The Legend & Haunted History of Verdun Manor
at Thrillvania Haunted House Park
IT IS OFTEN SAID THAT A HOUSE CANNOT BE HAUNTED UNLESS IT HAS A HISTORY.
And Verdun Manor has quite a history! According to legend, Verdun Manor was the home of a werewolf, Baron Michael Verdun, and his vampire wife, Lady Cassandra. Herein lies the dark and twisted tale that led to the haunting of Verdun Manor and the nearly 50 acres surrounding it.
It all began in 1901, when the construction of a strange, twisted structure began to emerge adjacent to an old plantation cemetery. The Antebellum style Manor, the creation of a psychopathic scientist, Baron Michael Verdun, and his vampire wife Lady Cassandra D’Arque, quickly became the subject of horrifying rumors and much speculation. Baron Verdun brought in foreign workers to dig deep cellars and wild stories began to circulate about Verdun exhuming the dead for more space, or perhaps, some darker purpose. When the manor was finished, all the workers disappeared overnight, which further fueled the rumors. Some say their spirits still haunt the grounds of Verdun Manor.
Being a werewolf, Baron Verdun keenly desired to release the beast that lies within all men. Deep within the hidden recesses of his Manor, he conducted cruel, painful experiments on human beings abducted by Lady Cassandra from the surrounding countryside. These mysterious experiments created hideous, malformed creatures. Neither wholly man nor animal, Verdun considered these creations as failures. He turned these “failures” loose on the grounds to fend for themselves, devouring any unwary and unwanted visitor. Nightmarish masquerade balls were held at Verdun Manor on nights of the full moon, with human flesh served openly to the guests. Stories about Baron Verdun hosting nocturnal hunts, chasing human prey for sport caused the townsfolk to take shelter at night.
Enraged by the creatures’ attacks, the townspeople eventually took to the streets. The angry mob tracked the monsters back to Verdun Manor, locking them in the Baron’s laboratory to die in a raging chemical fire. Cassandra, caught sleeping in her crypt, was decapitated and her body mutilated. Chased down by the vigilantes, Verdun was bludgeoned and stabbed to death and his bloody corpse laid to rest in a deep grave in front of his Manor. Gathering their injured and their dead, the townsfolk tried to forget the horrors they had seen that night, but for the creatures like Baron Verdun and Lady Cassandra, death is more of an inconvenience than an ending.
A year later the Manor and surrounding grounds were sold to Vincent Carruthers, a local wealthy landowner. No mention of the previous horrors was made to the new homeowner and his family … after all, it was presumed that Verdun was dead and the town wanted to forget everything.
On October 31st, under the eerie light of the full moon, the Carruthers family were hosting a gala ball in their new home. Little did they realize that Verdun and his vampiric bride were still more alive than dead. They clawed their way out of their graves and burst into the Manor killing Carruthers, his family, and all the dinner guests in the most brutal fashion.
Verdun placed the bodies of the Carruthers Family and their guests throughout the house in grotesque scenes of the macabre as a final insult to their memories. He quickly began new experiments and resurrected his past failed attempts. Soon the grounds of Verdun Manor and the surrounding acres were once again haunted by the dead, undead, and creatures more beast than man.
The Legendary Lance Pope
Founder of Verdun Manor / Thrillvania Haunted House Park
January 27, 1965 – December 17, 2002
Lance Pope grew up with a fascination for old mansions, haunted houses, exotic creatures and scary things. According to his mother, he even once had a bat in the refrigerator! His parents, Sue and Ralph Pope, always had materials on hand for the young Lance to make his scary haunted house creations. He was a friend to all animals and raised and cared for horses, lions, tigers, wolves, ferrets and other creatures throughout his life. Having wonderful parents who allowed Lance to cultivate his creative freedoms, Lance opened his first haunted house while in high school.
With his deep interest in all things haunted house, Lance spent as much time as he could at the Cannon Manor on the midway at the State Fair of Texas. He talked to the owners and worked there as often as possible. In 1989 while he was operating his own haunted house, the owners of the Cannon Manor offered to sell him their attraction. There was just one little catch! The manor had to be moved within 30 days! This was a huge step in a dream come true for Lance and he wasted no time conjuring up a way to make that happen.
Lance promptly moved Cannon Manor to land he leased in Forney, Texas, made many improvements and Verdun Manor came to be. Verdun Manor was in operation for about seven years in that location. Within those years, Lance continually perfected his haunting skills and Verdun Manor eventually outgrew its Forney location and was moved to the family’s land in Terrell, Texas.
Lance’s mother, Sue Pope, said in a wonderful interview by Larry with Haunt World, “In 1996 Thrillvania opened in Terrell, Texas, on forty six acres of land with a multitude of exciting expansions planned. He was truly living his dream!”
Lance Pope passed away unexpectedly in December 2002. His parents have continued to carry on the Thrillvania torch for their only son who loved it and all things haunted house so much.
Lance Pope was a legend in the haunted house industry. His passion for old mansions, haunted houses, exotic creatures and scary things rubbed off on his many devoted friends who still throw their own passions into Thrillvania Thrill Park each year. Please come out to Thrillvania and join us this Halloween Season to revel in the amazing visions of a great leader in the haunted house industry.