Paranormal society investigates activity at Greensburg’s Major Stokes | TribLIVE

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Given an opportunity to investigate one of Greensburg’s oldest buildings before it becomes one of the city’s newest restaurants, members of the IUP Paranormal Society set up shop Friday at Major Stokes.

Standing in the main room, they discussed where to set up meters, candles and other devices they use to detect and communicate with ghosts.

“Ghosts seem to like different kinds of meters,” said Laurel Black, 60, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor who founded the society in 2008. She’s been investigating paranormal events for about 15 years.

Ghosts of children are attracted to some types while those of adults are attracted to others, she said. They also use toys and other devices to entice ghosts.

One meter they use is the same kind that electricians use to find live electrical wires. The meter has two lights that allow them to ask the ghost yes or no questions, she said.

“Nothing we use here is specifically ‘ghosty,’ ” she said.

To avoid prejudicing their findings, the investigators avoid learning about the locations they examine and each one gathers evidence independently without sharing with the others until the investigation is over, she said.

Dr. Frank Cowan, the same person who donated the land that became Mt. Odin Park, built the structure at 108 W. Pittsburgh St. sometime around 1880 as a home and office, according to “A Bicentennial History of the City of Greensburg” by Robert B. Van Atta.

Cowan was a lawyer, doctor, author, newspaper publisher and former secretary to President Andrew Johnson. He also liked to pull literary hoaxes that often had a Viking theme, hence Mt. Odin.

In 1895, Cowan converted the building into the Westmoreland Hospital for three years. It subsequently was used as a hotel, boarding house and professional offices.

When he decided to renovate the building into a restaurant and bar , James Bosco, an assistant professor of hospitality and tourism at Seton Hill University, asked the university archivist to help him research it.

That led to Black’s request that they get a chance to investigate the building while it was stripped down to its original walls.

Sharon Layton, 33, of Indiana has been investigating the paranormal for about 10 years. Willa Black, 23, of Indiana has been investigating for about 15 years. They’re both sensitives who try to communicate with ghosts.

About two-thirds of the time she’ll get an impression or a mental image but sometimes she’ll see them, Layton said.

“To me, they look washed out,” she said.

“Sensitives don’t always pick up on the same things,” Willa Black said. She likened it to different radios being tuned to different stations.

While three hours is pretty much the minimum amount of time they need for an investigation, and they often take longer, the time of day doesn’t matter, Laurel Black said.

“We don’t get anything extra if we do it at three in the morning,” she said.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, [email protected] or via Twitter @TribBrian.

Paranormal investigator Sharon Layton examines an abandoned top floor room during an investigation into a possible haunting at a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg on Friday, March 2, 2018.. Jim Bosco, who owns the property, hopes to open a dining establishment in May on the first floor.

Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Paranormal investigator Sharon Layton examines an abandoned top floor room during an investigation into a possible haunting at a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg on Friday, March 2, 2018.. Jim Bosco, who owns the property, hopes to open a dining establishment in May on the first floor.

Paranormal investigator Sharon Layton listens for audible evidence in a tunnel of the basement of a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg on Friday, March 2, 2018 during an investigation. Jim Bosco, who owns the property, hopes to open a dining establishment in May on the first floor.

Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Paranormal investigator Sharon Layton listens for audible evidence in a tunnel of the basement of a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg on Friday, March 2, 2018 during an investigation. Jim Bosco, who owns the property, hopes to open a dining establishment in May on the first floor.

Lead investigator with the group GRIP, Laurel Black, uses an EMF detector and a handheld voice recorder to search for evidence of paranormal activity Friday, March 2, 2018 at a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg.

Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Lead investigator with the group GRIP, Laurel Black, uses an EMF detector and a handheld voice recorder to search for evidence of paranormal activity Friday, March 2, 2018 at a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg.

Tom Wagner and his wife, Kim Wagner (left), take a look around one of the top floor rooms at a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg on Friday, March 2, 2018 during a paranormal investigation by the group GRIP, Ghost Researchers in Pennsylvania. Wagner is an investor in the soon-to-be opened restaurant on the first floor of the building.

Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Tom Wagner and his wife, Kim Wagner (left), take a look around one of the top floor rooms at a property on Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg on Friday, March 2, 2018 during a paranormal investigation by the group GRIP, Ghost Researchers in Pennsylvania. Wagner is an investor in the soon-to-be opened restaurant on the first floor of the building.



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