Ghost Excavation: The Knickerbocker Experience and Expanding the Ordinary

The Knickerbocker Hotel

The “Knick”:  Expanding the Ordinary

The everyday is haunted by what use to be part of it, and the ghostly becomes an association to (and interaction with) repetitive, unchanging routines, not “paranormal” events.  This is a wider perception and understanding of space as deeply historical, already inhabited by the past, and living, not dead.  The ghost is no longer a source for possible knowledge of the “afterlife”, as the everyday at the hotel becomes a “life” with ghosts.

The Knick is a concrete example of continually evolving scenes of haunting scenarios that remind us of the presence of the past.  Its rooms, through their décor, antiques, and historical records haunt us and link us to multiple presences through a commonality of normal (not paranormal) experiences.  The “hotel” itself is a culturally-hybrid space of physical remains attached to particular memories of past acts, behaviors, and events.

Here, we (as investigators) can exist as ourselves and as “ghosts” of ourselves through our remembrance of experiences from our past.  We can use these particular memories to form an empathetic link (as we perform contextual scenarios) with those of the “ghosts” of the hotel.  This link, forming a “field” of common and mutual experience, helps us to “unearth” these past presences in particular spaces and rooms in the “hotel”.

As a fieldwork experience, this is working with what remains, what presently exists as “triggers” and who is left from the past at The Knick.  Our “ghost excavation” is a performance-based and personally-experienced, not instrument-based, exploration of the “ruins” of past occupations at the hotel.  The recording and documentation is achieved through this commonality of experience between present and past that creates a future manifestation, one that is not initiated by a “demand and command” mentality (“Show us a sign”!…”Do something”!) or the issuance of irrelevant questions (“Is anyone here with us”?), characteristic of a typical “ghost hunt”.

The Knickerbocker Hotel becomes (is), in a ghost excavation, a laboratory for a controlled and contextual documentation (through auditory means) of an acoustemology of presence, a specific way of knowing about what (and who) remains from the hotel’s history.  This is a humanistic (and therapeutic) approach to ghost research.  This personal attitude and approach to fieldwork enables The Knick to evolve into a prime location as an academic center for learning about the past and its individual histories of “afterlife consciousness”.

As Rev. (and PhD) Louis Richard Batzler (former president of The Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc.) has said:

“Ghosts can help to affirm the indestructible and worth of persons.  Seeking to understand ghosts can provide insights and approaches to truth.  Life visible needs life invisible for life to be indivisible and whole”.


Click “here” to listen to an example of  EOCs (EVPs).  More to follow…


Group Photo in Period Ensembles

   Group photo of the investigators readying to portray characters that have manifested in the hotel.  Some of the names are included with the investigator – from left  to right:  James McCann (George Jensen, newspaper reporter); Mary Becker (Miss Jennie, meeting her salesman husband and listen to the opera); Margaret Byl (Miss Margaret, guest and irritated with the opera singer “Stella”); Bert Richards; James Castle (aka, Eugene); Guy Fazio (military soldier); Mari Chastain (Stella and opera singer)

John Sabol - Scenario

  John Sabol gaining permission to enter one of the children’s rooms as the interactive past

presence of a child’s voice was heard to be upset after being sent to bed.

Bert Richards During a Scenarion

This photo is relevant to an EOC we were recording via audio and

further documented by those viewing via the live u-stream cameras. (Investigator Bert Richards)

  Setting up a scenario in the family’s living quarters. (Investigators, left to

right:  John Sabol, Shian Gordon, James Castle, James McCann)

Mari Chastain and James McCann During a Scenario

  An impromptu scenario in one of the children’s rooms. (Investigators James McCann and Mari Chastain)

Mari Chastain as opera singer "Stella"

  Stella practices her aria for the evening’s opera event. (Investigator Mari Chastain)

Upper Hall Level

Upper Hall Level where audio of children counting backwards and randomly crying out

numbers that were heard during hide and seek by both investigators and u-streamer viewers.