Collingwood Arts Center offering tours, chance to hunt ghostsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Collingwood Arts Center (CAC) has long had a reputation for being haunted, with many former residents, students and visitors reporting hearing or seeing unexplainable things.
“There are stories about people being buried in the basement. There are stories about a nun hanging herself,” said Interim Executive Director Sarah Kurfis, who has been with CAC for about a year. “I researched this all when I started and can’t find anything that’s historical on this, but a lot of people have stories.”
Kurfis attended a reunion for Mary Manse College graduates and many students from the school once housed in the building shared their stories, including one of a nun who sits in the balcony.
“Apparently they used to always see someone in the balcony, which some of the old residents had told me about as well,” Kurfis said.
To capitalize on the creepiness, CAC began offering ghost hunts with local ghost hunter Chris Bores earlier this year.
Kurfis connected with Bores after he rented the CAC auditorium to screen his documentary, “Pursuit of the Paranormal,” last year.
“He came in and was hunting around before his event and said we had activity here,” she said.
Kurfis asked Bores if he’d be interested in leading ghost hunt tours at CAC and he agreed. He has done about one a month since spring and CAC now plans to launch a full series of tours for the Halloween season.
Upcoming hunts will be 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sept. 13 and Sept. 27. October hunts will be 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 4, 11, 12, 17, 18, 24 and 25.
Ghost hunts are for ages 18 and older and participants will need to bring ID and sign a waiver. Check-in starts at 7:30 p.m. Doors will lock at 8 p.m.
A limited number of tickets are sold per hunt. Cost is $35. If available, tickets at the door are $45. Tickets for the Sept. 27 session will be sold via LivingSocial.
Starting in October, cider and snacks will be provided “to keep you rared up and ready to find more creepy things,” said Lexi Staples, CAC special events coordinator.
To kick off the October hunts, Bores will offer a lecture Oct. 3 sharing tips and tricks for novice ghost hunters. Cost is $5.
“I’m going to talk about all the evidence we collected here, the tools we use and end by playing a video I got here, a 60-minute conversation edited to 15 minutes, where people will be able to see the interaction with one spirit,” he said.
Lecture attendees will get a coupon for $5 off one of CAC’s October ghost hunts. An optional ghost hunt will take place after the lecture from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cost is $35.
Free mini ghost tours will also be offered during CAC’s upcoming Food Truck Festival on Sept. 20 at 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. CAC historical tours will be offered at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Full-length ghost hunts always start with an hour-long historical and paranormal tour of CAC, Kurfis said.
“After that, it’s kind of a ghost hunting free for all,” she said. “We turn everybody loose in the building and they can do their own independent investigations. Some who are more novice ghost hunters will do the tour, poke around and leave. Others stay all the way up to the end.”
“The offices and rented studios are locked, but other than that it’s pretty wide open. It’s the first time the building has really been open to the public in the last five or six months. So we get a lot of people who come to the ghost hunt, I think, just to see the building and have tours, too.”
Kurfis said she knows ghost hunts aren’t “arty” but she feels they fit CAC’s new mission “to provide an outlet for creative community involvement while preserving a historic space.”
Money raised by the ghost tours currently goes to basic operating costs, but Kurfis hopes it will soon be able to go toward capital improvements to save the building.
“We’re in a lot better position than we were even a year ago or a few months ago, but we’re still digging ourselves out of a hole caused by mismanagement,” Kurfis said.
“One of the tours reported walking across the stage and hearing somebody walking behind them. One of our staff members is taking credit for that. He said he went around the building and told the ghosts to be really active because we’re trying to save the building. He said, ‘If you’re here, we need you to be really super creepy tonight.’”
Bores, a Sandusky native who now lives in Toledo, said his favorite place to investigate at CAC is the former nuns’ living quarters on the fourth floor.
“I’ve gotten EVT (electronic voice phenomenon) there, voices you don’t hear at the time of the recording but when you play it back, you will hear it,” Bores said. “I was in one of the nuns’ rooms asking what year it was and this older woman, as if very perturbed by my question, just said ‘Jesus.’ Like she was really annoyed by the question.”
Bores also said he’s been “attacked” in the basement by “something more malevolent.”
“The meter spiked dark red, which means a lot of energy, and I felt a weird tingly sensation at the back of my neck, like needles. Very discomforting,” Bores said. “The only reason that happened was I was kind of provoking it. It told me to get out and I said, ‘Make a noise and I’ll leave.’ It got to the point where I said, ‘OK, we’re leaving.’”
Bores said he first got into paranormal investigations about seven years ago, his interest sparked by the TV show “Ghost Hunters.” He specializes in “spirit communication.” He formed a paranormal team called Haunted Investigators in 2006 and gained a YouTube following. His 2013 documentary, “Pursuit of the Paranormal,” includes a 90-minute conversation with a spirit at the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida, among the most well-known haunted places in the U.S., Bores said.
Bores said he’s been ghost hunting at Collingwood Arts Center all winter and was able to talk to all the residents before freezing temperatures and outdated heating and electrical systems forced an end to the residency program in February.
“It seemed like all of them had something weird happen to them,” Bores said. “One guy said he was cleaning up and closing some of the doors in the building and a voice from the other side of the door said, ‘Get out.’ I haven’t had anything like that happen, but I have heard voices, like someone talking at the end of a corridor and you run down there and there’s no one there and it stops.
“Some nights are very quiet, some nights are crazy,” Bores said of the tours. “I just hope they have a good time.”
Pat Tansey, CAC founder and longtime unofficial building caretaker, said he’s also had a few unsettling experiences over the years, especially in the early 1980s after the nuns moved out.
“In the early years I was pretty much alone, trying to make things work here,” Tansey said. “Being in a building this big all alone, you heard every noise, creak, crack. I might be on the stage alone at night trying to build a platform for a choral performance or graduation ceremony and the lights would be on on the stage but not in the auditorium.
“You know how you sometimes look around because you feel like someone’s watching you? That happened to me four or five times. I’d turn the lights on and there’d be nothing there. But pretty soon I’d have that hair-raising feeling on the back of my neck.
“I don’t know if there’s any truth to it. It’s like the people who say they saw UFOs and no one believes them, but to me that was real.”
Private ghost hunt rentals of the CAC are also available. Cost is $350 for the first five hours and $50 for each additional hour.
For tickets or more information, visit www.collingwoodartscenter.org or call (419) 244-2787.
Tags: CAC, Chris Bores, Collingwood Arts Center, electronic voice phenomenon, EVT, Food Truck Festival, ghost, ghost communicator, ghost tours, haunted, Interim Executive Director Sarah Kurfis, Living Social, Mary Manse College, nuns living quarters, October, paranormal, Pat Tansey, Sandusky, UFOs