Emma Rae Curtis here again.
I’ve been a fan of Halloween since I was a little girl. The magic, the mystery, the feeling of the supernatural—I was enchanted immediately. It’s a magical time of year, and I’ve been vivaciously celebrating this most wonderful of holidays for as long as I can remember.
Recently, I was in Virginia City and was allowed to accompany a paranormal team’s investigation of The Chapin House. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done and I’m excited to share my story with you!
A Brief History
The Chapin House is, as of this year, exactly 150 years old. It was built in 1862 by Samuel Chapin, and is one of the few houses to have survived the 1875 fire. Because of this, it was actually used as a triage to help the wounded after the fire. It has great historical significance and plays a role in the tourism industry of Virginia City. It has been recognized as haunted for a number of years.
The Chapin House was used for most of its existence as a boarding house. It currently has fifteen rooms, nine of which are bedrooms, with three stories.
The paranormal investigation team was Full Moon Paranormal. After explaining who I was—an ecstatic fan of Halloween and writer—they were kind enough to let me join in, along with the local TV news station, KRNV Reno. It was an amazing experience, and the first time I’ve ever been involved in a paranormal investigation. Hopefully not the last!
The current owners of the house, the Millers, said they’ve noticed a few strange things happening throughout the home. Things such as unexplained noises, a small toy moving around the house seemingly at random and without explanation, and cold and warm pockets throughout the various rooms.
Mrs. Miller said such things initially drew her to the house, and they’re one of the reasons why her and her husband decided to purchase it. She was a kind older lady who said the house definitely didn’t make her uneasy. Rather she felt at home in the old Chapin House, enjoying its history and character. Such a view is commendable, and I’m glad she’s able to enjoy the supernatural elements rather than be scared off.
I was blown away at the size and sheer aura of The Chapin House. Seeing it in person is definitely a much different experience than glimpsing a picture. There was a quality of somberness about the house; of history and age. The thought of so many people living, breathing, and experiencing this boarding home before me left an indelible mark upon my mind as well as my impressions of the house.
We got there before sunset and the first thing I noticed was the way the house practically loomed out at me. Watching dusk fall upon the shoulders of the house, experiencing the anticipation, and feeling the submersion into darkness was a site I’ll not soon forget. Such was my mood as we prepared to explore the bowels of this fateful home, seeking out any telltale signs of lingering life within.
Full Moon set up cameras on every floor of the old boarding house, along with voice recorders strewn liberally throughout the house with the hopes of catching paranormal activity, both visual and audio.
Objects were placed throughout The Chapin House as well to see if we could detect any unexplained movement. Items such as pennies with tape placed underneath—to mark their starting location—and small children’s toys.
I can’t explain how thrilling and heart-racing it all was. The very idea of catching video—or even audio—evidence of paranormal activity! And to be on hand when it happened! It was enough to get my blood pounding. It was like capturing the essence of Halloween and distilling it into a single perfect moment.
We convened outside the house to begin the investigation as well as allow the house a full chance to settle. We wanted The Chapin House to be fully empty, drained of any pent up energy.
While we were assembling out on the lawn, suddenly a sound could be heard from within:
I was blown away that it was starting already! We hadn’t even had a chance to get inside, and already inexplicable sounds were coming from within the old Chapin house.
Team members from Full Moon called out asking who was knocking. Asking if there was someone inside. Never before had I felt such tension in silence. It was very nearly a physical presence in and of itself. I think we were all holding our breath—I know I certainly was.
No response. Still holding onto our quiet, thrumming excitement we headed into The Chapin House. Walking around in the quasi dark, shadows seeming to bend, I could feel the excitement building into very real adrenaline.
In the third room we went in to, after a Full Moon team member questioning the empty air, seeking a presence, audio caught a door rattling softly for ten full seconds. Repeated questioning couldn’t get the effect to repeat.
Heading up to the second floor, when another team member instructs any spirits to knock if they’re there, another door rattles, this time with more emphasis.
The hairs on the back of my neck weren’t simply raised at that point; they were trying their best to escape and get out of The Chapin House. I’ve never felt both more exhilarated and alarmed at quite the same time before.
We continued on throughout the house, splitting up and exploring for a total of seven hours. We didn’t have any more close encounters, and I wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or slightly relieved. I can honestly say I was feeling a confusing jumble of emotions.
Coming out of the house seven hours later felt like both a life time and a blink of an eye. Everything we’d experienced—the held breath, the tense pauses, the spike of excitement—was over both before it seemingly began, and after enough time to completely physically exhaust me. Looking back now the whole experience seems nearly one giant blur now—likely due to physical exhaustion and mental stress. Excitement is really only meant to last so long.
Reviewing the audio we found a few more intriguing sounds that couldn’t be readily explained. Nothing as acute as voices or loud crashing, but definite background noise that had no direct cause. Video showed a few fuzzy ‘orbs’, but they seemed barely formed at best. It was amazing to have the physical evidence support what our own senses felt and heard.
If ever you get a chance to join a paranormal team in their investigation of a haunted location, I strongly urge you to take it. It was an eye opening experience, and greatly raised my appreciation of both the sciential manner in which the paranormal investigators performed, and the amazing adventure waiting in historic homes.