Video courtesy of WCTV, Madison Strunk
Screams, footsteps and crashing objects are just a few of the frequent experiences that have spooked the staff at The Greene County Historical Society. Not to mention, the shirts that have been tugged on, apparitions that have been sighted and the various “gifts” left behind by spirits of those past. The Greene County Historical Society is haunted, according to Sam Gandy, administrative assistant and coordinator at the historical society.
“I was so freaked out I didn’t even realize if I had locked the door or not,” Gandy said.
Gandy experienced her first paranormal encounter last Monday as she was working in the middle of the afternoon. She heard several screams and crashes which left her running from the building.
The facility that is now The Greene County Historical Society was built during the latter half of the 19th century. The building started out as a family home for about four years until it was purchased by the county and turned into a “county home” in 1861.
“The best way to describe what this facility was is to use the term asylum,” Matt Cumberledge, executive director at the historical society, said. “It was meant for indigent people who couldn’t necessarily make do on their own. Most people who ended up in here had some sort of mental or physical disability in some way shape or form.”
The building has a history that could be the source of the paranormal activity experienced there today. One story alleges a female resident who became pregnant and birthed the child of another resident during her time in the facility. Upon finding her infant child dead, she allegedly hid the body in the bread oven downstairs. The baby was accidently burned the next day and awoke residents with an aroma they falsely hoped to be a turkey breakfast.
“Just a quick count of our admission record shows that at least 1,000 people have died in this building,” Cumberledge said.
Cumberledge said he and his staff experience paranormal activity at least several times a week. The facility quickly changed the mind of Cumberledge, a former nonbeliever, upon his memorable first experience of activity when he heard several footsteps reverberating from the upper floor of the building.
“I did not believe in this sort of thing until I started working here,” Cumberledge said. “My first inclination was that someone had broken into the building in the middle of the night and was camping out up here.”
The majority of the spirits are believed to be relatively benevolent, except for one malicious presence that is said to be that of a former, rather violent asylum caretaker.
In another encounter, Cumberledge heard stomping and growling noises followed by a box hurtling down the hall towards him.
“For a good month after that I wouldn’t come upstairs unless somebody else was up there,” Cumberledge said.
The spirits have also been known to leave gifts. Rooms have been completely cleaned out, only to be found the next day containing various artifacts. Some of these have included swords from the revolutionary war or ancient pieces of pottery.
The Greene County Historical Society hosts haunted tours as well as overnight investigations including a haunted house event to be hosted on Halloween night and an investigation coming up Nov. 7. For those who wish to be spooked this Halloween season, just three miles from Waynesburg University’s campus, The Greene County Historical Society is the place.