PALESTINE — East Texas is known for several haunted locations from The Excelsior House in Jefferson to Stagecoach Road in Marshall to Largent Cemetery in Angelina County.

This past Saturday, Haunted Rooms America, which bills itself as “the premier director for haunted accommodation and ghost hunts throughout the United States,” visited the Museum for East Texas Culture in Palestine to investigate its paranormal activity.

Roughly 50 people were on hand for the spooky event from 7 p.m. to midnight. The evening started with some history about the museum and some of its pieces. It also included the back story on the hauntings and how to use various pieces of paranormal equipment.

Originally a school, Fort Worth architects Sanguinet and Staats designed the Tudor-Gothic style elaborate brick building with two stories and positioned it on a raised basement.

The school opened in 1916 and closed in 1976. After renovations, the building opened as a museum in 1982 for the first weekend of the Dogwood Trails Celebration.

“The Museum for East Texas Culture is such a unique building — it’s stunning, it’s full of energy having been a school, and it houses thousands of historical artifacts, some of which are more than 150 years old. From past investigations, it never disappoints. It’s one of our most favorite places to investigate, for sure,” Haunted Rooms America owner Wesley McDermott said.

Following the history lesson, people broke into small groups to conduct paranormal investigations using state-of-the-art equipment.

When asked what he thought drew people to these sorts of events, McDermott was quick to respond.

“It is the thrill of it all,” he said. “These locations are old. They are haunted, and people just do not know what is going to happen — not even our experienced investigators.”

Attendee Rachel Gill, who drove from Houston for the event, echoed that statement.

“I was intrigued by the history, mystery and excitement of not knowing what to expect,” Gill said. “It was also pretty cool to see how the paranormal equipment worked and to be able to use it myself.”

McDermott said he hopes people walk away from the experience with more than just a “ghost” story.

“A successful night for us is if our guests leave with questions rather than answers. We want you to have a fun night, and we want to share our passion for these historic locations that we respect so much,” he said.

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