By Andrea Beattie
It’s the site that’s on most paranormal investigators’ bucketlists, with hundreds converging on the little unassuming farmhouse in Burrillville, Rhode Island, every year.
Some visit because it’s the site of one of the most notorious hauntings in US history, others because they love that the house was the real-life inspiration for the first film in the The Conjuring series, and some because want to see if they can feel anything at a site known for its paranormal reputation and power.
For me, it was a combination of all three. The Conjuring is one of my favourite all-time films, and I’ve seen it more times than I’d care to admit. And even though the film took a million miles of liberties in portraying the farm and the life of the Perron family when they lived there decades ago, but I’m also a huge fan of paranormal history and this house sits alongside the Amityville, Sallie and Villisca Axe Murder Houses as the granddaddys of them all in the US. It’s such an old, gorgeous home that pre-dates the discovery of Australia, so it’s little wonder it holds so much residual and very-present activity.
But why is this house in particular such an attraction today? Well, not only is the infamous site where the Perron family was terrorised by a demon, but it’s also one of the oldest colonial homes in the area, and that undoubtedly comes with its own set of ghosts, and energies.
Built around 1736, the home is on the Arnold Estate, which is a historical treasure in itself. But it’s definitely the darker history that most come for … a history that’s still casting a shadow more than 50 years after the Perron family lived in the farmhouse.
THE PERRON HAUNTING
When the Perron family – Roger and Carolyn and their daughters Andrea, Cindy, Christine, April and Nancy – moved into the house on January 11, 1971, they could never have imagined what would come next. One of the Perron children, Andrea, claims to have been visited nightly by a malevolent spirit, which, depending on which account you read, they later came to know (and was depicted in the film) as Bathsheba Sherman.
According to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, on whose cases the Conjuring series is based,
Some believe it was the spirit of Bathsheba, who was born in 1812 and would later marry a farmer named Judson Sherman, and the couple had a baby boy, Herbert.
It was claimed that she was later caught sacrificing her son to Satan with a sewing needle and cursed all who would dare live on her land, before climbing a tree on the property and hanging herself. No historical records have been found to support this though.
Andrea has since written numerous books about her traumatic childhood and while there are those who say that the Warrens are mere profiteers of the unexplained, Andrea has always insisted her story is true. Her father Roger and herself are regular visitors to the farmhouse, which usually leaves her overcome with both the emotional burden of what happened to her family there, and the memories it inevitably brings with it.
When Andrea returned to the home in 2021 for a live stream investigation event, she recalled that when the family moved in, “things happened right away”.
She recounted seeing a full-bodied apparition almost immediately after moving in.
“I always got along with the spirits right from the start,” she said. “I had moments of fear because I saw what was happening to my mom and to my family.”
As Carolyn once explained, “We left the farm, but the farm never left us,” and it seems this is still true for the remaining Perron family members today.
The hundreds of people who visit the house every year must think there’s something to her story too, or why bother to make the journey? It’s not like it’s in a major tourist area, and paranormal investigations and day tour usually sell out months in advance.
When the film came out in 2013, the home was lived in by an elderly woman whose husband had recently passed away. The property became too much for her to maintain, and she put it on the market. Maine couple and paranormal investigators Cory and Jennifer Heinzen bought it in June 2019, and moved in with their family.
Almost immediately they experienced doors opening, footsteps and knocks and some family members decided they’d rather move back to Maine! Jen says they had decided not sell it in case they needed a back-up plan if the house turned out to be inhabitable.
The Heinzens planned to open the house up for tours and paranormal investigators, but first had to thoroughly investigate it to ensure it was safe, and that the spirits within would tolerate the influx of visitors. With hindsight, Jen says she wasn’t prepared for the emotional weight of living in a house filled with such history, and energy (not to mentioned the lack of modern cons such as adequate heating and cooling), and after three years there, the couple put the house up for sale.
Thankfully a buyer came along who was also as committed as the Heinzens to keeping the home open for visitors, Jacqueline Nunez. According the house website, Jacqueline has dedicated her career to creating distinctive, high quality and sustainable residential development projects in the metropolitan Boston area.
Since she was a child, she has had an avid interest in the paranormal, having experienced numerous spiritual encounters that convinced her that “we are conscious beings having a human experience”.
TIME FOR LIGHTS OUT
After a brief tour of the grounds with some history and an introduction to the paranormal equipment we’d use that night, it was time to start investigating.
During the five-hour and overnight investigations, you pretty much have free reign on the property – you can investigate wherever you like, as long as you adhere to the rules with the main one being not to antagonise or provoke the spirits who reside there.
We used a spirit box, KII meter to detect EMF, cat balls to detect motion, a rem pod, music box and SLS camera. We started off in the ‘seance’ room, where Ed and Lorraine Warren famously conducted their seance to try to communicate with the entities there, back in the 70s.
t was an oppressively hot evening, and we didn’t get too much coming through in the seance room, so moved to the basement where things started to kick off. After relocating a baby snake in the well room, we flicked the lights off and three people tried to communicate using the Estes method. We got some direct responses to questions which was pretty exciting and Jen managed to capture some movement with her motion activated music box, and the SLS camera also mapped numerous figures towards the rear of the basement.
To maximise our time and to not overcrowd the rooms, we then broke into two groups – one headed to the library and the other went upstairs to the very active middle bedroom. Jen told us that there library has been known to contain a male entity who doesn’t like to communicate with women, and as we were an all-female group, we didn’t get much through.
We then moved upstairs where Jen filled us in on the findings of other investigators which was just fascinating. Maddie and her group joined us to continue investigating the middle room. Jen set up the music box in the small and very creepy area next to the room, and Maddie used the spirit box to open communication. We got a lot through the spirit box thanks to Maddie, and most of us felt an entity move from one side of the room to the other, made obvious by a very cold, intermittent breeze in the very warm room.
The music box also kept going off, like someone was letting us know they were still there, and open to communication. After a bit more through the spirit box, the entity/ies seemed to lose energy and communication slowed. Being incredible intuitive, Maddie started to end the investigation, which was greeted with a “goodnight …” from the spirit box, closing off an incredible night of investigating I’ll never forget.
ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO VISIT?
If you want to visit the farm, you can do day tours, GHO investigations (such as the one I did with Maddie) Medium Gallery Readings and Overnight Investigations.
You cannot visit the property unless you are booked on a tour, and you can’t see the house from the road so don’t even try.
To see what tour slots are available, visit: https://theconjuringhouse.com/
This article originally appeared on the Hallozween website.