Rolling Hills Asylum – The Most Haunted Place in New York
October 29, 2019
I jump at any chance I get to visit a haunted place or horror attraction – in more ways than one! So when opportunity came to attend an event at Rolling Hills Asylum, I quickly agreed. I’d heard about Rolling Hills many times, and I’d always wanted to visit. But I didn’t realize just what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t until the next day that I learned Rolling Hills Asylum isn’t just the most haunted place in New York, but one of the scariest in the world.
The Haunted History of Rolling Hills Asylum
Rolling Hills Asylum opened on January 1st, 1827 as the Genesee County Poor Farm. People who could not fend for themselves would be sent there to live. Those who were able, would then help on the farm. The residents included ‘lunatics’, paupers, vagrants, drunkards, and disabled folks – but were all referred to as inmates.
Rolling Hills is located in a pretty remote location – even more seemingly late at night when there are no cars around. What else would you expect from the most haunted place in New York? We got to the asylum grounds and parked… only to find out that we were the only ones there.
At least when there are other people around, you can joke about your fears and commiserate with each other! No such luck for us. We texted the owner that we had arrived, and she soon met us in the front entrance. You know, the one with the deteriorating walls, chipping paint, and a creepy red light.
About the Owner
In 2008, Sharon Coyle visited Rolling Hills as part of a ghost hunting group. She stayed a few days – and experienced some incredible paranormal activity – before returning to her home in California. Less than a year later, she cried when she learned that the asylum was being closed forever. She knew she had to do something.
While she didn’t have enough money to purchase the asylum outright, she was pleased to find out that it was later being put up for auction. In her own words, she was ‘the only one crazy enough’ to show up for the auction. But… she didn’t get it.
A little more time passed and she got a phone call. No one else wanted the property. Especially the county. Lucky for Sharon, they were able to work out a deal. On October 25, 2009, Sharon Coyle became the private owner of Rolling Hills Asylum.
The Ghosts Haunting Rolling Hills
There are estimated to be a few hundred ghosts lingering in the halls of the asylum. Some of the most famous include Roy, Emma, and Jack. A chat with Sharon will teach you that she knows the names of 25-30 of the spirits. Her favorite? Roy. The most famous of the ghosts, Roy is said to be friendly and over 7-feet tall. Emma was a nurse who worked in the asylum and is often seen.
Legend says that Jack Banion was committed to the asylum on Halloween night, 1943. He escaped exactly 30 years later on October 31, 1973. He left behind a note on the wall, written in blood: “You’re all going to pay.” Jack was never seen again.
Events at the Asylum
Over the years there have been many different events at the asylum. Sharon has hosted several different filming crews and ghost hunters. Public events include ghost hunts, overnight stays, flashlight tours, horror movie showings – and a seasonal haunted house.
Jack’s Revenge Haunted House
If Rolling Hills wasn’t scary enough in the daytime with other people around, Jack’s Revenge takes it to an entirely new level of fear. As soon as we arrived, the reality of what we were about to do hit us. My husband and I looked at each other and said “What the F&%# are we doing?!” We’ve done lots of spooky things before. The haunted pub crawl in St. Augustine is a favorite of ours. We regularly visit all of our local haunted houses. But this was different. This was too real.
After a short chat with Sharon, it was time to enter the asylum. She opened the door and fog filled the entrance hallway. Sharon walked us inside and told me to grab the railing to the staircase. I could hear strange noises and screams coming from further inside. As much as I wasn’t ready, I knew I had to climb the stairs.
There wasn’t much light in the asylum. The entire experience was full of fog, with different rooms of dim light, red light, strobe lighting, and some without light at all. It was often hard to tell where to go, but all I knew was that I had to keep going.
Deeper into the hallways
I don’t want to give too much away about the haunt, but know that it is by far the scariest I have ever done. The actors were some of the best I’ve ever encountered – and according to Sharon, they change what they do for ever person/group that enters. They play off of your reactions to make it the best experience possible.
A few of my favorite parts? The actors crawling across the floor and the actor who followed us, repeating what I said in a childlike voice before screaming “I’m not crazy!” Holy. Crap.
The experience is not meant for the faint of heart, or anyone with mobility of medical limitations. There are lots of stairs to go up and down as you make your way through the hallways and even into the morgue.
Are you brave enough to enter the most haunted place in New York?
Honestly, I was more scared than I’ve ever been. I was creeped out down to my core. But it was also the very best haunted experience I have ever done. I can’t wait to go back to do another experience, and to get better photos in the daylight.