Casper in the Friendly Town? Paranormal groups visit Orange’s Wheeler mansion

  • A paranormal investigation was held this weekend at Wheeler mansion in Orange. The Crooked Path, an occult apothecary store in Burbank, Calif., also hosted The Symposium Khthonia, a series of workshops and witchcraft. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/27/2021 5:02:06 PM

ORANGE — The paranormal enthusiasts who visited Orange over the weekend raved about the town and said they detected some supernatural activity in Wheeler mansion.

A New York group called Misfits Paranormal visited “the Friendly Town” to conduct a paranormal investigation at 75 East Main St. while The Crooked Path, an occult apothecary store in Burbank, Calif., hosted The Symposium Khthonia, a series of workshops and witchcraft.

Melissa Savage, of Misfits Paranormal, and her crew participated in “The World’s Largest Ghost Hunt,” which took place simultaneously at roughly 150 presumed haunted locations all over the world Saturday and conducted a livestreamed investigation from 2 to 3 a.m. on Sunday. She said the crew got some direct “responses” from the spirit of one of the Wheeler children, who she said touched a motion-activated ball set up for the occasion.

“It was an all-around amazing experience for us,” Savage said. “It was the biggest thing we’ve ever done.”

She said her crew photographed paranormal activity and used a special camera to detect the presence of spirits.

To watch the video of the paranormal investigation, visit Updates from the weekend are also available on Misfits Paranormal’s Facebook page at

Popi Mavros, who co-owns The Crooked Path with husband Sal Santoro, said her store’s witchcraft-specific workshops were well-received.

The Symposium Khthonia consisted of a meet-and-greet, a flashlight tour of the mansion and a class on Friday; an amulet-making class, ritual and spirit summoning, a seance and paranormal investigation on Saturday; and an investigation review, brunch, another class and a closing ritual on Sunday. The event was headlined by Santoro and medium and psychic Patti Negri, known for appearances on Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” Presenters included mansion owner Cindy Butler as well as Jeff Cullen, Scarlett Amaris and Juelz Cullen of The Crooked Path.

Negri explained she led a seance from midnight to 2 a.m. on Sunday, when the livestreaming of the investigation began.

“It was a very magical seance,” she said, adding that she was visited by John Wheeler, who built the mansion in 1902 and 1903. “It was great.”

According to Savage, at one point investigators and people following the livestream on Facebook heard an unexplained growling and Negri mysteriously got scratched by something.

All three women said they fell in love with Orange and the North Quabbin region, and are already anxious to return.

“Oh my God, I loved it. I absolutely loved it,” Negri said. “(The weekend) couldn’t have gone better.”

Savage said the area’s hospitality was exceptional, citing meals at the Boiler Bar & Grille in Orange, and the 110 Grill and Kellie’s in Athol. She also said she marveled at the Wheeler mansion’s beauty.

“The work (Butler’s) doing on that house is breathtaking,” Savage said. “To have it so close to what the original was was just mind-boggling.”

“It’s gorgeous,” Mavros said of the mansion. “And what Cindy is doing to revive it is absolutely amazing.”

According to the Wheeler mansion’s website, Butler won the mansion in a competitive property auction on June 17, 2020.

Then-Athol Daily News writer Allen Young wrote in 2015 that the property is the North Quabbin region’s only Gilded Age mansion. John Wheeler, who made his fortune manufacturing and selling sewing machines and became the president of the New Home Sewing Machine Co., built the home for his wife, Almira.

According to the mansion’s website, Wheeler died in the building in 1910 and he deeded his home to the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic sisterhood. Young reported the building was owned by the Eastern Star for much of the 20th century, serving as a home for its elderly members, who are said to have surrendered their wealth “in exchange for unparalleled comfort and care in their last days.” The Eastern Star closed the building in 1990, and Karen and Robert Anderson bought it from the Star Realty Trust for $240,000 in 1996, according to Young. The new owners had intended to open a bed-and-breakfast called Anderson Manor, but those plans fell through.

The 20-room, 15,406-square-foot brick mansion has eight bedrooms and five bathrooms, according to the real estate website, and the property consists of roughly 2 acres.

More information about the building is available at

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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