The Haunted Rush-Gates House
On a corner lot along Front Street in Forrest City stands a lovely older blue-gray home, overlooking the nearby railroad tracks that once played a significant part in the town's economy. In 1906, the structure was built as the home of Dr. J.O. Rush and his family. The choice of the location of the house was a strategic decision by Rush, who served as a physician and surgeon for the railroads and felt it would be sensible to build the home near the tracks. Day and night, the home was filled with the maimed and injured, especially those involved in railroading accidents. In the decades to come, many would claim seeing strange movement through the darkened windows. Some local residents claimed that those who were brought to Dr. Rush's office for medical attention haunted the house. After Dr. Rush's death in 1961, the house stayed in the family until 1995. Over the years, Arkansas urban legends about the house continued to grow, as stories of weird occurrences and shadowy figures in the windows continued to flourish.
After extensive renovation, the Rush-Gates House opened in 1998 as the home of the St. Francis County Museum, dedicated to sharing the history of the county through exhibits, artifacts and photographs. Shelley Gervasi, the museum's curator, is hesitant to make assumptions but she will admit to odd things happening in the century-old house. "Things disappear…a lot," says Gervasi. "You'll put something down and within minutes, it will be gone. Virtually every staff member has had incidents happen that are unexplainable."
It was those unexplainable incidents for which Arkansas legends about the Rush house was known that led to the formation of a group dedicated to investigating the paranormal. Paranormal Research in Unknown Phenomenon was established in January 2008 and uses the Rush-Gates House as a training facility. Several of the founding members had worked with other paranormal organizations, such as Arkansas Paranormal and Anomalous Studies Team, in studying the Gates-Rush House before forming their own group. The organization's mission is to find unmitigated proof – whatever the outcome. They use state-of-the-art equipment, such as electronic voice phenomenon and electromagnetic field meters, in their on-going quest for answers.
The St. Francis County Museum now offers A Night at the Museum program at various times throughout the year, including Halloween. Guests come to the museum and spend several hours inside the house alongside members of the paranormal investigative team. The event starts with a history of the Rush-Gates House and museum staff share stories of strange occurrences they've experienced. Tour participants hear a series of electronic voice phenomenon that were previously recorded in the house and, following a quick overview of the equipment that will be used, the visitors watch and participate as team members collect data. Before the guests leave, the investigation team scans the audio recordings that were made throughout the evening and allow participants to hear any easily recognized vocal recordings (not requiring computer enhancement) that were captured.
Museum tours are available year round. Large groups can be accommodated by calling ahead. There are also several special events during the year, including some over "lock ins" and paranormal studies.
The Rush-Gates House
603 Front Street
Forrest City, AR 72336
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