Student-run T.V. show, Appalachian Ghost Hunt take on Old Cannon Hospita
By: Katie Murawski, Haley Brown
Behind the walls of the Old Cannon Memorial Hospital in Banner Elk, there has been much debate and controversy over what, if anything, still resides in the condemned, asbestos-ridden hallways and rooms.The abandoned hospital is the spot where no matter how many ‘No Trespassing’ signs are visible, how many arrest reports filed or how many exposed needles, hanging wires people return in droves to try to catch a glimpse of the alleged paranormal activity. For a student at Appalachian State University, this hospital is the perfect spot to set up camp on March 25 for almost 12 hours, document and make a film out of.
William Butland is a senior communications, elect media broadcasting major at App State and decided to make a short film about the experience. Butland with the help of his co-producer Blair McCuiston, senior communication, elect broadcasting major, they organized this trip for the school television station, App T.V. Planning the event took three weeks and costs $1,000.00 to film on location. The property owner, Olin Wooten allowed Butland and McCuiston to take a group of 10 people, mostly crew members from App TV.
“We organized a little motley crew and even more stragglers, were like, ‘can we still come?’” McCuiston said.
They call the program Appalachian Ghost Hunt and plans to do hunt a different location every few week. Butland has his eyes set on documenting the oddities that surround App State’s East Hall dormitory, an alleged haunted spot on campus.
“I really want to produce some sort of short film through the University that we can take to a major film festival,” Butland said. “My ultimate dream is to go to the Sundance Film Festival, as I spent two years volunteering there where I got to be the actor’s liaison and got to hang out and escort some pretty big stars.”
Butland said doing that gave him the passion and desire to be the one who was being catered to with a film in competition. The idea came to Butland while watching the Travel Channel’s show “Ghost Adventurers.”
The abandoned hospital has had its fair share of the limelight, as it has appeared in an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Asylum.”
In the episode of “Ghost Asylum,” the crew investigates Room 426, which is rumored to be haunted. The Appalachian Ghost Hunt crew decided to check it out for themselves. Morgan Burns, junior apparel design and merchandising major and McCuiston were among some of the people who investigated the room. The crew went up to the room once at twilight and once at midnight. Both times, the crew said they experienced paranormal phenomenon.
“First, we noticed the temperature changed,” McCuiston said.
Burns said the base line temperature was 10 degrees Celsius, but in the corner of the room, the temperature increased to 17 degrees Celsius.
“We did not know what to make of it, I wrote it off actually and said, ‘Oh well that is an exterior facing wall on the south-facing side of the building, which got sunlight all day,’” Burns said. “Until I saw an 8 foot tall humanoid figure appear behind Brandon in the corner.”
The crew returned to the room at midnight and had a more violent experience. Burns said the next time they were there, they stayed in the room for about an hour. During that time, a piece of porcelain from a broken toilet was thrown against the wall, Burns said he felt something grab his ankles. McCuiston was sitting catty-cornered to a set of lockers that were wide open upon entering the room. After Burns exclaiming that something touched his ankles, McCuiston said one of the locker doors slammed violently shut. After that, the crew left the room and did not return.
“We got what we came here for,” Burns said. “It was fun, like the running from police kind of fun; it’s terrifying because you don’t know what the consequences will be but you’re enjoying it while it’s happening.”
Mark Matire, the executive producer of the show is from Palm Beach County, Florida, and had worked with Butland on other films previously. Matire said he heard about the hospital two years ago. He said he loved the area and wanted to get involved.
“It was definitely worth it, the scariest part of the night for me was when it was getting dark in the beginning,” Matire said.
Matire believes in the paranormal and claims to have seen a ghost before. “I actually had a dream about my past when we started talking about this project,” Matire said. “The next day he sent over the information and explained what it was about I had to fly up here and be a part of it.”