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Haas-Lilienthal House Flashlight Tours

The Haas - Lilienthal House

The Haas-Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin St., San Francisco

Reviewed by The Hauntmistress, 10/14/05

The Haas-Lilienthal House is a beautiful 1886 Eastlake/Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion in San Francisco that most people would kill to live in and if you were a ghost I'm sure you'd refuse to leave. This makes it a perfect setting for a haunted house! And so this October marks the first time the doors have been opened for flashlight "haunted house" tours.

The mansion was formerly the home of William Haas, who was born in Bavaria in 1849. The Haas family immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in San Francisco in October of 1868. The Haas family immediately set to work building a grocery empire. It wasn't long before their business prospered and they hired architect Peter R. Schmidt to build them a home befitting their success. In 1886 the house was completed. The Haas family lived in the home until 1972 and, according to the home's website,  it is now the only intact private home of the period that is open regularly as a museum, complete with authentic furniture and artifacts.  And this month, possibly a ghost or two!

In homage to the home's elegant design and finishing, instead of going over the top and fashioning the house into a gore in your face haunted house in the usual commercial sense, the Haas-Lilienthal House plays it smart and sticks with what it knows – tours, but with a decidedly delightful twist!

Before entering the house you sign a waiver. Not a problem - I figured it was in case I broke anything antique-y or something. But upon reading the form, it asked questions such as have you ever been thrown out of a two-story window or had cyanide poisoning! A very nice and surprising opening act to the evening's tour! After signing the waver you can grab mini-flashlights (they were painted over with what looked like red nail polish so it was never quite bright in the house no matter how many flashlights were on!). I grabbed two and was told to grab more in case one of mine broke. I didn’t, and yes one of them broke! I thought that was a nice trick and was almost convinced they 
planned it.

Once you’re locked inside, I mean led inside, a disarmingly proper English butler leads you on a tour through the house, starting in the foyer and leading you through rooms such as the parlor, sitting parlor, dining room, kitchen, backyard, “laboratory”, bathroom, bedrooms, and ballroom. He relays to you the story of a doctor and his sister who had a scary baby (boy, girl, who knows what it was!) that needed to be locked up in smaller and smaller rooms in the house so it wouldn't hurt anyone. The story, while not part of any reality the house has known, plays perfectly in the dimly lit interiors of the mansion.

The tour is both funny and creepy at the same time. The house is decorated sparsely (doesn’t need much with it being so dark) but is exactly what you’d expect to see in a real haunted house (cobwebs, spiders, rats, and other surprises) as opposed to over-the-top gore. There are unexpected shocks along the tour and an eerie feeling just being in a truly old, creaking house with barely any light. In fact, everyone on the tour screamed at one point or another. They got me very good on at least three occasions.

The intimate group I was with were really enthusiastic about the tour, making it fun and exciting. I hope the flashlight tours become a new San Francisco tradition! I for one will definitely be back and I encourage you to experience for yourself this wonderfully eclectic tour.

A word of warning – parking is tough! Come early to cruise around for free street parking, take public transportation, or plan to park in a parking garage and walk a several blocks.

Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area. Or if you're reading this review in a year other than it was written, please check our Events Calendar for current dates and hours of operation.

Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this haunt in our forums!

When October 7, 14, 21, 28, 2005: 7 pm and 8:30 pm
Where 2007 Franklin St., San Francisco
Admission $15
Contact http://www.sfheritage.org

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