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"I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing."
Dr. H. H. Holmes, confession, 1896

Dr. H. H. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett in New Hampshire's Lake Country to a family of devout Methodists. He was a small, odd, and exceptionally bright boy, with one brother and one sister. At sixteen, he graduated school and took a job as a teacher, despite his young age. At the age of nineteen, he left New Hampshire to go to medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After graduating, Mudgett began his criminal career in insurance fraud, devising elaborate schemes with the help of a friend from medical school. When he arrived in Illinois in 1886, Mudgett registered his name as Holmes and sought out work as a druggist. He ended up buying a small family pharmacy.

Through fraud and shady business dealings, Holmes became successful and was soon looking for property to expand his empire. The opportunity arrived when the undeveloped land across the street from the pharmacy went on sale. Holmes immediately began to plan his "castle": a strange, ragged building with strange vaults, secret rooms, and a wooden chute that descended from the second floor all the way to the basement. Not even the workers he hired to build it understood the full design of the building. While Burnham and Root busied themselves with the preparation of their enchanting White City on the lake, Holmes was completing the construction of his castle at 63rd and Wallace. The upcoming fair presented itself to Holmes as the perfect opportunity. His dark castle would become a hotel for the fair.




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