Local History Digital Exhibits
In 1968, a group of local business men headed by Henry Muller and Vince Delorenzo opened the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame. Harry Houdini, the famous magician and escape artist, had bequeathed his professional paraphernalia to his brother Theodore (known professionally as the magician Hardeen) with instructions that the items be burned upon Theodore’s death. Houdini’s instructions were not followed and his effects were put in storage for over 40 years until they were finally put up for sale around 1967. Mr. Muller learned about the sale from a article in a Toronto newspaper. After purchasing the items, Mr. Mueller, Mr. Delorenzo and partners renovated a former meat packing plant on Centre Street near Clifton Hill and opened the museum. In the first year of the museum’s operation, there were a series of fires, a robbery and a freak accident in which one of the museum’s directors walked through a plate glass window. Some speculated that Houdini was expressing his displeasure from beyond the grave. In 1972, the museum moved from Centre Street to the old Victoria Park train station (built in the mid 1800s) at the top of Clifton Hill. A number of seances were held throughout the museum’s history on October 31st, the anniversary of Houdini’s death. During the seventh Halloween seance in 1974, medium Ann Fisher asked Houdini to make his presence known at which time a pot of flowers and a book about Houdini fell from a shelf. The book fell open to a page featuring a Houdini poster titled Do Spirits Return? In 1995, a spectacular fire destroyed the museum and most of its contents; it seemed Houdini’s wishes were finally carried out. Ripley’s Entertainment bought the property in 1996 and built a "four dimensional" movie theatre which is still in operation today.