One of the many places of Prayer in Upstate NY.
Spirit House was a mecca for Spiritualists during the hay day of the Burnt Over District in Central New York when religious exploration and growth were blossoming there and America was undergoing its Second Great Awakening. People from all over the world would flock to Spirit House in Georgetown NY (30 miles 30 Southeast of Syracuse) in the southwest corner of Madison County. That spiritual connection to the divine that drew masses of pilgrims in the nineteenth century still emanates there.
“Build it and they shall come.”
“Mr. Timothy Brown, moved to Georgetown (1855) from Ryegate, Vermont, and purchased a small parcel of land south of the town. Here he built a home for his family…He made no secret of the fact that the structure was to be built under spirit direction.” (Source: “The Spirit House, Georgetown, New York,” (Also referred to as Brown’s Free Hall), compiled by: Georgetown Historical Society, 1991).
As stories go, town residents told me that during construction Mr. Brown would be chiseling wood and at times would be redirected to apply his chisel in a more proper manner, or angle. The house is of such intricate and ornate design that some have described it as looking like a Wedding Cake.
The Georgetown Historical Society’s report on Spirit House notes how surprised town residents where that Mr. Brown was even able to construct a house, let alone one of such intricate design;
“The entire community knew that Tim Brown was no carpenter, but in about 10 years time, after declaring his intent to build—the house was completed. The timbers came from local forests and he worked along with uncanny accuracy. With dogged determination he struggled on until he at last completed the frame. He engaged the assistance of a master carpenter for the raising of the frame. The carpenter surprised those who had been skeptical about Brown’s workmanship when he told them that it was the best frame he had ever seen.”
“With the completion of the house, members of the spiritualist sect from far and near came to “Brown’s Hall” in Georgetown. More space was needed for meetings, so in 1874 Brown bought a vacant Presbyterian church…” (ibid pages 2-3).
Alice Cossitt lived in Spirit House for decades until she passed away in 1989. The home has not been lived in since, nor adequately maintained. It is registered as a national historic site. It is rumored that the next owner (Mrs. Valerie Wilson) would not sell the house until she passed away. Upon her death her estate put the house up for sale in 2009.
Spiritualism began with the Fox sisters in Hydesville NY (30 miles east of Rochester, NY) in 1848 when they said they heard mysterious rapping’s and claimed that they had communicated with a dead peddler. Forty years later they would admit that the rapping’s were created by snapping their toes and that they had never communicated with any spirit. In the interim spiritualism and spiritualists grew by leaps and bounds and continued so even long after the Fox sister’s confession of their fraud.
Spiritualism was predicated on the belief that people, or mediums, could communicate directly with spirits, angels and God. Séances would be held during which a medium would attempt to contact a spirit on the other side.
The idea that people could communicate with the recently deceased drew lots of interest from people grieving lost loved ones. This appeal to people at a time of vulnerability made the movement susceptible to fraud. It was the suspicion of fraud by a visiting medium that drew the residents of Georgetown’s ire and closed down Brown’s Hall.
Spiritualism is part of the many spiritual movements that were born in the Burnt Over District in upstate NY. All of which had a large role in shaping and influencing America’s religions. Instead of focusing on the specific religions or movements born here, such as Mormonism, Seven Day Adventists, Evangelicalism or the New Age movement, we should instead look at the incredible transformative power of the area. People did not “settle” for their religious heritage, but rather looked to improve and expand upon them.
That opportunity to expand and explore consciousness still exists today at Brown’s Hall and other places in the Burnt Over District.
Experiencing Spirit House
Spirit House affords the pilgrim a great opportunity to commune with spirit, whether you call it God or your higher self. The good intentions of people that have visited there seeking God have helped built a strong foundation for this. The abundance of ley lines, or lines of consciousness, is a testament of this ability to communicate.
Unfortunately, many have come to Brown’s Hall for purposes other than connecting with God. Those intentions, albeit it minute, linger there as well. The Pilgrim should be aware of this and realize that spiritually powerful places increase our perceptual abilities. In other words what may give you concern at Brown’s Hall is not much different from other places you know; only at Brown’s Hall you will be more aware of it because of your heightened senses and awareness. For example, at one place I experienced a feeling of being spooked or boo-ed by someone. No doubt this sense came from the many visitors, or gawk-ers, who have visited spirit house and have created such a Samskara by looking for such a thrill.
Be aware that Spirit House sits on private property. Please do not park your car in the lot of the church next door. Spirit house is located 600 feet south of the intersection of Rte’s 26 &80.
Also be aware that the backyard area, particularly near the stand of trees closest to the house, is so highly charged that my hair stood on end while I was there. Such an experience can startle you if you are not used to it. Just ask for God, light and love and you will not be disappointed.
Wow (added 2010)
Spirit House is one of the most powerful places that I have found in Mother Earth’s soul. There are numerous stacked fields of consciousness throughout the property. There is a stacked(12) field of consciousness, where 12 fields are placed upon each other; I have found only a few places that have such a high number.
The imprint of prayer and positive intention can be felt on the grounds. There are a least 4 natural vortices of cosmic prana in the back woods. A vortex forms from repeated prayer or healing and is a very positive sign and feature of a space. There is also several what I call, Chimayo Fatima, places where the veil to the other side has thinned. This opens up the possibility for connection to divine beings such as angels. I call it Chimayo Fatima, after Chimayo in New Mexico a place of miraculous healings and Fatima, Portugal saw apparitions of Mother Mary. When we pray and mediate for long periods at a sacred space the veil to the other side begins to open up.
Don’t bother with the area around the house. Spend time in the woods behind the house.—it is a spiritual delight. Enter from the churches parking lot. The section about 20-30 feet south and 10 feet east is where the stacked field of 12 can be found and there are vortices on either side. Very, very nice. Meditating or spending time in a natural vortex is very healing and consciousness raising. You are getting an extra dose from the increased energy being pulled in by the vortex and you are also connecting with the field and higher consciousness of those that helped create the vortex.
The unfortunate thing is that this woods area is not maintained and contains weeds, thorned bushes, prickers and more. So you have to be dressed accordingly. A few years ago when we first discovered Spirit House the woods area was better maintained.
At a minimum I would recommend a contemplative walk in the woods; there is an overgrown, but manageable path. If you meditate, look to enhance your draw of essences by focusing on any sensation that comes to your body. This focus will give strength to what you are drawing in and being given by Mother Earth, thereby increasing your gift.
I strongly advice not to go there wanting to, or asking to, see angels or divine beings. Go with an honest and open heart, let your thoughts be pure and genuine, not seeking some reward or demand. If you are hurting, let it show. Just be honest. This will greatly increase your chances of being taken under someone’s wing.
Spirit House continues to attract the curious. In 2005 a film crew from England working on a Mae West documentary was there with a medium looking to contact the ghost of Mae West. Unfortunately, it is thrill seekers and gawkers like this that reduces Spirit Houses divine possibilities. As the bible says, “seek and ye shall find”—this becomes magnified at a sacred site such as Spirit House.
Visit and pray at spirit house. If you cannot visit keep it in your prayers and good thoughts.
Spirit House was inducted into the National Registry of Historic sites in 2006. When inducted NYS Preservation dept. described it as "eclectic' and like nothing else in the state.
Update: Spirit House was put up for sale in 2009 and has not sold. So please check the internet and other records to verify it has not sold and is still available to visit. Please consider joining our effort to restore Spirit House the Spirit House Society.
Make sure to stop by Muller Hill’s Enchanted Forest only a few miles away.
Special thanks to Estelle Evans for sharing her many memories of Spirit House and Alice Cossitt. Thanks also to Debbie Slocum.
Brown’s Hall is a national treasure. Your prayers and good intentions will help make it the shining jewel that it should and can be.
God Bless and Praise Allah,
PS--From Robert W. Skellan. [T]he "small parcel of land south of town" was where Timothy Brown built his first house, not the Spirit House. His first house still stands a mile or so south on Rt 80 on the same side of the road. It can be identified by the ball/icicle trim (painted red) around the eaves.