H.H. Holmes the World’s Fair Hotel Serial Killer


A heartwarming story for this Sunday… 😐

I READ ABOUT Herman Webster Mudgett (1861-1896), or, H.H. Holmes in Wonderpedia magazine a few years back. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him before.

The short version, is that Holmes, trained to be a surgeon, procured a lot in Chicago, and to coincide with the World’s Columbian Exposition and influx of visitors hoped to cash in – in more ways than one – by building a custom made hotel. A three story hotel, purpose built with one thing in mind – murder – and lots of it. Serial killers such as Jack the Ripper, were amateurish by comparison. I’m not sure if the Saw horror films were inspired by the true events, but the contractors built in trap doors, doors that led nowhere, doors that only opened from the outside, a dungeon, an incinerator and various other terrifying ‘peculiarities’ to Holmes’ specifications. Then once the hotel was ready, many of the workmen disappeared.

What they had created for Dr. Holmes was a murder house, a hotel of terrors, that Holmes would utilise to kill guests and anyone else he managed to lure into the building. A room with piped gas could be used to kill Holmes’ victims. He had torture rooms where he’d dissect bodies and chutes to get rid of the remains in the basement, by burning them, or soaking them in lime and acid. Victims included men, and children, but he had a predilection for women.

hh holmes hotel layout

Incredibly Dr. Holmes was married several times and had children. It’s hard to believe, and they must have had a horrifying existence, although the ones that didn’t die may never have known they were living with a homicidal psychopath, who once caught was found guilty by law of 27 murders. However, there were likely hundreds more. In an age without fingerprints or databases combined with Dr. Holmes skill as a surgeon, it meant he was not caught for a long time, until in his mid thirties.

Several books have been written about the ‘first serial killer’ and in fact a film is in development by Martin Scorsese starring none other than Leonardo Di Caprio: The Devil in the White City.


  1. hello lion around writing its dennis the vizsla dog hay wow that sownds like the hotel kalifornya ware yoo kan chek owt enny time yoo like but yoo kan never leeve!!! see this is why i do not like to leev the howse!!! ok bye

  2. Isn’t this the craziest thing? The Devil in the White city is an amazing book. It also tells the story of the world’s fair, which is almost as fascinating as Holmes. I have family in Chicago, so reading that book and recognizing some of the locations was a bit surreal.

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