Anyone who has gone clubbing in Atlanta during the 90’s into 2000+, has definitely heard of The Masquerade, previously located on North Avenue. People couldn’t stop talking about its three levels, including Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. Heaven was upstairs, of course, and this was the haven for many concerts and music festivals. Some of the most influential bands of the past 20 years have played here, including Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and even Nirvana. Hell was in the basement, no surprise there, and it was a haven for Goth/Fetish crowds, techno junkies, or other specialty group nights hosted by various entities (The Secret Room, Ascension, etc.). In between the two was Purgatory, a nice place to unwind and have a drink between sets. Outside and behind the club, there was another building that was utilized as an adult Haunted House every Halloween, where crowds would stand in line for an hour or more to go through it. There were bars set up so that people could wait in line and imbibe “liquid courage” before their turn. Music would blare, while circus acts would entertain the crowd, including sword swallowers, fire eaters, and “rat” ladies that would allow rats to run rampant through their clothing. Photo ops with R-rated zombies would take place right before the walk through of the haunted house “Chamber of Horrors”, and people could purchase their photos as they were leaving from their big scary adventure.
What you may not know is about The Masquerade’s history. It started out as the Dupre Excelsior Mill, which was built in 1890 in the Old Fourth Ward district. It was eventually abandoned, after many unlucky events took place there. There was said to be various accidents causing deaths, including a few unexplained fires. A tuberculosis outbreak was said to have impacted quite a few workers there, however, there were other claims that it was really an influenza outbreak. The mill was expanded to support World War II, then began being used mainly for storage when no longer needed. It was abandoned for a number of years, then it became a pizzeria in the 1970’s (Mellow Mushroom). It became a theater after that, before finally becoming The Masquerade night club in 1989. Disaster struck yet again in 2001 during a New Year’s Eve celebration, when the stairs up to Heaven collapsed due to overcrowding. The club was cited for this, along with blocking a fire exit and not having an occupancy sign posted in a prominent location. About a dozen people had minor injuries that were taken care of at area hospitals, but no deaths were reported.
With all that history of tragedies and accidents, it isn’t surprising that people over the years have discussed their experiences with paranormal activity at The Masquerade at the North Avenue location. People have claimed to see ghosts or hearing screams that cannot be explained. Most of the screams have been heard on the stairs on the way to or from the restroom, with no one in sight. Some believe it is the screams of different women or young girls that died in horrific accidents at the mill, but other sources state there were no female workers at the mill. Actually, since 1860, there were only 4 recorded major accidents at that location – all male individuals that worked at the mill. Only one of those resulted in death, but then again there were very few reports of injuries or deaths unless it resulted in hospitalization (which required a written record). Plus, the mills didn’t keep records of child workers, which were prominently used by mills.
Besides the phantom screams that were heard, there were also phantom footsteps that were said to be heard in random places. Employees would hear their names being called, but they would find no one around. People reported feeling cold spots in different areas of the building, and some claimed to see shadow figures and ghostly mists. The most popular ghost sighting is of a black man that wandered at all areas in the night club, and he was thought to be a trickster. Amplifiers, speakers, and other equipment were found turned around or upside down. This was occurring on a nightly basis.
Besides these ghostly events, there were reports of vampires that frequented The Masquerade. Someone reported seeing someone that looked like a vampire up in the rafters of the club at one point, which disappeared when they looked away and looked back. There was a Goth crowd, so it does make sense that these stories were out there. A vampire was even said to live at the nightclub. Vampires became popular with the Twilight and Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, and there were “wanna be” vampires that tried to portray real vampirism in the club community. On top of that, there is a role playing game called “Vampire – The Masquerade” that had become very popular. Groups such as The Atlanta Vampire Alliance, or AVA, had gatherings at The Masquerade.
Besides the vampires that frequented The Masquerade, there was a “mannequin” that sat at the top of the stairs of Heaven prior to the stair collapse in 2001. It was said to be a statue or “mannequin” of a vampire. People would say odd things in relation to it. In some cases, people said the eyes were open and displaying brilliant violet eyes, while at other times, the eyes were closed. The arms would cross over the chest of this statue with the opposite hand on each shoulder in all cases, but sometimes it would cross at different locations of the chest. He always wore an outfit of brilliant purple. People would comment to others on this mannequin, but there seem to be no articles that exist on it. When the stairs collapsed, the mannequin was said to be placed in storage. No one knows what happened to it or what it was.
If you have stories of your own haunted experiences at The Masquerade, or if you remember this mannequin, we would love to hear from you!