'Haunted Collector' John Zaffis eyes former Adams funeral home for haunted museum
Photo Gallery | Former McBride Funeral Home considered for haunted museum
ADAMS - After reviewing hundreds of potential sites, a renowned paranormal specialist and investigator may have found the perfect place to display his haunted wares: A funeral home.
John Zaffis, who hosted the cable TV show "Haunted Collector," has set his sights on a vacant building that once housed McBride Funeral Home to establish a paranormal museum and research facility.
"Over the course of years I've collected quite a few items," Zaffis said Wednesday from his Connecticut home. "They're out in my barn now, but I always thought it would be fun to have people see the items and hear the stories about how they are connected to hauntings."
Zaffis, 58, stressed that plans are still fluid, and that he hasn't put in an offer on the property yet.
The Liberty Street building, which has been vacant for more than 10 years, is listed for sale at $79,900.
Zaffis said he likes the unique structure because it could meet his unique needs. He is currently evaluating the building for structural integrity and what improvements might be needed to meet state building codes.
On Tuesday, Zaffis was granted a zoning variance on the property by the Adams Zoning Board of Appeals, changing it from residential to commercial.
"This [zoning change] is just the first baby step in trying to get this project accomplished," he said.
Zaffis lectures on the paranormal and has investigated paranormal activity at "a tremendous number of homes and businesses," he said. In 1998, he established the Paranormal and Demonology Research Society of New England. His TV show, "Haunted Collector," ran from 2011 to 2013 on the cable TV channel SyFy.
"I like Adams," Zaffis said. "It's a small town, and the building is in a location where it doesn't disturb any residential areas."
He noted that it is surrounded by businesses and schools, and said his operating hours would be at the end of the week — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — from about 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. by appointment, so it wouldn't be likely to disrupt local traffic.
The concept, he said, is to exhibit a portion of his collection on a rotating basis so that over time, a person could visit the museum and see completely different sets of paranormal-connected artifacts.
Zaffis noted that some of the things he is looking at exhibiting include "a huge number of dolls from a number of cases, a haunted piano, haunted organ, statues, religious items, occult items, clothing, haunted books, a sewing machine, a haunted telephone, and a huge collection of haunted mirrors — they hold onto energy, they hold onto spirits."
He said he still enjoys lecturing on the paranormal and visiting haunted sites.
"To me, the key factor is that people have such a great interest in the paranormal today," he said. "And I enjoy it because I love interacting with people."
He said the structure is actually two buildings. Some time ago, the original funeral home was connected to a former parsonage next door. The funeral home would serve as the museum, the first floor of the parsonage would serve as a lecture hall and small gift shop. The three-room apartment on the second level could serve as his residential space while he is in town.
News of Zaffis' interest in the former funeral home has spread quickly on the Web.
"We have been inundated with emails and phone calls," according to Mark Tetlow, CEO of Ideal Event Management and a Zaffis associate He said there have been in excess of 200 phone calls and 2,000 emails, along with a number of queries on Facebook.
"I have not been able to keep up with it all," Zaffis said. "But it's all been very positive — people wanting to come to visit the museum, with a number of them from the U.K."
Tetlow said it will take "a number of months" to evaluate the property and perform due diligence.
"He (Zaffis) likes the Berkshires, he likes Adams, but we just have to make sure it works," Tetlow said. "He likes the building a lot, but we've looked at about 300 sites over the last few years. So we don't want to get anyone's hopes up. This may not happen."
But if the deal works out, both men anticipate a significant increase in tourism as a result of a museum of the paranormal based in Adams.
"There will definitely be an increase in tourism, and when they're here, many of them will want to spend the weekend and check out what the Berkshires has to offer," Tetlow said.
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