A Horror on Main Street

Lincoln Mill Haunted House will be open weekends and select days Sep. 23 through Nov. 4 at 1400 Main Street in Manayunk for its second year of scaring.

A video is projected above visitors as they wait to enter Lincoln Mill Haunted House while artificial fog rolls over. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Behind a red-lit, industrial building on Main Street Manayunk in Northwest Philadelphia, a line of visitors wait to enter the Lincoln Mill Haunted House. 

Projected on a wall, a video describes the legend of the haunting: on Sept. 2, 2021, Hurricane Ida flooded the Lincoln Mill to historic water levels. The flood damaged the mill’s interior and revealed a hidden chamber in the basement where countless bodies were found and a dark truth was discovered about the mill’s past. 

A scare actor stalks Main Street on the outside of Lincoln Mill Haunted House. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The visitors talk amongst themselves; some are excited and some are nervous, but none seem to notice the slowly approaching shadow. The dark figure, when close enough, hurls itself to the floor and slides several feet on special gloves and knee pads, sending sparks flying and the screams of scattering visitors echoing on the high, stone walls of the mill.

“Sometimes I laugh so hard there’s just tears running down my face,” said Brandon Head, or “The Slider,” as the staff calls his darkly dressed character.

Brandon Head, a scare actor at Lincoln Mill Haunted House, displays his gruesome makeup. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The scare actors outside are only the beginning for visitors. Throughout their journey in the depths of the building, they are greeted by a horrifying cast of characters, intricately designed props and a full narrative about the history of the building. 

“Scare-Cams” give visitors on the outside of Lincoln Mill Haunted House views of the terrors within. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Brian Corcodilos and Jared Bilsak, co-founders of Lincoln Mill, are no strangers to running a haunted house. 

“Jared and I used to run a haunted house for years in college together at Philadelphia University at the Ravenhill Mansion,” Corcodilos said. “We would call it “Ravenkill Mansion” and used to talk about how it would be great to do this on a professional level later.” 

A scare actor at Lincoln Mill Haunted House displays their prop.| FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Almost a decade later, they achieved their goal together. Corcodilos purchased the site during the COVID-19 pandemic and was seeking a tenant when Hurricane Ida flooded Manayunk. Corcodilos and Bilsak came together and used the disaster as the founding story for Lincoln Mill.

The site of Lincoln Mill Haunted House, previously Mad River Bar & Grille, during Hurricane Ida in 2021 | COURTESY / BRIAN CORCODILOS

That legend, along with the design quality of everything within the haunted house, made visitors Kevin Hubbard and Gina Cipriani come out feeling more scared than they could have imagined. 

The two have visited many haunted houses in the region, including Halloween Nights at Eastern State, Sleepy Hollow, Valley of Fear and Shady Brook Farms. 

“[Lincoln Mill Haunted House] is number one right now for me,” Cipriani said.

Skye McLaughlin, a scare actor at Lincoln Mill Haunted House, displays her custom makeup and costume. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Lincoln Mills’ current season is set to go on until Nov. 4. Next year, they plan to expand their Halloween operations past the holiday season to feature “Viktor’s Valentine, A Dark Love Story Show” and “Viktor’s Vengeance, Halfway to Halloween Show.” 

That means Lincoln Mill’s reign of terror does not end with Halloween, and some actors enjoy the post-season frights. 

Heaven Bowman, a scare actor at Lincoln Mills Haunted House, displays her prop. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Heaven Bowman, whose character wields a jumping head in a box, is one of the actors who reminisces and enjoys out-of-season scaring. 

“We have had our Halfway to Halloween as well as our Valentine’s Day Haunt, that was very fun,” Bowman said.

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