Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Finding Rolling Hills Asylum

     The day we set out for the asylum was grey, windy, just a hint of chill on the air. No other weather would seem so right. We drove down the New York State Thruway to Batavia, a small city in Genesee County. We passed through Batavia, streets of homes. It was early enough in the autumn season, but the sweaters were out, and pumpkins appeared here, there.

 We drove down a road where the houses, or any buildings, began to become more and more set apart. Farms and their houses would soon show up. As the road became more desolate, quiet, I began to wonder if we were going in the right direction.

 We stopped at a four way intersection, and there it was. Before us sat a large, old, weathered though not run down building with a large wingspan of a wing on its left, one on its right. Driving past the building we found the parking lot, and the historical marker that confirmed we were in the right spot. Prior to our tour, I had known little to nothing on what Rolling Hills Asylum had been, or was. It had been at one time the Genesee County Poorhouse house, had been featured on a ghost hunting TV show, and was now owned by people who gave or allowed tours of the buidlings and grounds. The New York State historical marker near where we parked confirmed that the site had once been the county's poorhouse.

 There were a few other cars parked in the back, but no souls appeared to be around. Outside, at least. The Ghost and the Witch approached the back door, or what we thought was the back door, and knocked to no answer. Taking pictures, we walked to the front of the buidling, and quickly found what had once seemingly been the front door to the building was no longer used. After trying the back door again, checking the time and date on our tickets, and an attempted phone call, we realized we were in a horror film. We had knowingly, willingly driven out to a secluded, presumed to be haunted location, and no one was around. We tried one, final knock. And that worked.

 The man who answered the door did not scare us away. Asking if we were here for the tour, he led us through a large door, into a stairwell and we were in the Asylum. Paint chips flaked the wall, fell on the floor. Light fell in streams through grim-coated windows. We followed him off of the stairs and into a corridor that seemed to be from a different, much newer building. The walls were painted, floors and windows clean. We were led into a general room that contained a merchandise gift shop, shelves full of books, and an area to sit. We were not the first to arrive for the tour, and we would not be the last.

 Our guides signed us in, and after our tour had assembled we were told that we would have a guided tour of the building, followed by a time that we could, on our own, explore the building, and be allowed to take photos at that time. Not knowing what lay in store, how this former poorhouse had become an asylum, we followed our guides down a dark hallway to begin our Rolling Hills experience.

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