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Large Fire at Former Knox County Poorhouse

By: Timothy Perry

June 26, 2015 - 5:20 PM

Updated: June 26, 2015 - 9:09 PM

BANGS - Smoke and flames could be seen for miles as county fire crews ferociously battled a fire for most of the evening at the building commonly known as the former Knox County Poorhouse.

Firefighters could not enter the building due to concerns abut structural deterioration and the fire was fought entirely from the outside.

Multiple fire departments were at the scene and the American Red Cross was called in to assist in keeping firefighters hydrated.

The fire closed Johnstown Road as heavy smoke filled the area. People were encouraged to avoid it so as to avoid smoke inhalation and to allow the fire department room to work.

Crews were still actively fighting the fire at the time of this article's publication.

The building was originally opened in 1875 as the Knox County Poorhouse. It housed Knox County's residents who did not have a place to call home as well as those who could not care for themselves long-term. It was later repurposed as an infirmary before it was closed in 1957.

Later that year, the building was given new life as the Mount Vernon Bible College. It served that purpose until 1987, when the college moved to Virginia.

At some point in the 1990s, the building was converted to a Halloween attraction known as the House of Nightmares. During two months of every year, it housed countless frights and thrills related to the Halloween holiday.

The House of Nightmares closed in 2006 due to a partial collapse of a portion of the building. It has remained empty since that time.

Recently, an investment group had bought the property with intentions of renovating the building. Another portion of the building collapsed earlier this year.

The building is estimated to be a total loss.

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Comments *

1) Re: Fire Destroys Former Knox County Poorhouse
Written by phred on June 27, 2015, 12:22:33 AM

          This is so unfortunate.  That building was beautiful, a true step back in time.

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