IONE, CA: On the top of the hill just behind downtown Ione rests Preston Castle – one of the last few remaining buildings of California’s first reform school for wayward juveniles known as the Preston School of Industry. Opened in 1894 and decommissioned in 1960, this dramatic building is a haunting reminder of the past. And haunted it surely is, as countless investigators and visitors have come to find out.
But in October we focus on a different kind of haunting as numerous volunteers work hard to transform the castle into the Gold Country’s premiere haunted attraction, the Preston Castle Haunt. This exciting event is the Preston Castle Foundation’s largest and most anticipated fundraiser of the year, and all proceeds raised from this event go towards maintaining and restoring the building and surrounding property.
Started in 2010 almost on a whim, the Halloween Haunt (as it was called back then) was created and operated by just a handful of volunteers. Taking advantage of the inherent spooky atmosphere of the Castle and using borrowed Halloween decorations and costumes, visitors were escorted in groups through the dark hallways and rooms in a small portion of the castle. Guests encountered all manner of scary (and sometimes silly) scenes, from witches and werewolves to clowns and mad scientists.
Over the next few years, the Haunt grew and became more popular. More hallways, rooms, and stairways were opened each year as the building was improved upon, and more and more talented volunteers joined the team of designers, builders, actors, costumers and makeup artists. The theme of the haunt also became focused on the history of the facility, with costumes, set designs and music harkening back to the early 1900’s.
Today, the Preston Castle Haunt is bigger than ever with hundreds of volunteers and experts involved in its creation and execution. We use high tech animatronics, special effects, dynamic lighting, and custom props, set designs and soundscapes to give our visitors the ultimate haunted experience in the spookiest setting around. People travel from all over California and even from other states to experience our unique Haunt. Our objective is to make you scream, laugh and have lots of scary fun… <<insert evil grin and diabolical laughter here>>
Preston Castle Haunt will be open from 7-11pm on October 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, rain or shine. Tickets are on sale now at www.prestoncastlehaunt.com ($25 general admission; $35 for VIP Fast Pass access with a shorter line) in limited quantities each night. NO tickets will be sold at the gate. Food vendors will be on site and Preston Castle merchandise will be on sale, weather permitting. Your ticket purchases go directly towards maintaining and restoring Preston Castle, a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, not into anyone’s pockets. Our Haunt is run entirely by volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer for this year’s Preston Castle Haunt in almost any capacity, go to our “Preston Castle Haunt” Facebook page to find instructions on how to sign up. If you or your company would like to sponsor us with a monetary donation or supplies earmarked specifically for the Haunt, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to scaring you this Halloween season at the Preston Castle Haunt!
Preston Castle Haunt
$25 General Admission, $35 VIP Fast Pass
Preston Castle, 900 (end of) Palm Drive, Ione, CA, 95640
35 miles southeast of Sacramento, CA off HWY 104 in Ione
Sponsored by Preston Castle Foundation
Fri. and Sat., October 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28; 7 to 11 pm
No Refunds or exchanges.
Come and see if you dare!
Gates open at 6:45 pm, scare tours start at 7:00 pm. Admissions are limited for each night, so order early to make sure you can get in. If available, tickets may be purchased at the gate - cash or credit card only. No Refunds.
About Preston Castle Foundation
The strikingly beautiful Romanesque style Preston Castle, on a hill in Ione, was actually the administration building for the Preston School of Industry, the first major attempt in California at rehabilitating, instead of just imprisoning, young offenders. Opened in 1894, the Preston School of Industry became a leader in the juvenile prison reform movement by giving convicted boys a real chance at life by educating them not only in academics, but in all of the useful trades of the time. Closed in 1960, when the Preston Youth Authority moved into a new administration building down the hill, the Preston Castle was left to deteriorate due to weather, vandalism, and general neglect. It now serves as a vacant, but vitally important landmark for Ione, Amador County, and the Motherlode. It is a California State Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mission of the Preston Castle Foundation is to preserve, rehabilitate, and utilize the historic Preston Castle site. We are proud of the fact that the State of California has deeded the title for the Castle, four other buildings, and surrounding 13 acres of land, to the Preston Castle Foundation. This year we are working hard to obtain our own water and sewer connections. To help raise money for this important project, the Foundation sponsors several fund raising events throughout the year.
In addition to the Castle Haunt, we will be holding a holiday fair/bazaar called Old Tyme Christmas on December 10.
Help Save the Castle and learn more about our history, events, and tours by visiting: www.prestoncastle.com. All contributions are tax deductible.