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The Mystery of Rolling Hills Asylum

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Rochester: The Mystery of Rolling Hills Asylum
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The frights of Halloween may be over, but a location in Genesee County is continuing to haunt visitors. A structure, dating back to the early 1800s, is on a national list of the scariest places.

EAST BETHANY, N.Y. — A location in Genesee county is a popular destination for thrill seekers. This past weekend, about 1,000 flocked to Rolling Hills Asylum, hoping to discover a bit of the unknown.

"We get a lot of people coming and they're jumping out of their skin because they're so nervous," said Sharon Coyle, the owner.

Rolling Hills Asylum stands on 11 acres of in East Bethany. Many believe it's haunted, but what some don't know is that it's rich in history.

"There were thousands and thousands of people who lived here and documented deaths, we have over 1,700 and we don't know how many undocumented deaths,” said Coyle.

Rolling Hills opened back in the early 1800's as a poor house. At that time, it housed orphans, families, the handicapped, and even criminals.

"It was the only home that some of them knew and so they stay here because of that,” said Coyle.

Over the years, parts of the structure burned down. In the 1960s, it was used as Genesee County's nursing home, but when that was moved to Batavia, it sat empty for a decade.

An owner recently purchased the asylum and keeps it open for historical tours as well as ghost hunts.

There's also a museum, but the draw for many is the asylum's eerie past. Visitors say it can get spooky, not just at night, but all hours of the day.

“Doors slamming, people talking to you, whispering in your ear. You'll get goosebumps, your hair stands on end,” said Darcy Pempleton, a volunteer.

Paranormal teams have been able to document unusual activity – anything from sound on tape to orbs of light.

Many say it's an adrenaline rush that keeps people coming back.

"It's everywhere. stairwells, hallways, bathrooms. I mean everywhere,” said Pempleton.

The asylum's owner is working to get Rolling Hills on the historical register of Genesee County. She wants everyone to appreciate not just the scares, but also its extensive history.

"It's important to recognize the history involved,” said Coyle.

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