He hunts ghosts, and shows you how

Lecture charts investigation of ‘Manhattan’s most haunted house’

[media-credit name="Photo courtesy of the Merchant’s House Museum" align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]

Dan Sturges talks turkey, about ghosts and things that go bump.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER  |  Paranormal investigator Dan Sturges has been roaming supposedly spooked museums, theaters, restaurants and private homes ever since visiting Civil War sites and staying at the “haunted” bed and breakfast (nearly every battlefield has one, he assures). Years ago, while on one of those trips, Sturges got hooked when he tagged along with a team of ghost hunters. Times change, but the hook’s still in there. For the past year, the physically formidable but downright sweet Sturges — now an old hand at this stuff — has led a team of sober historians, gifted psychics, curious fellow investigators (and this often frightened reporter) on a monthly trip throughout “Manhattan’s most haunted house.”

As haunted houses go, the Merchant’s House Museum is the real deal. Dozens of unexplained events have happened there since it opened as a museum, in 1936 — and some even before that (the first ones on record occurred just after the last occupant died, and as work was being done to prepare the house for its new life as a museum). Built in 1832, it was occupied for nearly a century by a prosperous merchant family led by patriarch Seabury Tredwell (1780-1865). Daughter Gertrude (1840-1933) was born, and died, in the house. In all, seven family members met their makers there. Flash forward to 2012, and the Merchant’s House is celebrating its 75th year as New York City’s only family home preserved virtually intact — inside and out — from the mid-19th century. Could it be that the presence of original Tredwell furnishings and personal possessions are helping to open a portal to the past, perhaps even to the great beyond? Maybe, maybe not — but it isn’t hurting, that’s for sure. At the very least, it sets one heck of a tone.

At this lecture, Sturges will begin by offering a paranormal primer. You’ll learn the methodology, equipment and practices of  “ghost hunting.” Then, he’ll recall some of the most extraordinary occurrences to have taken place since he began roaming the Merchant’s House stairs and halls and rooms with EMF and EVP equipment (as for what EMF/EVP means, you’ll learn). Much of the best evidence he has to share comes from the 2011 investigations — including crystal clear audio clips, which appear to contain very specific answers to questions posed by the team. As for me, I never came face to face with a “ghost” — but I did feel something brush up against me, spotted a disembodied dress out of the corner of my eye, smelled smoke when others didn’t and heard a loud bump in the night experienced by everyone else in the room — coming from a closet whose contents couldn’t have possibly produced the sound.

Does all this mean that the matter of life after death is a closed case? Not quite. Sturges refuses to say he’s ever seen a ghost, or even declare his belief in them. But if you don’t emerge from the Merchant’s House convinced there’s something strange and unexplained going on, you better have your head checked.

For a weekly dose of the paranormal, listen to “The PSI Show.” Dan Sturges hosts this web-based radio show, along with friend and colleague Larry Hewitt. Visit thepsishow.com for archived episodes. New ones air 7-8pm, Mondays.

Sat., Feb. 18, at 7pm
At The Merchant’s House Museum
29 E. Fourth St. (btw. Lafayette & Bowery)
For tickets ($20), call 212-777-1089
Order online at merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations
Visit sturgesparanormal.com and thepsishow.com
Regular Museum hours: 12-5pm (closed Tues. & Wed.) Admission: $10 ($5 for students/seniors)

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