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  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Two headstones marked Blood stand near the entrance to Pine Hill Cemetery in Hollis, Tuesday afternoon. The Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, which just opened its first branch office in Hollis, has begun exploring the cemetery for ghosts and other strange phenomena.


  • Courtesy photo. Chris Bashaw, co-founder of the Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, leads a tour Monday of sites in Providence, R.I. that legend says are haunted. The academy just opened its first branch office in Hollis with plans to launch ghost tours in Nashua and Hollis.

  • Courtesy photo. Rick Wilmott, co-founder of the Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, leads a tour Monday of sites in Providence, R.I. that legend says are haunted. The academy just opened its first branch office in Hollis with plans to launch ghost tours in Nashua and Hollis.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    The sign in front of Pine Hill Cemetery, Tuesday afternoon. The Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, which just opened its first branch office in Hollis, has begun exploring the cemetery for ghosts and other strange phenomena.


  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Headstones stand in a row, Tuesday afternoon in Pine Hill Cemetary. The Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, which just opened its first branch office in Hollis, has begun exploring the cemetery for ghosts and other strange phenomena.


  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Headstones stand in a row, Tuesday afternoon in Pine Hill Cemetery. The Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, which just opened its first branch office in Hollis, has begun exploring the cemetery for ghosts and other strange phenomena.


  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Headstones stand in a row, Tuesday afternoon in Pine Hill Cemetery. The Rhode Island Paranormal Academy, which just opened its first branch office in Hollis, has begun exploring the cemetery for ghosts and other strange phenomena.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Paranormal school founders expand

Whether it’s the heavy hand of Abel Blood or the ominous thud of footless steps on a lonely road, Chris Bashaw and his partner Rick Wilmott ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

While not ghostbusters per se, the co-founders of the Rhode Island Paranormal Academy – R.I.P. for short – are avid hunters of the things that go bump in the night. And after nearly four years of hosting “ghost tours” in Providence, the group is opening a satellite office in Hollis.

“Both Rick and I are from New Hampshire – I’m from Walpole and he’s from Keene,” Bashaw said. “So it just seemed like a natural fit.”

Currently the branch consists of a home office on Rocky Pond Road. But the team is busy putting together a program that seeks to teach – and maybe debunk – a little local folklore, as well as do some ghost hunting. The idea is to find enough haunts within walking distance of each other to make a nice tour.

Bashaw said that by July, they are hoping to be able to offer workshops and seminars in how they think you can investigate hauntings. The workshops would be four to six hours of teaching and hands-on hunting over the course of three nights for roughly $125.

Students would learn how to research the history of a site, deciphering what is fact and what is legend.

Students would also learn how to use electromagnetic field meters and thermo-imaging equipment. Those devices are used in a number of construction and other fields, but the paranormal community thinks they can detect side effects of ghostly activity – although exactly why a ghostly entity with no physical presence would cause physical effects like perturbations in magnetic fields and changes in localized temperature is unclear.

Bashaw, who said he’s a psychic, also said he thinks all people have the ability to be psychic. A part of the session would involve helping students develop that ability, he said.

Finally, there’s a market, Bashaw said, pointing to the proliferation of ghost hunting and paranormal shows on television. According to a Baylor University and Gallup study in 2006, 37 percent of 1,721 nationwide respondents said they believe places can be haunted.

Bashaw said the R.I.P. team has begun exploring the area for ghosts and other strange phenomena. So far, they’ve tackled the usual suspects: Hollis’ Pine Hill Cemetery – also known as Blood Cemetery – and Indian Rock Road in Nashua.

The Hollis cemetery is host to several dearly departed farming families of the 1800s, including seven with the family name Blood, which was a relatively common name in New England.

Internet rumor has it that there was some sort of massacre at the Blood farm. Hence the haunting, which includes stories of Mary Blood, the matriarch of the clan, showing up in rearview mirrors, a child’s spirit jumping out in front of passing traffic and the ghost of Abel Blood generally loitering about.

Then there’s the most persistent rumor that the engraving of a hand on the headstone of Abel Blood points up during the day, but points down at night.

However, when the R.I.P. team went to investigate this last rumor, they were met with a surprise.

“The stone had been replaced,” Bashaw said.

Bashaw went on to say that since all of the Bloods were buried at different times, according to the dates on the headstones, there likely was no massacre. He also pointed to history, which apparently paints the family with the unfortunate name as perfectly lovely folk.

As for Indian Rock Road, the legends have it that people walking down the road, which opens onto a meadow, can hear footsteps following and feel unexplained cold spots.

Bashaw said that the team’s meters did pick up quite a bit of activity, but that it could have been explained by some overhead power lines.

The hope, Bashaw said, is that as people start to hear about their business, they will suggest new places for the R.I.P. team to investigate.

Hollis Town Administrator Troy Brown said he’s not sure yet how the new business will impact the town and deferred comment to the cemetery trustees. Melinda Willis, chairwoman of the cemetery board, did not return a call for comment.

In the past, the trustees have dampened ghostly claims because of damage caused to Pine Hill Cemetery by over-enthusiastic seekers of spirits. Back in 2003, in fact, Abel Blood’s headstone was stolen and moved to Gilson Cemetery in Nashua.

The Pine Hill Cemetery is off limits to the public after dark, and its notoriety has led Hollis police to install motion-detection equipment to help enforce the ban.

Bashaw asks that anyone with a suggestions e-mail him through the R.I.P. Web site at www.RIPacademy.com.