Permit Problem Threatens Halloween Season at Famed Baltimore Haunted House

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Courtesy Bennett's Curse Haunted House/Facebook
Courtesy Bennett’s Curse Haunted House/Facebook

Scare-seekers who were planning to face off with demons, vampires, zombies and the like at Bennett’s Curse in South Baltimore this month may need to look elsewhere.

The owners of the nationally recognized haunted house behind M&T Bank Stadium are unable to open their space for Halloween season because they cannot obtain a use and occupancy permit from the city, multiple outlets report. The fire marshal’s office has denied them the permit because they have not installed a sprinkler system.

Jill and Allan Bennett had intended to open Bennett’s Curse five days ago and have already lost plenty of business as a result of being shuttered. At least 10,000 people attended the attraction last year, Jill Bennett told the Baltimore Sun.

“Not opening is going to destroy us,” she said.

The Bennetts started their haunted house business 15 years ago at Arundel Mills Mall and moved it to Blob’s Park in Jessup before coming to South Baltimore in 2015.

Last year, they encountered little resistance from the fire marshal’s office when opening, though fire inspectors did stop in 10 days before they were set to close up shop and observed some issues, Jill Bennett told FOX45. As a result, the city kept the space on a fire watch for the remainder of the Halloween season.

This year, fire inspectors told them they would need to install a sprinkler system to get their use and occupancy permit. The Bennetts were unable to afford it, and their landlord said he was unwilling to pay. However, they took to other measures, spending $40,000 on smoke alarms and a fire detection system that they say can more quickly detect smoke than an everyday sprinkler system. Their fire consultants vouched for them, too.

“We’ve done our research,” Jill Bennett said to FOX45. “We’ve hired experts.”

Despite all of their efforts, the fire marshal’s office has not budged. A Baltimore City Fire Department and Fire Marshal’s Office spokesperson has not responded to a message requesting an update as of Tuesday morning.

Five years ago, Baltimore Fishbowl’s own Kristin Hughes visited Bennett’s Curse at its former space in Jessup and called it “the best haunted house I’ve ever been to.” The additions of a 3D underworld, the so-called Ravenbrook Asylum and other features have likely made it even scarier.

But if the owners can’t obtain the required operating permit soon, fright-seekers in Baltimore may just have to wait another year to live out Bennett’s Curse.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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