Tucked quietly in the small town of New Castle, PA, Hillview Manor is quite possibly one of the most haunted locations in western PA, but remains fairly unknown, aside from Pittsburgh locals. As a matter of fact, our small band of paranormal investigators had never even heard of the location until my bachelor party (yes, you read that correctly, my bachelor party was in fact an overnight paranormal investigation). The only way we had heard of it was really word of mouth. Perhaps that’s one reason it’s so haunted; it really remains untouched since it’s closure in 2004. Anyone who has been there, especially the employees, can attest to its’ creepy nature and truly fascinating ambiance.
Hillview Manor’s original incarnation was the Lawrence County Home for the Aged, more commonly known as the poor farm. It was opened in 1926 and housed 20 inmates including those who were mentally ill, destitute and elderly. Most of these residents did not have any family and were transferred there from other institutions around the county.
The goal of this institution was to allow these individuals a certain comfort level and for them to actually enjoy themselves in the home. Some of the amenities included a working farm, a garden, lounge locations throughout, a smoking room, vocational rooms, laundry, golf course, bomb shelter, garage and of course a cemetery. Patients housed here would work and live together in harmony most of the time. At any given time, there were anywhere between 70-160 residences housed here in the early years.
In 1944, the building fell into disrepair and the county had been accused of inadequately caring for the inmates and the house itself. The welfare department of the state took control of the poor farm and added on in the 1960’s, as the building was slowly becoming overcrowded. By 1970, the home had seen a transformation into a skilled nursing center as the inmates needed increased medical attention as they aged.
The overcrowding issues increased rapidly in the early 70’s and the county added on yet again in 1974. The North Wing, as it’s now known, was a full 3 story addition, including a basement expansion. There were also renovations which took place at this time, upgrading the kitchen, dining area, and the existing residents’ rooms. This addition allowed for approximately another 30 resident admissions. Upon completion in 1977, the home was renamed as its current moniker of Hillview Manor.
In 2004, Hillview Manor closed its doors due to financial struggles.
With the hundreds of inmates who have come and gone in Hillview Manor, including those who had passed away tragically, it’s no wonder that so many people have paranormal experiences here. There have been multiple suicides and a few murders throughout the manor’s history, leading many to believe that the dozens of unmarked graves on the site have been used to cover up many more incidents not recorded.
The most common noises and observations are those of doors and windows slamming closed, footsteps trudging throughout hallways and rooms, pipes banging and voices whispering. Some of these have been captured on recordings and videos.
There have been a few lingering stories of paranormal activity throughout the years in the manor. The first involves the story of Jeffrey, a young boy who is said to play tricks on anyone visiting. He may tug at your shirt or grab your arm. However, the urban legend that is associated with this seemingly harmless entity is that if you personally see Jeffrey, you will die shortly after.
In room 105, a resident named Mary Virginia has been reported to be haunting her former room. The original bed, chair, and nightstand remain in her room and it is customary for visitors to leave dolls on her bed when stopping by. Her presence is said to be light and kind and that she likes the company. Mary Virginia’s music box will play occasionally, and the lights over her bed flicker on and off.
In the boiler room, the old grounds keeper and former maintenance employee does not like company. EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) have been recorded telling those visitors to get out of his room and ordering them to leave his space.
Some full body spirits have been seen, as well as a shadow figure which tends to crawl on walls and ceilings. Some of these entities set off motion detectors but will vanish instantaneously.
There are a few other common stories which make their rounds, including the pair of brothers who used to visit their grandmother that lived at Hillview Manor. They captured strong EVP of the nickname their grandmother gave them when they were younger.
Employees of Hillview Manor share their experiences with guests who stop by. While turning off the lights in the west wing, one of the employees felt a cold, static electric cloud pass through her, giving her chills then immediately vanishing. She would also see someone walking toward the break room but upon following them, there would be no one there. She had even reviewed security camera footage of the hallway seeing nothing there.
The third floor hallway is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the building. There is said to be the noise of someone running up and down the hallway, but just before it reaches investigators and visitors, the sound simple disappears. There are numerous accounts of people seen staring out of the third story windows while no one was inside the building. Dragging noises can be heard inside certain rooms on the third floor, as if someone is pulling themselves across the room or using a walker to make their way to bed.