CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Haunted Barn, a Halloween favorite in Putnam County for the past 10 years, is moving to the big city.Owner Josh Harper said his company, Haunted Barn LLC, is close to signing a lease for the former Sport Mart warehouse on Beauregard Street in Charleston's East End, and plans to open for business this fall.The city's zoning board approved a parking variance for the project Thursday, because there's no on-site parking available at the warehouse. Harper said he's arranged for parking nearby at the Plaza East shopping center.Formerly located in an old horse barn off old U.S 35 near Winfield, the Haunted Barn attracted about 9,000 people during five weekends last year, Harper said."It's grown every year," he said. "The popularity . . . . Our attendance has grown so much that parking became an issue. There were some nights where we had 2,000 people a night. The mass of people we had, we'd have to shut the road down at 8 o'clock some nights.
"We actually had people come in from different states. Some were regular residents, some were from over a county or two."With this new building, we could have the biggest haunted house in the state."While the two-story warehouse looks nothing like a farm building, "we're going to to try to keep with the barn theme," Harper said. "A bigger building . . . try to make Charleston the place to be."With his partners David Bowles, Cameron Goode and Lee Jordan, Harper plans to operate the barn from 7 p.m. to about midnight each Saturday from Sept. 29 to the first weekend in November.It also will be open one Friday, in conjunction with East End Main Street's HallowEast celebration, Harper said. "We're going to work closely with them, try to be a part of that."Reach Jim Balow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5102.