Enter the Hinsdale House at your own risk. If you believe in the paranormal, you might just be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a fleeting shadow. If you don’t, the house just might make you a believer. A 2015 Pew Research poll found that 18% of Americans have claimed to see a ghost, and 2016 saw a startling rise in the number of exorcisms performed.
There is a rich, haunting history associated with the Hinsdale, or Dandy, House. In July of 1973, the Dandy family moved into the remote homestead. But instead of living the American Dream, the Dandys began living an American Haunting. Objects flying through rooms, lights turning on and off, visions of demons - all of this manifested into an unsuccessful attempt at an exorcism from Father Alphonus, a priest from nearby St. Bonaventure University. The Dandys would leave the house behind, but not without the horrifying experience of a haunted house.
Since then, and the publication of Clara Miller-Dandy’s book Echoes of a Haunting, paranormal investigators have been transfixed by the home in rural Western New York. The ghost hunting show Paranormal Lockdown filmed there, and that episode remains one of the most intensifying.
In 2011, paranormal researcher Daniel Klaes went to the house with a team to investigate. His curiosity led him to want to research further, and somewhere down that path, he ended up buying it last June.
“A gentleman from Alberta who was originally going to buy it defaulted on the mortgage, and things just fell into place,” he said. “The woman who owned it was going to burn it down, figuring the property was worth more. That’s when we stepped in. We wanted to turn it into a research center, but it needed a new roof, new electrical, new plumbing … it’s taken a lot of work, but we persevered. It’s ticking the way it is now because of the passion I’ve got for it.”
If all of the work that needed to be done wasn’t enough, Klaes discovered there were over a half million honey bees living underneath the floorboards. And to bump the creepiness factor up ever more, there was black mold throughout the kitchen.
“That was honestly the biggest obstacle,” (removing the bees) Klaes said. “I’m cognizant of the shortage of honey bees, so we wanted to make sure the removal was done properly. There couldn’t be anyone on the property while that process went down, so before we could start the other work, we had to do that first.”
Since Klaes took over, the Hinsdale House has become an international hotbed for paranormal investigators. Crews from Canada, Australia, Europe and all over the United States have come to try their hand at uncovering the secrets that haunted the Dandys. To raise awareness, Klaes travels to different paranormal conferences and speaks on it. One of the main draws is that everyone’s data and research is compiled into a massive file Klaes keeps.
“To really uncover something of this magnitude, you can’t just go stay overnight in the house and have all the answers,” he said. “So we’re having all of the teams log their findings so we can uncover more history, make correlations and keep connecting the dots. We recently found out that there was a second exorcism, and the man now lives in Alabama. So something is there … we just need to keep digging.”
Klaes also runs Para Expeditions, which gives people the opportunity to come and stay overnight at the house. It’s geared for a variety - those who have never done a paranormal investigation all the way to someone who may have done 100. He teaches participants about grounding, what to expect, and how they should react if something strange were to happen.
“It’s a step-by-step process where we try different things and show different things,” he said. “The tours are small - 2-10 people with two investigators. We’ll show EVP, or electronic voice phenomenons, where you go back and listen to a recording. The human ear might not be able to pick that up, but an electronic signal might. We’ll do video and go back to see if we caught anything.”
Giving participants a taste of the paranormal only draws more interest. Klaes said he’s even had inventors come and test new equipment, and that leads to more exposure and more teams coming to investigate.
Eventually, he wants to turn the house into a full-blown museum. There are artifacts and original documentation that will be showcased, and he’d like to be able to provide some answers as to why the house is haunted. His team is almost at a point where they can start making significant correlations from the data they’ve collected.
“It’s got all of the things you’d want for a haunted house. Folklore, sightings, exorcisms. We’re just trying to keep it going, keep the research going, and continue to build it into a destination for visitors and investigators.”