Lisa is an artist who has been trapped in Texas for over a decade. She enjoys photographing weird and wonderful Texas landmarks.
A Haunting Piece of Local History
The Woodmen's Circle Home was a group of large, seemingly abandoned red brick buildings that sat on a 15-acre piece of land in Sherman, Texas. Since the 1990s, the buildings fell into serious disrepair, passing through the hands of one investment group after another without care or improvements.
Local residents often shook their heads as they drove by, lamenting the waste of letting a once beautiful property decay into a ruined state. There were also local legends about this property being haunted, and it was often included on lists of haunted houses in Texas.
The property was sometimes erroneously referred to as the Woodman's Home, Woodman's Circle, the Sherman orphanage, or the haunted orphanage.
Background on the Home
The Supreme Forest of the Woodmen Circle was founded in the late 1800s on a radical idea: to allow women to purchase insurance. One of its founding members, Dora Alexander Talley, was the driving force behind the building of the Woodmen's Circle Home. She envisioned a home for widowed or retired insured members and the orphaned children of members.
Dora Alexander Talley helped choose the 240-acre site, previously known as LeBaron Farm, on a hill three miles west of Downtown Sherman. The ground was broken on the home in November 1928, and the main building was opened in 1930. The Pennsylvania building was added in 1933, and the west wing was added in 1941.
By 1938, the home that Dora envisioned was considered so successful that the main building was named the Dora Alexander Talley Building. Between 1930 and its closure in 1971, Woodmen's Circle was home to over 100 children and 165 elderly women, who otherwise might have had nowhere else to go.
Former Residents of the Home
This 2010 video from the Herald Democrat, the local Grayson County newspaper, includes interviews with former residents of the Woodmen's Circle Home, who speak about what it was like to live there.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
In 1971, the home was closed, in part for failing to meet local building codes. It was purchased shortly afterward by the first of a series of investment groups.
From 1977 through 1981, the main building was leased to Dr. Ariel Sherman and the Good Shepherd Tabernacle church. The local rumor was that this was a Satanist cult, but this was just idle gossip. However, in the late '80s, members of the same church had legal difficulties in Oregon regarding the treatment of children. (For more on this, see the State of Oregon vs. Dale & Stephanie Tucker.) This served to increase the local legend that a child had died in the house and that it was haunted.
Vandalism and Damage
Throughout the 1980s, the home stood empty, passing through the hands of several investment groups. Eventually landing with Sunbelt Savings and going into receivership, the home became an attractive target for vandals. A series of fires on the property in the 1990s severely damaged the buildings and further fueled the stories that something was going on with this property that wasn't quite right.
The Woodmen's Circle Home and its surrounding acreage were purchased by David and Debbie McNees of the Resolution Trust Corporation. Since they acquired the property in the 1990s, no attempt was made to restore the buildings or protect them from further damage.
The End of an Era
Sadly, the City of Sherman decided to demolish the buildings in 2022. None of them are left standing.
Read More From Exemplore
A Lovely Subject to Photograph
I photographed the property many times over the course 20 years, usually outside the barbed wire fence, to comply with the posted No Trespassing signs. Above are some of my favorite photos of the exterior of the home from 2004.
A Brief Timeline
- 1927: The Supreme Woodmen's Circle acquired land in Sherman, guided by early president Dora Alexander Talley.
- 1928: Ground was broken on November 14th, and construction began.
- 1930: The administration building was dedicated, and the home was opened with a handful of young residents, including Lee & Edith Carmichael and Edwin, Sadie, Robert & Lillian Puliam.
- 1931–1935: More orphans moved into the home. By 1935, there were 50 children living there.
- 1948: The number of children living in the home fell to 4. Only 8 more children were taken in from 1948 onward.
- 1965: Only two children, Brandon and Sharon Moe, remained at the home. The founding organization merged into the Woodmen of the World insurance company.
- 1966: The last new resident was accepted in July 1966.
- 1971: The Woodmen's Circle Home closed, having sheltered more than 100 children, and 165 elderly. The home was purchased by a group of five attorneys.
- 1977–1980: The property was leased by Dr. Ariel Sherman and New Life Tabernacle.
- 1990: The remaining property was purchased by the current owners, David and Debbie McNees of the Resolution Trust Corporation.
- 1990s: A series of fires on the property cause many of the wood supports for roofs and upper floors to deteriorate.
- 2022: The buildings are demolished by the City of Sherman, and the property is now under redevelopment.
A Once in a Lifetime Event
On September 25, 2010, the Red River Historical Society arranged to have the property opened for public viewing. I was lucky enough to attend this event with my camera and plenty of empty SD cards.
The buildings were roped off, so only a limited area was available for viewing. Visitors were not allowed beyond the first floor of the main house, and we were blocked from going into the east and north sides of the building for safety reasons.
Even in the areas open to the public, the floors were soft in places and covered with several layers of carpet scraps. The roof had holes in it, which allowed the elements to take over the main building. It was readily apparent upon close viewing that this property was so far decayed that it could never be saved.
Above are some of the photos of the interior of the buildings I took that day.
Where to Find It
The Woodmen's Circle Home wass located at the intersection of Hwy. 56 & FM 1417 in Sherman, Texas. The property was fenced with barbed wire, and No Trespassing signs were posted.
So, Is It Haunted?
There are many local stories about The Woodmen's Circle Home, including that it might be haunted.
One story claims that a young boy fell down a well on the property, and his spirit still walks the grounds. However, there is no record of this event.
People often said they saw strange light, orbs, or faces in the photos they took of the house. I've taken thousands of photos of the property, inside and out, and have never seen anything that couldn't be explained. I've also never seen anything in anyone else's photos that seemed odd or out of place.
There are also stories of people entering the house, and seeing strange shadows, hearing noises, or having strange feelings. Having been in the house in broad daylight, with several hundred people around me, I can tell you that it's perfectly reasonable to get the creeps when visiting this house illegally. It's big, it's decaying, pieces of it are falling off, and birds and animals are now making their homes in it. The noises you may hear if you sneak into this house are of nature taking over.
Or, the house might really be haunted. Read these stories, and decide for yourself:
- Woodmen's Circle Home
Photographer Ken Kemp gives his impressions after his 2004 tour of the property.
- Abandoned Mansion in Sherman
Lots of local folks have left their comments on this page at Trip Advisor, documenting their experiences.
Another Peek Inside
This video from Night Rides was shot inside the Woodmen's Circle Home, in 2017. In it, you can see how much of the roof has now fallen, and the state of decay of some portions of the main building.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How can I find a list of orphans or widows who lived in the home in Sherman?
Answer: You might try contacting the Red River Historical Society. If they don't have a list, they should be able to put you in touch with someone who does, if it exists.
Question: Does the Red River Society still give tours of the orphanage home in Sherman?
Answer: As far as I know, the tour given by the Red River Historical Society was a one-time event. I haven't heard of another since 2010. Try contacting them to let them know that there's interest.
Question: Could someone possibly buy the Woodmen's Circle house to renovate it and try recreating it to the original orphanage?
Answer: Probably not. Someone does own it now, but my sense is that it's for the value of the property, rather than to do anything with the structures on it. The longer they wait to conserve the buildings, the greater the chance that they'll fall down on their own, putting an end to any idea that they might be saved.
Question: Do people still give tours of the Woodmen's Circle house? or is it too dangerous?
Answer: To my knowledge, there has only been one official opportunity to tour the house, back in 2010. At this point, it is very dangerous to try to access and explore this property yourself. A lot of the flooring has rotted.
© 2010 Lisa Vollrath
Tell Me Your Woodmen's Circle Home Story
i lived in the apartments for 1 year at back of property on May 17, 2020:
If you want pics of the back of property ,then go through the apartments...nobody will care if you go up the stairs and take pics either
Nikki on February 28, 2020:
Does anyone know what it looked like before it was abandoned in the 70's?
Jim on February 12, 2020:
My wife and I recently moved to Sherman. We live about a mile south of highway 56 off of 289. My wife drives by the property every day to work. Since the first time I saw this property, I have been drawn to it for its beauty and situation on top of the hill. Very strange that this post popped up at this time on FB. I can definitely see what draws people to visit this site.
Lizabeth on July 23, 2019:
Rachael Nelson on April 06, 2019:
Last years that home is so bad shape wise it needs to be tourn down and build one just like it again cause we got so many kids and Women needs it that left a violent husband
If it was made all over again a shelter it could be come
Autobug2 on September 13, 2018:
The unfortunate truth about abandoned places like this is, just because it sits unkept it gives people with 'idle minds' the chance to claim it's haunted. I'd be willing to bet that if anything, the ONLY people to have died here are perhaps a few of the elderly residents and that's it. But people like to make up scary stories of death and loss to intrigue fools.
Shannon Henry from Texas on September 03, 2018:
I know I've commented before, but this article always intrigues me every time it comes up in the feed because I passed by that very building so many times and always wondered about the history of it and what it looks like inside. What a shame. Those fires were surely arsonists.
Sarah Gillenwater on September 01, 2018:
My grandmother is the Lillian Pulliam mentioned in your article. As children, she took us all up there to see, and told us stories about growing up there. My mother spent many holidays with Missy and Mister. I have a bedroom set from the orphanage, and my mother has some of Missy’s jewelry. It’s heartbreaking to know people think it’s haunted.
Ken Burgess from Florida on November 13, 2017:
So many properties like that, especially throughout the Eastern states, former schools, former 'estate' homes... I often think when I see one, what a great property to restore, if only it were in a better location, or if the regulations and requirements to restore such weren't so prohibitive.
Good read, makes me think of a lot of similar properties.
Michelle on August 16, 2017:
I gust moved to Sherman on Holly Ave it's right down the road from this house I could walk there it looks so scary but I can't stop thinking about it so creepy lol I think I want to move now
Sue Cunningham Travis on July 23, 2017:
What a waste. I don't understand what the owners are thinking. This home is a part of our history that they refuse to share with anyone but they opened their doors to a silly group named Night Rides? I hope the owners enjoyed the big pay off they received and hope you have a conscious attack very often. Shame on you!!
Chuck Bentley on June 27, 2017:
I lived just about 1/2 mile from it for many years before the houses to the N side and East of it were built. I lived in the Big house which use to be next to the building where Riddles Vet. clinic was located.
My dad Elton Bentley worked for the Home for many years when it was pen running their Dairy Farm section milking cows etc. for them.
I have been there many times when it was open and running in the mid and late 60's between when i was about 12 years old to my mid teens.
There are or were some really good fishing in the Woodman Circle Lake where I use to spend a lot of my time fishing for mostly Perch and Catfish.
I have camped on the west side of the small lake there my times and have never seen any so called ghosts etc.
I do remember a few times my dad, Elton Bentley took me to the home when he went to visit some people he knew there.
I do not think he lived there but I do remember him talking about how he ran the Dairy for them.
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on June 16, 2017:
Pam, I'm not sure why you didn't find them, but there are currently 74 listings for this cemetery on Find A Grave.
Pam on June 10, 2017:
I found the cemetery on findagrave, but it only lists one grave. Can you tell me more about the cemetery? Someone said it had been moved across the road?
It would be nice if someone could access the cemetery and post the information on findagrave.
Suzie from Carson City on March 31, 2017:
Lisa, This is so interesting. Shan Marie sent the link to me because she had a feeling I would find it fascinating & of course, I do. I enjoyed hearing the ladies tell of their time there as children, with such fondness.
What an incredible concept to begin with and then that the plans/dreams of these women actually came to be. It was such an accomplishment to be proud of. Knowing the genesis and some of the history, it's actually heartbreaking to see what happened over time and how it's now in ruins.
What a shame that the couple who own it, haven't taken any steps to do something with it. Kind of makes you wonder what their purpose was in purchasing it.
It must have been a beautiful sight in it's day. Even now, from a distance, it's quite stately.
Great history. A one-of-a-kind phenomenon at that particular time....Very enjoyable read. Paula
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on March 31, 2017:
Tammy, trust me when I say there were no ghosts about when I shot that photo.
Tammy on March 29, 2017:
If you zoom in to the last pic there is a boy ghost in the window looking out. Been there when I was younger too.
Aaron wolf on March 28, 2017:
Very interesting, yes I'm from preston are. I also have been inside woodsman's circle home multiple times. Very creepy might I say myself.
Anonymous on February 21, 2017:
I used to take my girl and some friends on a tour of this place in the early 80's it was a creepy place. The creepy church people as we teens refered to them had just up and left. There was a big fireplace just in from the front entrance with what we first thought was a pentagram in red tile on the floor in front of the fireplace. We later realized that it was a star of David with missing tiles. We went into reverend Sherman's office and found a whole bunch of unpaid bills but not much else. I guess the weirdest thing we found was in the basement. There was a room that was covered in really thick carpet and padding, even the walls. There was a long glass window on one wall and a door that only opened from the outside. There was also a metal cot attached to the back wall with chains from the cot to the wall like you see in jail cells. As a test one of us went into the room and we closed the door on them and they yelled and screamed and hit the walls but you could not hear them at all from the outside. Kind of a strange room for a church to build.
anonymous on December 26, 2016:
About 20 years ago My Aunt gave me a twin sized iron hospital bed.
I asked her where it come from. She said she had it a long time and that it used to be a bed in the old abandoned orphanage in Sherman. I love that bed and will keep in in the family always.
sandy on October 26, 2016:
oh I would love to be rich. I would buy this in a minute and live there. nothing could discourage me from this beautiful place. I would have it back to its original order. people scare themselves with horror tails. I see only beauty.
Taylor on October 25, 2016:
There was definitely a elevator there. A group of friends and I went 3 nights ago and we saw it. I believe it was on the second floor.
Kimmi on October 09, 2016:
My mother was an orphan there. There is an elevator. Linda Robertson used to be able to take people out there but it really is in bad shape now. Breaks my heart. My mother was there in 48. She had a brother there too.
Johnny Wonder on October 08, 2016:
Really great article and fascinating comments.
Teress Douthit on September 16, 2016:
I've always been fascinated with the stories of this amazing place. Maybe one reason for the property not having anything done has to do with the bodies that were supposedly not moved with the headstones. If there are bodies there then doing much of anything without relocating the actual bodies will be hard to do.
It's so hard to drive by and not explore though
Michele on August 31, 2016:
In the mid 80's I lived in Sherman, TX. I worked as a Home Healthcare aid for a local agency. One of my clients was an elderly woman who had worked most of her adult life in the kitchen at the orphange. She was a black woman and received just a little over $12/ month Social Securty for her life time of work...SO PATHETIC!
barb on July 18, 2016:
I went there today, super fun and cool. Went on every floor even though they are apparently unstable. Does anyone know the truth about the secret passage beneath the basement? I'd love to go again and explore a bit more once I know, but I am also afraid of getting caught.
Jack on July 11, 2016:
Kelli68 trust me he was pulling your leg.......no two basements on top of each other. And no ghosts.....just history......
Kelli68 on June 23, 2016:
I've been inside twice in the mid 80's. The fires had already started happening and one building was already basically destroyed by fire. It is a shame that such a beautiful place has been left to rot. I never experienced anything even slightly paranormal there. Just sadness from the decay. I would love to explore it again. I was told by a termite technician that there are two basements on top of each other, but he may have been pulling my leg.
There are still many old buildings and homes in Denison and quite a few in Sherman. I enjoy that the old DHS I graduated from is now the middle school my child attends.
Holly Smolders on June 18, 2016:
I was lucky enough to do a photo shoot there today. We had to sign waivers due to the condition of the property and had the permission of the owners, to be there, so we had the whole property to explore. In all my years of modeling, this was my favorite location to have shot at. We were able to go wherever we wanted and i was not disappointed, As for it being haunted, I did not get a weird or creepy feeling nor did myself and the crew see anything paranormal.
phil on June 01, 2016:
logan, i wanna go wit you!
logan on May 05, 2016:
i went in there just a mouth ago to film it is very beautiful place,but there is a werid feeling thats around every corner, im gonna go back around , but this time at night
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on November 05, 2015:
Jack, I would counter the idea that we have no business being there with the thought that this property is what's called an attractive nuisance. It's big, surrounded by open space, has easy to access from the west side, and the owners are just letting it sit there and decay. Of course people are going to want to do a little urban exploration!
Jack on November 04, 2015:
I can tell you the truth about this place.first there is NO GHOSTS no tunnels no places for shock treatment . No outlines of nothing in Windows.no kids laughing.just cops waiting to catch your a__out there.a large fine.you have no business being there SO STAY OUT!!!!!
Bart Mitchell on September 11, 2015:
I was the last person to live at Woodman Circle, I moved in as the caretaker for Robert Minshew after Rev Sherman and his flock abandoned the property. Lived there for a year or so in 81-82, and the property sold to Gulf States Investments. They kept me on as a security person/contact person for a couple of years before they went bankrupt. No, the house isn't haunted, it does make weird noises in the nights though. When I left there in 82, the buildings were in perfect shape, then the vandals destroyed it...
Ashley reese on September 09, 2015:
I really wish I could post a picture. In one picture, if you zoom in you can clearly see someone.
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on August 06, 2015:
The Woodmen of the World were all over the country. Chances are, your seal has nothing to do with this home, beyond being from the same parent company that founded it.
germaine morse on August 06, 2015:
I have a woodmen circle seal, It is in a cast iron shape of a lion, I found it in the attic of a house we owned in 1970, in Northfield Vt. Would your museum have interest in it?
Jack Crawford on July 20, 2015:
I have been on the property (trespassing) sorry but I had too. Went upstairs as well. Very good photos. When I was down stairs near the basement I found a secret passage way leading Under the Property... I did not proceed because I was alone. But I wonder if anyone knows about this?
Jeff Chapin on April 16, 2015:
By chance, does anyone know how to get on contact with the owners or managers to arrange a tour? Would love to shoot on the property, even if just no the front steps.
Goldie Kelley on April 09, 2015:
We have lived in Sherman for 48 years and have found out all we need to know about this place. It was once beautiful, but now it is an eyesore!!!! What if some very young kids got in there and fell through the floor and died. It is a dangerous place to be right now and pray that the owners will either tear it down or fix it up. It would be nice if the owners would donate it so they could use it for a new school or a place where teens could go and have something to do there.
Rebecca on April 08, 2015:
Do something with this please! My two sisters and I use to drive by this everyday. We wanted them to make a haunted house out of it. This building is absolutely stunning! Do something with it please!
Besarien from South Florida on March 29, 2015:
What a beautiful place even now! I hope some Dallas billionaire decides it is worthy of restoration. The history is unique. I had never heard about this place though a member of my family has lived in Dallas since the seventies. Great hub Lisa!
moogie on March 28, 2015:
I think Denison and Sherman are great at losing wonderful beautiful arcitectural buildings. We never know how much we lose until it is gone. This building is beautiful and sadly leaving us slowly because of stubborn selfish business people, just like the old DHS. Stupid people lost it for a grass lot I hope remains forever as a reminder. This building here is so sadly been misused by not being invested in properly.
Rachel on March 28, 2015:
Had the opportunity to be granted access to the building through a photography course at AC. Spectacular sights to be seen all around and inside the property. Pretty wicked inside the property, with so much decay happening to the abandoned items.
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on March 28, 2015:
I disagree that it's an eyesore, Cris. Even as they decay, they're still lovely buildings.
Cris on March 28, 2015:
Either tear it down or fix it up because it is eye sore. Should be city code enforcement in city of sherman to enforce it.
Bill on March 28, 2015:
Went here on several occasions late at night, every time something weird happened. I'm usually a big skeptic but one time me and my friends went late one night and felt uncomfortable immediately so we left as we were leaving we all saw the same black figure walk up to the window staring at us.
Paul bandy on March 27, 2015:
Jaycee had there haunted house in this building and when we were in high school use to work the haunted house it was fun but also spooky while you were sittng in the far waiting for the next group to come through
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 02, 2015:
it sounds eerie, anyone wants to play halloween, could make a trip there. Such a waste of a beautiful house.
ThrillSeeker on October 21, 2014:
I was there a couple weeks ago. You just have to know where to go :)
Karen Kay from Jackson, MS on October 10, 2014:
I love these local legends. These buildings look like they could be fixed up. So sad. Thanks for bringing them to life!
jenn on October 05, 2014:
I wonder if the current owners would allow a Paranormal Group investigate the property? I would be very interested to see the video footage....
Steven on October 04, 2014:
Around twenty five years ago, the home was set up as a haunted house for Halloween. Near the end of the tour, I made my way up the staircase. Someone working the haunted house followed me up the stairs, but didn't find me. I thought I was sly, hiding in a closet. that changed when I looked down and saw dead rats by my feet.
After I left the house, the relatives I were with dared me to find a way to get in the vacant part of the home. I found an open door that led under the home. The foundation is built on dozens of concrete piers. Nothing to see there but a room that opened to what looked like an elevator. I went around the west side of the building and found a way into the the second story.
So I'm the first one to enter a broken window. I turned around to help my mom in and found myself looking a six foot four inch Austin College football player straight in the eye. I was stumbling backwards, in an instant panic attack. It wasn't until my mom screamed that I snapped out of the panicked state. The football player thought we were the police. He said he was as scared as we were, but I disagree.
I walked the halls and saw the empty rooms. Every so often, there would be a large bathroom off the main hall. I walked into what had to be the main ballroom on the second floor. I looked out of the circular window at the people entering the haunted house. In its day, this would have been an awesome room. Hardwood floors, tall ceilings, and no satanic graffiti that I saw. We spoke to several AC students we passed in the hallways. This was a flashlight tour, so people seemed to appear from nowhere. It didn't help that my mom was telling stories of the alleged cult that occupied the home.
According to her, a member of the religious organization worked with her at a local factory. She had told her of how they were locked in closets when they broke the rules. One violation was taking to people they worked with. They would work a whole shift and speak only when the job required it. So my mom said "If you don't believe me look in here.". She showed me a closet with a pad lock bracket on the outside of the closet door. She added that when she looked inside it earlier, there were fingernail scratches on the inside of the door! I called BS. No way. I opened the door to look. Just as I cracked the door, a huge screaming man busted out of the closet, nearly giving me a heart attack. It was my uncle, Bobby. His wife and my mom were dying laughing. I had been had. Best practical joke ever, from their perspective.
This was a decade before the fire. The building was still dry. But it wasn't safe. The building had severe dry rot. The hardwood floors were already getting soft. There were floor joists starting to give. The dream to renovate this property may be the longest running real estate scam in North Texas. It was beyond saving twenty five years ago. I expect that it is nothing more than a death trap today. I shouldn't have gone through it then. There is no way I would go through it today.
Shannon Henry from Texas on October 04, 2014:
A friend of mine shared this story on FB. I didn't realize it was a HP article until I cliy on it, bu, yah for seeing someone new on HP! Moreover, I went to college in Sherman and worked some out on 1417 so I often passed that home wondering what it looked like inside. It is such a shame it is dilapidated to that point.
tracy on October 04, 2014:
Let me see it :)
localcop on October 04, 2014:
I am a Sherman Police Officer and have been inside many times. Most of my visits included walking the entire property and searching all buildings at night. I've never seen anything that makes me think the place is haunted. If you're caught on property you will be arrested so please think twice.. there's nothing to see worth going to jail over.
Chauncey St Clair from New York City on October 04, 2014:
This is fascinating!
Catwoman on October 04, 2014:
I've seen the cometary on the opposite side. I thought someone said it had to be moved there.
Tracy on October 04, 2014:
Has anyone been in the house? I live close by and want to check it out but don't don't want to get arrested
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on October 04, 2014:
The graves are on the opposite side of 1417.
Catwoman on October 04, 2014:
My sister and I took a personal tour a few years ago. You can feel something there. Not everywhere, but it's there. Especially in the basement where the weird animals and banners were painted on the walls. Whatever was down there was angry with us being there. It wasn't the turkey vulture, it had a nest on the second floor it was protecting. Where were the graves they were supposed to move?
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on October 04, 2014:
Michael, every time I go out there to shoot photos, a police car rolls up on me, even though I'm outside the fence. I don't know that it's that difficult to sneak in on the west site, where the buildings are so close to the fence, but if I'm going to post where this place is, and what it looks like, I feel obligated to tell people who might try to visit that they are fully visible to the surrounding homes, and that the police don't take kindly to visitors.
john on October 04, 2014:
Several yrs ago me and some friends went in and we heard a ball bouncing behind us. So we turn and it bounce beside us, and continued down the hallway into what looked to be an elevator. We left after that. Real creepy shit.
Michael on October 03, 2014:
Very sad to see the place rot. Unfortunately, it's undoubtedly too far gone to renovate. It will have to be bulldozed if the property were ever to be used. I've often thought that if I ever won the lotto, I would try to save it. There's enough left for an architect to redesign it, then I'd ceremoniously tear it down and rebuild it suing as much of the old materials as possible. Maybe make it a small bed and breakfast. Just an idea anyway.
Teren on October 03, 2014:
I explored it in June/July a couple months ago and I didn't realize how much is was "under surveillance" in fact I only saw one private property sign at all, and it was near the apartment fence right next door.
Anyway, a friend and I explored for an hour or more and went onto a few floors of the largest building, saw the supposedly haunted dumb waiter shaft, saw countless amounts of graffiti and a large vulture. The roof was majorly caved in due to weather and fire damage and one of the staircases was extremely risky (we tiptoed down it anyway)
It was the most beautiful abandoned site I've ever explored, and I took so many iPhone photos (I just wish I would have brought my DSLR camera!)
But there was absolutely nothing "haunted" or anything of that nature. It was just a beautiful man made piece of art that was taken over by nature.
I didn't realize it was supposedly so difficult to enter and explore without being caught, but it was well worth the risk and thrill.
Randy Ray from Texas on October 03, 2014:
I drove by here on the way to my fantasy football draft a couple of weeks ago. I've always wondered about the place. I'm from Bonham, originally, but I lived in Sherman for a year in 1996. I remember this place from driving around the town then. Also, I still have a Woodmen of the World life insurance policy that my dad bought in the 1970s. It's all paid up. This was a great hub--nice work.
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on October 03, 2014:
Lisa, Preston is the town that is under Lake Texoma. It was flooded when the lake was created. The tree trunk headstones are very common, because anyone who was insured by Woodmen of the World was entitled to use the design. Depending on the dates on the stones, the number of children could be due to the flu that swept through in 1918, or the tornado in 1896. I know there are quite a few graves from both disasters at West Hill.
Lisa on October 03, 2014:
There is a cemetery out at Lake Texoma maybe called Preston cemetery? There are so many large tree trunk headstones that say Woodmen's Circle and they are all children why are there so many?
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on October 03, 2014:
I found this on another site, but it's legend, not verified:
"According to local legend the only incident that occurred during his stay was the death of a 4-year old boy who fell down an open elevator or dumb waiter shaft."
If it was a dumbwaiter shaft, that makes more sense, especially since there are ramps from one floor to the next built around the back side of the main building, which would indicate there isn't an elevator.
Coco on October 03, 2014:
Yes a child did die after falling down the elevator shaft when Rev. Sherman and his followers were there.
billy on October 03, 2014:
I'm pretty sure there was an elevator. I saw it when I was on the second floor.
Dee Parks on October 03, 2014:
I was born & raised in DENISON, moved to OKC in 2005. My paranormal group has investigated hundred of buildings all over. But, I certainly remember this place growing up.
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on October 03, 2014:
Jacob, so far as I know, there is no elevator shaft in this building. I've been on the first floor on the west side, and all over the basement, and I didn't see anything that looked like an elevator.
jacob on October 03, 2014:
Do you know anything about a "soundproof" room by the solarium or a little girl falling down the service elevator shaft on the west side of the main building?
I found the story about the girl at the Sherman Public Library in the late 90's while they were redoing their newspaper storages.
I wonder if they still have the story. There used to be an older woman you could contact to legally tour the property with
Anonymous on October 03, 2014:
I went to visit my father who was helping on the grounds keep it up in the 90s. He was in the gazebo waiting for us with lunch. When we were walking up to the gazebo a women stood across from him in what looked liked an old school teacher dress with her hair up. She even looked over at us and then my dad stood up. I had assumed the lady told him we were approaching. When we finally got close she walked away. We didn't pay much attention thinking she was just another person working there or maybe the person in charge. When my mom asked my dad who the lady was he looked at her puzzled. He said no one was there except for him. My mom got mad and asked who was the women that was just here in the gazebo? My father still said he was there alone that it must have been a shadow, but me and my two siblings saw her as well. She walked away but we actually never saw where she went. That was the only time I ever saw anything there but I will never forget.
Elizabeth on October 03, 2014:
I wish the property could be donated to the school board and we could create a magnet school in Sherman for students. There are enough people in the surrounding areas to donate and/or volunteer to help preserve this beautiful home. Sherman ISD is losing many students to smaller surrounding schools like Gunter and Howe, we could really use a boost in the Sherman education system and this would be an amazing way to preserve historic value and give back to our future through advanced education to our students.
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on October 03, 2014:
Na, the insurance costs to shoot there would be astronomical. Even the first floor is unsafe now. I can't even imagine how dangerous the upper floors have become.
Na on October 03, 2014:
Eh, I've been all over that place. Taken tons of pictures. The only thing that haunts that place is a massive turkey vulture. I find it quite peaceful and serene in there. But the last time I went in to photograph it was in so much decay and vandalism that I felt quite sad. Would be pretty cool to shoot a low budget horror movie in there. Wish I could get away with that, actually.
unknown on October 03, 2014:
We went halloween last year. The kids were terrified
Anonymous on October 03, 2014:
David Koresh's cult once lived there in the 80s. He was tied to the Rev. Sherman and its not a rumor. It's even on Google but it says it's not confirmed. My mother worked with a female that lived there in the 80s. And she was driven to work & picked up every day by people in the cult. They took her entire paycheck and was abusing her daughter. She finally spoke up to her coworkers when she was trying to get out of the cult. She said some scary things. I still remember as a kid driving by on 1417 watching the kids outside screaming and trying to climb over the chain link fence to get out.
Faith on October 03, 2014:
I was there in 2010. Really enjoyed the chance to legally take a close look. It was so depressing. Looking at the pictures they had of how it originally looked and seeing its present condition nearly brought tears to my eyes. Got to meet a woman who lived there as a child. She had nothing but good things to say.
tinybit903 on October 03, 2014:
I have been in this house many times in the 90s. There is a creepy factor but I never felt like it was haunted. It broke my heart knowing my Grandmother and Great Aunt use to work there and and tell me of all the spenders of this great estate. I live in the Laurel Creek area and see this everyday. It breaks my heart knowing this once stunning place is now in ruin. Why invest is such a marvelous and beautiful estate to watch it decay away? Guess we will never know. I do know graves are across highway, but because of when they was removed I heard from my great aunt the bodies remain on the premises. It may look like a eye sore on all the property but to me its a reminder of what once was and how my family took apart of it.
Laura Brown from Ontario, Canada on September 28, 2014:
You have some good photos of the place.
jeremyp18 on June 01, 2014:
I lived in the house From 77 80. I had my first memories there, lots of good times and lots of bad times too, I never experienced any paranormal activitys,
Although I was pretty afraid to walk past this one long dark hallway, always felt there was something down there, Jeremy P
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on May 18, 2014:
@peggyleacook: The graves are now on the other side of the highway, separate from the property. I'm not sure if they're still accessible to the public.
peggyleacook on May 17, 2014:
Oh We remember it. We live in the apartment in the back of the big building for 3 years as care takers in 1975 to1977 and its haunted for sure. And we know where the woodman circle homes graves are at too. We love the home a lot. We know a lot about the home. It had running water,lights,gas in the 1970s too. Billy and Peggy Cook
Lisa Vollrath (author) from Euless, Texas on March 31, 2014:
@brandon-crawford-946: Trust me when I say there were no orbs in any of the hundred or so photos I shot that day. That round object is a fan.
brandon-crawford-946 on March 31, 2014:
I'm no expert but it appears to be an orb in the pic above of the hallway
Snakesmum on October 22, 2013:
What a shame that such a great building has been left to rot away slowly and be vandalised.
B_Strouse on October 21, 2013:
I went into this building on Saturday, October 19th. This was my second time to go in. It is very creepy and I believe wholeheartedly this orphanage is haunted. The first time I went with my friends we jumped the front gate and went through the window to the left of the front door. We heard running water to the right of the main floor. We thought it was weird because the building has been closed for like 40 years.? We did not go into the basement because I got so freaked out. Going in on Saturday we explored more of the other building and went into the boys wing on the left side. It is very creepy but you can tell that it was so beautiful when it was in use. It's sad to think that they let the home go to waste.
CaztyBon on September 26, 2013:
I've never been there. It has transferred a lot of times.
Monika Weise from Indianapolis, IN USA on April 27, 2013:
Wow, it's mind boggling how quickly buildings can fall out of use.
anonymous on September 24, 2012:
I went in this once beautiful building in the early 90`s. Shame on the city of Sherman , Grayson county and the state for letting these pig owners let it go like that.
Country Sunshine from Texas on September 20, 2012:
Nice & creepy. I love old buildings, and wouldn't mind checking out this one.
anonymous on July 25, 2012:
I was there once in around i would say 2006 or 2007, mostly watch you see is a delapitated building where someone or a group has spray painted some satanic crap on the walls it is pretty much broken down. I suppose there is an odd feeling when you are inside but I grant that to the building just being so old with the smells and the previous stories the mind begins to wonder. Its about the only old mansion built in the style for the 20's which is a bit overwhelming in today's standards. Eh it's a wreck either needs to be remodeled or tore down. Currently when I drive by I just see an eyesore on 15 acres of land.
anonymous on May 27, 2012:
Visited one night in the fall of 1986 - creepy for sure - glad I was high
anonymous on January 30, 2012:
I have been there. It was at night and it was pretty creepy!! There was a pentagram with candles in the middle of the ballroom floor. On the second floor (which is not able to be walked on) there was a smell of perfume that smelt like old lady perfume and the basement was hot to the degree that we left because if felt like it was on fire. But nothing I would call "haunted" just old and creepy!!
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on January 29, 2012:
It is so sad to see a beautiful building like this go to ruins. I hope something can be done to restore it. Wow, I just read the comment below and got chills just thinking about it.
anonymous on April 29, 2011:
I was visiting family in Dallas and they told me of this "haunted, abandoned orphanage" and I just HAD to check it out.
We were unable to actually go in the place, so I was taking pictures of all the windows from about 100 yards away. I took about 400 pictures, just going back and forth along the outdoor windows.. When i was reviewing the shots I had taken, I noticed that there was a strange light in one of the windows, and in just one of the pictures of that window.
I zoomed in and there is a distinct face within the light, it is very clear. I tried to find a logical explanation for the light and blamed my superstition on seeing a face. Definitely not a shadow, you can see where the sun was shining on the building.. not dust, cause it's obviously not dust, not a camera malfunction because NO other photo has it... and so on.