Interview with Robbin Terry, New Owner of Ashmore Estates

Robbin Terry has had an interest in the Paranormal since purchasing the R Theater in 1999. He has been in the insurance business for over 35 years, 20 of which he has been President of Midwest Classic Insurance. He currently owns a small collection of cars which includes the Mystery Machine from Hanna-Barbera Studios. He has coached youth sports for most of his adult life and works as a volunteer EMT with the local ambulance service. He is married with two children and two grandchildren, as well as a couple of “adopted” daughters he has had haunting his building for 10 years. In May 2014, he purchased Ashmore Estates.

How did you become interested in haunted places, and what brought your attention to Ashmore Estates?

I have always been fascinated by the old architecture in buildings. There is just that mystique about what if the walls could talk. I purchased the R Theater in Auburn. I was at Ashmore Estates a few years ago with a tour group and thought the building was very unique and had a great feel to it. I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the building that evening like I wanted and thought some day I would get back to it.

Robbin TerryPlease tell our readers a little about the Auburn Haunted Theater in Auburn, Illinois. When did you acquire the building, and what kinds of activity has been experienced there?

The R Theater in Auburn was built in 1946-47 and was owned by the Mitchell family. I purchased it in 1999 after it had sat vacant for the better part of 5 years. When purchasing it you knew early on that you were not alone in the building, there was always someone with you. The building was named the R due to all of the Mitchell family names starting with a R. Since it was built almost all owners names have started with a R. We first used the building as our our office, Midwest Classic Insurance, then my wife and I decided it was the perfect place to build a house so we built our home inside it with the help of some friends and family.

I have referred to the R Theater as a paranormal playground. I have been told by psychic friends the reason for this is we donate all proceeds from investigations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the spirits like that. Not many places can you say the spirits come to perform but it seems once I announce a team is there to investigate and they have made a monetary donation to do so, it is on. We have received the quickest EVP after the announcement at less than 5 seconds and have caught over 20 in a 45 minute walk through tour. It’s a great place for teams to train new members as they do not get discouraged when they are listening to audio. Besides the EVPs we have caught a few pictures in the building of masses, mists, a cat, and thermal images. We have seen with our own eyes shadow figures, apparitions, and a cat. The R generally does not let you down.

What was your first impression of Ashmore Estates as you entered the building? Have you experienced any unusual activity on subsequent visits?

I first did a walkthrough at Ashmore Estates the beginning of April. When we opened the door it was obvious this place needed help big time! The building was cluttered with lot of areas unavailable for entry but the entire time I was there I felt like I had people pulling at me. It was like the spirits of the building knew what I wanted to do and wanted me to buy the building and help make it better for them. I have had psychic friends tell me there are a lot of spirits always following me around so I got the feeling at AE the spirits from the R were saying something like “you should see what he did for us”.

We have had a lot of people helping use with the building since I bought it. We have had some personal experiences in the building while working, which again proves you do not have to investigate at night. The first day I bought it I was in the building alone cleaning out some debris and numerous times I felt I had someone walking up behind me and could hear movement. A few weeks later when my son was coming up the ladder to the roof he saw someone walk behind a door into a room. He got off the ladder and found that the door they walked behind led to a dead end and there was nobody there.

Later that same day we had another person there experience the same thing at the same room. The same day a young girl that was with her mom wanted to know why the little girl kept coming out of the building and disappearing. I personally was walking out of an area and thought I stepped on a lose shoe string as I felt my foot stop from moving but when I looked down they were tied and nothing around should have held my foot from moving. I also experienced a conversation the other day when I was the only one in the building. The spirits of AE are there and ready to talk with those that enter.

In terms of the paranormal, which would you say is the most active of your two haunted buildings and why?

That’s a great question and I don’t know that I can give a good answer. The two locations are kind of the best of both worlds. For the person that is uncomfortable with going “ghost hunting” they are very comfortable coming into the R Theater as we live and work here. Who would think there was as much activity as there is. No creep factor in the building. For the person that wants to feel the true “TV ghost hunt” Ashmore is probably more their style. It is a creepy looking almost 100 year old building that has had it’s known deaths, and frankly, who doesn’t like to investigate a psychiatric hospital? I think I am fortunate to own two of the more active locations in Central Illinois area and anyone in the paranormal would love to experience them.

Ashmore Estates has suffered a lot of damage in recent years, first from the storm that destroyed its roof and then from exposure to the elements and neglect. What steps have you taken to stabilize and restore the building?

There has been a lot of damage and neglect to Ashmore. Sometimes I think I am trying to stop the bleeding with a Band-Aid, but with the help that I have had we managed to make great strides and continue to make improvements to the condition of the property. Do I ever think AE will ever be back to it’s original self? No, the cost would be prohibitive. What I think I can do is turn the building back to something that will make it easier and better for individuals and teams to experience.

We have cleaned all of the old lumber and left over haunted attraction items from the building. We have swept the floors, replaced some windows, pressure washed areas, brought water to the property, brought in electrical, put on a rubber roof, cleared all debris from the old porches, cleaned the grounds, and just some general work. We will continue to clean and replace windows. We also plan on putting up guttering and replacing roofs over the porches and the old kitchen. We are also building a small stage area in the back for outside speakers and events.

What are your plans for Ashmore Estates in the future? Will it remain a haunted attraction, or will it just be open for tours and investigations?

I have no intentions in building a haunted attraction at the location. I plan on using it strictly for the paranormal by virtue of private investigations and public and private tours. I have a couple of great people that will be helping me with these as well. We will also be open for any ideas such as events, photo ops, movies, or even weddings if someone is interested. The prices we will be charging for these will be less than the past and very fair in today’s market.

How can our readers contact you if they would like to know more about either the Auburn Haunted Theater or Ashmore Estates?

We can be contacted by calling 217-899-9978 and a message can be left if we are not available. You can also call my office weekdays at 217-438-6235. We have two Facebook pages under Ashmore Estates and you can reach out to us there. Our website is being completed and worked on but it will be

Sorry guys, this page is copyright, 2014. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Robbin Terry.



  1. The next time my son Stephen or my wife Judy tells me I have too much paranormal equipment, I now have saved that picture of Robbin standing in fronty of the hugest displayt of paranormal gear I have ever seen -my king of buddy! Robert Veach from


  2. sorry about the spelling errors, did not have my cup of coffee yet:)


  3. Susan Klein says:

    I worked at Ashmore Estate years ago, when they started the new edition. We were not alone.



  1. […] In January 2013, a storm demolished the roof and covered porches, which the current owner, Robbin Terry, had made progress in repairing. According to Terry, “I met with a roofer yesterday and he […]


  2. […] has been struck by two powerful storms in the past two years, causing severe structural damage. Robbin Terry, the owner of the former almshouse and haunted attraction, has vowed to make repairs and restore […]


  3. […] was directly in the storm’s path and sustained heavy damage to its new roof. Undeterred, owner Robbin Terry vowed to forge ahead an make repairs. Brad Klinge, formerly of Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab, […]


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