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DungeonOfDoom

The Origin of Dungeon Of Doom dates way back to the establishment of Arlington, TX in 1877.

According to Arlington historians, an 1876 plat for the original town site shows five east-west streets and seven North-South streets within a half mile square. There were many natural springs, which made the land suitable for farming. Location, access to transportation, and a means for a local economy made Arlington better suited for growth and prosperity. The 1880 U.S. Census shows eight general merchants, three drug stores, a lumber dealer, two physicians, a hotel keeper, a saloon operator and various other occupations including farming. The total population was 275 people. Continued growth led Arlington to incorporate on April 21, 1884.

Citing the need for accessible water in central Arlington, Rice Wood Collins, a successful merchant, started a public well campaign in 1891. In response, the city drilled a well at the intersection of main and center streets in the following years. Mineral-laced water flowed from the well. It was believed to have medicinal qualities, and a market developed for the water and its crystals.

The well was drilled in 1893 by Sam Shafer, who was then partnered with Walter Sharp, who operated a water well drilling company with his brother. Walter Sharp would later move on to oil drilling which led to the development of the Rock Bit in 1901. The development of that bit would lead to a new alliance in 1908 with Howard Hughes Jr. in the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company.

The city of Arlington was not a wealthy community and therefore proposed to Sam and Walter that their payment for drilling the well would be investments in the city. Pleased with the offer, they both agreed. Sam would take ownership of the three drug stores while Walter opted for ownership of the town saloon and hotel as they stood atop and adjacent to the well, which would be the first to have running water.

The well played a significant role in Arlingtonʼs early days as a growing city, becoming the focal point for political rallies, parades, cotton sales and the sale of the mineral water itself. By city ordinance in 1895, the well became the corner point of the cityʼs four new political wards.

In 1910, the Commercial Club, predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce, funded the construction of two ornate fountains atop a concrete basin around the well. Mineral water flowed through lion heads perched on a four-sided pyramid while a second fountain watered animals. In the 1920s, the well-site received another facelift. Part of the platform was later enclosed with brick and plate glass windows as a display room for Arlington Crystals.

Though it was not a significant source of income, Walterʼs businesses would be passed down through generations, finally ending up in the hands of his nephew, Matthew Sharp. Matt would later sell the hotel back to the city of Arlington in late 1929 in hopes of alleviating the stress of the financial struggle he had gotten himself into during the great depression. However, that may not have been enough, as Matt was found hung in a barn on his property while his wife was found poisoned in the dining room of their house on the Sharp Family Estate that year. Speculation says the stock market crash may have played an important role but we may never really know for certain. The old building had a colorful history from this point forward. Prohibition outlawed the possession or sale of alcohol and an old bar downtown near the police station was not a wise choice for a speakeasy. During this time the building was leased out and used as a pasta factory and later a facility to manufacture parts for mattresses. At some point just before the 2nd world war it was once again a bar and then finally shut down for good in 1950.

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In 1951, due to the cityʼs growth and increasing traffic, the well was permanently capped under the intersectionʼs pavement, and the inevitable growth of the city led to the destruction and movement of many of the original structures to make way for more modern buildings. The old saloon that Walter owned, was to be moved and a modern two story JC Penney department store would take its place. The store would later become the Arlington Art Museum in 1987. Since the Sharp family held the deed for the saloon, it was to be moved to the Sharp Family Estate in Red Oak, TX. Otherwise, it was to simply be demolished where it stood. Since it was constructed simply and soundly it was easy enough to move and many of the reinforcements the building movers installed are still in place. It was placed on a new slab just east of the barn and during the reconstruction it also got a new metal roof. It stands to reason that the old cedar roof was probably just not worth the effort of trying to remove in one piece.

Upon reconstruction of the saloon in 1953, the current family and workers began experiencing many unexplained actions taking place in the old saloon. Several spoke of hearing laughter, others hearing screaming and pounding of walls, while others would speak of mischief since tools and furniture would show up missing, only to be found later blocking doors as if trying to lock someone in. There had been speculation and rumors that several people had died as a result of drinking the well water during a period of time it had been found to be “tainted” and even more speculation that that may have ultimately been the cause for capping it off and discontinuing its use. Indeed, a handful of death certificates from the area do make mention of “Accidental Ingestion of Natural Toxins,” which is essentially a fancy word for unintentional poisoning. The news even posted letters from people who were claiming that someone they knew had been poisoned by the well water. The rumors and speculation indicate that perhaps those who died from the bad water never left the building which was nearest the well. Investigations at the time pointed towards a local doctor named Kane Milton who may have poisoned the cities only source of water with hallucinagenic chemicals.

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The family found that the former saloon is haunted by four distinctly different “entities”, recognized by their different traits that each would deploy upon the workers during construction of the saloon. The identities of the spirits are unknown but it is widely believed that the house holds the spirits of an angry old drunken gentleman, a pessimistic female and two younger mischievous adults, possibly related. The hauntings were everything from playful to severe and occasionally even violent, possibly from such exposure to chemicals. This led to the general disuse of the old building. Indeed, in more recent times when the property the haunted house sits on now was used for its current purpose, very little old equipment was stored inside this particular building.

At some point, four stone turrets were set atop the saloon, each a representation of the well capped off with a cross. A face on each cross can be seen representing each of the “four” personalities. The saloon would sit sealed and weathered for the next 30 years or so until it would be opened to the public as a haunted house in 1989. The old saloon would now be known as Dungeon of Doom, the name coming from the original door to the building which people always said looked like it belonged in a dungeon or castle. The buildingʼs alleged haunted past is just a side note to it currently being a haunted house, the idea of one really had nothing to do with the other. It was decided early on that a building with a sketchy past might not be the best setting for family entertainment and it was decided to not make public mention of the stories. But people are insatiable for this sort of thing and people demand to hear the tales of the old building. There are times when unexpected things happen, the house lights still turn on and off and props and set pieces move in the night. Itʼs not uncommon once or twice in a season for a patron to encounter a staff member in plain clothes who was rude to them. The unfortunate side for them is that we have no such person on staff. The spirits are probably still inside the old building which is now referred to as the Dungeon of Doom. It's said that Kane Milton still resides within the saloon walls, waiting for patients to arrive. Youʼll pay to enter, but youʼll pray to leave.

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