ARTICLES: Church Street Terrors by Michael GavinImages and Article Copyright © 2002 Michael Gavin
An empty Terror on Church Street building, Orange Avenue and Church Street in downtown Orlando, Florida.
It was a sad day for me when the original Terror on Church Street closed its doors in May of 1999. That closure marked an end to activity on the corner of Church Street and Orange Ave that had been constant since the 1800’s.
Downtown Orlando was just starting to boom when Cassius Boone opened his hardware and furniture store on the northeast corner of Pine Street and Orange Avenue in the 1870's. It was the largest store of its kind in the State of Florida at that time. Mr. Boone would leave a strong imprint on the blossoming new town. He was a schoolmaster at Public School number one (which was located where the Downtown Baptist church now stands); he was the tax collector for time and served a short term as Mayor of Orlando. His passion, however, was citrus. There is an early maturing orange that he developed known as "Boone’s Early". He eventually traded the hardware store to Mr. Guernsey for a citrus grove.
The hardware business was turned over to the Bumby family 1921 (Mr. Guernsey had passed away and the Bumby's already had a strong hold on the hardware market down the street-a very lucrative location next to the railroad tracks on Church Street).
Woolworth's came to corner on Church and Orange shortly thereafter and built the present structure. They would remain there until the late 1980's. As retail moved out to the malls and strip malls, another tenant moved in. In 1991 Orlando Monster's Incorporated opened a "permanent" haunted attraction. It was known worldwide as Terror on Church Street. Elaborate sets and effective actors made this a very popular tourist destination until its closing in May 1999.
This was, for all intensive purposes a theater company. A talented director, accomplished actors and a strong staff made this attraction one that is still talked about with fond but jittery memories of those who survived the 20 minute passage through its halls. Some of those memories were not of scary monsters, creepy make up and eerie sets, but of things that "really" go bump in the night. After all this was a theater and theaters attract ghosts!
According to several of the former actors more than one set at the attraction made them feel very uneasy. Even patrons have mentioned the young African-American boy that was sometimes seen wandering about.
Throughout the course of any given night the employees would be given one or two breaks. This was usually done by having management or another actor follow a group through the maze and announce the break. On several occasions, actors have seen a robed figure they assumed to be the "break actor" pass through their set, only to find the actor on the next set saw no such individual. . .