Haunted Collector Hits the Road: A New Home for John Zaffis' Paranormal Museum?

Haunted Collector Hits the Road: A New Home for John Zaffis’ Paranormal Museum?

Zaffis_McBride

John Zaffis, the Haunted Collector himself, is on the move. After searching long and hard for a suitable new home for his Museum of the Paranormal, he has found a fitting new location inside a former funeral parlor in the small town of Adams, Massachusetts. Even better, the large vacant building had a list price of only $79,000. On March 23, the Planning Board finally approved plans for rezoning the former funeral home for the purposes of Zaffis’ museum of ‘haunted objects.’ Plans include more than just a museum showcasing ever-changing exhibits of allegedly haunted artifacts; he plans to give lectures there, hold ghost hunts, and even weddings. With planning out of the way, all that’s left is the purchase of the building and moving of his collection.

If you’re worried that the building might face major remodeling, Zaffis told reporters, “I love the way it was laid out it was perfect the way the rooms are. I don’t have to alter anything… at this point in time, as far as alterations, there isn’t much I want to do. I love it the way it is.”

The former McBride Funeral Home o Liberty Street in Adams, MA. (Scott Stafford, Ñ. Berkshire Eagle)

The former McBride Funeral Home on Liberty Street in Adams, MA. (Scott Stafford, N. Berkshire Eagle)

Realtor records claim the house was built around 1900; Zaffis told reporters that half of the building was a former parsonage for the nearby church that was later attached via an extension to the funeral home. One local reporter stated that the building has been empty for a decade. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t rely on what any realtor (or reporter, even) tells you. Apparently, all of these facts are actually wrong.

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“I don’t think there is really much with the building, and it is more so with my items because all of those have been removed from haunted locations,” Zaffis said. “I think people will be more interested in that than just per say the building.” But the truth is, this building has a rather long and interesting history well worth telling visitors.

The 1876 Berkshirt County Atlas map of South Adams clearly shows both buildings (highlighted in red) at their current location.

The 1876 Berkshire County Atlas map of South Adams clearly shows both buildings (highlighted in red) at their current location.

6 Liberty Street (originally the south half of the current building) appears on atlas maps dating back as early as 1876. It was once the residence of Dr. Harry Bigelow Holmes. Together with his father Horace, Dr. Holmes had a practice in town and was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Before becoming a physician, he worked for a Chicago mercantile then spent a year working for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fé Railroad. His home was at 37 Park Street.

On October 24, 1898, according to the North Adams Transcript, Dr. Holmes married Angeline Maria Sayles. The reception was held at Angeline’s home which would eventually become the second half of 6 Liberty Street. Angeline was the daughter of Charles Franklin Sayles, a civil engineer who designed a new plan for Maple Street Cemetery in 1869, who married in 1869 and moved to Liberty Street shortly thereafter. (Charles’ house has since been razed.) Before that, he was heavily involved with surveying for several railroads. Between 1859 and 1860, his first work in that field was as a rodman for a surveyor working on the nearby Hoosac Tunnel.

Yes, the haunted Hoosac Tunnel.

The first trains began running through the full length of Hoosac Tunnel in 1875. (Paul Marino)

The first trains began running through the full length of Hoosac Tunnel in 1875. (Paul Marino)

Tunnel construction continued until 1877, but not before costing the lives of around 200 workers, earning it the nickname “the Bloody Pit.” Two of those workers–Ned Brinkman and Billy Nash–are believed to be the source of the hauntings. Both men died by being buried under tons of rock after an explosives “accident” on March 20, 1865. The man who had set off the charge too early, Ringo Kelly, was found strangled to death two miles inside the tunnel ten days later.

Harry and Angeline Holmes lived together on Park Street until at least 1902. Angeline’s mother Maria passed away in July 1904. That same year, the Berkshire County Atlas shows the couple were residing at 6 Liberty Street. Dr. Holmes died in June 1933; Angeline passed away in September 1963.

"Pete" McBride (top left insert) played for the Cleveland Spiders in 1898.

“Pete” McBride (top left insert) played for the Cleveland Spiders in 1898.

McBride Funeral Home began in 1900 in North Adams. It was established by former professional baseball player Peter William “Pete” McBride who died at his business of a heart attack in 1944. Whether or not Pete passed away at the present building is unclear; though local papers say the funeral home relocated there in the 1920s, the Better Business Bureau states that it opened there in 1957. With the passing of Charles Sayles in 1921, it’s plausible that the McBride family purchased the property then for their business. Upon the retirement of Anthony McBride, the third generation of owners, the funeral home closed in 2011 and has been vacant ever since.

While it’s not the spookiest history of a building, it’s far more than just a disused funeral home. And at least some portions of the structure are more than 140 years old. While John Zaffis understandably wants to focus on his own collection, let’s hope he finds a few ways to give a little nod to the lives (and corpses) who graced those rooms over the years.


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5 Comments

  1. Joshua

    04/06/2015 at 5:01 AM

    whoa that’s cool

  2. Ken Summers

    04/06/2015 at 6:58 AM

    For those curious about the “H. H. Wellington” on the 1876 map, it was Harvey H. Wellington (born April 2, 1842, in Williamstown). He married Frances “Fanny” Sayles on June 14, 1865. His occupation in the 1884 Berkshire County Directory was listed as a cashier at the First National Bank of Adams, and he was living on Liberty Street at that time. He may very well have been the original owner of 6 Liberty Street.

  3. John Jody

    05/03/2015 at 12:15 AM

    I have seen only brief glimpses of the show that Mr Zaffis was on, I think it was called The Haunted Whisperer or something like that. I wondered about his collection, I believe it was in Connecticut. Anyway what I was curious about was how he came to posses the items in his collection. On the show he would convince people that an item was haunted or possessed a negative spirit & the owner of the item would then donate the item to Mr Zaffis for his museum & free the owner of the haunted item. It seemed like a strange way to obtain items for his museum. I never watched a full episode of the show but what I did see struck me as a bunch of baloney. That’s just my opinion but I wonder what other people thought of the show. There’s just something about the way that Mr Zaffis would come into ownership of the ‘antique’ or old/haunted items that seemed unsettling to me. I’m not saying it wasn’t legal it just seemed maybe somewhat unethical. I’m curious if anyone else thought this or is it just me. I know that the items were given to the museum & I may sound like a fool but that’s my thought about it..

    • Sandy

      07/30/2015 at 5:58 PM

      Mr. Zaffi was the nephew of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren here in Monroe, CT. They had a museum in Monroe, CT. There is a ton of information about them. I assume Mr Zaffi is the custodian of these items that were involved in his family’s and his work.

  4. Joanne rak

    06/19/2018 at 11:34 AM

    Who would of thought kids were afraid to play with a modern doll house I built in the 1980s.bought things from old junk stores to furnish it….from estates sales..accepted gifts for the house….bought from stores magazines…When done just sat in the basement…daughter stayed away from it…she said It scared her….she said sonething would grab her hands and shake the dolls…furniture…mini foods and drinks away from her…..so i kept an eye on her watching from other room as her and friends played in basement….her friends seemed ok with it. Messing it up..after work at night I went down to wash clothes…checked out house….it was all fixed perfect..next day I asked who played and fixed it all back…my daughter said she saw her friend laura playing but got called home…who cleaned it up and put evetything back ..i asked..no body she said..i asked my mother….she wasnt able to go down the stairs….i was confused….i messed it up myself….left for work..came home…i had to be quiet not to wake anyone up..I peeked at it from the stairs and saw the lights GO OFF on it..this doll house was electrified…but had to be plugged in…wtf..turned basement light on…looked at the rooms I messed up…THEY WERE NO LONGER MESSED UP..BUT DOLLS WERE IN DIFFERENT ROOMS…..MYSELF GOT GOOSEBUMPS…..DISCUSSED WITH MY DAUGHTER WHAT WOULD GO ON WHEN SHE ATTEMPtED TO PLAY with it again…..she told me to give it away….I put years of time..effort …8000 dollars…..no way…. years later I remodeled it…to make it a south beach style….at 5 years old she wouldn’t play with it….at 10 years old with new remodel job….ignored it….lovely to look at scary to play with…20 years later moved it to my new house..kept in living front room on a swivel table..had it plugged in….was working on landscape…rooms started going on and off…..alternately..husband had been drinking ..but said ..how you making it do that..it’s cool….checked the plug….all fine…..left it off went to bed…..next morning…it had self swiveled off the swivel scew in middle of table….cocked on arm of couch….things were slanted……but why were ALL THE PALM TREES ON OTHER SIDE OF THE FRONT ROOM….only me and husband living in house…..he didn’t do it……I didn’t do it…..told him then OF THE freaky things this doll house did……he encased it in Plexiglas and it is stored in the garage…..we never open plexiglas….we can look at it ..but do not touch it…….people i have told….say it is haunted…..was going to auction it off for PAWS …but I was told I have to disclose any problems…..I think back to all the places and people I bought mini furnishings from….did someone sell me a cursed item? Did something follow me home from my weird estate sales? DO u have an answer….why my kids hand would get shaken till she let go of mini
    things…thanks for letting me vent.joanne rak

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