Mustafa Gatollari is the paranormal historian and site analyst on the Ghost Hunters reboot, and he will be blogging about the show's paranormal investigations each week exclusively for Distractify! Follow Mustafa on Instagram at @mgatollari.
Before I get into all of the behind-the-scenes details regarding our investigation of the Madison Seminary, I have to say that any of the thoughts, opinions, and commentaries presented in no way shape or form echo or reflect the views of my other Ghost Hunters team members, Pilgrim Studios, or A&E television.
Now let's get to it: the Madison Seminary. This case was an interesting one because we didn't have the usual amount of prep time that we normally would for one of our cases. (You're going to see some weird symbols throughout this article, which will be explained at the end — just keep that in mind.)
Daryl Marston, the swole, bearded member of our team and an all-around awesome guy (if you watch the show that's pretty evident) had investigated there in the past. His friend, Adam, reached out because the staffers he'd get to work events and paranormal investigations at the Seminary were getting so freaked out that they didn't want to work there anymore.
Adam told us he put his blood, sweat, tears, and most importantly, money, into buying the building and bringing it up to code for to be a historic ghost site that locals and visitors to the area could tour.
The first thing that popped up about the seminary was some history, that, on the surface, seemed very, very, very gnarly. There were over 200 deaths on the premises, many of them women. The Seminary itself wore a lot of hats: it was called a Seminary because it was, obviously a school, but it was also a home for Civil War widows, some of them famous, with a crazy history all their own.
It didn't just serve as a convalescent home for the elderly, but Madison Seminary also served people who were mentally ill and provided care for them. When you think about asylums in American history, the imagery is never good. There are many a sordid tale of patients being abused and/or exploited, and Adam had told us that his research indicated many of the female patients were no strangers to assault at the hands of doctors.
There were also claims of people being choked, pushed, and treated aggressively, and experiencing a general uneasiness on the premises when they were there — which is certainly something I felt upon entering one section of the Seminary grounds. The building was divided into two parts: the "Asylum" and the "Civil War Building."
Brandon and I captured some amazing FLIR footage in the Civil War building: the figure just outside of an exit door that leads to the fire escape.
In case it didn't come through in the episode: there is NO WAY there was anyone up there on the fire escape, and if there was, they would have had a higher heat signature on the FLIR. All of our production crew were grounded at the time, and there was nowhere for anyone to go past the door — where that figure headed was nothing but a railing and a three-flight-of-stairs drop.
Then there was the "Asylum" building and the experiences Brian, Richel, and Brandon had inside that building.
I have to admit that while I was taking my own tour of the premises, I felt very uneasy. I didn't like being up on the third floor of the asylum by myself, and a room in the basement that wasn't shown in the episode, particularly freaked me out. I asked other people to just join me on a brief tour, both on the team and our crew, and everyone said they didn't like being in that one particular room.
It turns out that one of the claims in that basement room was that someone was either murdered and buried under the floor, so we went and got two corpse sniffing dogs to come and check it out. Both dogs thought they found something, so we dug a hole in the ground to see what we could find... and there was nothing.
After digging more into the history of the building and meeting with the local historical society of Madison between Night 1 and Night 2 of our investigation, however, I discovered that there was a lot of urban legends surrounding the Madison Seminary.
There weren't any documented instances of abuse. The information that Adam received contradicted with what the local historian — who has been a native of Madison, Ohio for decades — told me. She said that the local perception of the Seminary was one that was positive: it was a pillar of the community that served a lot of people.
So why were our experiences between Night 1 and Night 2 so different? There are a couple of theories, the first being that we went in with a different mindset.
Perhaps the entities that were there were fed up with people going in and trying to force a narrative of doom and gloom?
Or maybe it had something to do with the strange sigils the team found throughout the building, that were lifted straight from Simon's Necronomicon. We took these photos as we were making our rounds of the campus and throughout our investigation, and they were positioned in such a way, on each floor, that they all hit East, West, North, and South points.
The set up is something straight out of the occult — it looked like someone was trying to conjure something inhuman to appear in the "Asylum" building. None of these sigils appeared in the Civil War section of the campus, which, to the team, explained why so many of us felt uneasy and jumpy while touring the "Asylum" grounds. When we asked Adam about the symbols, he said that his girlfriend had put them up as a means of protection.
I'm not saying that anything demonic was in the "Asylum" building, but maybe whatever entities were there were unhappy with sigils for whatever reason? I can't even pretend to know, but it was something that raised more than a few eyebrows from not just the team, but everyone on production as well.
Especially when one of our cameramen, out of nowhere, started feeling ill and had to take off for the rest of the night after he experienced sensations similar to what Brandon, Brian, and Richel were going through.
It's definitely one of the "spookiest" locations we've been to, and like Landoll's, I really want to get back to Madison Seminary to try and get to the bottom of who or what is there, even if Night 2 of our investigation had an entirely different vibe.
We had experienced activity (which wasn't featured in the episode), but it wasn't aggressive, it seemed more like an acknowledgment of our presence, rather than a challenge, or maybe even a warning.