This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with some great Oklahomans that truly care about history, preservation and the beauty and renovation of our endangered historic places. Recently, two properties in El Reno Oklahoma were purchased that were once listed as “endangered”
according to the National Historic Register. I came in contact with the new building owners as I was looking for the next location to hold psychological trials at. Upon meeting them and getting a tour of the buildings and learning about the history I realized they were in need of help. The buildings have sat dormant since the late 90′sand remnants of two antique malls still in sight. There was a lot of garbage to be taken out and a lot of cleaning to do at these two historically significant locations. After getting to know the new owners I did offer to help them get things hauled out and cleaned up so renovation efforts can begin. Tackling historical buildings and preserving them is very costly and trust me, it is from the heart.Not everyone cares about “old places” but the people in my circle of friends and even “paranormal affiliates” do care. They care about the history, both haunting and not so haunting. They care about the architecture and they care about the beauty and charm within the older properties that news structures are lacking. Even if it’s covered in pigeon poop, it is still beautiful.
We set a date with the owners and I started to recruit volunteers for the clean up. I was expecting a lot of “ghost hunters” to step in, bring their teams and roll up their sleeves just to be able to enter a building that parts of it have been untouched since the late 1940′s. I didn’t get the feed back as I expected but some of Oklahomas best did show up to help out.
We had some of Oklahomas more renowned experts attend the clean up. Cullan Hudson- Oklahoma Blogger & author of “Strange State” stepped in to help clean up. Speaking with Cullan about why he showed up to sweat it out and do a lot of manual labor on aSaturday afternoon, he told me that he just loves the history and the historic buildings. He stated it was not so much about ghost stories, but it was being able to have the structures preserved for future generations.
My first time meeting one of the team members from AbandonedOK , Billy Dixon showed up to represent the team.
Being an Urban Explorer myself I was thrilled to meet up with them and also learn more about the AbandonedOK team and what they stand for. I could only wish that paranormal teams in Oklahoma shared the same passion as they do. Being a photographer myself, I am always thrilled to meet up with other people that see the absolute beauty in sometimes pikes of rubble and historical destruction. He worked very hard and had a chance to explore the building and take some wonderful photos to share with fellow Urban Explorers.
Joe Hanson of the ESP Team, based out of Oklahoma came to represent and help with the clean up. Being a fairly new team within the state, Joe discussed the importance of giving back to the places that we investigate as paranormal researchers. He was curious as to why there were not more investigative teams helping
out and he stated several times that he felt like a kid in a candy store. The buildings are massive and the clean up has just started but he felt it was his duty to come and give back to the historic community.
Some members of my team GHOULI came to work and we also brought volunteer teenagers along to help out. Getting teens involved with community service and understanding the importance of saving our
historical buildings is very important. The kids had fun and after talking with them they had several reasons as to why they enjoyed the clean up. They enjoyed digging through the old items, finding old yearbooks and photographs. The coolest thing they said was just being able to be in old buildings that have a history to them. I want to thank my team members and their teens that sacrificed their Saturday to come help out with this massive project. We had people that live in the area show up to help out because they love their town and want to see it prosper. The building owners, Linda & Paul were more than happy to have the help. It’s just two of them against a lot of square footage. We filled up a 40 foot dumpster in about 3 hours. Swept floors and filled up countless bags of rubble and garbage. I do wish more people in the paranormal field attended this clean up. I am hopeful they will either find a place of their own to volunteer with or assist with the next clean up date. We all had a great time and it was nice to be able to meet some of Oklahomas nicest people in the paranormal field while being able to do something good for others.
I do challenge all of my readers to keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities such as this one. Preserving our historical buildings is hard enough and most property owners would welcome a group of organized and energized people to help them out. I want to give special thanks to my team members and the teenagers that came and worked diligently on their projects. I want to thank Cullan Hudson of “Strange Stage” for his hard work and his passion for history. AbandonedOK, I am looking forward to working with them more within the state and helping people see the beauty in our forgotten places. I would like to thank Joe of the ESP team for showing up and expecting nothing in return as a paranormal investigator.
I am looking forward to the Fall months this year and of course Halloween. As most people say in this field, “It’s the busy time of year”, it is true. I will be speaking at the Belle Isle Library October 2nd come and say hi! If you visit www.ghouli.org there are a couple of October events taking place but they fill up fast.
(Photos courtesy of Billy Dixon/AbandonedOK.com)
Tonya J. Hacker- aka Paranormal Eyes