Culbertson Mansion’s Literally A Haunted House

Students, staff volunteer at Literally A Haunted House during the spooky season as a way to restore the Culbertson Mansion to it’s former glory.


Nicole Richert, Reporter

The Culbertson Mansion, we’ve all heard of her spooky tails but it’s Literally A Haunted House. 

Junior Mia Kerberg has volunteered every weekend this season and says she keeps coming back because of their inclusive community as well as the way that everyone treats each other like family. 

“In my room there’s a pretty dark hallway and people swear up and down that there’s someone else in there with me when in reality there’s only been three nights where there was another person doing a scene with me,” Kerberg said.

Literally A Haunted House, located in the carriage house behind the Culbertson Mansion, is known to be one of the longest running haunted houses in the region as it came about in 1987.

NAHS science teacher Mrs. Debbie Heaberlin volunteers as well because she loves the friendships made there, but she says she also enjoys “scaring grown men”. 

“I saw that they needed help when my daughter had to do it for school in seventh grade, so we decided to do it as a mom and daughter thing after Covid,” Heaberlin said. “They were so short-handed that I decided to stay, but I always had a lifelong dream to work at a haunted house. I enjoy getting out of my normal and working outside of school with my students, getting on a more personal level, being human,” 

Before the embodiment of evil, Anguish, took over the mansion, the state of Indiana took ownership of the house in 1976 after the mansion was supposed to be demolished in 1962.

Senior Pierson Scott is a longtime recurring volunteer to help restore the historic site.

“I was in eighth grade the first time I did a haunted house and I had a jump scare role,” Scott said. “Back then I was pretty shy since I didn’t know anyone there, but I got the hang of scaring once I got the chance to do more interactive roles.”

The state started exterior reservations in 1980, but shortly after the staff and the Friends of Culbertson Mansion began working to restore the original interior which is a  non-profit organization that began to promote and develop the Culbertson Mansion.

Freshman Emma Lesnet, who is a volunteer as well, is helping restore the beautiful mansions interior and exterior by haunting with the Anchor Club. 

“I believe more people should volunteer because it’s an extremely fun experience,” Lesnet said. “You can also flaunt in the future that you worked at a haunted house! I find that if you like to scare your friends or family or really anyone then, this would be a really good ‘job’ to do.”

The Culbertson Mansion’s restoration is funded by profits from Literally A Haunted House, which has contributed over a million dollars to the mansion’s restoration, according to SoIn. 

“Where else can you get community service hours by scaring people? It helps preserve a historic sight, but I also get meet new people and have fun,” Haeberlin said. 

William Culbertson, the richest man in Indiana at the time of 1869, built the downtown New Albany mansion as a work of art and filled it with the finest things.

“I don’t know much about the history of the mansion other than that the man who owned the mansion was the richest person in Indiana at the time, the mansion was built in 1867 and had a cost of $120,000,” Lesnet said.

Even though Literally A Haunted Houses’ whole purpose is to scare people, scaring little children was William Culbertson’s was nowhere near his original intent. 

“Last year, we were working in the attic moving the elevator area and we heard a thump and we heard stuff and we both heard it so we stopped the haunt and made a security guard come up there and look around,” Haeberlin said. 

William Culbertson purposely bought the most prestigious land in downtown New Albany to showcase the beautiful build of the house, inspired by the style of Georgian Revival. 

“I don’t know much about the Culbertson’s but I think of the mansion as a time capsule, I see it as a glimpse into the 19th century and it’s amazing to walk through a mansion that looks just like it did 150 plus years ago,” Scott said. 

However, the non-profit haunted house, Literally A Haunted House is inspired by the story of Anguish this year’s haunt.