Some people suggest it’s the ghost of Abraham Ten Broeck or perhaps some poor soldier from the War of 1812. Gary Robusto doesn’t know and he’s not about to guess.
He is convinced, however, that there is something going on at the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany, and as long as the Albany County Historical Association doesn’t mind he’s going to continue waiting, watching and listening.
“We’ve been there quite a few times, and there’s plenty to indicate that there’s some sort of activity going on,” said Robusto, president of the Tri-City New York Paranormal Society. “We’ve had doors slam shut, we’ve seen a few shadowy figures, and we’ve heard plenty of EVP [electronic voice phenomenon] evidence.”
‘A Paranormal Investigation of Ten Broeck Mansion’
WHAT: A fundraiser for the Albany County Historical Association
WHERE: Ten Broeck Mansion, 9 Ten Broeck Place, Albany
WHEN: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. today
HOW MUCH: $100 (only 20 tickets available)
MORE INFO: 436-9826, www.tenbroeckmansion.org
If you’re intrigued, the ACHA and the TCNYPS are joining forces and inviting the public to come and watch Robusto and his group conduct a case investigation. Both believers and skeptics willing to put up $100 are invited to join them today beginning at 3 p.m.
The day’s activities will include entertainment, dinner, snack and drinks, as well as a hands-on opportunity to use the kind of equipment used in professional paranormal investigations. Visitors will also see a performance by Albany magician and storyteller Cory Haines. All proceeds from the event go to the Albany County Historical Association.
Robusto is a 33-year-old Albany native now living in Guilderland. He works as a cook when he’s not involved with the TCNYPS, a group he started about three years ago. They are a nonprofit, and although they do accept donations it’s not about the money. It’s about helping people who are struggling with things they can’t explain.
“We don’t charge clients,” said Robusto. “We just try to help them. At Ten Broeck it’s kind of a light-hearted situation, but we’ve also had cases where people wake up with scratches on them, and people feel like a possession was going on. If we can’t handle it for any reason — for example, some negative entity is really harming people — I have a network of people I can rely on to help the people. We try to stay one step away from all the religious stuff and the demonologists. That’s not where our expertise lies.”
Robusto’s encounters with paranormal activity began early in life.
“I was a psychic child, and I grew up looking for Bigfoot and UFOs,” he said. “I would have visions all the time, and I never really understood what was going on. As a teenager I was probably more scared than curious by what was going on. Then I started doing some reading, I got my own psychic mentor and after getting away from it for a while I’m back into it.”
According to Robusto, the life of a paranormal investigator isn’t always exciting.
“Sometimes it’s the most boring thing to do in the world,” he said. “It’s like watching paint dry. You’re always waiting for something to happen and nothing does. But then you go back home and review the sights and sounds with your equipment and there’s something there you can’t explain.”
As his close association with the Ten Broeck Mansion might indicate, he is also a big fan of history.
“We have the key to the house, and we love the history connected to the house,” he said. “We need to know all the ins and outs of a place before we go in there, so the history of it is really important to us. That’s also how we get the younger generation involved. At first they don’t realize they’re getting a history lesson every time they go somewhere with us, but it’s a big part of all of our investigations.”
While his group has visited Ten Broeck Mansion on regular occasions, this is the first time the public will be able to witness what goes on during a paranormal investigation.
“They’ve run our haunted mansion in the past and done some training here, but this year they’re opening it up to the public and inviting them to come in and participate,” said Wendy Burch, executive director of the ACHA. “I heard people tell ghost stories about the place, and while I haven’t seen or heard anything myself I’m pretty open-minded about it.”
The Tri-City New York Paranormal Society is one of several groups in the Capital Region dealing with paranormal activity. There are more than 10 small associations right in the immediate Albany-Schenectady-Troy area, and more than 20 in the greater Capital Region.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years, but I started up my own group just a few years ago because I really just wanted to help people,” said Robusto. “We don’t always prove something, but we like to validate what people are going through. I even have an ordained minister on my team now. Helping people is what we’re about, and helping great historic places like Ten Broeck Mansion with their restoration fund is really something we enjoy doing.”
Built in 1798
The Ten Broeck Mansion was built in 1798 for Abraham Ten Broeck and his wife, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer. Originally built in the Federal style, the mansion was later renovated with Greek-revival enhancements. In 1948, after 100 years of ownership by the Olcott family, Ten Broeck was presented by the heirs of Robert Olcott to the Albany County Historical Association.
The house is available for tours by appointment and is open to the public from May through October on Thursday through Sunday. Following Saturday night’s paranormal investigation, Ten Broeck Mansion will hold its annual Harvest Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The house will also be open for three special events during the month of December.