Abandoned Buffalo

Paranormal sites all across Buffalo


What is it about Halloween that provokes a brave few to explore, photograph and even film themselves near abandoned buildings?

Buffalo has become famous for some of its old, dilapidated buildings and many claim these areas are home to paranormal activity, including UB’s very own Hayes Hall and its surrounding buildings on South Campus. The hall used to be the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum.

In the mid-20th century, Buffalo was considered by many to be the United States’ industrial heartland. The abandonment of factory warehouses, railroad stations and hospitals has led to immense urban decay across this region – the perfect place for ghosts.

Hayes Hall

Hayes Hall can be considered a landmark structure for UB. Its architectural qualities, including its tower clock and Westminster chime, reflect a more historic look than the more modernized landscape of UB’s North Campus.

But Hayes Hall sits on land that was once home to the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum. The home was for poor and ill people in early 19th century.

Approximately 400 mentally ill patients lived there in the 1860s.

James M. M. Baldwin, a paranormal investigator and speculative fictional author, explored the insides of Hayes Hall in 2011 right after it closed for renovations. He published his findings in a YouTube video co-produced with his son.

“I had a strange feeling – like a shadow in the corner of my mind’s eye – that I was not alone in Hayes Hall,” Baldwin said. “Whether ghosts, physical entities using energy to manipulate their environment to create sound waves or electromagnetic impulses and visual phenomenon or thoughts from my subconscious mind knowing the history of the building, I felt there was something stirring – following me – in Hayes Hall.”

In the video, Baldwin plays clips from areas in Hayes Halls then goes on to explain the findings of each of these places. He explains what he thinks different sound bytes and anomalies are in the film.

The site was renovated, remodeled and officially named Hayes Hall in 1927. UB used the site for administrative purposes until 1975 when it was named the School of Architecture and Planning. The building also has a library but it has been closed for renovations since 2011.

Buffalo Central Terminal

The Buffalo Central Terminal is widely considered to be one of the most haunted places in Buffalo. The former rail station has been closed for more than 30 years.

A non-profit restoration group, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, currently owns the building and puts on candle-lit tours entitled “Beyond Ghosts” that give brave souls the opportunity to learn more about the terminal and try and view some paranormal activity.

Richardson-Olmsted Complex

The Richardson-Olmsted Complex, a former psychiatric center, sits on the edge of SUNY Buffalo State College’s campus and is closed to the public. It holds a strong sense of allure for many of the students and faculty that walk past it everyday.

The Richardson Center Corporation is turning the building into a hub with a hotel and conference center.

There is heavy security around the complex on most days, adding to the mystery behind the architectural masterpiece.

There have been claims made that the asylum’s medical practices were “borderline barbaric,” according to Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

Buffalo State students are still curious about the building. Many climb the barriers to check it out.

Patrick Duffy, a senior psychology major at Buffalo State, doesn’t know too much about the facility besides its origins as an asylum.

“The school takes security very seriously because people go in and steal the copper piping … it is supposed to be haunted,” Duffy said.

Courtney Jansen, also a senior psychology major at Buffalo State, knows a couple of people that have gotten pretty close to the complex.

“My friends have looked inside and say it is very gothic looking and historic, kind of spooky,” Jansen said.

The asylum officially closed its doors in 1974.

J.N. Adams Memorial

An hour drive south of Buffalo in Cattaraugus County sits the J.N. Adams Memorial Hospital – a facility once home to tuberculosis patients and the mentally ill.

The hospital opened its doors in 1912 according to Untapped Cities, a website that specializes in abandoned cities and structures.

It has many qualities that reflect early 20th-century medical practice including its curved hallways, which served many purposes – the most important being supervision. Doctors at the time also believed that disease festered in corners so they tried to install as few corners in the building as they could.

The facility was used as a tuberculosis hospital until 1960 and was then turned over to the state and used as a developmental disability center. In 1995, the site was abandoned.

The site is a common destination for photographers because of its secluded location.

The Friends of J.N. Adam Historic Landmark and Forest group is the only known advocate for the preservation of the facility but no plans are in the works as of now.

Rapids Theatre

The Rapids Theatre is an indoor concert venue in Niagara Falls that has hosted performers like Passion Pit, Snoop Dogg and The Band Perry.

But on the theater’s off-nights, it offers public ghost hunts.

In 2011, the theater was featured in an episode of SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters,” a series that features two paranormal investigators that explore rumored haunted locations.

The location was constructed under the name The Bellevue Theatre in 1912 and was used as a luxury movie theater and vaudeville stage.

It is rumored that a young actress hung herself in the back of the theater. Visitors have experienced “voices being heard, doors opening and closing, footsteps being heard, a mysterious whistling with keys jingling, and even sightings of full blown apparitions,” according to the Rapids Theatre’s website.

For those interested in touring the theater, Paranormal Crossroads Live, a paranormal investigation team, occasionally conducts tours for more than $50 a person.

Evan Schneider is a staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com