Today I visited the historic Strauss Mansion in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, along with some friends and co-investigators. Built in 1893 as a summer cottage for a wealthy merchant named Adolph Strauss, this three-story house which overlooks the bay from a hill is lavishly decorated, and is a beautiful testament to Victorian design. The house is open every Sunday afternoon from 1-4pm, and admission is free. Once you are inside, they give you an information packet for a self-guided tour, which you can take as much time as you need to—allow yourself about an hour because there are so many rooms and many wonderful artifacts and pieces of period furniture to check out. Because there were not a lot of visitors today, the four of us were able to spread ourselves out and actually try to do some ghost hunting. As I always say, paranormal activity can happen any time of day; we just prefer to investigate at night because of less outside noise and traffic. Before exploring the massive mansion, we asked the workers there about any possible paranormal activity. The one lady who was there said that she never experienced anything, but that people always say the place is haunted. She also noted that ghost hunting groups have come in the past and documented what they experienced for the Historical Society.
That said, we then moved on to see if we could find anything on our own. In three different rooms (the library, Lenape Indian exhibit room, and bedroom), we experienced cold-spots. This is supposed to indicate the presence of a spirit, since they usually appear as a cold burst of energy. We found this to be very convincing, because there was no air conditioning in the house, or any fans in the rooms we were in, and the outside temperature was about 95 degrees (it felt nearly as hot inside as well). On more than one occasion, we also heard unintelligible whispers, and when one of our group members was there previously, a few months ago, he says that he heard the faint sound of a baby crying, coming from the wooden crib in the main bedroom. It was also quiet enough for us to conduct a couple of EVP sessions. In the library, after I asked, “What is your name?” a weird buzzing sound can be heard, lasting a few seconds. This was not my phone vibrating, nor was it an insect, and I did not hear the sound in person when I was recording. This sound has also never been heard on any recordings taken by the recorder on my phone in the past. Several minutes later, in a separate recording in another room, the buzzing returned again. While it could be anything, those who were with me likened it to that of an old style door-bell, the one you would hold down to create the loud buzzing sound, not just press once and hear a bell ring. We will continue to sift through our recordings to see if we can find anything else.
There was no way to prove conclusively that Strauss Mansion is haunted, based on this one visit alone, so we will have to return one night for a full investigation. We have already asked a few of the workers there if that would be possible, and they said yes. We just have to let them know the date, and they will have someone sit in while we conduct the investigation, which will be great since they can help us with additional background information. I am really excited for that, because the house is so large and there are plenty of rooms to explore. The mansion also features lantern-lit ghost tours every October, and I may be coming down to lead one of them, provided I can discover some material of my own.
UPDATE: It is now 2016 and I have since joined the board of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society and conducted a bunch of paranormal investigations at the Strauss Mansion. You can read about them here. It’s amazing what can happen in a few years.- GC