Nightmare on Old Porter Road


The entrance to the Haunted House Hospital in Portage. Customers pay here for tickets.

Jacki Hoffman

Public haunted houses have always been around during the fall season, and they attract many customers. Not everyone, however, has been to a haunted house hosted in someone’s backyard. Joel Hill started hosting the Haunted Hills Hospital in Portage nine years ago.

“About nine years ago I was the youth soccer coach in Portage and I was coaching the kids who were 15 maybe 16-years-old. They were too old to go trick-or-treating and soccer ends right around Halloween, so I had a Halloween party for them. We decorated the garage and backyard for it. The kids trick-or-treating started showing up and said it was really cool and asked to go through, and the soccer kids ended up jumping out and scaring the other kids. The next year it grew,” Joel Hill said.

Hill’s haunted house is not like other haunted houses people are used to. Other than the fact that it is in someone’s backyard, it also has a theme of a haunted hospital.  

“Our theme is Haunted Hospital because the first year we started all we had was medical stuff, and doctors were the easiest costumes to make, so when we opened up we made it look like a hospital, and called it Haunted Hills Hospital.There’s not that many haunted hospitals and Hill is my last name so it all just fit together,” Hill said.

Haunted Hills Hospital doesn’t just frighten people, it helps them. Joel Hill has raised money for local charities since the second year they were in operation.

“People started donating money and told me it was too cool for me not to collect money for it, so I put out a donation jar. We found a charity to give it to, and it turns out they were right down the street called Gabriel’s Horn, the battered women’s shelter,” Hill said.

Joel Hill has significantly expanded the haunt since his first year, but the journey has not always been smooth.

“The number of people just kept growing and every year we had people calling and requesting things and we thought it was really cool and then that house [burned] down. So we moved here and everybody kept calling us asking about the haunted house. The first year at the new house we had about [eight or nine] hundred people and raised $1,500 for charity that year. It kept growing and, just last year we had 4,200 people and we donated over $5,000,” Hill said.
Haunted Hills Hospital is open to all ages and costs $8 for general admission, $13 for an emergency pass and $20 for an insanity pass. The walk through the terror filled hospital lasts 15 minutes.