The building we know today as Conover Square originally housed a piano factory. Construction began in the early 1890’s, and additions continued for almost twenty years. It is believed that the Schaeffer Piano Company built the original factory (the current South wing), and they were later bought by Schiller Pianos. Pianos were manufactured here under a number of brand names, including Schiller, Conover, and Cable. In fact, a piano built here was featured at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. By the early 1970’s, demand for pianos dropped to the point where the factory closed and moved operations out of state.
Later in the 1970’s, much of the 120,000 square foot building was converted into a shopping village. As one strolls through the hallways at Conover Square, old world inspiration is apparent in the quaint and varied storefront designs. The legacy of Conover’s factory days also stands out in the massive beams throughout the structure, wood ceilings and floors in many areas, and selected memorabilia displayed in the hallways.
The Team arrived at 5:05 pm on Saturday, April 11th, 2015. Immediately they were met by Mike Grasso, the guide for all paranormal investigations at the Mall. He gave the team a brief history on the Mall and a tour of the building. He also recounted the various paranormal claims and “hot spots”.
He explained that the building was built in many stages beginning with the current South/East Wing of the building. This wing has many windows allowing for the greatest amount of light for the employees to work by. Mike explained to the team that the original president of the company, F.G. Jones, also worked and was the president of the Oregon Electric and Light and Power Company and the Oregon Machine and Foundry making him a man that the community wouldn’t argue with. In just a short time span he took the relatively small original building and turned it into the 122,506 square foot facility adjoining the water power provided by the Rock River that is located on the East side of the building. Because the building slopes down a hill to the river some parts have three stories and some have five.
At 6:30 pm the tour ended and everyone began unloading the van. Base camp was set up on the 1st Floor on the South/East side of the Mall. Once all equipment was in, Noah instructed everyone to get their Zoom H1 control audio recorders running, time stamped and attached to their person along with their personal data loggers. Every member of PIM is equipped with a Zoom H1 digital audio recorder, which is used as their control recorder, Extech RHT50 datalogger, and UV flashlight. Control recorders are not only used as another recording device but also to discriminate the sound contamination that an investigator might create during an investigation. Control recorders are started and time stamped first before any other equipment is started and they are turned off last to ensure any anomalous noises can be cross checked. Control recorders are also placed in a Faraday cage. A Faraday cage operates because an external static electrical field causes the electric charges within the cages conducting material to be distributed such that they cancel the fields effect in the cages interior. PIM’s main goal in using these is to block radio signals from interfering with their audio recorders thus causing false EVPs. The Extech RHT50 datalogger takes a temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure reading once a minute and is used to try and correlate environmental data with any personal experiences an investigator might encounter during an investigation.
Everyone then began to set up equipment on tri-pods to make set up easier and faster. Once Missy had her equipment setup and ready to be placed she went outside to take outside weather readings using a Kestrel 3500 Weather Station. The Kestrel Weather station is a tool that measures temperature, wind speeds, barometric pressure and humidity.
Once she finished she rejoined the team inside. While everyone else placed equipment throughout the building, Missy walked around the building taking baseline temperature and EMF (electromagnetic field) readings using a TriField 100XE EMF detector and indoor temperature was taken with a single-axis EMF Mel-8704R meter.
Gravy and Andy (having already placed their equipment on tripods) began the process of darkening the building with black plastic sheets. Any windows, doors, or cracks were covered to avoid light contamination from outside sources.
Several high definition camcorders were placed in select areas of the building. A Sony HDR-CX610 full spectrum camcorder was placed in the North/East Wing of the Attic. In addition to video a Zoom H1 audio recorder was placed in this area. The H1 audio recorder is used by PIM because of its high quality and sensitive stereo X/Y mic configuration that captures clear stereo audio. An EMF Pump, touch flashlight, single-axis EMF Mel-8704R-Vibe and Extech RHT50 were also placed in this part of the Attic. An EMF pump is a pump that emits EMF at a given frequency and intensity and is used based on the theory that spirits need energy to manifest or manipulate objects.
Also in the North/West Wing of the Attic a Sony HDR-SR5 was placed facing the wall where the shadow was seen walking along the wall and disappeared into the doorway along withan H1 audio recorder. Another Sony HDR-CX160 full spectrum camcorder was placed on the North/West Wing of the Attic. During the walk through Mike indicated that most of the current activity was happening on the North side of the Attic so it was PIM’s goal to canvas this area well with plenty of audio and video equipment.
In the 2nd Floor Museum, a Sony HDR-CX160 full spectrum camcorder was placed along with a Tascam DR40 digital audio recorder. Also placed in the Museum on a table was a touch flashlight (which can be turned on by touching two contacts and closing a circuit), and a geophone. The geophone was custom built by PIM and has adjustable sensitivity. The geophone senses seismic vibrations.
On the 2nd Floor a Sony HDR-CX150 full spectrum camcorder was set up to cover the elevator where an older man was seen dressed in a pair of overalls. An H1 audio recorder was also placed in this area along with an Extech RHT50 datalogger.
On the 1st Floor near Base Camp a Sony HDR-XR200V was placed at the end of the hallway facing The Dragon Fly store along with an H1 audio recorder. Recently there was a claim of a very loud noise coming from this area when nobody was around but the store owner. During set up of this camera it was discovered that when you step on a certain floorboard in the hallway it makes a strange sound almost identical to the sound that the store owner described.
On the 1st Floor near the bathrooms, a Sony HDR-SR5 was set up facing the bathrooms and the hallway a long with an H1 audio recorder.
A Zoom H1 audio recorder was placed on the basement stairs. Another Zoom H1 audio recorder was placed in the Sub-Basement along with an Extech RHT50 datalogger. During the walkthrough, Mike told PIM that a man is sometimes heard near the North/East Wing of the basement scrapping metal. For this reason, an H1 audio recorder was placed in this area so PIM could easily dismiss any audio contamination from the “scrapper”. A Sony DCR-DVD610 video recorder was also placed in this area along with an Extech RHT50 datalogger.
Once all the equipment was set, the team started and time stamped all the equipment in the entire building. Time stamps, from a designated atomic watch, are used as a point of reference and make cross referencing easier during evidence review. They then took a short break before beginning the investigation.
Claims of Activity
- A little girl’s voice and giggles have been heard in the hallways and throughout the building
- Loud crashes and booms have been heard in the unoccupied Attic
- Many people report the presence of a man in the south hallway and some have heard his laughter
- Some have claimed to see the apparition or outline of a woman in a dress that is currently hanging in the Museum
- Many visitors get a dizzy or creeped out feeling in the South/East end of the Museum
- A few patrons of the bar across the street from the Mall have claimed to see shadows or apparitions looking down at them through the windows of the Attic
- A shadow of a person was seen on the North/East wall of the Attic while an investigator was setting up equipment in this area. The investigator claimed that the shadow walked along the wall and disappeared in the doorway
- A couple came to investigate the building recently and caught an EVP saying “get the bitch out of my chair” in the North/East Wing of the Basement
Sub-Basement – 9:07 pm
It was decided that the first EVP session of the night would be held in the Sub-Basement. The Sub-Basement is located in the South/East corner of the building down another flight of stairs from the Basement. The Sub-Basement runs along Franklin Street and street noise could be heard coming from outside.
Everyone took a seat throughout the room making sure the room was well covered. At 9:06 pm Noah asked for five minutes of controlled silence so everyone could get accustomed to the natural sounds of the room. At 9:11 pm the first EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) session began. An EVP session is conducted by asking several questions but leaving a minimum of ten seconds between each question in the event a response is captured on a nearby device. Investigators speak in full voice and tag any abnormal noises they might make or hear during an investigation. Common noises that investigators tag are stomach growls, accidental whispering and shifting or moving noises they might create that could be mistaken as something paranormal during evidence review.
Noah began the first EVP session by asking if anyone would like to come forward and communicate with them. Everyone took turns asking questions and trying hard to communicate and reassure that they were not there to do harm or make anyone leave. No activity was experienced. It was then decided to end the EVP session at 9:27 pm and head to the other side of the Basement to continue the investigation.
END TIME: 9:27 pm
North/East Wing of Basement – 9:33 pm
The second EVP session of the night was held in the North/East wing of the Basement. This is the location where the couple that was investigating recently caught an EVP saying “get the bitch out of my chair”. There were a few chairs scattered around the area so Missy chose the one that she thought was the one Mike had said was the chair the woman was sitting. There was also a set of stairs going down to where a large furnace is and also where the “scrapper” is heard on occasion. Andy chose to sit at the bottom of those stairs while Tony sat at the top of them. Missy, Noah, Gravy, and Denys sat in the middle of the area in some chairs that were already there.
At 9:35 pm Noah asked for controlled silence. During this time some noises and pops were heard in the lower part of the Basement where the furnace is located. Andy walked toward the furnace and found that there was a fan that was on and turned it off. He decided to stay in this area for the duration of this EVP session. Tony moved to the bottom of the stairs where Andy was originally sitting, Noah moved to the top of the stairs and Gravy moved his chair back a little bit. Missy and Denys stayed where they were.
Once everyone was settled they began an EVP at 9:40 pm. They asked which chair was the one that the entity considered his but there was no response. After many questions Missy heard what she thought sounded like three rapid taps at 9:47 pm. Missy asked for three more taps but none were heard. At 9:56 pm Tony asked for someone to press a key on any piano in the building. Upon evidence review no piano was heard being played throughout the building. It was then decided at 10:00 pm to end the EVP session and head up to the 2nd Floor.
END TIME: 10:00 pm
2nd Floor Retail Area – 10:09 pm
Once upstairs Tony grabbed a seat near the elevator where the old man was seen. Missy sat near the landing of the stairs, Denys sat at the top of the stairs, Gravy sat in the hallway by the train store where all the candy machines are located, Andy sat in the middle of all the retail stores and Noah sat near the Museum entrance.
Before beginning an EVP session Noah called down to Mike and asked him if there was any way to turn off the fan that was making a very large amount of noise in this area. He came upstairs and helped get it turned off. At 10:18 pm the fan was finally turned off and it became very quiet.
At this time they began the next EVP session. Although they made many attempts to communicate there was no activity. It was then decided at 10:29 pm to end this session and move over to the Museum which is also located on the 2nd Floor.
END TIME: 10:29 pm
2nd Floor Museum – 10:32 pm
Once everyone was in the Museum and had spread themselves out around the room Noah did a sweep with his oscilloscope. This devise is a single-axis EMF sensor that is connected to an oscilloscope which can determine the frequency of EMF fields. Man-made EMF will be at 60 Hz so that or any harmonics of 60 Hz (120, 180, 240, etc.) can be ignored as this is normal. He noted that the Museum had an EMF field of 316 Hz. Earlier in the night while Missy was doing her baseline readings she found that the EMF readings were very high and seem to get higher the closer you walk toward the East (the side where the river is located). This is the only location in the building where the EMF readings were that high.
At 10:35 pm they began the next EVP session. After asking some questions Tony decided to try to play a game. Tony asked if there were any kids in the room if they could run down the hallway to where Noah was sitting. Andy was sitting at the other end of the hallway from Noah so Tony asked them to start by Andy and run to Noah. Noah said he would put his hand out and the first child to get to him should touch his hand. After a few seconds Noah felt a tingle in his hand. Tony then asked for the kids to turn around and run back to Andy. Andy did as Noah did and put his hand out for the kids to touch. This time Andy did not feel any sensation on his hand. After this experiment it was decide to move up to the Attic to continue the next EVP session.
END TIME: 10:51 pm
North/East Wing of Attic – 11:03 pm
While the Team was walking toward the North/East Wing of the Attic Gravy noticed a shadow along the same wall that Mike had said the claim of seeing a shadow had been. Gravy had Tony back up from where he was walking and start walking again. It looked like a full size human walking along the wall and obviously the shadow disappeared in the door way where there is no wall for his shadow to reflect upon. It is PIM’s belief that it is likely this is what people see when they claim to see an apparition or shadow in this area.
The team then situated themselves around the Attic for an EVP session. It was noted there was a lot of animal noises coming from the rafters and walls. Other than the animal noises and the sound of the river no other noises were heard and no other activity happened during the EVP session. It was decided to take a quick break and continue the investigation in the Basement.
END TIME: 11:16 pm
North/East Wing of Basement – 11:47 pm
Again the team spread themselves out throughout the Basement with Missy, Denys and Noah sitting in the chairs and Gravy, Tony and Andy sitting near the stairs. They decided to try some mild provoking this time but it did not stir up any activity. Since there wasn’t any activity and it was growing closer to when the team would have to start packing up the group decided to end the session and try investigating the Attic one last time.
END TIME: 12:00 am
North/West Wing of Attic – 12:11 am
This time the team decided to try the North/West Wing of the Attic. There are a lot of unique items stored in this area of the Attic. There is a theory that entities can be attached to certain items. During this EVP session the team tried to see if there was any attachment to any of the items. They asked many questions about the items but no activity occurred. The group decided to end the investigation and start packing up.
END TIME: 12:30 am
The claims of activity at the Conover Square Mall were very interesting. It was great to be able to investigate directly the claims of activity that have been reported over the years. This is a place that PIM has been looking to investigate for a long time. Though none of the activity was captured via equipment the night of the investigation, it is the professional opinion of PIM that further research would need to be conducted before any conclusion could be made about the paranormal activity at the mall.
PIM would like to thank Mike Grasso for opening up the mall to us. It was a fantastic experience and we hope to return some day to continue our research.