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Bump in the night

Bryan residents cultivate hotel's hauted past

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 01:10


David Cohen

Trapped under almost a century of ghoulish history, winding black trails of surprising horrors lash out at unsuspecting community members at the historic LaSalle Hotel in downtown Bryan.

The haunted house attraction, “Fright Nights,” captures the imagination of vistors in the basement of LaSalle — full of haunted stories. The building opened in 1928 and was converted to a nursing home in 1959. Some locals, such as front desk agent Bobby Chambers, said the hotel was even an insane asylum for some time.

After it was shut down for several years, the building reopened as a hotel.

Squeaking doors and the rustling of thin black tarps against the basement walls would be enough for some people to second-guess their entry into the haunted house, but some dare to enter anyway.

“When you walk in it’s really dark,” Chambers said. “You can’t see anything. There are lots of little turns, so you have no idea when something is going to happen, but you know that it is. Everywhere you go, you have to wonder if something is coming out at you. It’s nerve-wrenching.”

The event is organized by a group of volunteers from around the Bryan area. One of the volunteers, Jeff Sparks, said he and a friend used to put on a haunted house in his yard. But they found out in 2011 that the hotel put on a haunted house and asked if they could be a part of it.

After putting countless hours of work into it, they were invited back this year to help again.

Jeff’s son, Jordan Sparks, was the brainchild of this year’s operation. As a computer science major at Sam Houston State University, Jordan’s specialty is design. He designed the entire haunted house this year and spent almost 200 hours on the project.

“It was all planning and constructing,” Jordan said. “I just started writing it down on graphing paper.”

Although he didn’t want to spoil any scenes, Jeff did mention his costume. He said he is playing the role of Michael Myers this year.

“Most people don’t like my character at all, and most of the girls are scared of me,” Jeff said. “I did get punched in the face Saturday night, but that was the first time I’ve ever had that happen. The most frustrating thing is that some people call me ‘Jason.’ I’m not Jason.”

As if the characters through the winding trails of darkness are not enough to scare people, the hotel has a fear factor of its own. Chambers said most guests of the hotel say the sixth floor is haunted, but nobody knows why. He said it could have something to do with the dead body of a man found outside the hotel several years ago.

“A guy was going to buy the hotel and he was up on the roof measuring,” Chambers said. “He either fell off or got pushed off, I don’t know, but they found his body.”

Another creepy aspect of the old hotel is the boiler room. The boiler is too heavy to be moved, so it still sits there. Jordan said he heard that a few dead bodies were found in the room before it became a hotel. He said the bodies belonged to homeless people who were living in the room while the building was not in use.

As a preview to the ending scene of the haunted house, Jeff said one attendee came with a date, and when he got to the last scene, he must have forgotten he had a date because he ran out the door.

“It’s really creepy,” said LaSalle bartender Erica Peaslee. “I think I screamed most of the time. You know when [attendees] are going through, because you can hear the vibrations.”


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