Rutherford House

Home Investigations

Investigating the Rutherford House, Harrisburg, PA. - by John Weaver

On Sat. Feb. 2, 2002, members of the Capital Ghost Forum and some guests from the Allegheny Mountain Ghosthunters investigated the Rutherford House. Built as a private home for one of the areas prominent families in 1858, this stately stone mansion has also served as a juvenile detention home and is currently a senior citizens' center. Kelly Weaver was originally contacted in 2001 by the center's Director, who spoke of a variety of typical paranormal activity, including doors opening and closing without reason, unexplained lighting problems, moving objects, etc. Kelly and I investigated the facility before the Holiday Season, and obtained some orbs and ecto in photos, and some EVP which came through on IR video. We also captured the strange rattling of an upstairs hall window while I was filming Kelly giving her impression of what energies remained at that particular spot. (Jean, the director reported that this had never happened previously. Further inspection shows the window panels and frame are indeed solidly placed.)

With Kelly and I, and the director all wishing to learn more, a date was arranged for our members to investigate the facility. On this evening, we were divided into 4 groups of 8 to 9 people in each, to allow each group to work each of the 3 floors and the basement. Care was taken to ensure that each group had more experienced members to lead them, and the 8 people who are new to investigations were divided evenly amongst the groups. There are several members of our group who, like Kelly, are very sensitive to the energies present, and we made sure that each group had at least one of these. Capital Ghost Forum is committed to obtaining visual, audible and other "evidence" of activity, but also feel that intuitive (psychic or sensitive) people can not only assist in directing us to areas of activity, but actually stimulate such activity by their presence. Over 30 digital and 35mm cameras were in use that night, along with 6 IR camcorders, 2 EMF detectors, a thermal scanner and various types of tape recorders.

As this is written, only 2 days after the event, we are receiving digital images by e-mail and expect more, including 35mm as they are developed. We have seen several well-defined orbs and some shots with ectoplasm and are awaiting various EVP clips for review. Activity has also been confirmed on IR video. (All members present were asked to return copies of investigation logs, from which a final report will be compiled.) Along with what we gathered that night, several unusual experiences were reported by our members.

Although the second floor so far appears to be the least active that evening, a side room (bedroom) window was heard rattling when one group passed by the room. When told of this, I personally inspected the window and concluded that it, like the 3rd floor window on our prior visit, was too solid to do this easily. (One may look silly jumping about and banging on a window frame, but it does prove a point.)

The first floor actually may have produced the best video evidence of the night, and was the scene of 2 strange occurences; In one, several radios went off at once, as if someone was calling those of us carrying them - an unintelligible voice was heard, but when questioned, all agreed no one in our group had made the call. (All radios in use were configured with a "Private Line" feature, which encodes reception, thus this could not be normal outside interference!) While on my way down from the 3rd floor, I stopped to observe another group exploring a small 2nd floor bathroom, asking how their night was progressing. As it was almost time to meet in the ballroom and compare notes, we moved downstairs together. We lingered a moment at the bottom, continuing our discussion, when the heavy unmistakable smell of a sickening-sweet perfume made our noses wince. (Not intending to be stereotypical, it is the type of smell one relates to blue-haired grandmas, none of which were present that evening.) There was no one else in the immediate area, and we uneasily sniffed each other looking for a rational explanation. Alas, there was none for this offensive - and evidently supernatural - smell.

The third floor was the scene of the night's strangest incident. Kelly and Al Brindza, another "sensitive" and friend from the AMG group had just emerged from a room that neither liked, and both wanted to head downstairs. Kelly and a couple others did, using the front stairway while some of us chose to use the back stairs. (Kelly, on our prior visit and tonight strongly wished to avoid the rear stairway.) I was still filming and speaking to another AMG member, Jon McClintock, when Al started downstairs. Suddenly, we heard a motion detector go off. We looked around, suspecting someone had left one nearby, but its location shortly became evident - Al's backpack! The detector then shut off on its own, and looking quite shaken, Al explained that as he started down the stairs, he felt "someone" pass by him! Al then unzipped his pack and showed us the offending device, a Radio Shack motion detector that many ghosthunters are familiar with. It was wrapped in a bubblewrap and the cover was securely closed! (It was then checked for malfunctions/battery problems and of course found to be OK.) Anyone who has used these devices knows this was not normal, and we could only express amazement at yet another paranormal event. He then started downstairs again and suddenly halted, feeling the presence of an "angry" man coming toward him. After retreating back up the steps he found that his digital camera, normally carried with power off, was turned on. Al was upset by the whole episode, having felt the entity pass by him, and was led downstairs and outside for some fresh air. He later described an angry older man, with grey "mutton chop" sideburns who confronted him on the stairs, and made a rough sketch of the man. When shown this, Jean the director produced an old photo from her office, which had not been on display that night. The picture is of Mr Rutherford, the original owner of the mansion, and the resemblance to Al's sketch is easily seen. (Kelly feels Mr. Rutherford is indeed one of the male spirits here, and is the reason books and cards moving about is reported in the library/game room. If this was the same entity, he certainly showed a different side this evening).

There's a lot going on at the Rutherford House - nothing overtly nasty, but it certainly is very active. There are some historical questions that might give further insight into who is here and why. Foremost is why this mansion, build by a wealthy and prominent family in 1858, found itself transformed into a Juvenile Detention Home less than 50 years later. Kelly and the other intuitives feel that there is considerable residual energy here; not surprising given the castle-thick stone walls and its former role as a facility where much unhappiness would have been felt. However, much of the activity reported clearly suggests that intelligent spirits inhabit this historic old structure. Another investigation is scheduled for April 20, as part of the Independent Ghost Hunters Conference. That night, we can expect more answers - and more surprises!

"pottage" Here is a sample of EVP recorded by Marty McClintock at the Rutherford House. Visit our EVP page to hear more.

Home Investigations

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