Moment in Oddity - Underwater World Record
Most of our listeners know that we were recently married and that we honeymooned in the Florida Keys. Apparently while we were visiting Key Largo, there was an unusual world record attempting to be broken. Joseph Dituri has been living 30 feet below the surface of the Florida Keys since March 1st, and he plans to stay there for 100 days. Joe is a South Florida University professor who was a former US navy diver and expert in biomedical engineering. If he is able to accomplish this goal, he will break the current record for most time spent in a habitat beneath the surface of the ocean. On March 15th, Mr. Dituri spoke with USA TODAY during a Zoom call. Although he is set to break the world record if he stays submerged for 100 days, the professor stated that his purpose is to study how the human body responds to long term exposure to extreme pressure. Before beginning the endeavor in his 100 square foot habitat, Joseph underwent various psychological and medical tests and he will continue to do so while submerged. These tests will continue once he emerges topside. The study is costing $250,000 to fund and the research is to study the psychological effects of living in an isolated, confined environment for months, and to explore whether living under pressure can increase life spans and prevent certain aging diseases, according to a news release about the project. "We haven't done this level of research on people while they were underwater," Dituri told reporters last week. "No humans ever stayed past 73 days. We're going to go all the way to 100." Diane and I love snorkeling and the ocean, but living isolated and under the oceans surface for 100 days, regardless of the purpose, certainly is odd.
This Month in History - Dorothea Dix
In the month of April, on the 4th, in 1802, Dorothea Dix was born in Hampden, Maine. She was an early 19th century activist who changed the medical field by challenging various practices regarding the care of both the mentally ill and indigenous populations. In addition, she helped recruit nurses for the Union army during the Civil War. At a young age Dorothea moved to Boston to live with her grandmother. She attended school while there and also tutored children. While doing so she fell ill several times and had to stop teaching. At this time, Dorothea's doctors suggested that she spend some time in Europe. While overseas, she met different groups of reformers who were pursuing changes in the ways in which the mentally ill were cared for. Once back in the states, Dorothea began touring mental hospitals around the country. She reported back to many politicians in efforts to look at new care alternatives for asylums. Eventually she established asylums in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Illinois. Once the Civil War began, Dorothea dedicated herself to the Union cause, although she was known for treating both the Union and Confederate soldiers which gained her respect from both sides. Dix held high standards for her nurse recruits after being designated the Superintendent of Army Nurses. These high expectations lent to extreme success and was pivotal in the advancement of nurses in the war and medical field.
Hill View Manor (Suggested by: Steffanie Kolodziej)
Hill View Manor is located in New Castle, Pennsylvania. This started as The Lawrence Home for the Aged, a poor farm to take the place of a previous poor farm in the town. It was open until 2004 and saw hundreds of people come through the doors. This location hosts an annual paranormal convention called Hill-Con, an annual Psychic Fair and a haunted house attraction called Scare Manor at Halloween. So clearly, this location has some unexplained things going on and they embrace that fact. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of Hill View Manor!
New Castle sits near the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio, about 50 miles from Pittsburgh. This was an area first inhabited by the Mingoes, Lenape and Seneca who set up little towns along the Beaver River called Kuskuskie Towns. A civil engineer named John Carlysle Stewart arrived in 1798 and noticed that a 50 acre plot at the confluence of the Neshannock Creek and Shenango River had not been part of a survey done to incorporate land in grants for Revolutionary War veterans. He claimed it for himself and platted out a small town that became a borough in 1825 and by 1869 it was a city. European immigrants came from all over and one of the largest Amish communities sprung up nearby. Canal systems built in the early 19th century caused New Castle to flourish. And this put the city in the crosshairs of the Black Hand society who set up their headquarters nearby. This group extorted money from the blue color workers of New Castle. The town eventually came to be known by two other monikers: "hot dog capital of the world" and the "fireworks capital of America."
In the 1920s, Lawrence County needed a new poor house and it chose New Castle as the location. We've featured a few poor houses on the podcast through the years. Early on, these were places that became a catch-all for the impoverished, sick, elderly or mentally ill. Communities needed a way to care for people who had no one to look after them. Perhaps their family members had all passed or they had no friends to turn to or they just couldn't afford to pay someone to care for them. Poor houses seemed like a good alternative, giving women a building to care for and men a place to get job training. These were actual farms, so the impoverished could have some pride in working a farm. But as is the case with good intentions many times, things don't always work out well. Overcrowding and sickness made many of these houses bad places to live.
This new Lawrence County poorhouse would take the place of the original poorhouse built in 1867. That one burned down on October 14, 1897 and fortunately, none of the inmates living there died. The property was expanded and rebuilt with an infectious disease hospital added, housing around twenty inmates. Some of them were serving court-imposed sentences and others were just poor. The farm closed when the city of New Castle and Lawrence County joined forces to open a new poor house. The old poor house eventually became the Sylvan Heights Golf Course. The new poor farm would be located on 23 acres the county purchased near Ellwood Road. The government then set to building The Lawrence County Home for the Aged. This was designed by Architect A. L. Thayer and opened on October 19, 1926.
The first managers of the home were Perry and Mary Snyder who were coming over from the original poor farm. They also brought their two children with them and they were joined by twelve staff members. The twenty inmates at the old city poor farm were brought here as well, one of whom was a young boy. Although the Snyder's clearly had experience - they had been doing this since 1913 - the care of the residents faltered enough that by 1944, the Snyder's were accused of incompetency. They were in their late seventies though, so we blame the county as well for not replacing them earlier. A court hearing was held in June and it was ruled that the Snyders would be retired and then paid pensions. They were told they could stay at the home, but by August they were being ordered to vacate. The longtime director of the Welfare Department, Mantz B. Hogue, took over management.
The home would take on the role of being a skilled nursing center in the 1960s and was remodeled under a new director, Clarence E Covert. In 1973, with funds from the county becoming scarce and a horrible overcrowding issue, Director Covert resigned. The county decided they needed to add more space and built a new larger section with three more levels of space that could house 30 residents and a new dining room and kitchen were included. Most of the rest of the building was remodeled as well. This opened in 1977 and with that came a name change to what the property is known now, Hill View Manor. The building covers 85,000 square feet. This was a perfect name as the building sat on top of a grassy hill. Hill View Manor ran as a nursing home until it finally closed its doors in 2004. And it sat for a bit unused until the paranormal world breathed new life into the building that has been deteriorating with peeling paint, leaky roof and crumbling floors. Triko Enterprises, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based development firm, bought Hill View from the county in 2004. In 2009, Candy Braniff leased the building from Triko Enterprises and began hosting tours and paranormal investigations, while also gathering volunteers to help maintain the building. Since May of 2013, Haunted Hill View Manor Inc. has run the location. Different paranormal ventures and day tours fund the refurbishment of the building.
Hill View Manor is considered one of the most haunted locations in western Pennsylvania. There are websites that claim 10,000 people died here, but that is impossible. There were probably a couple hundred people who died here, but the facility never had that many people staying there. We have heard that this might have been used as the county morgue, so perhaps that is where people are getting the idea that 10,000 dead people came through here. Regardless of how many people died here, the number that matters to us is how many of those souls remain and the answer is quite a few. Steffanie who suggested this location wrote us, "I've just found out that I'm empathic, I feel energies. I've been to Hill View Manor a few times this year. I felt a little girl hold my hand. She likes to hang out on the top floor. On that same floor there seems to be a negative energy and we believe this because while using a spirit box up there, I was told to go f myself and the thing challenged me. On the 3rd floor, we smelled cigars and last year that place was so negative I didn't stay the whole night. One hallway makes me feel overcome with sadness and I started to cry there this year. On the first floor, I caught video of a necklace swinging in the room of a patient named Mary Virginia."
Mary Virginia is one of the most prominent spirits at Hill View. Her room reminds us of Sarah's room at Malvern Manor where there are many dolls, costumes and items to play with on the bed and dressers and several necklaces that belonged to Mary Virginia hang on the wall. Mary Virginia had Cerebral Palsy and spent her entire life at Hill View. She loved to play dress-up and listen to music, so she enjoys it when investigators try on some dress-up clothes and people claim to hear the humming of music that Mary Virginia enjoyed. Occasionally her favorite music will be caught on EVP. She is a friendly spirit who likes to move the dolls and cause the necklaces above her bed to swing.
The spirit of a former maintenance man at the manor, George, is said to hang out in the basement. He loved football and was a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, specifically of the Terry Bradshaw era. He smacks people on the back of the head if they mention being fans of another sports team. Another spirit residing in the basement, and specifically the boiler room, is thought to be Eli Saurri. Eli was at the poor farm because he was a recovering alcoholic. The poor house was a dry place and eventually Eli's craving for alcohol became too much for him and he snuck out to go drinking. The following day, some of the residents found Eli passed out near the front door, so they dragged him inside and thought that laying him down in the boiler room would help him sober up. But Eli had ingested far too much alcohol and he passed away in the boiler room from alcohol poisoning. Now his spirit is said to haunt the boiler room area and he likes to target women for pranks and such. Women get grabbed, poked and pinched.
The spirit of a child named Jeffery is said to be here. He was nine and he and his eleven-year-old brother were orphaned and brought here. The brother was adopted, but there is no record as to what happened to Jeffery and since he is a child spirit, we're left to think he passed away as a child at Hill View. He gave his name as Jeffery when asked by some paranormal investigators. He likes to hang out on the second floor, so there are child toys scattered throughout one of the rooms up there for him to play with. It is in Jeffery's room that investigators claim a dark entity named The Creeper likes to hide. This thing crawls on the floors and across the ceiling. People claim to hear its nails clicking on the floor and walls. Some guides claim to have caught it once on video, but when Kelly and i watched, we were unconvinced. And in the Critical Care area was a man named Bill Boots who died at Hill View from what one guide believes was a heart attack because when he asked Bill what he died from, he felt a sharp pain in his chest. They do have paperwork with a William Boots who died in the 1990s.
These are just a few of the named ghosts, but there are many more spirits here. All of them seem to be friendly, except one darker entity that hangs in the basement. One of the tour guides was closing down things one night and saw this dark shadowy thing on the stairs in the basement. A manager at Hill View named Rachelle Rozzo said, “We always try to be skeptical about things, we try to find logical explanations before jumping to conclusions… But sometimes there are just some things you cannot account for logically, like watching doors open and close when there is no draft and no one else in the whole building.” Another building manager claimed that she often saw full-bodied apparitions and communicated with spirits. Visitors and staff claim to hear banging, moving objects, scratching on the floor, slamming doors, disembodied voices and footsteps and pipes rattling. And this is in a building that has little electricity and no HVAC or plumbing.
The grandsons of a woman who once lived here came to do some investigating and the group they were with captured an EVP that gave a family nickname that no one else would know. And speaking of grandmothers, another woman who visited Hill View said that her grandmother used to play the piano every day and there are people who claim to hear the sounds of a piano even though there is no piano in the building. A former employee said, “As a nurse, I had numerous experiences while working. On one occasion, while walking from the east wing to the west wing, a very cold and cloudy form passed through me. It did not frighten me, only gave me an incredible chill. On other occasions, when on the second floor near the break room it would not be uncommon for me to see what appeared to be someone walking down the hall but upon checking things out, nobody was ever there.”
Members of Lakeview Paranormal shared with Philly Ghosts some of their experiences. Liz said her most notable experience occurred in the men’s cafeteria where she sensed a lot of tension and she captured temperature fluctuations. Senior Investigators John and Greg felt like something followed them throughout Hill View and Greg smelled perfume and cigar smoke emanating from the rooms on the third floor. Changes in air pressure caused some of the investigators ears to pop. Ghost Lab investigated here in 2010. Ghost Hunters investigated in 2011 and the Tennessee Wraith Chasers were there for their Ghost Asylum show in 2015. TWC attempted to trap the spirits of two suicidal people. One of them supposedly stabbed himself 30 times? The guys also blasted off a bunch of fireworks to distract some kind of gargoyle entity they kept talking about. They did seem to prove a theory that there were a couple murders here that were covered up as suicides.
Portals to Hell visited during Season 3 and they were greeted by Carrie Triko of Triko Enterprises. She told them that her mother had bought the property with the hope of turning them into condominiums. Carrie has had a few of her own experiences and she always gets a feeling that there is something watching her in the front entrance area. She will not go down the Timeclock Hallway because there is something dark in it. There is a stairway behind the hallway that leads down to the basement and the guides here claim that there is a portal under that stairway. A black mass goes back and forth like it is pacing. Psychic Michele Belanger went through with a blindfold and she got dizzy in the Timeclock stairwell and in Jeffery's room she picked up on the entity and said it was something that could shapeshift into whatever it wants and that sometimes that could be a child. Michelle didn't believe a child was in the room. Katrina and Jack focused on this second floor area probably because there are really no negative experiences anywhere else in the building. They heard disembodied footsteps and rattling and knocking. The knocking was in response to a request to make a noise. The first time was light, but then Jack knocked and asked for the spirit to knock again and it knocked really loud.
Ghost Adventures visited in Season 4 on Episode 6. They captured EVPs saying, "I'm Jim", "Get Out Of This Room", "Get That Guy", "Blue", "Did She?", "Hurt Your Back", "Yeah It Is", "Hi Zak", "Maybe", "Hockey", "Pittsburgh", "I Can't", "Go Check", "Do The Math", "I Plan On Fixin' Them", "Split", "I Got A Question", "Let Us Hear", "Alicia." A door opened on its own and Zak claimed to have his shirt tugged real hard and something grabbed his arm. Nick saw a shadow figure in a hallway. They also heard pipes rattling, scratching and banging.
Hill View Manor was home for many people who had nowhere else to go and no one to care for them. It makes sense that some of them would want to stay in the afterlife. Is Hill View Manor haunted? That is for you to decide!