The hotel at the corner of 63rd and Wallace in Englewood, designed by, built for, and owned by Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, was much more than just a place to lay your head during the years around the World’s Columbian Exposition. Holmes’ hotel, which later became known as the “Murder Castle,” was also the final resting place for handfuls of unsuspecting victims.
Holmes, who was constantly hiring and firing work crews, was the only person to fully understand the design of the hotel. The first floor contained his drug store, while the second and third floors “contained his personal office and a maze of over one hundred windowless rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, doors that could only be opened from the outside, and a host of other strange and labyrinthine constructions,” all put into place with murder in mind.
Holmes, who mainly preyed on females, tortured and killed his victims in various ways. He would lock them “in soundproof bedrooms fitted with gas lines that let him asphyxiate them at any time,” or he would lock them “in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office where they were left to suffocate,” among other horrific methods. Holmes would then drop dead the bodies down a secret chute to the basement where they “were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools.”
While the total number of his victims has never been confirmed (it could be more than 200), Holmes confessed to 27 murders during his time in Englewood.