then made a career change. Instead of building and running a haunted house for a non-profit organization, he went into business for himself starting his own haunted house company and making a living doing what he loved…HAUNTING. Haunts Northwest, Inc. was formed. Kolling’s new company specialized in the design, construction and operation of dark attractions. The new theme based on its fairgrounds location was Scaregrounds. Haunts Northwest, Inc. built and operated Scaregrounds and other haunted houses throughout nine different cities in the area during the next six years.
In spring 2002, Kolling was presented with an opportunity to take over the KUBE 93FM Haunted House. The KUBE 93FM Haunted House at that time had been around the Seattle area for 23 years. Kolling took on the challenge and has been designing, constructing, and operating the KUBE 93FM Haunted House for the past 12 years. He has also kept at least one other haunted house running at the same time during the Halloween season in different cities in the area.
In 2008, the KUBE 93FM Haunted House moved its location to the Georgetown Morgue, which was a huge success, and where it resides to this day. SeattleHaunts was formed, and now is the sole owner of the KUBE 93FM Haunted House at the Georgetown Morgue, now entering its 35th year of operation in Seattle.
During the 18 years that Kolling has operated his haunted house company, he’s always had two or more successful haunts running during the Halloween season. He has been in over 15 different cities in the Pacific Northwest, before finally finding two permanent locations for his haunts.
Dedicated haunters are hard to find. Kolling has two others besides himself that have been involved in his haunting enterprise for 20 years. Deanna Kolling, his wife of 22 years, is the chief financial officer, also over employment and other administrative duties (too many to name), and Gary Sundseth is operations manager for the Nightmare on 9 show. Other long time staff members include 16-year veteran Schyler Granstrom, makeup artist and electrician for both haunts, Daryl Rogers has been working alongside Kolling for the last 12 years as production manager/public relations for both haunted houses and Brandon Green, operations manager for the Georgetown Morgue since 2003. Kolling’s oldest son and his friends are part of the 20 or so other staff and actors who have been with him for an average of six years or more who love the haunting business and have a great time working throughout the year on various projects. With so much haunt experience and monster training, they’ve been referred to as the scariest haunted house actors by both locals and out-of-town guests.
Haunting in the Northwest
The Georgetown Morgue’s enduring popularity and its standing in America Haunts is largely due to Kolling’s yearly remodeling. Every January he canvasses the haunt and sketches out changes to keep things unpredictable. As a result, each Halloween season more than a third of the haunt has a new look. Last year’s main update was the big basement reveal. Guests walk over grated flooring to see what new evils have recently been discovered below. But while they’re busy looking down, look out! Wicked things are waiting in the shadows all around. What changes are coming this year? Only Rigger and Mortis, the morgue janitors, know for sure.
Kolling is a hands-on haunt owner. He not only designs new looks, but he and a small crew build the changes themselves, ensuring creative control. Producing a top-quality haunt in Washington State isn’t the easiest endeavor, he’s found. Safety regulations restrict stairways, slides, and other physically creative structures that haunts often use. Years of trial and terror have helped him navigate the maze of restrictions and compliance requirements, allowing him to build a haunt that passes inspection without compromising the experience. During the season, though, he keeps a cast and crew of about 60 to help the gruesome mortuary run smoothly. Online admission sales help too, moving people through the line more quickly and giving guests a chance to pre-purchase discount tickets.
Well-detailed scenes, talented scarers, and professional makeup are important at both of Kolling’s haunts. Quality prosthetics (such as nose, eyebrows, and chin pieces) topped with makeup and airbrushing make for a frightfully realistic look. Masks are still used but only occasionally. That’s a new development in the decades Kolling has been in the business. “We used to have one or two artists in the makeup room. Now we have seven or eight. It takes longer, but looks better and more professional.”
During the year, Kolling himself and his crew make several public appearances in the Seattle area promoting the Haunted House. In full costume and makeup, strutting around town with various characters, they are quite a sight to see!
The KUBE 93FM radio station comes in one Saturday afternoon during the season for Kids’ Day. During that time, families can experience a less threatening version of the haunt: lights on, no actors. “It’s still a bit scary, but fun. If they bring three cans of food, kids get in free. The radio station brings games for the kids that day, with popcorn and activities.”
A less tame event is Finger Flashlight Night, offered during the season’s opening weekend. It’s a sneak peek—a dark peek—of what to expect from this year’s Georgetown Morgue. “You go through the haunt, full of actors, but no strobe lights, no lights at all. All you have is a tiny light on your finger. So it’s freakier than the regular haunt that’s going to freak you out the next week.”
With a haunt as popular as KUBE 93 FM Haunted House at the Georgetown Morgue, vendors are a must. Kolling’s vendors have included different kinds of mouthwatering foods like scones and kettle corn, t-shirts, stickers, and calendar sales, as well as a popular face-painting booth where locals often come to get gored up before heading to Halloween parties. With thousands of guests around nightly, Kolling keeps Seattle city officials happy by hiring off-duty, uniformed police officers to keep things orderly.
Besides being the biggest haunt attraction in the northwest, Georgetown Morgue prides itself in keeping deep community roots. Kolling and his staff participate in local parades and other events, most recently appearing in full terrifying costume outside Seahawk stadium. (Who says the 12th man can’t be a zombie?) It also helps that the community recognizes KUBE Georgetown Morgue as locally owned, staffed wholly by northwest loco yokels.
Snohomish Nightmare on 9
In the 20-plus years he has worked in the scaring business, Kolling has run numerous other haunted attractions in the greater Seattle area. Currently, he runs a horrific sister haunt, Nightmare on 9, at a farm in Snohomish, WA. The location of the second haunt north of Seattle allows family and longtime haunter friends to work closer to their homes and jobs. It’s worked out well. Kolling’s oldest son and six or so of his buddies, age 17 now, were taught to haunt and scare in their early teens and are the 4-year veteran crew on site. At Thomas Family Farm, Kolling’s haunt is itself a vendor. Nightmare on 9 is a slaughterhouse gone wrong, a perfect complement to the farm’s spooky corn maze and zombie paintball hayride. Being a horror vendor on the farm is a nice contrast to the Seattle location, as Kolling can focus on the haunt but still enjoy the benefits of other Halloween attractions and amenities on site. Guests running screaming out of the slaughterhouse’s exit, for instance, can head right over to the concessions stand to buy some pulled pork sandwiches, yum yum!
Kolling and crew are revving up for the 2014 haunt season. Changes are being made at both haunts. Marketing and other projects are underway. Next up is Transworld’s Halloween and Attractions Show in St. Louis, MO with new haunters to meet and lots of things to do and see. So if you are traveling to Seattle and would like a special tour, look up one of Kolling’s crew members at the show and receive a free pass to the Pacific Northwest’s Premier Haunted House!