Tucked quietly in the small town of New Castle, PA, Hillview Manor is quite possibly one of the most haunted locations in western PA, but remains fairly unknown, aside from Pittsburgh locals. As a matter of fact, our small band of paranormal investigators had never even heard of the location until my bachelor party (yes, you read that correctly, my bachelor party was in fact an overnight paranormal investigation). The only way we had heard of it was really word of mouth. Perhaps that’s one reason it’s so haunted; it really remains untouched since its closure in 2004. Anyone who has been there, especially the employees, can attest to its creepy nature and truly fascinating ambiance.
Hillview Manor’s original incarnation was the Lawrence County Home for the Aged, more commonly known as the poor farm. It was opened in 1926 and housed 20 inmates including those who were mentally ill, destitute and elderly. Most of these residents did not have any family and were transferred there from other institutions around the county.
The goal of this institution was to allow these individuals a certain comfort level and for them to actually enjoy themselves in the home. Some of the amenities included a working farm, a garden, lounge locations throughout, a smoking room, vocational rooms, laundry, golf course, bomb shelter, garage and of course a cemetery. Patients housed here would work and live together in harmony most of the time. At any given time, there were anywhere between 70-160 residences housed here in the early years.
In 1944, the building fell into disrepair and the county had been accused of inadequately caring for the inmates and the house itself. The welfare department of the state took control of the poor farm and added on in the 1960’s, as the building was slowly becoming overcrowded. By 1970, the home had seen a transformation into a skilled nursing center as the inmates needed increased medical attention as they aged.
The overcrowding issues increased rapidly in the early 70’s and the county added on yet again in 1974. The North Wing, as it’s now known, was a full 3 story addition, including a basement expansion. There were also renovations which took place at this time, upgrading the kitchen, dining area, and the existing residents’ rooms. This addition allowed for approximately another 30 resident admissions. Upon completion in 1977, the home was renamed as its current moniker of Hillview Manor.
In 2004, Hillview Manor closed its doors due to financial struggles.
With the hundreds of inmates who have come and gone in Hillview Manor, including those who had passed away tragically, it’s no wonder that so many people have paranormal experiences here. There have been multiple suicides and a few murders throughout the manor’s history, leading many to believe that the dozens of unmarked graves on the site have been used to cover up many more incidents not recorded.
The most common noises and observations are those of doors and windows slamming closed, footsteps trudging through the hallways and rooms, pipes banging and voices whispering. Some of these have been captured on recordings and videos.
There have been a few lingering stories of paranormal activity throughout the years in the manor. The first involves the story of Jeffrey, a young boy who is said to play tricks on anyone visiting. He may tug at your shirt or grab your arm. However, the urban legend that is associated with this seemingly harmless entity is that if you personally see Jeffrey, you will die shortly after.
In room 105, a resident named Mary Virginia has been reported to be haunting her former room. The original bed, chair, and nightstand remain in her room and it is customary for visitors to leave dolls on her bed when stopping by. Her presence is said to be light and kind and that she likes the company. Mary Virginia’s music box will play occasionally, and the lights over her bed flicker on and off.
In the boiler room, the old grounds keeper and former maintenance employee does not like company. EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) have been recorded telling those visitors to get out of his room and ordering them to leave his space.
Some full body spirits have been seen, as well as a shadow figure which tends to crawl on walls and ceilings. Some of these entities set off motion detectors but will vanish instantaneously.
There are a few other common stories which make their rounds, including the pair of brothers who used to visit their grandmother that lived at Hillview Manor. They captured a strong EVP of the nickname their grandmother gave them when they were younger.
Employees of Hillview Manor share their experiences with guests who stop by. While turning off the lights in the west wing, one of the employees felt a cold, static electric cloud pass through her, giving her chills then immediately vanishing. She would also see someone walking toward the break room but upon following them, there would be no one there. She had even reviewed security camera footage of the hallway seeing nothing there.
The third floor hallway is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the building. There is said to be the noise of someone running up and down the hallway, but just before it reaches investigators and visitors, the sound simply disappears. There are numerous accounts of people seen staring out of the third story windows while no one was inside the building. Dragging noises can be heard inside certain rooms on the third floor, as if someone is pulling themselves across the room or using a walker to make their way to bed.
As with most investigations, our night started with a tour of the building, and we had been shown more of the hot spots. Our tour guides also had a little fun at our expense trying to scare us using an old nursing station call whistle (which did work as Scott jumped a mile!) There were a few locations that we began scouting as a large group. We took our recorder, night vision camera, and EMF (Electromagnetic field) meter while we explored. We also had a spirit box at our disposal but only utilized that once we slowed down and stopped in certain locations.
The investigation overall was a success, we had a blast, the building was incredible, and the staff were very nice and a lot of fun in their own rite. We are so excited to be returning and can only hope that we can get the same results and activity the next time. It’s easy to say that Hillview Manor exceeded our expectations and helped most, if not all, of us to believe in the afterlife and the paranormal to some extent. We will always be hunting for the paranormal and a big thanks to Hillview Manor, being our first official investigation, for the help and ideals to launch Iron City Paranormal.
Follow Up Investigation
This second investigation was a hit right off the bat. No more than ten minutes into our walk through we heard doors slam and footsteps. We decided to set up shop as quickly as we could. Similar to our first visit, we got plenty of activity in the chapel. This time around, though, we also received plenty of communication in the Atrium, even pulling a few different names! With all of the evidence we were gathering early on, the employees even offered to allow us to extend our time there. We would have happily accepted, however, right around 2-3 AM (when spirit activity is rumored to pick up) all activity seemed to stop.
Even with the activity ending a little early, we received a lot of good communication and activity during our second stay at Hillview Manor. This consistency really helps stake the claim that the building and property are truly haunted.
Our third return to the formerly abandoned and neglected farm turned mental institution has been a long time coming. This spot has grown in reputation over the years and, since our last venture three years prior, Hillview Manor has been flooded with not only paranormal investigators but also urban adventurers, curious bystanders, and everyone in between. The location has recently played host to the paranormal show Portals to Hell and will be featured on upcoming projects to help spread the word and continue to build the already strong and growing reputation.
As we’ve been itching to return here for quite some time, a group approached us planning a bachelorette party (thanks to our participation in the Mars Rumble), and we jumped on the opportunity. Paired with our interest in the location, a full circle moment also dawned on us as we first began our journey with a bachelor party of our own.
As we arrived early to prepare our equipment and ensure everything was good to go for the bachelorette party, there seemed to be a slew of activity occurring in the building as the crew was in preparation for the Physic Fair the following day. That was a good thing for us as the energy inside seemed to be active right from the get-go. We had about 45 minutes to get set and ready for the girls, but following their arrival and a brief tour, we had a little bit of a late start, truly beginning our investigation at about 9:00 PM. Our time here with the bachelorette party lasted much longer than we anticipated, but definitely for the better, as we parted ways at about 1:00 AM. We stayed a little longer, until about 2:30 AM, but did not seem to get nearly as many paranormal phenomena separately as we did previously with the group.
Following a thorough review of the evidence we captured combined with our personal experiences, we feel there is no doubt that the former poor farm of Hillview Manor still hosts inmates and staff alike who have returned to the plane of existence for numerous reasons and left behind significant traces of energy. Amongst some debunking techniques as well as comparing our experiences to evidence and applying that evidence to the stories and previous claims of hauntings throughout the building, we have been able to conclude that the building and property do hold a high amount of both intelligent and residual energies, more than likely tied to the energy these inmates left behind and all around Hillview Manor.
When there are so many stories and rumors shrouding a location, like this one, in particular, it can be difficult to distinguish those to pursue and those to overlook. However, we have had past experiences here and knew which places we WANTED to explore, but also used the judgment and experiences Ken has had inside the building, especially recently. Many of the pre-existing stories have proved helpful to guide us and even fruitful as they explained past experiences and triggered items of communication.
This was exemplified perfectly by our time spent in Angelo’s Room and Hallway, Mary Virginia’s Room, and the 3rd Floor Nurses Station. In the area that encapsulates Angelo’s Room and Hallway footsteps and knocks seem to be predominant and his shadow has been recognized. Our experiences here certainly lived up to some of these stories as we recorded and experienced these random (or not so random) footsteps and knocks. While we did not see his shadow, we did capture a raspy, guttural throat clear after we asked the reasoning behind the morbid naming of this area. Mary Virginia has been long rumored to play with her beads and animals, while her neighbor across the hallway Anna, in particular, has been said to be jealous. To our astonishment, we captured what appeared to be Anna balled up on her bed thanks to our SLS camera, while Mary Virginia played with our lights and even called out her favorite beaded necklace.
Very similar to these other tales, the 3rd Floor Nurses Station is just outside John’s Room. The paranormal experiences have been said to range from footsteps and shadows peering out of rooms to John being slightly territorial all the while attempting to distract guests with sights and sounds in opposing hallways. And we seemingly experienced exactly that. Whether it was John or another spirit here, we did experience and capture these moments. We dug deeper here and found that someone was protective of something which eventually appeared to be money and that they were hiding it from their son or for their son. The shadows did seem to move about here as well, but nothing was more unnerving than the cold and unsettling feeling that the two of us experienced on two separate occasions, neither was discussed or prompted by one another at the time.
While there were plenty of stories of spirits here, there appears to be certain energy that flows through the entire building. Some of our more intriguing experiences and evidence have come from simply wandering hallways, sitting in different areas that would have at one time been a hotbed of activity, and even attempting to communicate with other, unknown entities throughout; not necessarily the appropriate spirit “assigned” to their particular room. This could be highlighted by the full-body figure spotted and experienced by the majority of the group and, even though we did not capture this moment, this one was a distinct and viable moment that made everyone truly second guess what they were seeing with their natural senses. During one of the moments where we simply wandered the halls, we captured an image of a dark shadow huddled in the corner of the room as if frightened by us and watching from a distance.
Even though we did spend time in some of the more notable areas accounted for by stories and legends, we didn’t seem to encounter Jeffrey, Eli, or Mary (on the first floor). Even though we didn’t necessarily communicate with them, does not mean they are not there, we simply had some bad timing or luck. However, some of the areas where we did capture our most evidence and captivating personal experiences were just random hallways and empty rooms. These types of locations that we’ve both investigated before as well as are home to numerous active energies just go to show that no two investigations are the same nor can you ever expect to see or experience anything. We’re very grateful that the energy was active and alive that evening, not necessarily for our sake but rather for the bachelorette party who experienced numerous personal experiences, stories, and who knows maybe some shared inside jokes to tell at the wedding!
As we pulled together all of our evidence and lined this up against history, recorded stories, and even cross-referenced these with the experiences we each personally and individually encountered we have concluded that this historic building holds a unique union of both intelligent and residual energies. We thoroughly believe that we experienced and captured enough paranormal phenomena to help us conclude, and reconfirm past investigations, that there is an abundance of energy and past inmates who have returned to their former homes within the walls of Hillview Manor.