Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hall's Haunted Tower

Vid of the Tower and Mansion, posted by xjmoe83 on YouTube.

Just off of the intersection of I-81 and SR114 near Mechanicsburg in Cumberland County is a 16 story building, towering alone in the countryside. It's known as Hall Tower, or Carillon Tower (its original raison d'etre). Now it's a vandalized wreck, covered in graffiti and burned several times, best known as the home to teen parties - and a spooky presence.

The local urban legend is that the guy that built it, John Hall, embezzled money from his company to build the Tower and surrounding Mansion, complete with a moated building, b-ball court, and worker's house.

He went broke, had to sell the estate, and then set it on fire right after the signing the transfer papers in a fit of frustration over losing it. If he couldn't have his Tower, no one could.

Some accounts say that his family was still inside, while others claim he lived there alone. Most lore claims that he was inside the tower when he started the fire and perished in the flames.

Another tale says that he was sent to jail after his son blew the whistle on his embezzlement scheme, and had the house and property transferred to him. When Hall was released from prison, he went back and burned the property as revenge against his son. Hall died shortly after that, some say by suicide, other by natural means.

(One of our readers wrote in to debunk the family fire tales. She said that Hall had been arrested for fraud and arson, but was never connected officially with the Tower fire. He and his family are still alive. In fact, we understand that his son lived, or may still reside, on the property. Urban legends are a mess to sort through.)

What we do know is that Hall ran through his fortune and put his dream estate up for sale in 1993 as part of his bankruptcy settlement, but didn't draw a decent bid. It suffered major fire damage in 1995, and no one knows how that blaze started.

Anyway, that's the genesis of the Hall stories. And hey, if you want to buy a spooked out property, just contact Fred Essis, the current owner. For $1.25M, it's yours.

There's supposed to be an apparition that stares down at people from the top of the Tower, which is impossible to get to from the ground. Others have reported a voice inside that says "Get out."

A young man named Ernie Barr (a popular guy who's friends still recall him fondly) died there when he fell while climbing the ladder along the elevator shaft, and some posit that it wasn't the partying that got to him, but that an unseen spirit shoved him to his doom. There are also reports of fatal construction mishaps and drownings in the small lake across from the tower.

(Erin, a neighbor, told us that a diver who was hired to drain the moat died when he was caught in the suction of a drain pipe, and confirms the death of the teen, who was brought to her house to await the ambulance. So some of the Hall's ill-fated lore is based on actual events.)

The place has recently been fenced off, and if you want to visit, satisfy yourself with a gander from the road. It's a no-trespassing area, and the local gendarmes have been known to cruise by the old bones of the Tower.

It's a treacherous building to wander around in - some might say a lawsuit waiting to happen - and hey, you never know who, or what, you'll run into in the Tower.


Anonymous said...

Spooky Legend, however most of the theory are far from the truth. (scroll down to the middle) It is up for sale.

Ron Ieraci said...

Anon - thanks for the stuff. We tagged it as an urban legend, but with its history and lore, H&H thought it was a pretty good story to share. As with all spook tales, caveat emptor applies.

We added a little from the Cumberland Times story; we hadn't come across that article in our research.

And the "Abandoned But Not Forgotten" site is one of our favorites. It has a couple of pages of photos of the Tower and many other sites across the state, if any of the readers are interested in taking a further look at some eerie spots.

Anonymous said...

I believe if I remember correctly John Hall set the estate on fire to collect the insurance money. He and his family are still alive. He was involved in an investment of Ski Snow Peak off of route 322 that went bankrupt. The ski lodge was burned down by an unknown arsonist. Maybe another attempt to collect on insurance money?

Erin said...

I must post a comment to this. I am the closest neighbor to this property. I grew up and still live on a property bordering this estate. I can give you facts about this whole story. I went to school with the Hall kids. John Hall was a very excentric man. He built a mansion home which he named "Sherry-John Manor". Built to resemble a castle the home had a tower which was to hold swiss bells, however the tower was never completed. A Mote did surround the property. John Hall did embezel funds from his fathers trucking company and did jail time for it. He did later go bankrupt. There was a fire that destroyed much of the Hall property but the tower still stands with charred remains of the rest of the home. Now if you are looking for spookiness there is some of that too. Here are more facts that can be checked out if you like. As Hall was going through his bankrupcy with his property he was to have the Mote drained. A scuba diver was hired to do the draining, however he got caught in the suction of the drain and drowned. Another death came after the fire. The property did become a popular "party" spot for local teens. One night a young man while intoxicated attempted to climb to the top of the towers elevator shaft and fell to his death. Friends of this boy actually brought him to our home to call for an ambulance, but there is not much that can be done when brain matter is exposed.
Today the property is owned by a local businessman and one of the Hall sons does still live in the guest house on the property. John and Sherry Hall divorced. Sherry still resides in PA and to my knowledge John Hall is living in Washington State.

Ron Ieraci said...

Erin - thanks for the story. It's always appreciated when H&H gets the straight dope from a local, and I'm glad you shared the background of Hall's Tower.

As with many isolated places that become a teen party spot, especially when there's some tragedy involved, an urban legend is almost always soon to follow. I hope the kids don't bother you and your family too much.

So ghosties...well, who knows for sure? But one thing is certain - with its history and physical condition, it's a dangerous and spooky place to loaf.

michelle said...

the story that i herd was that mr. hall had built a house with an elevator shaft in it,then a few months after the house was built his wife died of an illness, so the next day mr. hall killed himself because he couldnt stand being away from his wife. so with no one to clam the estate the town put it up for aucton but since no one clam to buy it the city decided to destroy it so when the workers came to destroy the building they had successe but when they went to bring the tower down somehow the elevator was at the top of the tower and droped on the 5 workers and they were dead, then some of the other workers outside of the mansion saw a fire starting and couldnt get a away fast enough they all burned to death, then all the remaing workers that were left died the next day, and now spossably the elevator shaft stands by itself, also what i herd is that if you go there at night you can hear the screams of the workers and the hall family, but i totally agree with erins story my story couldnt be true

Unknown said...

This is from our local news paper:
The Patriot-News also included this information about Hall:

“Hall is the son of the late John N. Hall, a trucking magnate and philanthropist. He made headlines in 1985 when he was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen securities and customs violations in connection with the theft of $4 million in cash and securities from his father’s Camp Hill home. He had been arrested by the FBI after trying to peddle $2.5 million worth of the securities in the Bahamas. Later, Hall pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless burning of a property in connection with a 1983 fire at an apartment building his family owned in Stone Harbor, N.J.”

From what I understand his wife is still living in PA and Mr. hall now lives in Washingtin State. His son resides in the guest house across the moat. There was a 22 yr old male that died in 1995 I believe when he fell from the elevator shaft after drinking with his buddies.

Anonymous said...

I work with Sherry Hall, the wife. She's alive and well and a little eccentric herself, if by eccentric you mean crazy.

max said...

his nam was ernie barr, he was drinking, he did fall, and we did take him to the nieghbors house. he was a cool dude miss the shit out of him....been there several times to see his ghost never did though

Craig said...

Max I have no Idea who you are,But I can tell you personally that there was no person with us named Max when Ernie Fell down the shaft. My name by the way is Craig.I was there and was one of the teens that went to the neighbors house to get help. There was still 4 of us there looking for Ernie when he went missing....while the rest of the group went home because they got tired of looking for him. If you were there you would know everyone that did stay, and found him. Anyhow I also know all the stories in this post about the fire that destroyed the Mansion are false. The fire happened a few weeks after Ernie had died. I know the real story and it don't really matter now because the person that set the fire is now dead too. Ernie was not climbing any ladders. What had happened We beleive is that Ernie had no light other than a lighter found a wrong doorway while trying to find the staircase that was in the tower. There were only two elevator shaft doors pried open enough to look down the shaft. One was on the 11th story( thats were Ernie fell from) The other was on the second or 3rd floor. it's been so long I don't remember which exactly.No ghosts or demons pushed him that's just stupid.

Craig said...

In response to what Erin has posted.

"Friends of this boy actually brought him to our home to call for an ambulance, but there is not much that can be done when brain matter is exposed."
No there was not any exposed Brain Matter. Yes he head trauma but no exposing matter. I know because my hand snunk into the back of his head while we were in the car going down the dirt road that leads out and to your driveway. He also had a large gash on his leg it went from his hip to his knee and I held that together till the ambulance show up.I had a feeling we had already lost my friend before we got to your house. How would you know when you people wouldn't come out of your house till the police came. Which they did come first, Because our one friend tried to kick in your front door. Your family wouldn't help right away.It wasn't till after we laid Ernie in your driveway did we get any help from your Father. After we were told about the robbery they recently wentthrough we understood why.

Steve said...

So Is this place still in fact standing or is it the site of the PPL electrical grid?

Anonymous said...

I remember Ernie from school, really nice guy. Even after so many years it's been in my thoughts many times while driving past on I-81.

Anonymous said...

To the people. Who think of going out there u are doomed to a 500 dollar fine the place is wacth at all times

Anonymous said...

John Philip Hall is alive. He resides in old town Edmonds, Washington. His current property is in foreclosure. Edmonds is a quaint ,small coastal town just north of Seattle. Thank you to the above people for posting your comments. Very helpful. I now have a better idea of what I am dealing with. Thank you. - Max in Seattle
If you wish to communicate with me, all information is helpful and appreciated. My email:, that is a number "1" between maxwell and seattle

Unknown said...

Erin, can you contact me? Im a columnist for a magazine looking to do a story.

Unknown said...

Erin, can you contact me? Im a columnist for a magazine looking to do a story.

kayla said...

Just recently went to halls tower. It was night time and I was trying to take pictures, but it was dark and you spuldnt see much. To my surprise an orb wS in one of the pictures. And I swear it was not there when I took it. We also saw a lot of animals running around it, which kept startling us. And a bloody dress hanging off the building which some punk teenager put there. We read online about halls "story" before coming and now I know the truth and didn't know why I was so scared. So sad it was burnt and all. It's so beautiful I was amazed at how wonderful it was. Absolutely stunning! I would go back, but the no trespassing kinda scares me & my friends are wimps. I would like to go inside and look around because of the pure beauty.

Anonymous said...

It's 2016 now:

So is the property still being observed by a caretaker? Does anyone live in "the house" on the 16 acres? Is Fred Essis still the owner? The only thing I could find online, the property was last sold in 1995 for $80,000.

Not looking to vandalize or party, just observe with a camera, for image purposes only. Don't care if it's haunted.

Anonymous said...

I posted the previous comment.

After looking through court documents to try to get some facts, I found the builder was John Philip Hall DOB 3/26/1941. Lots of run-ins with the law, many times for driving without/suspended license (1993-1995). Then his name just falls off the record for Cumberland County.

"The home was built in segments by businessman John P. Hall from 1969 to 1985. He spent $2 million on it, but never finished it. The house contained indoor racquetball and squash courts, a bomb shelter and 17 fireplaces and a 25-car garage, among other amenities.

Hall declared bankruptcy in 1993 and everything at the site was included in a public auction. The property yielded a bid of $200,000 at that auction, which was rejected as too low.

Perhaps a byproduct of its high visibility, the Hall Mansion generated plenty of attention in the years following the bankruptcy, most of it negative. Once vacated, it became a popular party spot for area teenagers.

In March 1995, Ernest Barr Jr., 22, fell to his death in the tower’s elevator shaft. Police reported that Barr, of Mt. Holly Springs, was with a group of friends and they had been drinking prior to the accident.

One month later, a roaring fire tore through the mansion. The cause of the blaze was never determined."--

Info/story on ski resort property:

Anonymous said...

I was his niece this a quarter of the story and most of you are wrong

Anonymous said...

I was his niece this a quarter of the story and most of you are wrong

Anonymous said...

Why don't you tell us more, niece?

Unknown said...

I remember delivering heating oil to this place in the early 90s. Before it was burnt up at least.

Robyn said...

Erin's story, she is correct, a scuba diver did die on the property in the pond. He was working on the drain but was not caught in any suction. First responders who were called to the scene that night when he didn't return home pulled him out of the water but it was too late. They believed he drowned because of where they found him.The coroner found that he had had a stroke. They believe he knew he was in trouble because his weight belt was found at the bottom of the pond.