Popular Baltimore haunted house Bennett's Curse may have to shut down

Location in city doesn't have a sprinkler system
Posted at 7:39 PM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 18:46:54-04

A popular Baltimore haunted house may not open this Halloween season because it doesn’t have a sprinkler system, its owners said this week.

Jill Bennett, co-owner of Bennett’s Curse, said she has reached an impasse with the Baltimore City Fire Marshal’s Office, possibly putting an end to her business.

ABC2 News reached out to the Baltimore City Fire Department Monday afternoon, but a spokesman said Monday night he had no information on the situation. 

Bennett said the haunted house, which has been featured on the Travel Channel and named to numerous lists for being among the scariest Halloween attractions in the country, was supposed to be open by Sept. 21.

Since the haunted house is only open through the second weekend of November, that’s like losing two months’ worth of income for the Bennetts. The business employs 100 people, all of whom are without jobs now, she said.

“This is our only business. It is our passion, it is our love,” Bennett said.  

The haunted house, which first opened in 2000, moved into Baltimore last year after operating in Anne Arundel County. The attraction had previously been housed at the former Blob’s Park property, which was sold for redevelopment.

Bennett said the attraction operated without a sprinkler system last year, and she and her husband, Allan, were working with state officials to relocate before this Halloween season.

They weren’t unable to find a new place, mostly due to zoning restrictions.

Bennett said she wished Maryland was more supportive of these types of seasonal attractions.

“People are going to Pennsylvania for haunted houses instead,” she said.

Bennett said their landlord has declined to install a sprinkler system, and installing such a system for a temporary event would cost more than $150,000—plus an additional $50,000 or $75,000 to bring water into the building from the city.

The couple has installed a particle beam fire alarm system, which Bennett said is more sensitive than a sprinkler system. 

But the city Fire Marshal won’t budge, Bennett said.

“We’re desperate,” she said. 

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.