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Ashmore Estates gears up for a haunting good time Friday night
Eric Hiltner (JG/T-C)
Tanya and Scott Kelly, the owners of Ashmore Estates, are preparing for their 'Night of Insanity' Slumber Party starting at 7 p.m. Friday and ending the following morning at 8 a.m. There will be speakers on the paranormal and local legends, as well as a scary movie.

ASHMORE — People can camp overnight inside creepy Ashmore Estates, where they may share space with the ghosts some people say haunt the building.

Owners Scott and Tanya Kelley plan to host their first Night of Insanity Slumber Party on Friday, with a second one set for July 6, at the Ashmore Estates building located along Illinois Route 16 east of Charleston. Check-in is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. Friday.

The evening will begin with a presentation by Eastern Illinois University graduate student Michael Kleen, author of the Legends and Lore of Coles County digital newsletter.

Betty Vanleer of Springfield will then discuss her ancestor Joe Bloxom, who resided at Ashmore Estates when it was a county poor farm. Scott Kelley said Bloxom died there in 1921, at age 67, after being struck by a train in Ashmore. Kelley said Bloxom’s spirit is thought to haunt the building.

Kelley said special guests for the program will include Juli Valezquez from the International Society of Paranormal Investigations and Cari Stone from The Cari Stone Show, a radio program about paranormal phenomena.

The program will close with pizza, conversation and the showing of a scary movie. The lights will be turned off at midnight so visitors can settle in for their stay, but they should not be surprised if they hear bumps in the night, organizers said.

“It will be an eventful evening. Fun and terror will be had by all,” Kelley said with mischief in his voice. A continental breakfast will be available for guests remaining in the morning.

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Ashmore Estates was constructed in 1916 as a county poor farm. The building later housed developmentally disabled adults before closing in 1987 because of a lack of government funding. Ashmore Estates sat empty for many years and became the subject of supernatural urban myths.

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The Kelleys, who are longtime proprietors of area haunted houses, purchased Ashmore Estates last year and held a haunted house there during the Halloween season. They have branched out by offering flashlight tours throughout the year and hosting their first slumber parties, while preparing for their 2007 haunted house.

“We can have as many as 50 people in the building,” Kelley said of the slumber party. “We have three floors. We have lots of spaces.”

Ashmore Estates still bears the marks of its years of being neglected and vandalized. Tanya Kelley advised that overnight guests should bring their own sleeping gear, because there are no beds, and bug repellent, because there are few windows. Flashlights are also recommended.

Entry on Friday is $85 for a stay in one of the rooms that are purported to be the most haunted and $35 for the other rooms. Those interested should contact the Kelleys by noon Friday at 512-9499 or at www.ashmoreestates.net.

Contact Rob Stroud at rstroud@jg-tc.com or 348-5734.

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