WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.

For years it's been simply called “the castle” and a legendary local site for decades…and yeah, I went to a few parties there.

It’s been over fifty years since I set foot inside, and I only recall the most vivid aspects of the place: the six-story tower, the balcony…and the dungeon (or, if you prefer, ‘cellar’). A guy I knew who worked at Jackson Community College owned it at the time and had Halloween parties there. We’d have guys dressed in some kind of monster costumes running around through the woods alongside the long, winding dirt drive that led up the hill to the castle – in order to startle the incoming guests.

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Whether the haunted rumors are true or not is open for speculation or whatever you want to believe…but I’ll relate something weird that happened to me when I visited late one night decades ago. It was around a quarter to midnight and I was with three other people: two guys and my girlfriend. We parked our car way down by the road and made the trek up that long driveway thru the woods to the castle. When we got there, it was dark. No lights on, no vehicle…and the place was seemingly unoccupied. We looked around for a minute and then went around to the tower. I went up to the door and cautiously attempted to turn the doorknob. As I placed my hand on the door, I heard a low growl coming from the other side. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr……”

“Uh-Oh” I thought. Maybe someone does live here and they have a dog. Needless to say, we all turned and began heading back down the drive to the road. We got about a hundred feet away when the tower door opened and we heard the sound of running paws and frenzied growls…all heading our way. The two guys took off screaming; I grabbed my girl by the hand and we attempted to run but it’s not that easy when you’re holding onto someone. I had no choice but to stop, pick up a big stick, and wait for this approaching animal to reach us. Then all of a sudden –– the running abruptly stopped. No slowing down, it just STOPPED. Like someone lifting the needle off a record. “WTF?” I said. And that was it. The running didn’t resume…it was as if something lifted this animal off the ground while it was running toward us. Just plain weird. Years later, I found out that an owner used to scare off trespassers with a German Shepherd. Okay, that may explain the growling, but what’s the explanation for the frenzied four-legged running sound that suddenly went silent?

So what about this place? Where did it come from?  What’s its story?

It came from Max Helmer, concert violinist who performed for Europe royalty in the 1920s. His dad Fred worked in Jackson as a banker and willed the land to Max. Upon inspecting the land, Max recalled a six-story castle he saw while performing in Nuremburg, Germany. Built in 1929, the tower was constructed by using 500 tons of fieldstone from a nearby farm and 300 barrels of cement. The tower’s first five floors were intended as bedrooms with their own fireplaces and all connected by a spiral staircase. The sixth floor was added as a solution to fix a leaking roof. The cellar was actually meant as a dungeon, with access being a trap door on the first floor of the main structure.

Max Helmer passed away on Dec. 5, 1948 at age 55. Urban legends say he was murdered, but no…he suffered a heart attack. Another urban legend says a European castle was dismantled and was shipped over to America, stone-by-stone, until it was entirely rebuilt on the property. Nope. ‘Fraid not.

In 1975, local filmmakers were allowed inside to make the horror movie “The Demon Lover” starring Ron Hiveley.

Currently, you can see the place for yourself, but only with reservations. Check out their website and see for yourself at helmercastle.com!

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