The Haunting Times of Heritage Square

Delve deeply into Victorian mourning rituals, off the 101.

If you were to grab the passenger seat in a friend's car, maybe that one friend who is obsessed with all of the cable shows about creepy castles and haunted houses and real-life ghost sightings, and if that friend were to drive you around town, asking you to point out the areas that were most likely to be haunted, what would you choose?

Well, the Magic Castle, obvious, right? The Queen Mary, of course. And maybe a few of the Addams-Family-esque abodes of Angelino Heights.

And you'd have to, just have to, give a knowing nod toward Heritage Square. The handsome grouping of Victorian-era mansions and buildings may be just yards from the zoomy 110 Freeway, but they're far and forbiddingly apart from our modern, non-ghost-y LA lives.

Well, "forbiddingly" at Halloween time, at least -- they do charm the rest of the year. But come the weekend before Halloween -- that's Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26 -- the historic nook shall gaze back at the grave and fascinating lore surrounding mourning and funereal rites and rituals of the Victorians.

How were people laid to rest in the 19th century? What exactly were widows weeds? And how long did wakes last?

For sure, it's got a touch of Poe to it -- this was the author's time, or just after it, and funerary dress was very dark, very lacey-and-top-hatted, and especially spooky to our contemporary eyes.

In short? You'll feel the history of the houses, you'll learn something about how our forebears bid their relatives goodbye as they departed this world, and you may even feel a cold chill or two, behind you, as you stand next to one of those atmospheric abodes.

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Yep, if you had to name an area of LA that looks oh-so-haunted, you'd have to go with Heritage Square, a place where history and fun win out, except over one skin-prickly October weekend.

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