Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ghost Hunts Can Save Historic Sites

I’ve always been interested in history. My Dad was a history buff and I’m carrying on his tradition. A lot of people don’t like history which puzzles me. Don’t they want to know about their roots? What about the history of their town or the area in which they grew up? Well, no matter how you feel about history, it is important. Why? It’s important because it goes hand in hand with hauntings. Yes, hauntings!

The Missouri State Penitentiary is one of the most haunted places in America

Our history is peppered with violence, high emotions, and trauma. These emotions and actions leave marks, or imprints on places. Historic sites like prisons, asylums, factories, hospitals, and group homes all contain imprints of these strong emotions. Many of these places have spirits that have yet to move on. So, most of these historic sites have ghosts, some have many ghosts.

Some people have smelled baking bread in the kitchen of the 1859 Jailers home.
Most people are fascinated with ghosts. The multiple ghost hunting shows on cable TV has created a huge interest in ghost hunting for the general public. People don’t want to just watch someone hunting ghosts, they want to hunt ghosts too! This has created a demand for historic sites to hold public ghost hunts.

The owners of the old Odd Fellows home in Liberty Missouri have ghost hunts to pay for remodeling the main building.
There are thousands of historic sites around the world. Many of them are struggling because young people aren’t really interested in visiting them. Upkeep on historic buildings is costly. Once declared a national historic site, a building has to be kept up as it originally was. This means that plastic shutters can’t be put on windows when the original shutters were made of wood. Building materials have changed a lot over the years so this makes it more difficult to preserve historic sites.

An old church in midtown Kansas City needs to be restored. As we found there are ghosts here and it could be restored by having ghost hunts.
 Now some directors of historic sites are learning that allowing ghost hunts won’t ruin their reputation. Some have snubbed paranormal teams in the past that offer to do investigations. They thought that it would drive potential guests away from their sites. They are now learning that they can increase their revenue by allowing ‘pay to play’ ghost hunts. In a time when the Federal government has cut funding for historic sites, cities and historic societies are jumping on the ghost hunt bandwagon to keep their historic sites afloat.

The 1859 Jail and home. We have done pay to play ghost hunts here since 2014 and paid for many improvements to the structures. 
I’ve been a member of Dusk 2 Dawn Paranormal Investigations for seven years and people always ask me if we are looking for new members or they want to know the date of our next public investigation.  We’ve been doing ‘pay to play’ ghost hunts at the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home in Independence, Missouri for four years. People find them so much fun that they come again and again. 
Guests investigate the upper cell area of the 1859 Jail.
The best thing about this is the money we’ve raised for the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home. We’ve paid for many improvements. We pulled up the old carpet in the museum and paid for new carpet to be installed. We also painted the museum ourselves. We’ve paid for a new roof on the one room schoolhouse that is on the property and have helped to fund their repair and upkeep account.

This was taken in the Alexander Majors Home in Kansas City. They've been doing ghost hunts for years to help fund their historic site. 
Not all historic sites are trying to restore and keep up their buildings. If you do a Google search you will find many haunted sites that allow people to come and hunt ghosts. Some haunted buildings are seen as money makers by their owners. They’ve learned that they can make lots of money charging people and paranormal groups for overnight investigations. These places are usually dirty and seldom safe to investigate. It’s best to find someone who has been to the location and ask them about their experience. Just be aware that these places exist.

The John Wornall Home in Kansas City, Missouri also has ghost investigations as well as daily tours.
Whether a historic site is using funds to restore or remodel their building(s), going on an overnight ghost hunt is exciting. It’s best to go in a group to many of these places due to the cost. For instance, a private overnight investigation at Waverly Hills Sanitorium runs from $1,000 to $1,500 for one night.

Members of Dusk 2 Dawn Paranormal Investigations went to Waverly Hills Sanitorium in 2016.
Ashmore Estates is $129.00 per person for an overnight ghost hunt. Malvern Manor charges according to the day of the week. Costs run from $200 to $350.00 for the first five investigators then $25.00 per person after that. 

Dusk 2 Dawn Paranormal Investigations has investigated Malvern Manor twice.
When going on these ghost hunts remember that you are on your own. Stay in pairs and use flashlights to be safe. Watch for debris on the floor, wires hanging from the ceiling, and be aware of stairs, open windows, and elevator shafts. You want to come home in one piece and not end up being one of the ghosts at the site.

The Marshal's office at the 1859 Jail. 
At the 1859 Jail, we don’t do overnight investigations. Our investigations last around five to six hours. We stay with our guests for the duration. First, we only charge $30 per person. We usually have snacks, coffee, and water for our guests. We take them on an initial tour informing them of the history and some of the activity, then we have sessions of about 45 minutes each throughout the night until about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. depending on the activity. We let our guests use our K2’s (electromagnetic field detectors) and make sure everyone has a flashlight. We watch out for them and if someone is suddenly sick or feels faint we get them out of the room asap. We’re hands on but we encourage our guests to bring their own camera’s, recorders, etc. and we want them to ask questions and have experiences.

Our base at the 1859 Jail. We hand everyone a flashlight and allow them to use EMF detectors during the investigations.
One thing that we don’t do is provoke the spirits. That is one of the worse things to do. We know the spirits so well at the 1859 Jail that one night a voice came through the Echovox and said “They’re okay, they’re here a lot”.

Guests sit in a circle in the parlor of the 1859 Jails home. It may feel silly talking to things you can't see but when you get an answer it is exciting!
 Most of our guests enjoy the experience and many report being touched during the investigations. We have people come in who don’t believe in ghosts. At the end of the night they leave a believer.

The Bingham Waggoner Mansion in Independence, Missouri hasn't yet jumped on the ghost hunt bandwagon. 
Having ghost hunts at historic sites serves two purposes. One is to raise money to keep the site going. The second one is allowing people to come in and play ghost hunter for the night. This situation is a win, win for everyone. This preserves historic sites for future generations which is very important. It also allows people to discover there is more to our world than what we see.

The Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri hasn't started doing ghost hunts yet but it is rumored to be haunted. 
If you go on a ghost hunt at a historic site, please, please be respectful. Although the furniture usually isn’t original to the site, it is old and delicate. Also, don’t yell at or provoke the spirits. Even though people may not live at some historic sites, they do have docents that have to deal with whatever you have stirred up, so just don’t provoke. Be sure to take your camera and digital recorder to catch any mists or voices during your hunt. Most of all remember to be patient; spirits do not act on command. Happy hunting!  

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