This October, an ominous presence looms over the Roberson Museum and Science Center at 30 Front St. in Downtown Binghamton, and guests have taken notice. Fortunately, Paula Grosso, an educator at the Roberson Museum, has been available all month to guide tour groups through the haunted halls of the historic mansion-turned-museum. The tours have been offered every Friday and Saturday to the general public, and have been the source of much buzz for Downtown Binghamton’s paranormal community.
The Roberson Museum is thought to be inhabited by the restless spirit of Alonzo Roberson, the museum’s former inhabitant and primary endower from the early 19th century. Grosso said the tour developed across years of paranormal activities being reported by museum employees and guests.
“Over the years, we’ve been collecting a lot of ghost stories and stories about the paranormal through visitors and guests alike,” Grosso said. “And so we thought [the haunted mansion tours] would be a good experience to add on to [this legacy].”
Grosso reassured participants in the tour that the museum had paranormal experts come to inspect the mansion for the presence of spirits, for which they detected significant activity.
“We actually have another investigative team coming in the next couple of weeks to do another round of investigations,” Grosso said.
The haunted tours have been a resoundingly successful endeavor for the Roberson Museum, as many Binghamton residents arrived in full costume to receive an authentic Halloween experience.
“The tours have been happening Friday nights for the first couple weeks … they’ve been so popular, we’ve been basically sold out every tour,” Grosso said. “We’ve added on the Saturday afternoon tour [to accommodate for the increased popularity].”
The haunted mansion tours take a different approach from the standard mansion tours that are offered year-round, focusing more on the paranormal legacy of the building rather than its architecture or history.
“The haunted mansion tours [tell] a lot of the ghost stories, so some of them are personal stories,” Grosso said. “On the regular mansion tours, it’s a lot about the history of the time period [and] history of the Robersons and their industries … it’s a much different feel.”
After sundown, the tours take on an even more mysterious atmosphere, as the darker setting adds to the tour’s ambiance.
“The haunted mansion tours at night are really quite fun because it’s all with minimal lighting,” Grosso said. “There’s some cobwebs and so it kind of adds to people’s Halloween spirit.”
As for the goal of the tours, Grosso explained that she does not expect to convince those who do not believe in ghosts of their existence. However, she hopes to provide some unique insight for those who do subscribe to the paranormal.
“I think that people, when they come, have their minds [made] up of whether they believe in ghosts or not,” Grosso said. “We’ve had quite a few guests who really do believe in the paranormal and so [these tours] kinda confirm for them [their beliefs]. For some others, it’s a bit of fun and just [part of] getting ready for Halloween … there was one gentleman who, while we were in the sewing room, felt a kind of presence … I think he was a little spooked.”