By RACHEL WEAVER
Lynne Moisey operates a quaint North Huntingdon bed and breakfast with just a handful of rooms. Yet every day, she claims to have hundreds of guests.
According to Moisey, Larimer Mansion is haunted, and a group of local paranormal investigators say they have enough evidence to prove her claim true.
“What we have found absolutely defies explanation,” says Ed Ozosky, Hauntings Research founder who has conducted paranormal research for three decades. “We cannot find a logical explanation or scientific explanation. Larimer Mansion is one of the consistently most active paranormal sites in the country.”
Hauntings Research, a Western Pennsylvania group of 16 people with backgrounds in everything from medicine and education, have spent nearly four years investigating the strange happenings at Larimer Mansion. A documentary detailing their findings debuts Oct. 19 at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont.
Moisey says she suspected the home was haunted almost immediately after she and husband, Larry, acquired the 223-year-old building in 1985 and turned it into a gift shop. Items in the home would inexplicably disappear only to reappear in the same spot days or months later. Moisey didn’t think much of it until shop customers starting making odd comments.
“A customer said, ‘It’s really great you have sales girls in colonial costumes,’” Moisey remembers. “I said, ‘No, I don’t.’”
When more than one customer insisted they’d seen a woman in similar garb in the gift shop window, Moisey started to wonder if the building had a few otherworldly residents.
In 1998, the family renovated the building and moved in. As more strange situations occurred, Moisey decided she wanted to know more about the home’s history.
Listed as the Andrew and Jennie McFarlane House on the National Register of Historic Places, the home was built by William Larimer in 1790 on the former site of the 3 Springs Camp, where George Washington and Gen. Edward Braddock stayed during the French and Indian War. McFarlane acquired the property after marrying Larimer’s daughter, Jennie, who died during childbirth.
Moisey says the home was later owned by a corrupt banker who turned it into a brothel, and his soul and possibly some of the ladies have allegedly stuck around. Another owner was a notorious gambler. People have reported seeing his mother in the window, as she paces from room to room, waiting for her son to return from a bender. Another ghost is the soul of a deceased Native American man who does not seem to know he’s died, Moisey says. Some have claimed to hear him utter “Me No Die.”
Perhaps the most active spirit is the one the Moiseys call “Maggie,” who they believe to be the ghost of Margaret Ann Larimer, who died during childbirth in the 1800s. She’s been known to sway in a rocking chair in one of the guest bedrooms.
Moisey claims there are many more spirits in the home — some who are always around and others who might just be passing through.
“You can’t even count how many are here,” she says.
While compiling data, the Hauntings Research crew has strict guidelines, says Ozosky, a retired surgical equipment salesman from Pleasant Hills. They never rely on personal accounts. They’re looking for actual data — such as photos, videos and recorded sounds from unknown sources, known as electronic voice phenomenon or EVP — to analyze.
“What we’re looking for is proof — enough scientific data to reinforce thinking about what the life-after-death concept may entail,” Ozosky says. “We allow the mansion to pretty much dictate to us what it’s going to reveal. We try to go in as unbiased as an individual can be.”
Over the course of several visits, the team found a “wealth of information,” Ozosky says, including a photo of what they claim is a “full blown, full-bodied ghost caught floating down the Larimer Mansion second-floor hallway,” another of a “large white object that appears to be the translucent shape of a body,” and more.
One particularly baffling item is a painting in the parlor whose subject seems to constantly change. It depicts a mother sitting on a stool near her baby’s bassinet as another child looks on. Ozosky claims the group has photographed “nine different people in the painting who are not indigenous to the painting.”
“I’m literally being driven crazy by this painting,” Ozosky says.
They acquired dozens of EVPs, including what sounds like children jumping on a bed, a voice that seems to say, “The banker’s here,” and another that simply says, “Calm.”
Ozosky says he believes spirits stay in a particular location “for as many reasons as there are stars in the sky.”
“Some people, when they die, are afraid to go through the tunnel — they’re scared of hell,” he says. “Some people do not know they’re dead. Some are attached to a house or their family and can’t bear to leave them.”
Moisey says of the 66 customers who have stayed in the bed and breakfast, only one complained of a close encounter with one of the spirits. The curious couple went to the basement at 3 a.m. to take pictures. Later, their bed began to shake so hard it woke them up.
Moisey insists the ghosts don’t scare her at all. To the contrary — she claims they alert her to danger. For example, Maggie once appeared to Moisey repeatedly in a dream. Each time, she pointed to the fuse box in the basement, a part of the house Moisey rarely goes. She had the same dream three times before asking Larry to look at the box.
It was sparking. The family had planned to leave for vacation the next day.
“They have saved our lives and the house,” Moisey says. “They are like my angels.”
Moisey embraces their presence so much she hosts ghost tours during the fall. She’s also thrilled at the work Hauntings Research has done in helping her to better understand her ghostly tenants. She says as long as people are respectful of her extra guests, there’s nothing to fear.
“They’re not going to hurt me. They drew me here,” she says “The house isn’t evil. It’s always been a very warm and loving house.”