Premier Halloween Haunt at the Preston Castle in Ione

halloweenprestoncastle

By Nolan Apostle
Contributing Editor
Event City Premier Magazine

Northern California’s premier Haunt is in a little town off the beat and path near the borders of Amador and Calaveras County. The town of Ione California is actually in Amador County and is the once home of wayward boys known as the Preston Home for Boys. Now known as the Preston Castle, it was built in 1894 as a facility to help lost boys who didn’t have a home or became too rambunctious to stay in their own homes. Officially, the facility was a reformatory school for boys to help them in their “rehabilitation”, whatever that might have been. It also became a state operated Educational facility for both Academics as well as a school to help build Trade or Vocational skills.

preston-castle-3-1-of-1-1024x642

In the 1930’s the building was condemned for not having a modernized fire protection system and earthquake retrofitting construction. In 1943 a state structural engineer deemed it unsafe in the event of a major earthquake. Finally in 1955 the last of the alumni of boys that lived there were moved out. In 1960 the building was completely vacated and set for demolition.

Around the same time a group of local citizens came together to do something about this piece of California history and needed to find a way to save the Preston Castle from being destroyed. Their approach was not just based off of the historic value of the property, but the fact that those in the town of Ione grew to love the Preston Property and considered it to be an Icon for the town. In 1961 the townspeople petitioned for it to NOT be torn down. It took years of work and political strife and after all of their hard work the town received a Historical Landmark Designation in the early 1970’s.

preston_castle1

Since then they have done what they could through private donations and an army of volunteers to keep Preston Castle alive and operational. Plenty of elbow grease and hard work went into the upkeep of the Castle property over the years to improve upon its overall care and upkeep, but it became a much larger project then anyone could imagine. As the work piled on this big project became larger and larger. After all, it is a Castle.

A few decades later the Preston Castle Foundation was formed and the real work began. They were granted a long term, 55 yr lease, to take care of the building. Then in November of 2014 the Preston Castle Foundation was deeded the adjacent 13 plus acres of property which of course became the entire “castle grounds” and a great spot for a Halloween Haunted house! The revenue from the haunt provides funds to help in the upkeep of the property throughout the year, but it is barely enough to keep it going. More fundraisers are happening every year and some of the facilities are available for special events and parties.

As a historical location and the overall backdrop the Preston Property could not be a more classic and perfect space for a true Halloween Haunt. That term “Halloween Haunt” is what those in the industry call locations created for scary Halloween Event experiences. The work and fortitude that goes into the Preston Castle to create this year’s haunt is easily determined by the massive staffing of organizers, producers, character actors, production crew, lighting, audio visual effects, costuming and much more. If there was a testament to any attraction’s success it would be the lines of patient revelers that would rival any Disneyland related popular ride, including their very own Haunted Mansion during the Disney Halloween Season. Some waited hours in the lines to walk through what some claim to be a “truly Haunted House.“ On this opening weekend the Haunt Attraction was a sell-out, good news for the Preston Castle Foundation, but it did make for the long lines, but everyone seem to be a great mood eagerly awaiting their first timid steps into this frightful ordeal.

Was the Preston Castle Haunt a top notch, Northern California Halloween experience? Not top notch, but it was good. Was it worth the wait and $20 (top ticket price) for the 45 minute to one hour experience? Absolutely! The army of volunteers was mostly kids to young adults who put this massive production together to help create what some called an “horrific nightmare experience” or in a more calmer tone, “a scary and fun way to celebrate the Halloween experience”.

Less than two hours from many parts of the SF Bay Area, the Preston Castle Haunt is a must attend to any Haunted House aficionado, or just someone who wants to have a great Halloween Haunt experience.  I’m sure if you have ever been on a team organizing and working a haunt you will surely appreciate the Preston Castle Experience and want to share many of your ideas with them to help the team make next year’s attraction even, bigger, better and of course much more scarier! HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nolan-JVAinLANolan Apostle is a published Writer, Editor and Photographer originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He has produced a countless amount of shows, projects, festivals, and many special events within the Tech, Film Corporate and Hospitality industries. When in the “Startup” role he has been the Chief Project Manager for several Tech positions including the understanding and development of Blockchain Technology. He’s considered an expert in the field of producing Major large-scale events, festivals and city-wide shows. He has managed many Halloween Haunts and once owned a production company housed in a 40,000 sf warehouse in Concord California of which about 25% was Halloween Haunt related props, sets and decoration pieces.  He is considered an event design expert in the fields of Décor and Ambiance for special events, concerts, festivals, parties, the holidays and of course, Halloween. He receives great pleasure from writing and discussing technology and how it applies to the Events & Creative Industries.

 

Advertisements