Feb 16, 2016
EAST BETHANY — In Monday’s edition was part one of a two-part Q&A with Sharon Coyle, owner of Rolling Hills Asylum. Below is the second part of the interview Managing Editor Tiffany Towner conducted recently with Coyle.
When you bought Rolling Hills, what were your plans?
To do exactly what I’m doing. I’m almost on target for everything. Arrest the decay, meaning if there was any problems with the roofs, fix them, which is what we have done. I’ve been very lucky. I had a roofer, called Kidd-Luuko, out of Worcester, Mass., come up and totally fix the slate roof, which would have been probably a $20,000 job. And he donated his crew’s time and some supplies and fixed the slate roof. Other volunteers have helped fix some other things that were issues. So arresting the decay, cleaning up the property from all the debris that was in here. And I say debris — it was like leftover pizza boxes that people left in here and trash and just stuff. It was about 14 tons of garbage really. It was terrible. I couldn’t have done it without the help of people that I met, volunteers that I had that now I call my friends. ... And do ghost hunts, paranormal investigations. It’s the most haunted asylum in the United States. It’s the number-two most haunted location in the United States with Gettysburg being number one. That’s mostly residual. This is more intelligent haunting, meaning they’re interactive. They can tell you what time it is. ... It’s the number-four most haunted location in the world. So it’s got a reputation behind it now. It’s very active, so I wanted to open a research lab, which is what we’re doing, and do other events here to make it more community friendly like it was when it was the poor house, meaning do other things besides the paranormal. We do hold celebrity events. We’ve been holding movie nights. Brad’s been spear-heading that. Last year we were doing them every-other Sunday in our rec room. We were doing primarily horror movies. This year we’re going to expand them to every Sunday and we’ll be doing everything from horror to sci-fi to thrillers and maybe some little surprise things in there as well, some music stuff. We did a Wounded Warriors benefit for one of my volunteers that passed away. He was a very big supporter of Wounded Warriors so we did a Jason M. Jewett Memorial Cruise-In Car Show. He was a car enthusiast. He also raised Huskies, so we did a pet adoption and the car show and we raised about $1,300 for Wounded Warriors in his name. So we do cruise-in car shows.
What are your big plans for things to come?
Hopefully do some weddings and more special events. I’m actually an officiant, so I can marry you if you’re crazy enough to want to be married here. ... Maybe expand on some small music acoustical things. Some other things I don’t want to fully share yet, but we have some stuff up our sleeves.
Do you have any regrets from leaving California and coming here, buying this place?
People don’t realize, they think it’s all fun and games. This is three full-time jobs for one person. Brad does a lot of the maintenance. He’s an amazing tour guide. People love his tours. I do tours as well. We have volunteers that do tours. People say that he’s a cookie-cutter of me. He knows the history, he knows the paranormal activity, the spirits know him, so he does an amazing job on that. ... It’s three or four full-time jobs. Literally, when we get going, like right now we’re in winter, we’re starting to gear up, starting to get busy, and there’s never a break from it. We’re here 24/7, literally 24/7. We don’t go anywhere, we can’t go anywhere. ... The hours are crazy. People say, “Oh, you open up, and you do your tour and you sit down and that’s all you do.” You don’t. I do all the sales, all the marketing, all the website, Brad’s doing the maintenance. I mean, when we’re in our primetime, which will be probably another month we’ll be full swing, we’re lucky we get three, four, five hours of sleep per night. We do everything. So it’s not what people think. It’s very hard, it’s very difficult. Would I change it? No. Would I wish that I could have five more of each of us? Yes.
So with how crazy the job is and how busy it is, what makes it worth it to you?
Preserving a historical property. Going forward with trying to find that one little maybe piece to the puzzle that might push the science behind the paranormal forward. Have we done that? No, but neither has anybody else. We do find pieces to the puzzle, and they all go together, but everyone’s still working on that. Meeting all the people. We get people from all over the world: Russia, Guam, Scotland, Australia. We had a guy come from Australia Dec. 22. He rented out the whole property for himself, did a ghost hunt, and rented Brad to go out with our special kit, and actually the three of us went out with him for the evening and he loved it. So meeting people is great.
In all your years between California and here, what’s the most interesting paranormal experience that you’ve had?
There’s so many. Every day I could tell you something different. Today, sitting here thinking, it’s probably when Roy came in the room and called out my name loud and like eight of us heard it. He literally walked in and goes, “Sharon,” with his big, deep voice, and we all went, “Did you hear that?” Or Little Jack going, “Boo.” We have a little spirit called Jack, Little Jack, he’s about 10 years old, and he hollered out boo to me twice. A year later, I walked into a classroom where people were investigating using what they call a spirit box, and I said, “Oh, are you having some good activity?” and they said, “Oh yeah, we happen to be talking to Little Jack,” who normally is out in the laundry room where he said boo to me. And so we’re in the classroom and I said, “Oh hi Jack, how’re you doing?” And he comes right through the spirit box and he goes, “Boo,” a year later, to make me know that it was really him. So stuff like that is cool. It doesn’t all have to be scary and terrifying and nasty for it to be really cool. We find more fun when they’re joking with us. ... It shows you they’re very intelligent, they’re very aware, and makes you realize that when you pass away, your energy is still here, you’re still who you are. People always try to comfort you when someone dies saying, “It’s just their body, it’s just their shell. They’ll go on.” And they usually say that to try to make you feel better. It’s true. In my experience it’s true. People are going to debate me. I don’t mean to offend anybody’s religious beliefs, because that’s what makes the world go around. Everyone has their own belief. I’m not here to convince you or change your mind. From my experience, and many other people’s experience, in our world, it’s true.
If I can ask, you said that before your mom passed, she said that she’d come back. Have you had any experiences talking with her?
About a year ago — she died in 2001, and I really didn’t get much from her. Karyn Reece is a medium out of Williamsville, Snyder area, and she had a show on TV called “To the Unknown.” We were a sponsor so she came here to do some filming and cut-aways. We’re up in the infirmary and Karyn stopped and looks at me and she goes, “Your mom is here.” I said, “Really?” And she said, “Yeah, she wants me to tell you don’t be afraid when she hollers for you. She didn’t mean to scare you.” My mouth dropped. About two weeks prior to that I was wrapping up a hunt, Brad was down at the house. I let everyone out, I was cleaning up in here, and all of a sudden I hear a woman go, “Sharon! Sharon!” And I thought, I know the voice, but I thought to myself, maybe it’s one of the ladies who left something and they’re hollering for me to open the door. Really it wasn’t. I go to the door, everyone’s driving away. So I call Brad on the walkie. “You got to come up here, I’m freaking out.” “What happened?” “I can’t tell you, just come up here, I’m freaked out.” So I haven’t told him what happened, we pack up, and I’m trying not to cry. We go to walk across the doorway, he goes, “What happened?” I said, “I heard my mother.” It was just like when she was at our house in New Hampshire, she was down in the barn with the horse and hollering up for me to bring her something, and she scared the hell out of me. I’m not afraid of being in the room by myself, I’m afraid of my mother! And it’s wasn’t that she was mean, she wasn’t a mean mother, she was a great mom. But scared the hell out of me. Two weeks later, Karyn knew, because she was here saying, “Tell Sharon not to be afraid because I’m going to call for her again.” That shook me to the core, because it was her, and Karyn knew it, which was weird.
Is there anything else that I didn’t talk about that you wanted to talk about your life or your experiences, Rolling Hills?
Well, we have a lot of great events coming up. There’s an organization called Haunted Explorations Events, and they do paranormal events to help locations financially; they do special events. And it’s owned and operated by Dave Juliano, who owns the Ghost Hunters store and Shadowlands website ... and Bob Christopher who has Ghost Detectives, which is a TV show out of Pennsylvania area. They’re holding this special event here July 9, and all the funds goes to Rolling Hills to help with repairs. They do it at different other locations as well. We’re having vendors, psychics, tarot card readers, there’ll be speakers, mini tours of Rolling Hills, all kinds of outside event stuff going on, hopefully music and other stuff, and tickets are only going to be about $20. All the proceeds go to Rolling Hills. So it’s an amazing thing. It helps with the water repairs. This year we’re hoping to get to the windows and repair some of the windows people have broken and re-glaze them. We have Brian Cano from SyFy’s Haunted Collector, he’ll be back in August, and the movie nights will hopefully start up if it stays warm like this in March or April. Our horror movie nights are really fun. $15 gets you a snack and a soft drink and a movie, so you can’t beat that in a haunted rec room, projected above a casket. And Brad’s opening up a music studio, a recording studio, and that will be really great, so we’re hoping to get some music videos done here, and some other filming projects that we’ve been doing.
by The Daily News (2/16/2016)