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The Haunted Selma Mansion Gives Norristown a Paranormal Energy
Tessa Marie Images
Dating back to 1794, norristown’s selma mansion captivates patrons of preservation and the paranormal in the philadelphia suburbs..
When someone backed out of Selma Mansion’s 2019 Psychic Fair, it left an opening in the late Mrs. Ruth Ryder Fornance’s bedroom on the third floor. So Sabrina Pasquariello filled in with her singing bowls, stirring a whoosh felt throughout the massive 1794 estate. Other experienced psychics on hand were dumfounded by the swell of energy. Theresa Sayres was one of them, and she started shaking. “You need to get grounded out,” Bill Freeman told Sayres before taking her outside to do just that.
The veteran clairvoyant is vice president of the Norristown Preservation Society, which owns the mansion. “When you deal with the spiritual world, you can’t protect yourself from all that could happen,” says Freeman, a retired Philadelphia corrections officer.
For the past four years, Pasquariello and Dee Kilpatrick have hosted the Psychic Fair as a one-day event. This year, it will run for two days—Oct. 9 and 10—as a fundraiser for Selma Mansion, former home to the Porter, Knox and Fornance families, including relations to the parents of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd.
When Ruth Ryder Fornance died in 1982, she willed Selma to the state, county or borough, but none were willing recipients. So its contents—rumored to have included crates of unopened Civil War uniforms stored in the wagon shed—were auctioned off. Formed in 1983 to prevent the destruction of the mansion, the Norristown Preservation Society bought the house for $40,000, payable in annual installments of $5,000. It cost considerably more with legal and other expenses. “Our purpose was preserving not just Selma but the entire town,” says NPS board member Gale Bresnehan.
As Selma Farms, the estate once occupied 248 acres. When a 44-acre entrance was sold in 1902, that was whittled down to just two acres at the corner of Selma and West Airy streets. The gate pillars remain and are maintained by a neighbor. “The original purpose was to consider it as a house museum,” says NPS president Russell Rubert. “But the general consensus was that house museums aren’t sustainable. So we decided to make it our house.”
Rubert doesn’t give much credence to paranormal activity, but he acknowledges that the fair and other events have paid for utilities and improvements at the mansion. Selma now has a heating system and one working bathroom. Last year, a grant paid for a $40,000 cedar shake roof, and another will fund the historical replacement of the mansion’s windows.
Vendor fees for the fair are $25. Pasquariello and Kilpatrick accommodate 30 vendors inside and 15 outside. There are gallery readings, walking meditations, workshops, lectures, and jewelry and crafts for sale. Anthony Sokol lectures on Hindu spiritual hand movements. “I’m a prep for the spiritual work,” he says. “It’s all religions, all spiritualities.”
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The Psychic Fair generates about $1,500 in a single day for Selma. “We’re the cheapest place around for haunts and investigations,” Freeman says.
Selma continues to run on private funding (much of it from NPS board members) and profits from events, T-shirt sales and public grants. Freeman and others have experience in construction, which helped with replacing staircase balusters burned in the fireplaces by squatters in the 1980s, among other things. “We want to restore it level by level,” says Freeman. “That’s a ways down the line.”
Pasquariello was part of an early group that rented Selma to learn how to conduct paranormal investigations. “It’s how and why I feel in love with it,” says Pasquariello, who has experience as a healer.
She met Kilpatrick, who once ran a spiritual shop inside the Power House Antique & Flea Market in Collegeville. The two hit it off. “We thought, ‘Why not do a psychic fair?’” says Pasquariello.
The pair didn’t expect immediate success the first year. There was a kindred event in Phoenixville, and Freeman hosts Serving History Through the Ages at Selma. The latter tends to draw the industry’s TV personalities as guests. Pasquariello and Kilpatrick, meanwhile, aim for a more local flavor. “Regardless, it’s exhausting when we’re done with all that energy in the house,” says Kilpatrick. “People want to believe. We actually love when skeptics come in.”
Is Selma haunted? “Of course,” Freeman says. “Anyone who’s come here has never been disappointed.”
Kilpatrick grew up two blocks from Selma. “We’ve all had experiences,” she says.
“Hauntings?” poses her husband, Bill Dude. “Yeah—but it depends on how you define haunting.”
No doubt, Kilpatrick loves Selma. When she returned for the first time after the pandemic closure, she hugged the front door frame. Freeman has the same affection for the place. “Everyone who comes in here feels Selma and says it’s their place,” he says. “It belongs to everyone.”
Visit norristownpreservationsociety.org .
Related: Stay the Night at Lancaster County’s Charming and Historic Smithton Inn
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Selma Mansion Ghost Hunt
$169 per person.
Our Ghost Hunts at Selma Mansion in Norristown, Pennsylvania are not for the faint of heart.
The residual energy is still embedded in these very walls, and the spirits here will let their presences be known.
Many visitors, guests, staff and board members of Selma Mansion all claim to have experienced ghostly phenomena, including disembodied whispers in the ears, voices captured on recorders, the eerie feeling of the presence of someone waiting nearby, and the inexplicable sudden scent of roses.
Are you ready to explore this haunted location?
Each event is limited to small guest numbers, giving you more time with equipment, with team members and with the haunted location itself to explore, discover and question.
Event Start Time: 8:30pm
Event Finish Time: 4:00am
Your ghost hunt at Selma Mansion includes the following:
Thirteen Special Event.
Ghost Hunting Vigils.
Small Structured Vigils.
Ghost Hunt with experienced Ghost Hunting Team.
Use of our equipment which includes, trigger objects and EMF Meters.
Private time to explore this location and to undertake your very own private vigils.
Unlimited refreshments available throughout the night including: Coffee, Coca Cola, Diet Coke, and Bottled Water.
Built by Andrew Porter in 1794, Selma Mansion is currently one of the oldest buildings in Norristown, Pennsylvania. It is located in Montgomery County, just about 40 minutes from the New Jersey border and only 6 miles from Philadelphia.
This once grand and opulent mansion was constructed around an existing building owned by Alexander McCammon until 1786. Porter purchased the property after serving as a solider in the Revolutionary War, and he played a key role in the development of the Continental Marines – a precursor to today’s U.S. Marine Corp. Porter later became Surveyor General and assisted in the development and layout of the commonwealth’s borders, and he eventually earned the rank of General.
The stunning home sits atop a hill, and the exterior was built in Federal style, however the interior woodworking was classified as Georgian or Colonial. At one time there was a beautiful Italianate front porch and balcony, but the only evidence of it that remains are large marks around the front door and the left-side windows.
Porter was father to a number of children, twelve of whom survived into adulthood, and four of his sons had very distinguished careers. The property remained in the Porter family until 1821 when it was sold to Andrew Knox, Jr., and it was later passed down to his son Col. Thomas P. Knox. The Knox family lived at Selma Mansion until it was eventually sold to Joseph Fornance, who served in the United States Congress.
It stayed in the Fornance family for another two generations, ending with his grandson, Joseph Knox Fornance and his wife, Ruth Ryder Fornance. After she lost her husband, Ruth remained in the house until her passing. The home was left to Montgomery County when Ruth Fornance died in 1982.
Unfortunately, instead of having the once-cherished home taken care of by the county, the belongings were put up in an estate sale in the late 1980s. The historical items of the families who called Selma Mansion home were liquidated.
The property was eventually sold to a developer who immediately began building an apartment complex on the outskirts of the land, with the intention of making Selma Mansion into a recreation center. However, this idea never came to fruition and the old home was considered to be slated for demolition.
Fortunately, several neighbors took notice, and they formed the Norristown Preservation Society – and their only purpose was to save Selma Mansion. They bought the home and the land surrounding it in the 1990s.
Today, the amazing history of this home is being shared with and preserved for visitors, featuring tours, special events, and open houses. But it seems the biggest draw for guests to Selma Mansion are those who still call it home, even though no living person has resided here since Ruth died in 1982.
The question is, which spirits still linger within the historic walls of this once affluent home?
Could it be Andrew Porter, still checking on the place he built for his family?
Perhaps it could be one of the Knox children who reportedly died from illness, along with their mother, back in Victorian times.
Many people visiting the old house believe it’s Ruth Fornance trying to communicate from the other side, letting them know how she feels about her beloved home that she sought to have preserved.
Join us in exploring and investigating Selma Mansion and see whose spirits you may encounter. This amazing property is full of history to be discovered and secrets to be shared by the ghosts who continue to roam here – if you ask the right questions and know how to listen for the answers.
Here’s your chance to investigate the once luxurious and opulent Selma Mansion, located in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Built in 1794 by Andrew Porter, and home to multiple generations of three affluent families including the Porters, the Knoxes and the Fornances, this gorgeous mansion may well be one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania.
Now owned by the Norristown Preservation Society, visitors, guests, staff, and board members of Selma Mansion all claim to have experienced ghostly phenomena, including disembodied whispers in their ears, voices captured on recorders, the eerie feeling of the presence of someone waiting nearby, and the inexplicable sudden scent of roses.
Others claim to see shadows and apparitions throughout the home, including a male entity outside the study, and a woman in white by Mrs. Fornance’s bedroom window. There are often sounds of knocking, footsteps, shuffling feet – especially in children’s rooms on the third floor.
Paranormal investigators document capturing EVPs on voice recorders in response to questions they pose to the spirits.
At one time, a video camera caught a light being turned on when there was no one in the room. Still other visitors report the opening and closing of cabinets doors by unseen forces, and the now-deactivated buzzer in Ruth’s bedroom making noise.
Will you be fortunate to experience some kind of communication with the other side at Selma Mansion?
Perhaps Mrs. Fornance wants to tell you about her beloved home and how she would like it to be preserved.
Maybe General Porter still has something to say about the house he built for his family more than two hundred years ago.
Are the Knox children still playing in their bedrooms?
If you join us at this amazing place, you may be able to figure out who still lingers here long after they have passed on.
Experience this one-of-a-kind location with us – book your ticket now!
Selma Mansion Ghost Hunt Norristown, Pennsylvania Friday September 9th 2022
Selma Mansion Ghost Hunt Norristown, Pennsylvania Saturday September 10th 2022
Selma Mansion Ghost Hunt Norristown, Pennsylvania Friday October 28th 2022
Selma Mansion Ghost Hunt Norristown, Pennsylvania Saturday October 29th 2022
Selma mansion driving directions.
The Selma Ghosts: history
In the years following the Civil War, the place to which you wanted to receive an invitation was Selma, a dazzling Greek Revival mansion northwest of the Staunton city limits. The 20-room mansion, built in 1850, was opulent, the food of the highest quality and the entertainments always engaging. Yes, you wanted to be invited to stay at Selma.
Soon, though, no one wanted to remain in the house overnight.
In 1872, one of Selma’s guests – a puzzled look on her face – approached her hosts.
“Who was the gentleman entering the room as I went out?” she asked.
“Why, no one has come in,” replied the host.
“But I saw someone come in the room,” insisted the guest. “He was a soldier in uniform, and passed by me as I came in.”
There is no record of what the hosts of the evening told their guest. Did they tell her the truth? That the “soldier in uniform” had been dead since the latter days of the Civil War? That his ghost haunted the beautiful mansion?
The story is a tragic one. In the waning days of the war, when Union incursions into the area were frequent, a woman and her son – a Confederate soldier – were staying at Selma as guests. One day, without warning, a Union soldier appeared on the property, spied the young Confederate, and chased him into the house.
The Confederate ran into the dining room, and it was by the elaborate hearth in that room that the Union soldier caught up with him. A shot rang out, and the Confederate soldier fell, spilling his blood onto the floor. He was taken upstairs to a bedroom where, some time later, he died.
In the years that followed, servants in the house nervously mentioned that they had seen a young soldier in a gray uniform on the stairs, entering the dining room or standing by the blood-stained floor by the hearth “as if he were a member of the family circle.” His presence was so clear that, once, a new servant asked if she should set a place at the table for the “gentleman.”
“What gentleman?” she was asked.
“Why, the soldier gentleman,” replied the servant.
The nameless Confederate’s presence was only haphazard at first, but in the 1870s he began to make himself more and more noticeable to those still in the land of the living. One guest wrote later that he was “polite, attentive, as though listening to the conversation of the family, but not taking part.”
His form, noticed one writer, was “so clear and distinct that he was often mistaken for a living man, his manner was so calm and casual, his presence so convincing, that residents often accepted him.”
But guests staying overnight did not so readily accept this ghostly Confederate. He reportedly appeared regularly in the bedroom in which he had died, scaring the daylights out of people staying there. Soon, no one wanted to lodge overnight in Selma.
The Selma ghost became widely famous after being described in a number of articles and books. He received perhaps the most attention after his story was told in “Virginia Ghosts,” by Marguerite Dupont Lee.
The mansion’s nearly 900 acres were incrementally sold off for housing developments, and the mansion itself was divided into apartments. None of it, apparently, had any effect on the ghost of the Confederate soldier. He lived on in the mansion where he had died a violent death.
In 1982, a “release” ceremony was held in an effort to get the Confederate to move on to a proper afterlife. The woman performing the ceremony found the ghost lingering in the attic – not neatly attired in his gray uniform, but appearing as a series of “blotches” hanging in mid-air.
“I’d never seen anything like it,” she said years later. “This was a soul that literally was dissipating. All the other energy forms I’d dealt with stayed true to their own coherent structures. This one was breaking up.”
She struggled with the spirit of the young Confederate, who didn’t want to leave. By force of will, she got him to “move toward the light.” With a “sigh of resignation,” the long-dead soldier moved on to the afterlife that had been denied it for nearly 120 years. At that moment, a clock in the house struck midnight.
Since that eerie night in 1982, there have been no further sightings of Selma’s unhappy young Confederate.
But there may have been more than one ghost haunting Selma. The house had been purchased in 1856 by Col. Hierome L. Opie. He was grievously wounded in 1862 and lost a leg; he would die of his wound at Selma. According to Marguerite Dupont Lee, his ghost wandered the house searching for his missing leg. His ghost is also suspected of titling mirrors and picture frames.
Since no formal “release” ceremony was ever known to be held for Col. Opie, perhaps his ghost yet haunts the elegant old mansion, which still stands.
Contact Charles Culbertson at [email protected].
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Seasonal & Holidays
Ghostly voices in the most historic haunted mansion in montgomery county, patch pays a visit to one of montgomery county's most storied residences..
Justin Heinze , Patch Staff
By JUSTIN HEINZE and KYLE BAGENSTOSE
While standing on the third floor of Norristown’s historic Selma Mansion, with the wallpaper of what used to be a child’s room peeling around you and the floorboards squeaking beneath your feet, you can peer east out of a window toward the heart of the borough and imagine what it might have been like in the late 1700s. And if you believe in the supernatural, you might just turn around and ask the spirit standing behind you.
It was 1783 when General Andrew Porter, a veteran of the American Revolution and various expeditions against Native Americans, retired to his farm in what was then Norriton Township to live out the rest of his life in peace. In 1794, he would erect the three-story Federal Style mansion as the centerpiece of his nearly 160-acre property, which sat high on an incline above the rest of the town. The vantage point was so great the home and property were named Selma, a Gaelic word that roughly translates to “highest point.”
Find out what's happening in Norristown with free, real-time updates from Patch.
Evidence of life in the 19th century can be found throughout the home. The mansion is split into thirds, with the northern two portions for the families who resided there and the southern third for the servants. Sturdy doorways section off the two parts on every floor, and it’s clear which side was better maintained; the servants’ stairs creak a little more, the paint on the walls is just a tad more faded. Bake ovens -- or fire places -- exist in the basement, and literal doorbells hang in the kitchen above, with wires traceable to the front and back entranceways where guests would have once summoned the home’s caretakers as they prepared meals.
And evidence of the paranormal exists as well, according to Lisa Terio and Steve Foersch, founding members of the Pennsylvania Underground Paranormal Society (P.U.P.S.) paranormal investigation team and volunteers with the Norristown Preservation Society, which cares for the property. According to the couple, who have been investigating the paranormal for over a decade, the bells still ring from time to time and the houses’ occupants still move up and down the hallways, whispering names and messages to whoever is close enough to hear.
“We’ve had cameras shut off, batteries instantly drain, seen shadows move, heard footsteps and piano notes when there was no piano -- just about everything you can imagine,” Foersch says.
The great success of the Porter family
Foersch and Terio say they used to drive past the mansion quite a bit after moving to Norristown around the turn of the millenium. Already volunteers at Fort Mifflin, the pair had a strong interest in history, preservation and the paranormal. They just so happened across a webpage for the mansion and found that it had a connection to Fort Mifflin.
“James Madison Porter, a son of General Porter, raised a garrison for the War of 1812 at Fort Mifflin,” says Terio. “We like volunteering in restoring historical landmarks, so we contacted the [Norristown Preservation Society] and introduced ourselves.”
Foersch and Terio would learn more about the rich history of the home. General Porter actually had four sons: Richard Porter, who became president judge of the 3rd judicial district; David Rittenhouse Porter, named for family friend David Rittenhouse, who served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1839-45; George Bryan Porter, who was appointed governor of Michigan territory by President Andrew Jackson; and James, who went on to serve as Secretary of War under President John Tyler and was the primary founder of Lafayette College in Easton.
Additional Porter family descendants include General Horace Porter, said to be the author of the account of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House, and Eliza Parker, mother of Mary Todd (Lincoln).
The great tragedy of the Knox family
In 1821, the Porters sold the property to the Knox family, who ran into greater misfortune than the previous occupants. According to the Preservation Society, records show that that the family of Thomas Knox, the son of original owner Andrew Knox, was nearly wiped out sometime in the mid-18th century. Terio and Foersch say records show Knox lost three of four children, along with his wife Sarah Ann, within a few months’ time, most likely of yellow fever or a similar illness.
It was also during this time that Knox would begin to sell large portions of the property, many of which would ultimately develop into what is now the West End of Norristown.
But the legacy lived on through surviving daughter Ellen, who married Joseph Fornance, the son in a prominent family in Norristown. Their son, also named Joseph, would take a wife Ruth, who became the last living inhabitant of the Selma Mansion until her death in 1982. Although the vacant home was then offered to local, state, and national historical societies, it ultimately fell into the hands of Ruth’s sister when no one took ownership.
“Ruth’s sister was greedy and wanted money,” says Foersch, citing an interview with a former caretaker of Ruth. “She was able to get the contents of the house and had a huge yard sale in 1984, where dozens of Civil War uniforms were basically given away.”
The property eventually passed to a local developer who built apartment buildings around the property and used the Selma Mansion as a selling point. The Norristown Preservation Society was formed to take care of the property and ultimately purchased a 99-year lease from the developer, Foersch said.
Fast forward to 2011, when Foersch and Terio approached the society to volunteer and help restore the property. On April 30 of that year, the couple held their first major clean-up day and that night they found their first evidence that members of the Porter, Knox and Fornance families still reside in Selma Mansion.
“We had no idea if the home was [paranormally] active or not and it was pretty astounding as far as some of the things we caught,” said Foersch.
“I captured a [voice], saying ‘John,’” Terio says. “But nobody knows who John is-- there never was a John Porter.”
Terio began to do a little more research, and found records at Lafayette College showing that James Madison Porter had written letters to someone named John Ewing Porter. Terio says with a little more digging, she found that General Porter had a son named John, who took his mother’s maiden name of Ewing after a falling out with his father, and used it to write to his brother.
P.U.P.S. further researched noises they would hear while investigating, including a strange electronic buzzing noise.
“By interviewing Ruth’s companion, who took care of her while she was bed ridden, we found that Ruth used a buzzer to summon her when she wanted to eat or use the bathroom,” Foersch says.
The team was able to locate the long, wired device Ruth used to press to activate the buzzer, along with the actual buzzer. However, there was one catch: the wiring had been severed, leaving the buzzer completely disconnected, so it couldn’t possibly make a noise.
Since the group’s determination that spirits still occupied the house, dozens of investigations have been conducted by P.U.P.S. and other paranormal groups. The laughter of children, a disembodied male voice saying what sounds like “I’m dead,” the unexplainable smell of roses, and running footfalls and slamming doors are just some of the things captured or reported by investigators.
Upon Patch’s visit to the mansion one Sunday night, Terio and Foersch conducted an impromptu two-hour investigation. With the exception of cars passing by and a late football game on a nearby field, all sounded relatively quiet. But a review of electronic recordings revealed something else: what sounds like a grunting noise, a few indistinguishable whispers and perhaps even a voice saying a reporter’s name.
Compared to the wealth of evidence offered online it was not one of the more successful investigations, but not completely empty either.
Foersch and Terio take pride in thinking of how connected the home is with Norristown and surrounding areas. The pair help the Preservation Society host a number of public events throughout the year, including the upcoming (see below) ghost tour night and an all-day paranormal event on Saturday. Interested residents can simply show up to the house for a guided tour. While the mansion has been decorated for Halloween, its haunted nature and rich history offer something for everyone.
In addition, Foersch and Terio says the society is always grateful for new volunteers or donations, and offers tours and overnight investigation opportunities throughout the year.
“We need the community’s help,” Foersch says. “We really need to restore this property to what Norristown, and Montgomery County, deserves.”
UPCOMING GHOST TOUR
The Norristown Preservation Society will be hosting a ghost tour at thelocal historic mansion.
Selma’s Ghosts By Candelight will take place on Friday, October 23 from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Organizers describe the event as intended ”for those not into haunted houses but who love a good ghost story, a more sedate tour.
Living history guides will lead visitors through the mansion by candlelight, discussing its history, its residents, and its ghosts.
Admission for adults is $5, and for children 5-12, $3. Proceeds benefit the mansion’s restoration.
Image courtesy Norristown Preservation Society.
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The Spirits of Selma Mansion
The last person to live in the Selma Mansion died in the mid-1980s. Ruth Fornance’s passing marked the first vacancy in the Norristown estate since its construction in 1794. Some claim she never really left.
Lisa Terrio feels the presence of Mrs. Fornance, as she calls her, often. She once spent eight days alone there, stripping the floor and straightening up other parts of the house.
“I stood up when I was done, and a woman in my ear said, ‘It shines!’ I froze. It wasn’t coming from anywhere, but it was right in my ear,” she said.
Maryann Buser said she met Mrs. Fornance during a Halloween event at the house. She was dressed for a living history performance and wandered to the second floor.
“I like the feathers. I like the hat,” she heard a woman’s voice say.
She thought somebody was teasing her, but no one else was on the floor.
Haunted is probably the wrong word to describe these experiences. Terrio and Buser prefer to use the phrase “spiritually active,” because, by all accounts, Mrs. Fornance is exceptionally friendly.
“When you think haunted, you think nasty,” Buser said. “It’s not like that here.”
In other instances, people have felt a woman lurking over their shoulders. Others have been overwhelmed by the aroma of roses, especially men. Apparently, Mrs. Fornance has a special interest in men, and there are many unproven theories on the reasons for that.
But according to Terrio and Buser, who are members of Pennsylvania Underground Paranormal Society, she’s not alone in there. A lot of people have lived and died in the home over the last 200 years.
The Selma Mansion was built by General Andrew Porter, who served in the American Revolutionary War. In 1821, the property was sold to Andrew Knox then passed to Thomas Knox, his son, and finally to Joseph Fornance, husband of Ellen, the sole surviving daughter of Knox. It remained in that family until people stopped living there.
Usually, it’s easy to dismiss claims of paranormal activity, but Terrio and Buser were not the only ones experiencing these things. Some have claimed to see the shadows of a man pacing outside General Porter’s study. Others have seen a woman in a white dress standing by the window of Mrs. Fornance’s second-floor room. A few have reported a man standing beneath the stairs in the basement. There are dozens of encounters Terrio and Buser can share.
Noises have been more common. On the third floor, where the children’s rooms were located, people have heard the shuffling of feet along the floor boards. Knocks, voices, footsteps, grumbling, shouts — they’ve all been heard here.
Standing in the rooms, with their tattered wallpaper, dated furniture, colonial design and odd sense of comfort, it’s easy to admit, objectively, that the Selma Mansion is beautiful. It’s also easy to forget that you don’t believe in ghosts, and each turned corner that doesn’t reveal an axe murderer is more suspenseful than the last.
There’s nothing yet that could prove the existence of ghosts, but those involved in paranormal studies quickly become believers. Terrio and Buser call themselves “believing skeptics,” but after spending a few hours with them, it’s clear they lean more to the believing side.
The same goes for Mark Keyes, director of the Pennsylvania Paranormal Association. He works with a group that investigates the causes of alleged paranormal experiences.
In the paranormal realm, he said, there are typically three types of groups: Ghost hunters, who look to experience and document “hauntings;” scientific teams, which use monitoring equipment to document changes in the environment that would signify a presence; and resolution-based teams, which do both technical and historical investigations.
His group falls into the third category. They don’t do it for publicity. They won’t even reveal the locations they investigate because, for the most part, they are private residences. Most of the things they do are fairly predictable, but others fall into a more metaphysical realm.
“That’s probably the main question I ask when we go out,” he said. “What on earth would make somebody stick around?”
Among those who believe in ghosts, a common belief is that humans carry their freedom of choice into the afterlife. For example, if someone who is religious commits a crime before death and is afraid to face the judgment of heaven or hell, they could hang around Earth as a measure of avoidance.
Another explanation is that the person was either intoxicated at death or killed without knowing, whether it be because of psychological impairments or a surprise death. They don’t know they’re dead and don’t know how to move on. In these cases, Keyes said, involving a medium would be important to releasing the spirit.
There are a myriad of others, and that’s what those who believe try to figure out. As for the skeptics, Keyes said many have trouble remaining skeptics.
“We don’t really have anything to prove,” he said. “But, on our team, it’s very hard to keep them skeptical.”
It’s like being in the basement of the Selma Mansion. Other people claim to see the man. You might see nothing, but feeling something is just as terrifying, even if it’s the imagination running wild.
Still, it seems believable that someone would want to hang around the mansion. It’s enormous, empty, quiet. It has a charming austerity that is disturbed only by the campy Halloween decorations around the house from the previous year’s event ― a rubber, sawed-off arm here, a plush spider there.
Elsewhere in the Selma Mansion, what’s real and what isn’t is harder to distinguish.
For information and events, visit www.pupsteam.org .
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Reportedly haunted by members of the various families who lived and died here throughout the ages, there are several reports of disembodied voices, strange noises and various poltergeist-type activities associated with Selma Mansion.
If you've had a paranormal experience here, or have any additional information about this location, please let us know!
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Share Your Experiences
what hotels are closest to selma mansion and can you send directions from baltimore md-we are planning to be there in May-Dead of Night Paranormal
I live on the same block as Selma Mansion. I can attest that there are current renovations / restoration going on, but lights that look like candles can be seen in the upper windows at all hours of the night.
Wait so it’s no longer abandoned Alison?
Stayed overnight at Selma a couple years ago. I was able to get 2 EVP’s in the basement, one with a man groaning and the other was a mans voice saying, “Get Out!” I was asking questions and that was his answer! Creepy! Also, I was with my daughter at the top of the servant stairs shinning my flashlight down them. I turned to my daughter, it was pitch dark and I could see the dark outline of her body so began talking with her. After a few minutes I heard my daughter say, “Mom, who are you talking to?” The whole time she was behind me across the room. This completely was the best experience I ever had anywhere! To know I saw a black apparition standing in front of me was amazing! We loved Selma!
Looked at photos on Facebook, saw a young girl in the window (spirit) and a man with a beard ( spirit) floating just his upper body in what I think was a kitchen. You see as a child I walked past that house after School. It always felt like a strong male energy was there, like a controlling man. My chest gets like a heavy feeling looking at some photos. That house is haunted but we need to respect it’s history.
Does anyone know if Selma still allows Paranormal Investigations. If so please give me the contact info. Was there years ago and would like to go back. Thanks
You can book investigations through the Norristown Preservation Society who manage the site. They charge $50 per person with a minimum of 2 people. I strongly recommend keeping the group fairly small. I’ve investigated there with 3 other people twice now and, since it’s not really that large, that’s a good size. Write to [email protected] to arrange an investigation.
Oh, and, yes, it is a good place to investigate. Got a lot of Ghost Box responses and very good dowsing rod interaction on my last visit 3 weeks ago.
Is this still a valid email to contact them. I am from close by and would love to check this place out
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Norristown’s Haunted Selma Mansion Draws in Patrons of Preservation and Paranormal Alike
By Christine Tarlecki
Built in 1794, the haunted Selma Mansion in Norristown, has been drawing in patrons of preservation and the paranormal alike for years, writes J.F. Pirro for Main Line Today .
The house is owned by Norristown Preservation Society, which has been hosting the Psychic Fair on the property for the past five years.
The first four fairs were day-long events, while the latest one served as fundraising for Selma Mansion and took place on October 9 and 10.
The mansion is the former home to the Porter, Knox, and Fornance families, which include relations to the parents of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd.
Read more about the Selma Mansion in Main Line Today .
When the last owner, Ruth Ryder Fornance, died in 1982, she left the property to the state, county, or borough, but none were interested in taking ownership of the mansion.
So to prevent the destruction of the building, the Norristown Preservation Society was formed in 1983 and purchased the building for $40,000.
“The original purpose was to consider it as a house museum,” said NPS president Russell Rubert. “But the general consensus was that house museums aren’t sustainable. So we decided to make it our house.”
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Nature Reclaimed This Once Abandoned Virginia Spot And It's Actually Amazing
Virginia staff writer for Only in Your State, freelance writer and journalist. Even though Anna has lived other places, somehow Virginia is where she always seems to land.
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Nestled at the foot of Catoctin Mountain in Loudoun County near Leesburg , the Selma Mansion plantation sat vacant for well over a decade. Once a bustling center of social and agricultural activity, the plantation was empty for years, slowly accepting encroaching vines and decay into its landscape. But never fear, this isn’t a sad story of forgotten history and neglected landmarks. The Selma Mansion has since been purchased and lovingly restored and you can tour the now beautiful home for yourself.
This Fascinating Virginia Renaissance Faire Has Been Abandoned And Reclaimed By Nature For Decades Now
The History Of The Abandoned Airport In Virginia Is Eerily Fascinating
Everyone In Virginia Should See Inside The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse
Are you familiar with the Selma Plantation mansion ? Did you visit it while it was still occupied or have you seen it recently? We would love to hear your thoughts on this or any other abandoned home that you would like to see restored to its former glory. Please share your thoughts in the comments below! If you visit this formerly abandoned mansion in Virginia, don’t forget to take your camera .
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
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Abandoned places in virginia.
What are other abandoned places in Virginia?
After visiting the gorgeous new Selma property, check out these other abandoned sites in Virginia .
- Wise County Orphanage
- Western State Lunatic Asylum
- Paxton Manor
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- Pocahontas Is An Old Mining Town In Virginia With A Tragic And Haunting History
- These 10 Abandoned Buildings in Virginia Will Send Chills Down Your Spine
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Get inspired with our, official visitors guide, stay up-to-date with the, latest new & deals, haunted montco, haunted montgomery county, ghostly legends in montco and beyond.
Valley Forge and Montgomery County have witnessed a great amount of history, some heroic, some tragic. It should come as no surprise that tales of ghosts and hauntings have been attached to some of our most historic homes and attractions. Here are a few of Montgomery County's legendary haunts.
The sites listed here are for entertainment purposes only; no actual claim of authenticity is implied in their inclusion in this listing. All of the places listed on our list are open to the public, but please only visit during regular business hours or special events.
PAOLI BATTLEFIELD HISTORICAL PARK
The Paoli Battlefield Historical Park was site of one of the most gruesome battles of the American Revolution. The British troops attacked the Americans at midnight with bayonets and swords leaving many dead, and perhaps a few spirits in their wake. If you would like to find out for yourself, the park is hosting a paranormal investigation on October 21. This event is a private tour, limited to pre-registered attendees only.
Keith House, onsite at the park, was a summer residence of Sir William Keith, Governor of Colonial Pennsylvania. But the ghost that allegedly haunts the park is that of Elizabeth Graeme, whose husband was a British loyalist that never returned to her after the American Revolution. The Park is hosting a Paranormal Investigation on November 18 for those who would like to experience the spirits of Graeme Park for themselves.
VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
The hardships that the Continental Army faced during the Valley Forge encampment are well-documented. And with such stories come ghostly legends. Phantom soldiers, distant sounds of musket fire and other strange occurrences have been reported at the site in the 240 years since.
RISING SUN INN
During the American Revolution, the Rising Sun Inn was one of many stopover points for the Liberty Bell as it was carried safely away from Philadelphia. With more than 300 years of history, the Inn has also had its share of ghostly legends, including a female spirit said to haunt the upstairs.
EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY
Eastern State Penitentiary is one a menacing building with a legendary past. Housing some of the most violent and notorious criminals of all-time, the former prison is considered among the most haunted sites in the country. The prison is open for tours throughout the year. In fall, the prison becomes even more frightening when cell blocks are transformed into the ultimate haunted house during Terror Behind the Walls.
BLACK POWDER TAVERN
Just minutes from Valley Forge National Historical Park, the historic inn now known as Black Powder Tavern is said to have housed a secret munitions cache during the Valley Forge encampment while also serving as a meeting place for Continental Army officers. The building may also be home to unknown spirits who make their presence known through disembodied footsteps and other strange occurrences.
HISTORIC GENERAL WARREN
Serving as an inn and tavern since the 1740s, the Historic General Warren was a Tory stronghold during the American Revolution. It is said that spirits from that era, and from the proceeding 200 years, are still inhabiting areas of the inn today.
Selma Mansion is one of the oldest homes in Norristown, and is widely considered one of its most haunted. While the mansion is closed to the public most of the year, its ghostly past is embraced every October with a series of public events.
Candlelight Ghost Tours On Saturday, October 7, visitors can take a tour of the home by candlelight while guides share stories of ghostly encounters at the property
Best Haunted House Ever On Friday the 13th, Selma Mansion is transformed into one of the county's premier haunted attractions when visitors are invited to the Best Haunted House ever.
Psychic Fair On October 28, Selma Mansion will host its inaugural Psychic Fair. The gathering will feature readers and healers from across the region, as well as workshops.
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Selma Mansion- Norristown, PA
- Haunted House , Travel
Selma Mansion, built in 1794 was home to General Andrew Porter and his family. Andrew Porter was a captain of marines in the Revolutionary War, later a Brigadier General in the Pennsylvania militia, Surveyor General of Pennsylvania and Great Grandfather to Mary Todd Lincoln. His son David Rittenhouse Porter was a noted ironmaster and 9th governor of Pennsylvania.
Son George Bryan Porter was appointed governor of Michigan Territory by Andrew Jackson. Youngest Porter son James Madison Porter was a colonel during the War of 1812, railroad president, founder of Lafayette College in Easton and Secretary of War under President Tyler.
In 1821 after the decease of General Porter and his widow the house and property were the residence of the Andrew Knox family. Mr. Knox was a former shipping merchant from Savannah, Georgia who farmed the land until the acquisition of the estate by his son Col. Thomas P. Knox.
Thomas Knox was an advisor to the governor of the commonwealth and president of the state agricultural society. Col. Knox expanded the acreage of the holdings by purchasing surrounding farms. It was Thomas Knox who in 1853 had 44 acres of the land divided into lots and sold precipitating the development of the west end of town. It was also he who added the beautiful ornate portico and balcony to the front of the house resulting in the familiar plantation look to the structure which lasted for over 150 years.
After the passing of Thomas Knox in 1879 the residence and remaining property went to his daughter Ellen and her husband Joseph Fornance. Fornance was a prominent lawyer and president of the Historical Society of Montgomery County. Fornance sold an additional 22 acres of the property in 1902 resulting in further development.
After the death of Joseph and Ellen Fornance in the late 1920s the Selma Mansion and surviving couple of acres around it were the home of their son Major Joseph Knox Fornance and his wife Ruth Ryder Fornance.
Major Fornance was active during WWI and later president of the Montgomery County Bar Association. With his decease in 1965 and Ruth’s in 1983 the house and property have remained largely unoccupied.
For booking info
Please visit their website: https://norristownpreservationsociety.org
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Selma Mansion - Norristown PA Real Haunted Place
- 1301 W. Airy St.
- Norristown, PA
- Valley Forge 3.6 miles away
- Villanova University 6.0 miles away
- Bryn Mawr College - Merion Hall 7.1 miles away
- Black Horse Inn 7.9 miles away
- Baleroy Mansion 9.3 miles away
- Allen's Lane 9.7 miles away
1301 W. Airy St., Norristown, PA, 19401
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Selma In History
Selma through the centuries, a history that dates back to loudoun county’s origins.
Before they were what they are today, the lands of Selma were a part of the Northern Neck Proprietary owned by Lord Fairfax. In 1741, they were purchased by Ann Stevens Thomson Mason, the widow of George Mason III, who bought 10,000-acres and held onto the land as an inheritance for her children, George Mason IV, Thomson Mason, and Ann Eilbeck Mason.
The southern portion of the property was bequeathed to the elder son, George Mason IV (Father of the Bill of Rights) and became Gunston Hall. The northern part of the property, which includes part of the present-day Selma lands, was inherited by the younger son, Thomson Mason. In 1760, and in addition to his inheritance, Thomson Mason purchased the neighboring 322-acre Raspberry Plain farm that included a smaller mansion and jailhouse from Aeneas Campbell, Loudoun County’s first sheriff. Thomson Mason resided in the Campbell house until completion of the new Raspberry Plain mansion in 1771 at which time the Campbell parcel was renamed Strawberry Plain.
In 1808, Stevens Mason’s second eldest son, Armistead Thomson Mason, inherited approximately 1,000 acres that included a portion of the original Mason Tract and the Aeneas Campbell Tract. In 1810, he built an exquisite mansion at the base of Catoctin Mountain overlooking a sweeping vista of lawn and pastural farmland. The mansion and plantation were named Selma, inspired by the translation of a Gaelic poem by Sir John McPherson with “Selma” meaning “Beautiful Castle” or “Highest Place”.
Over the years the property has been passed down from the Mason family to the Beverleys, Swans, Whites, Eppersons and one ter Maaten, enduring a Civil War raid in the 1860s, a destructive fire in the 1890s, and a top to bottom reconstruction undertaken by Sharon and Scott in 2016 after years of neglect and vandalism.
Loudoun county & leesburg, virginia.
Selma Mansion is located in Loudoun County Virginia in the town of Leesburg – a town and district of great historical value within the context of American independence and establishment. With its location so near to the East Coast and to the nation’s capital, Loudoun County has housed many political and historical figures and seen plenty of noteworthy events throughout American history.
Colonial settlers arrived in the Loudoun County area as far back as the early 1700s, many of them Quakers from various towns along the East Coast. They settled on the land granted to Lord Fairfax by King Charles II.
As the country drew nearer to the Revolutionary War, Loudoun County citizens gathered in courthouses to protest laws and taxes imposed on the American citizens by the British Monarchy. Many men from Loudoun County went on to fight in the Revolutionary War, and the Declaration of Independence was read in Loudoun County in 1776. Francis Lightfoot Lee, the son of the eponymous Thomas Lee of Leesburg, was a signer.
During the war of 1812, Loudoun County temporarily served as a refuge for President James Madison when the British burned Washington. Along with the president, Loudoun County protected the constitution, and some other important state documents during this time.
Additionally, one of the first battles of the Civil War, The Battle of Ball’s Bluff , was also fought in Loudoun County. Colonel John Mosby, a well-known Confederate battalion commander, led raids in the area, and Loudoun County also served as a home to the Laurel Brigade, a well-known Confederate cavalry unit commanded by Elijah V. White. Names such as President James Monroe and Marquis de la Fayette were in and out of Loudoun County – Monroe as a resident and Lafayette as a temporary visitor.
Due to the rich activity in the area, the Mason family of Selma was inevitably linked to high profile figures in U.S history. Stevens Mason served as an aide to George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown and was a close personal friend of Thomas Jefferson, the eventual third President of the United States.
Please visit the links below for additional information on Loudoun County History:
History of Loudoun County
With Leesburg in Their Sights, Union Troops Caught by Surprise at Ball’s Bluff
Timeline of Important Events in Loudoun County
A Brief History of Leesburg
Early Settlement and Founding of Leesburg
Travel The Dead: Abandoned Haunted Mansion | Selma Mansion| Part 1/3
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