Friday, February 22, 2013

Rolling Hills Asylum

Image by Sharon Coyle for Roadside America

Located between Buffalo and Rochester in East Bethany, Rolling Hills Asylum dates back to 1827 when it opened as the Genesee County Poor Farm, aka "The Old County Home." Its original building was a carriage house and stagecoach stop, operating since 1790, but the land was chosen because it was mid-county and accessible to all.

Its 200 acres (most are now a park) weren't exactly a nineteenth century government housing community. Rolling Hills' population was made up of paupers, debtors, the physically handicapped, unwed mothers, the aged, orphans, the chronically ill and the insane.

At any rate, the times weren't all that kind to folk on the dole for one reason or another. They worked the farm and did other chores, while the mentally ill were no doubt treated with the cures of that century, ice baths and electric shocks. It's thought that hundreds, if not thousands, may have died on the property, and many were buried in now unmarked graves (a memorial was later erected on the grounds)

In 1938, it became a sanitarium, and by the early 1950s, the facility was a nursing home that closed in 1972. After sitting empty for a couple of decades, the building was transformed into the Carriage Village mall. In 2003, it became the Rolling Hills Country Mall, a set of shops that dealt mainly in antiques that are now closed.

During its marketplace era, the shopkeepers and their visitors were spooked by some unexplained going-ons. The reports sure indicated that more than a pack of mall rats were haunting the place.

Doors and windows shut and opened by themselves. Many heard disembodied voices speaking (especially by the kitchen area). People have passed through cold spots, or worse, felt cold hands touching their necks. Hair and clothes are tugged at by unseen hands. Toys in the "Christmas Room" were moved and rearranged by themselves.

Knocks from the walls and footsteps were reported. The sounds of screams and sobs were heard coming from the building and fields, especially at night. It's said that a black mist can be found in the boiler room. Some claim to have seen people inside, staring out the windows when the building is empty. There are stories of shadows and a full-bodied male apparition who roams the hallways at night.

There are also outre tales of boys sold into apprenticeships or worse, Satanic cults, baby sacrifice and that sort of thing floating around that are associated with Rolling Hills. We kinda discount them. Heck, its band of bedraggled souls roaming the halls is plenty enough excuse for some psychic mayhem. And spooky lore suggests that those early psychiatric "cures" and unmarked graves usually result in ghostly blowback, too. It's just what you'd expect from orphaned, destitute and/or insane collection of spirits.

The building has been featured on shows such as the Sy-Fy Channel's "Ghost Hunters" and Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" while being probed by many paranormal groups.

Rolling Hills is now private property, owned by preservationist Sharon Coyle, but is open to the public on select dates and hosts some highly regarded evening and Halloween tours, so you have ample opportunity to check out one of New York's main spook centrals, if you care to dare (and call in advance).

3 comments:

Ramya Haider said...

I've never heard a place so scary; I thought that the person who told me was actually just fooling around and telling Most Haunted Stories. Until I met someone who encountered 'something' sinister there, or I would rather say naughty, judging by what 'it' did not very long ago.

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Anonymous said...

There are no sinister spirits there, I have been there many times and know the spirits well.