The Ripley's Believe It Or Not block the way it looked for so many years, with Rebel's Corner next to it and The Seven Gables Haunted House on the Corner. Theese pictures all were taken from Midtown Lodge, the one on the top right appears to have been taken from the Midtown Lodge Tower that you used to be able to walk up for a dime, but has been closed of for many years. A closer look at the picture on the bottom right reveals Duff's Restaurant where Bubba Gump's now is, before Bubba Gump it was the Parkway Pancake House and before that it was the Parkway Cafeteria. Next to Duff's is Fosters Country Store. Also notice the Motels sign pointing to Airport road. This sign has been gone for a long time. The 1968 Gatlinburg Directory (which can be seen on the vintage pamphlet page) says this about The Rebel Corner: The Gatlin Center. The Laurel Shop, Laurelwood Shop & The Little Pigeon Craft Shop. Specializing in crafts of all types, china, glassware and jewelry. "Show Cases of Gatlinburg" Welcome ot browse. Sam Stalcup, propretor.
The Seven Gables Haunted House - The picture on the top right is a rare distant look at the Airport Road side of Seven Gables Haunted House where there use to be an arcade (Courtesy of Steve from this site's forum)
Former employee Joey Booth recalls Seven Gables Haunted House:
I worked at the haunted house by Rebel's Corner when it opened. it was called Seven Gables Haunted House, it had 7 gables 3 on each side and one one the corner. I was on the stage dressed in black. I had a chain and a piece of steel I would hit with the chain. when someone came around the corner I would hit the metal plate with the chain and the people would cower in the corner. it was soooo much fun. when it had its grand opening we had a parade down airport road. It started at Misty Falls golf, going down Airport Road to the haunted house. we had limos, and tons of zombies, a makeup artist dressed us all up like in the Michael Jackson Thriller video. The parade was on Friday 13th in October at 12 midnight. When you went to the Ticket counter we ussualy had the ticket guy dressed as Dracula. We would also hire hawkers to get people to buy tickets. We had odd or different people to do this. We had this one guy who was a member of the smoky mountain wrestling team. He was like 400lbs and 6foot 10. Another guy had only 3 fingers. Sort of looked like lobster claws. And sometimes a little person dressed up. Well anyway you bought your ticket and went into a room behind the counter. It was made up to look like a livingroom with fireplace and stuff. you would then walk up 2 short flights of stairs. the whole Haunted House was a self serve walking tour. We would space the groups of 8 or less by about 3-5 minutes. At 1st we used a radio shack intercom system. Later we advanced to a closed circuit tv so we could tell when a group was coming. The haunted house was made up of plywood coridoors painted with black flame proof paint. Everything had to be flameproof. Every 10-20 feet would be a haunted display. The 1st one was an old jail door with a skeliton behind it and black light painted rats. The next area was 2 coridoors of darkness. I think there was black painted roped hanging from the wall. It was dark so when you walked into it it would scare you. Next scene was Dracula. Next scene was a coffin. It would open and close. More blacklight gauze for webs and a skeleton would pop out of the coffin every so often.. Next you came to a corner you made an L turn to the left to a dead end. When you got to the dead end to another right hand turn. I would beat a chain on a piece of steel plate metal. People would cower on the ground run in all directions. It was so much fun. then they would go down another hall towards me again I would beat on the chain and they would run. Then there was a wavy bridge walkway with handrails it would completely disoriente you while walking in the dark. I would beat on the chain for the 3rd time and they would run out the door into the Arcade. We would wear a black robe with a hood. sometimes we would wear a mask but we really didn't need it.
The Haunted house emptied into the Arcade behind the t-shirt shop which emptied into the arcade. The arcade was called Starcade. My DAD planned it so the parents dropped the kids into the Haunted House waited for us in the T-shirt Shop and the Kids where dumped into the Arcade. The Arcade and the T-shirt shop connected.
Joey goes on to describe this spot before the Haunted House
In the 1960's and 1970's it was Rebel's Corner store. In the 1980's after the Worlds Fair some of the venders from the Worlds fair moved in. The Rebel's Corner store moved to the middle. Downstairs there was a type of mall. Venders had about at 12x12 booth, In the front store there was a place called The Embrassible Zoo, they sold animals that had arms with velcro. they would sort of hug you. Monkeys were their most poplular. Next was an entrance to an Arcade that was upstairs. Next booth was call "Big Chip Cookies" I know that because Me and my 12 year old brother ran it, I was 14 or !5. I know we were young but we worked it night and day. 8 am til 1pm everyday. We baked cookie dough that the "Heidelburg Castle Kitchen" would make for us to our specifications. Next booth was massaging chairs and a few other things. On the other side of the hall was vibrating pillows and shoe inserts. Then a herbalife booth. Then a Sunglass Booth. Then on the outside was a franchise called "Conacopia" It was soft serve ice cream blended with candy or fruit ect. Basically a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but long before they had them. there was also a Petros out there. Like I said several were from the Tennessee Worlds Fair. In the back part was a Fast Service Restaurant with BBQ. The whole upstairs was an Arcade.
This concept lasted about 2 Years. It changed in 1984 I think into a t-shirt Downstairs, Arcade in the Back and 7 Gables Haunted House Upstairs. Jean Conner owns the building. My Father was her Business Manager. He found a Haunted House Company in Cincinati to come and build the Haunted House Upstairs. It was great. Like I said I worked there during the summers. My Father was also the GM of Ober Gatlinburg prior to this. So I remember when they built the New Indoor skating rink and also remember the Black Bear Habitat being built.
By 1991 Rebel's Corner had vacated the left side of the store and Funtasia had moved in.
Contrary to what I have heard being claimed several times, the fire did not do in Rebel Corner. The picture on the left shows that by 1992 Rebel Corner was completely gone from the block, with Unique T's II moving in. Rebel Corner completely left so shorlty before the fire that it is easy to forget that it was gone when the fire destroyed the building. Notice also, that Seven Gables Haunted House may have been gone at this point. It is hard to tell, but the windows seemed to change to the colors of the Funtasia sign. It is hard to tell, but it looks as though it may have been gone but I am not sure. The picture on the right shows Ripley's at night.
Airport Road looking down towards the Dairy Queen which was there till the early 2000's, the Space Needle Arcade the way it looked before they remodeled the entrance, and the Seven Gables Haunted House and ajoining shops and arcade in the background.
The Space Needle Billiards Room overlooked Regan Drive and the Parkway before the area was remodeled and the hypnotized attraction took over this area.
The photo on the left shows the old Space Needle Facade after the new building had been built after the fire, but the Space Needle Entrance pretty much looks the same. The photo on the right shows it at night.
Most of the original Ripley's Block was destroyed in the early 90's in a fire stopping just short of the Space Needle. This is what the Ripley's Believe It Or Not block looked like after it was rebuilt. Today the front has been totally redesigned.