The Legend of the Haunted Orphanage

The blocked driveway to the "orphanage" site.Photo by Osie Turner
The blocked driveway to the “haunted orphanage” site.
Photo by Osie Turner

The story goes that there was once an orphanage on the edge of town, and one day a fire broke out with the children trapped inside. The building burned down, and new home was built on top of it but never completed and now stands abandoned and haunted. The Haunted Orphanage is quite a tale indeed and one of the lesser known of our local urban legends. How much of it is true? Is there really an abandoned orphanage in Las Vegas? As always, the truth is just as intriguing as the legend.

The first place to begin any such investigation is tracking down the actual location. In this case, the orphanage was said to have been on Copper Road, near Hollywood Boulevard and Bonanza Road on the east side. Relying on Google Maps in this case will send you to the wrong place; type in “Copper Road Las Vegas” and it will instantly show you a very short street by that name jutting out from a Madge Street, in between Bonanza and Stewart just west of Hollywood BLVD. It did not take more than a few minutes to see that there was no abandoned building here, and definitely never an orphanage. There is a horse stable at the end of the little unpaved road; perhaps that looked enough like a big mansion to inspire this tale?

This is all that's left of the abandoned mansion.Photo by Osie Turner
This is all that’s left of the abandoned mansion.
Photo by Osie Turner

While that location is very close to the description, it is entirely misleading. Thanks to a YouTube comment that pointed me in the right direction, I was able to track down the actual address of the supposed orphanage building. As it turns out, Copper Rd picks up again on the other side Hollywood BLVD. Without an exact address, Google will not show you that even shorter portion of Copper Rd.

Further research found that there was a house there and it was abandoned for years. It was more of a mansion, in fact. The two storied house totaled 10,945 sq ft with an 1,800 sq ft garage on 4.92 acres of land, according to county records, and it even had a basement.

There was never an orphanage in Las Vegas; the closest thing to one would be the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City. Aerial photos of the area prove that prior to the house, there was never anything else ever built there. Considering the size of the mansion, it is easy to see how such a backstory could be imagined about it.

Another view of the former site.Photo by Osie Turner
Another view of the former site.
Photo by Osie Turner

What about the fire? According to an article from the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, there was a fire at the Copper Rd house that caused over $200,000 worth of damage to the house in 1996. The fire was real, but there were no injuries reported and certainly no deaths. It is uncertain if anyone had ever actually lived inside the mansion, in fact. It was constructed in 1994, so at most it could have been inhabited for only two years. The spooky mansion was left to the elements afterward, drawing graffiti artists, the occasional homeless squater, and Vegas teens looking for a thrill. The windows were broken and beer cans were strewn about.

The whole thing was demolished in 2012, after the lot was sold to a new investor. All that remains now is the partial foundation and driveway. A few photos were found online of what the place looked like before it was knocked down (photo 1, photo 2) and one of it before it was abandoned (photo 3).

The mansion would have had a spectacular view of the city.Photo by Osie Turner
The mansion would have had a spectacular view of the city.
Photo by Osie Turner

Judging by the area today, it does no look like anything will be there any time in the foreseeable future. The driveway is blocked, the desert is slowly reclaiming the empty lot, and there is no indication that anything is planned for the lot.

Oddly there were no actual ghost stories associated with the mansion, other than the implication it was haunted by the orphans that died in the fire. Some random comments found around the web from teenagers that had been inside before the mansion was demolished said that it felt eerie inside, but what else would it feel like? One story claimed that there was a sealed tunnel in the basement that led to an old mine shaft where a child may have died, and subsonic booms are said to be heard beneath the ground in the area too. The Haunted Orphanage is definitely a fascinating legend.


8 responses on “The Legend of the Haunted Orphanage

  1. Thank you for this interesting report. Nevada is covered with lots of ghost towns that could yield a lot of information and “encounters” with ghosts.

    How about covering a story about Nevada Highway 375..better known as the “Extraterrestrial Highway”? It will be cool to drive thru there in the middle of the night and see what shows up, or even interview the people of Rachel… I am sure they have stories to tell. Thanks!!

  2. You’re very welcome, Ray! It is always fun to see what turns up when investigating these tales. Nevada certainly does have its share of ghosts and oddities. It has been a while since I’ve been up to the Rachel area, but you did give me a good idea for a possible future installment. Thank you for reading!

  3. It looks like this property is in back of the house they say used to be owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Interesting architecture on that side of town near Frenchman Mountain.

  4. Troy, you are absolutely correct on all counts! In fact, I think the two houses were sometimes confused together as I came across some saying Arnie owned the “orphange” house. That is definitely a very beautiful area.

  5. I’ve been inside several times. Not haunted. Very creepy, numerous rooms, a couple balconies, built in bar, there was a huge hole dug out front for a pool but never filled in. Guest house right across from it. One room had an in ground jacuzzi, back of the house had private parking with its own driveway. I’ve even been underneath the house, very easy access when it was still up. The most interesting thing about this house was the hidden room behind the bookshelf. I didn’t discover it until a few visits there. The place really was a mansion to explore with an incredible scenic view of LV. Always said to be bought by Arnold but I don’t believe it’s actually true. I believe my dad actually helped build some of the house in the 90’s, And it was actually 3 Stories, including the basement and the one room at the top of a stairwell. And in the same neighborhood are very extravagant custom homes unlike any others in Vegas.

  6. there was a huge iron bell … we would take girls up there at night then throw a rock at the bell to scarem a littlebit… the bell is what made it all creepy

  7. Property records don’t show who owned the property at the time it was built or at the time of the fire?

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