POWNAL -- Stories about nervous dogs, unexplained burglar alarms, and unaccounted-for shadows have been circulating around the Pownal View Barn for many years, prompting teams of "ghost hunters" to ask the owners if they can stay overnight with surveillance equipment.
On the last day of June, a team from Afterlife Hauntings, a "paranormal investigation group," based largely in North Adams, Mass., spent the night in the barn running video and audio equipment. On Monday they presented their findings to Howard Armstrong, who runs the business owned by his father, John Armstrong Jr.
Nearly 50 hours of video were shot. The group showed Howard Armstrong and a few gathered friends footage of a shadow, the source of which could not be accounted for, but most of what they recorded of note came in the form of audio.
Shaun Richard, the team's leader, said some of the audio recordings are not clear, but there were was one instance where a voice is unmistakably saying something.
In the attic, the team recorded someone saying, "Jessica," which appeared to unnerve Jessica Dewey, who worked at the barn for a number of years and was at the presentation.
There were several occasions while working at the Pownal View Barn where Dewey would have to go into the attic. Once she saw someone up there, looking at her.
"I think it's so interesting," she said after hearing her name spoken by the unidentified voice. "When Howard told me about it, I couldn't wait to see it."
She said before she had always told herself what she would see and hear in the attic was all in her head, and she would make her trips there infrequent and quick. She said it's nice to have something that supports her experiences.
"That was the last thing I expected to hear," she said.
Richard said he and his team only recorded noises and shadows in the attic and basement. They found nothing of note in the showroom, which was consistent with the interviews they had done with the Armstrongs beforehand. He said the attic is a far more unsettling place to be than the basement, and they believe that on one of their recordings something can be heard using an expletive to address team member Chris Horsfall.
"We've had some problems where for no apparent reason, the alarm goes off. Nobody can tell us why," said John Armstrong in a video recording the team did.
Richard has produced most of a 10 minute video about the Pownal View Barn that will be posted to the group's Facebook page and Youtube channel sometime this week. It includes the interview with the elder Armstrong, and his son.
"I know my father, he owns the store, he's an older gentleman, and they don't (B.S.)," said Howard Armstrong on Monday.
John Armstrong had told the team that he had never experienced anything paranormal in the barn, but then talked about the burglar alarm issues and the fact that dogs would refuse to enter parts of the building during certain hours, or become upset.
"What's really strange is it's always between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.," said Howard Armstrong.
Armstrong said a group similar to Afterlife Hauntings approached him some time ago after hearing about people's experiences in the barn, so he let them spend the night there and record. They never followed through with presenting their findings, but they were how Richard and the others heard about the barn.
Richard described himself as a skeptic and said he has been doing these investigations for roughly six years. They do not charge, but there has been talk of possibly making some investigations into events where people can tag along for a fee and the profit will be split with the host while the rest will cover the cost of the many batteries the group goes through in one night.
The Pownal View Barn was built sometime in the 1800s and originally housed sheep. For the past 54 or so years the Armstrongs have sold high-quality furniture there. It's located on Route 7.