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Haunted Rutger Park Investigation ~ Rutger Mansion #1 "Munn's Castle"


On September 14th, the Shadow Chasers travelled to Utica to investigate the reportedly haunted Rutger Mansions in Rutger Park in Utica, New York.

While we have been in service to the public since 2002, we have never been ones to target prestige locations, and in-fact we have had nearly 90% of all of our cases come to us, this was our chance to get back to the roots of the Shadow Chasers, documenting and understanding regional folklore. The site was notoriously haunted and one of our contacts offered to let us investigate the site as well as form new connections in the area. The team unanimously decided it would be worth our time to investigate one of Utica New York's most notoriously haunted locations.


Rutger Park in Utica is a historic district in Utica that shows the prosperity of Utica between the years of 1830 and 1890. "The names of the original occupants are a roster of the important merchants and industrialists of a young America, and the homes they built along Rutger Street are fine examples of late nineteenth century villas executed in the Italianate style. It is one of the largest groupings of these structures in the Northeast, and its significance earned it a place on the National Register in 1973." [Landmark Society of Utica] 

A.J. Davis was more directly associated with the planning of number 1 Rutger Park (c. 1850), one of the finest examples of the Italianate villa in America. It was for many years known as “Munn’s Castle” after its original owner, the banker John Munn. Munn had made a fortune in Mississippi before returning to Utica with his southern wife, Mary Jane, who entertained lavishly “in true southern style” 

Over time the mansion fell into disuse and ultimate Rutger Mansion #3 was torn down  before the sale of the remaining properties to the state where the Rutger Mansions were converted into a nursing homes in the 60′s-70s. After a couple decades of use they were abandoned.

Planning Phase: 

In most investigations you contact the proprietor and work with them to set up an ideal investigation date. Rutger Park was quite a bit different. Despite the number of reports of investigations that have taken place at the location and the number of news articles that report Rutger Park is a great place to go, all of the information is and contacts that are associated with the site are the Landmark Society of Greater Utica. While the Landmark Society is an outstanding organization, they receive tons of contacts about either ghost hunting in the buildings or photographers wishing to shoot the buildings.

Fortunately, one of our friends had contacts with the Landmark Society and they invited us in for an investigation of Rutger #1, "Munn's Castle" also known as "Munn's Mansion."


Road Trip:

Well, it really wasn't much of one. We set out for Rutger Park around 4 PM just a short 15min from the site. We discussed the history of the location and all of the reported activity from the site. Investigations by local teams all claimed extensive history and activity on the site. We arrived at the entrance to Rutger Park a little before 5 just to check in with our contacts.

While parking is quite a bit of an issue on the property, we were informed that we could just drive across the lawns and load and unload as we needed.

On Site:

As we walked up to Munn's mansion of Rutger Park we discovered just how massive the structure was. A number of workers and Landmark Society members were working to restore one of the mansions but they would wrap it up by dark or a little there-after. We were given unrestricted access to investigate Rutger mansion #1 From 5:30 PM to 8:30 AM. The mansion was well over four stories with the tower and a massive multi-roomed basement.
The only warning that we were given was that the Utica Police love to stop by and park where they can do their paperwork in the evening hours. We were warned about this because a previous team that was given permission to investigate had a run-in with the Utica PD.
The police had seen the light moving through the empty windows of the building and rather than taking the chance, they called for back up and when the ghost hunters came out of the mansion they were greeted by a number of UPD cars and officers with weapons drawn. The situation resolved without incident but it didn't make the situation any less worrisome.
*It should be noted that our contact experienced this first-hand*
So, we had more than 16 hours to investigate this massive landmark and while the Landmark Society is working to restore the 4 remaining mansions Rutger mansion #1 or “Munn’s Mansion” is lost in time. Old fixtures hang from the walls, the paint is peeling off almost every surface, old mattresses lay on rusted metal bed frames, shower curtains hang from forgotten hooks and even the old phones are intact.


We opened our investigation by first exploring the building to gather some sense of the site and identify any other potentially interesting areas that we may not have noticed in our first walkthrough. We had almost twenty cameras that we could place throughout the site but there were still more rooms and angles that we could not cover even with that many. We had to be very selective of the locations that we chose so that we could cover the most of the site including the hotspots that reported the most activity.
After our lengthy walkthrough we still had plenty of time before it would even be dark outside. We also discovered in placing the wireless cameras that certain areas that were ideal for coverage were without power. We had to get a little creative to set up the cameras with extension cords running from powered sections to the areas we needed to cover.
Once all of the cameras and spare recorders were in-place, we set about conducting an environmental survey of the site to identify all potential contaminates before we could isolate and track the anomalies. This lengthy phase of our investigation took quite a bit longer than expected as we also attempted to track down the reported phone with a phantom dial-tone. During this phase we also heard the phantom footsteps on one of the upper floors that we could not attribute to anything.
As we continued the investigation to conduct EVP sessions we managed to hear a few more unaccounted for knocks and footsteps on other floors. Most significantly while conducting an EVP session in the restricted area on the third floor we witnessed the static detectors triggering without a cause. When we went to investigate and used one of the strobe detectors we managed to capture a pulsing orb moving through the area on video as the static detectors were being set off.
Switching to ITC equipment and the Thermasound we were able to document an number of additional anomalies both causing temperature changes and even light anomalies from one of the first floor rooms that was setting off the motion sensors.

The Wrap Up:

Our investigation of 'Munn's Castle' Rutger Mansion #1 concluded as the sun was rising and the Utica Fire Dept was desling with an emergency a couple of streets away. It encouraged us to expedite packing and getting back to the cars. As we packed we discussed how immense the location was, the number of rooms, stories and the drastic scale of the site. We captured a number of audible phenomena on multiple cameras and audio recorders in addition to the visual anomalies. We captured a few interesting photographs and had a number of experiences. Would we want to go back and investigate the quarry again? Absolutely. 

The legends and folklore of the site may exceed the activity of the site but the scale of the site require extensive time on-site and more surveilance equipment than even we had at our disposal. Rutger Park is known for its vast history and for its accounts of paranormal activity. The site is historic and holds an amazing setting for an investigation and we are happy to say the Landmark Society is doing an outstanding job keeping the history alive.