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Friday, 08 April 2022 17:00

Out Of This World - Mount McGregor: The Place Where The Paranormal and Tourism Meet Featured

Written by Thomas Dimopoulos
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Mount McGregor. Photo: Empire State Development image, 2014. Mount McGregor. Photo: Empire State Development image, 2014.

SARATOGA COUNTY - The multi-acre swath of land nestled between Wilton, Moreau and Corinth has in the past served as a correctional facility, a TB sanitarium, and a center for the developmentally disabled. 

Now, paranormal investigator Steve Brodt and business partner Mark Erskine are finalizing an offer to New York State to purchase the long-vacant Mount McGregor correctional facility property, with a goal of creating a new heritage tourism destination in Saratoga County. 

“Over my decade-plus as a heritage tourism fan and paranormal investigator - and more recently as owner of the Haunted Nights paranormal events company based in Glens Falls - I have had the pleasure of visiting more than two dozen cities around the country where abandoned hospitals and correctional facilities have been reimagined as heritage tourism and paranormal investigation destinations," said Brodt. “These facilities are enjoying a second, or third life and bringing significant numbers of visitors and economic activity to those regions. We see a tremendous opportunity to do the same at Mount McGregor."

The partners’ business plan is patterned after the success of facilities like Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, KY, Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia, Ohio State Reformatory, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, and Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. 

If successful in securing the currently state-owned site, Brodt and Erskine envision reopening the campus, which has been closed since 2014, early on for heritage tourism tours, photography tours and paranormal investigations, as one part of their multi-year, multi-million-dollar plan. 

The buildings are largely intact and structurally sound despite the many years of inactivity and the more than three hundred acres includes roughly seventy structures, about forty of them identified as buildings of substantial size. 

The duo has made the presentation rounds with town supervisors in Moreau, Corinth and Wilton. “We met with them, discussed this with them and got all their support as well as assemblymen and senators as well. They are all on board with it," Brodt said.  

Long-term plans envision investments that will accommodate corporate events and other private functions, community events, TV and film productions, a museum dedicated to the history of the facility and property, and possibly even accommodations and dining.

“I have been doing this on a smaller scale for the past several years as manager of the Saratoga County Homestead - the former tuberculosis hospital in Middle Grove," said Brodt, who has toured the local property with representatives of Empire State Development. “Mount McGregor has a fascinating history to share, first as a tuberculosis hospital and later as a correctional facility, and we have no doubt that its story will attract heritage tourists, photographers, and paranormal investigators from across the country to Saratoga County."

Dating back a century, the grounds have served as a tuberculosis center, a rest camp for World War II veterans, and a center for the developmentally disabled. Most recently, it sited a correctional facility where medium security inmates were housed within a perimeter security comprised of a row of fencing topped with coiled blades of razor ribbon, according to Empire State Development. ESD published a lengthy and architecturally detailed 146-page Report For An Adaptive Re-Use Plan in 2014 as the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility was closed. 

Brodt and Erskine toured the property last November with the organization and for the past several months has been working closely with the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation. 

Regarding the paranormal aspect, Brodt says one never knows what one may find. “It’s funny because it is hard to tell with the paranormal. You might go into a location two nights in a row and have absolutely nothing happen, and the next night might be really, really active. We’ve had a lot of former staff who have reached out and said: ‘Hey, I had this experience while I worked there at this time in this building.’ Many of the experiences matched up and they told us the exact same story that took place in the same part of the property when they didn’t even work together and did not know each other," Brodt said. 

“There are stories already starting to come to light and we know there will be a lot more once we reach out to former employees and their families and gather the first-hand experiences of people who had worked there for many years," he said. “Once we acquire the property, we’ll get up there, get our hands dirty, get the work done, get the buildings cleaned up and open up for public access - as soon as possible," Brodt said. 

The hope is to secure the property during this current spring season, and subsequently open during this calendar year. 

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