Baltimore, Have You Been to “Hell House”?

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Image via Forsaken Fotos/Flickr
Image via Forsaken Fotos/Flickr

I thought I knew about all the spooky abandoned places within an hour’s drive of Baltimore. Turns out there was at least one I missed. It looks creepy, and it sounds even scarier.

Atlas Obscura, that wonderful almanac of strange spots across the globe, recently featured the so-called Hell House Altar, in the woods of Patapsco Valley State Park, not far from Ellicott City. The ruined altar used to be part of a building of St. Mary’s College and Seminary, a 19th century school (not to be confused with this St. Mary’s College). The buildings were abandoned in 1972 and have been a magnet to explorers ever since.

So why does this perfectly lovely (if kind of ruined) altar have such a sinister name? Well, depending on who you believe, it was either used in Satanic rituals… or it was given its name by bored kids trying to scare themselves. In any case, it certainly has a stark kind of beauty. As soon as this snow melts, I might head out there. Readers, have you been?



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16 COMMENTS

    • There is no “entrance” and it’s not really on park property. Technically it’s illegal to even be there. But people go anyway. You have to park under a bridge and hike your way up there.

  1. Long history up there. Supposedly they were cooking meth in the abandoned building at one point. A caretaker actually shot someone. All the buildings were bulldozed after a fire. Nothing much left up there now.

  2. It’s off of River Road, not accessed through the park. Park under the tressell bridge and walk up the hill. There is a staircase in the woods that leads up to the grounds.

  3. It’s off of Bonnie Branch Rd and River Rd behind the old paper mill. I grew up about a mile from there.

  4. Have I ever been there?!?!?!? Only a dozen or so times… and since many of the older kids had ruined all the good adventure for us younger ones, a cop was always waiting for us– stopping us just before we got to climb up! Those roads around Hell house are epic as well!– Leading over “Crybaby Bridge”, Seven Hills (barely seven hills anymore), Asylum road, and more… Great memories! 🙂

  5. Park on the Baltimore County side of River Road. They wont ticket you. It’s an amazing site, lits if relics (including a swimming pool) up in the woods. Old pictures show headstones around the altar. Have fun!

  6. This was definitely not kids trying to scare themselves. There was no meth being made there back in our days (late 80’s), but there was some bizzare stuff happening up on that hill. We were chased by dogs and people from that place on more than one occasion.

  7. I’ve been there many many times…there is a old pool further back on the property also. There are steps that take you to the foundation of the main building…circle around to the left and you’ll see old thin steps and trail…follow that and you’ll find it…

  8. Been there many many times. There is an old school peace bus (what I like to call it) there. Not much left of it now but you can see bullet holes all over it. There is also a well and an old pool. Take a digital camera with you at night if you go. You will get some shots of orbs. Crazy stuff has happend there at night whenever I have gone. If you believe in ghosts and hauntingly then this is the place to go at night!

  9. Went here all the time in theate eighties!!! There would always be groups of people sneezing up the creepy steep stone steps. Then we would be chased away by God knows who and the sounds of dogs barking. Great times! Anyone from Ellicott City in their forties knows about Hell House.

  10. Most of the buildings were knocked down in the early 2000’s but if you walk through the woods there’s still a few cool things left that haven’t been consumed in vegetation

  11. So mostly everything is torn down now except the cross and the structure around it plus the remnants of the foundation. They even tore down the paper mill right next to it which btw they kept finding bodies in. Strange things do still happen at hell house though im not certain on the actual history of the place. Officially your still trespassing but they don’t chase you or anything anymore not for a few years now. Worth a look definitely.

  12. IT’s by the abandoned textile factory right after the CSX crossing. Near the remains of the tap house… IF your familiar with the area that should get you there.

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