There are some fear-inducing incidents that occur on job sites that fall outside of near-misses, injuries, and accidents. They drift into the realm of the frightful and unexplained to send a suspenseful chill down the spine of readers. And we’ve decided to celebrate the spooky season by rounding up the most popular of these supernatural job site stories — from our backyard and around the nation. Enjoy these terrifying tales and consider saving a few for a Halloween-themed toolbox talk at the end of the month.
Read Dunning School/Taft Freshman Academy – Chicago, IL
A major part of construction is choosing the right location. And the location choice for Taft Freshman Academy in Chicago — renamed from the Read Dunning School — was particularly poor. Construction of the three-story school in 2018 took place over part of an area formerly occupied by the Cook County Poor Farm and Insane Asylum. Builders and condo developers working in the same area during the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s found corpses and human remains while preparing the foundations for buildings. This led to the discovery that the land contained as many as 40,000 unmarked graves of patients and occupants of the former insane asylum.
H.H. Holmes Home and Hotel – Chicago, IL
It helps to get the full context of a project before beginning construction. The mixed-use home and hotel of H. H. Holmes in the late 1800’s is one of Chicago’s most infamous construction projects. Holmes hired several groups of contractors to work on different portions of his three-story building to ensure no one group would learn the full layout of the odd, maze-like interior filled with trapdoors, false hallways, and windowless rooms. This is because Holmes used the building as an elaborate trap to lure at least 27 victims from the 1893 World’s Fair to their doom. This led the hotel to be dubbed H.H. Holmes “Murder Castle”. The only structure left from the original building is a basement where maintenance workers report odd sightings and feelings of intense anxiety to this day.
Marina City – Chicago, IL
Some projects have the best of intentions but fatal setbacks. The construction of Marina City between 1961 and 1968 set out to create a self-contained “city within a city”. And the corncob towers have added an iconic view along the Chicago riverfront. But incidents during construction have led many to call the towers cursed. Three workers plummeted to their death in 1961 when scaffolding fell from the 43rd floor. Then six men were injured when an elevator malfunctioned. And another worker fell from scaffolding on the 40th floor the following year. The curse continued after construction was finished with seven more fatalities reported in the towers during the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, including a real-estate developer and manager of the Marina City Theater.
Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, CA
Most find it hard to believe that multiple maze-like homes were built in the late 1800’s in this country. But here is another to follow up Holmes’ “Murder Castle”. The Winchester Mystery House was commissioned in 1886 by Sara Winchester in San Jose after her daughter and husband passed from separate illnesses but Sara suspected foul play. She believed both of their deaths were caused by ghostly intervention and then chose to construct the oddly shaped manor to defend against spirit intruders. Sara continually brought in new contractors to add increasingly confusing additions and features to the home such as staircases that led to nowhere, winding hallways, and doors that opened to bare walls or steep drops. The manor was never officially finished and was in progress until Sara passed in 1922.
Denver International Airport – Denver, CO
The Denver International Airport seems like an odd choice on a list of haunted places but it has more than earned its place. This airport is surrounded by tales of curses, conspiracies, and deaths. The building contains a number of items that make visitors jump to supernatural conclusions including odd art murals, gargoyles in the baggage claim, and a time capsule with a dedication and commemoration from the Freemasons. But few things compare to the looming blue Bronco statue out front. The 32-foot Blue Mustang statue features glowing red eyes to greet visitors as they enter the airport. It also partially collapsed and killed its creator in 2006 which led to many speculating that both the statue and airport are demonic and cursed.
The New York State Education Building – Albany, New York
Nothing about the outside New York State Education Building would lead people to believe it had haunted origins. But looks can be deceiving. Stories say that an Italian stonemason fell into a portion of the basement while cement was being poured into the space. The cruel foreman chose to bypass helping the poor man and instead yelled out to his crew to “keep pouring”. This has led many to dub the basement of the building “the dungeon”. Visitors allege that the ghost of the stonemason can be seen and heard while wandering around the basement alone. Locals can’t agree whether the ghost named “Jason” is a friendly or frightful spirit though.
Stories for certain projects are carried with workers throughout their lives. Make sure the stories workers tell about your organization’s projects are filled with pride rather than spooky tales of caution. Team up with the safety management experts at Amerisafe Group to build a stable safety culture and keep employees’ lives and well-being front and center on all projects. Leave the tricks of injuries and accidents out of the job site. And treat your workers with safe working conditions, education, and clear guidelines
Amerisafe Group provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance.