Weather permitting, a paranormal research group will spend tonight and Wednesday morning hunting spirits said to be haunting the Fulton County Museum on Kingsboro Avenue in Johnstown.
Northern New York Paranormal Research Society, a nonprofit organization formed in 2001, will be there courtesy of FLY92.3 radio’s seventh annual haunted house broadcast.
The group will be joined overnight by 15 guests who participated in the radio station’s promotion of the event and findings will be broadcast during the FLY92.3 Morning Rush show Wednesday morning.
Society President Merrill McKee said the investigation is not a publicity stunt, but a legitimate search for “the truth” and to make people aware of the museum, which is struggling to capture an audience.
“We want the public to know the museum is there. It does not get a lot of attendance,” McKee said.
Museum Director Mark Pollack was not available for comment Monday.
Museum officials have told the society they have witnessed unexplained phenomena within the building.
“They have had a lot of experiences with objects moving, audible anomalies, voices being heard. People have seen two visual apparitions,” McKee said. “As of right now, our history report shows no official tragedy on the property. But one theory is that objects [in the museum] can retain energy from spirits and that is what is being experienced.”
The museum is located on the original site of the 1831 Kingsboro Academy. In 1972, the Fulton County Historical Society purchased the empty Kingsboro Elementary School, built in 1900, and moved its artifacts there.
Despite the event taking place at Halloween, McKee said the society is a scientifically based group with a serious mission.
“We use scientific equipment and theories, and we try to debunk or disprove reports of haunted activities,” he said. “If we can’t find a natural explanation, we will look at possible paranormal explanations.”
The society has investigated several public sites, including the Cohoes Music Hall, the Irish Mist in Troy and the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, in addition to about a dozen private clients over the past 11 years.
“In better than 50 percent of the cases, we are able to explain how it is not a haunting,” McKee said.
Then, he said, “there have been instances where we have not been able to explain things. We have gotten some really compelling voice phenomena that we played on-air for which we have no explanations. But because there is no proof there is a spirit world, we will never say there is proof.”
Although the society contains hard-core skeptics of the spirit world, McKee said he believes “there is another realm where paranormal activity exists.”
The society was in Johnstown two years ago to conduct a similar investigation of the Knox Mansion.
“We have investigated it twice and had some interesting shadows show up. We had a door close with no breeze and we had some EVPs [electronic voice phenomena],” he said.
EVP is defined as a sound that has been recorded on an electronic device that has not been heard by the naked ear.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will volunteer the use of its search dogs for the event, McKee said. The dogs will go through the museum prior to the evening lockdown, looking for hidden people who may attempt to circumvent the paranormal investigation.
A deputy will also be stationed outside the museum’s door during the overnight stay.
The society will conduct a “public reveal” of its findings Nov. 16. “We will invite the public to join us at the museum and show any anomalous pictures,” he said.