PRS had moved into its new offices with the idea to dedicate one of the many rooms as a “lab” for spirit communication and research. This is how the idea for the séance room began with hopes of presenting it for the October 2-3, 2010 Open House. About a week was given to put an entire room together that would be a workable séance room. Eilfie Music and Whitney Smith worked late into the nights painting, stapling, and piecing together the room with items found in the PRS storage and from Eilfie’s house. The room turned out to be a success and would be included in the future in things such as Open Houses and local events.
The design of the séance room is based off of descriptions and testimonies from various paranormal journals such as SPR (Society for Psychical Research) and history books describing the Victorian séance room. From what we could gather, we knew that the room had have little to no light when closed and as sound proof as possible without making it uncomfortable for people. PRS also wanted it to have a Victorian feel since that was the era when séances were at their peak.
Several layers of dark red paint were used to both give it that old parlor look and to cut down on light. To fix both the white ceiling problem and the florescent light, black cloth was pulled from the storage room and tacked to the ceiling, which also help to cut down on the echo sound. To create the spirit cabinet, Eilfie and Whitney used the alternative method of putting up a curtain to section off a corner of the room instead of dragging a large wooden cabinet in that could hold a person. One of the trickiest parts to the séance room was the wooden floor since the carpeting would not work well for table tipping; neither would a large throw rug. Two thin sheets of wood were brought in, stained, and fastened to the floor. Once the main parts were put into place, the decorations were added to help set the mood of the room.
The séance room is one piece of the library and the Spirituality and Occult Research branch of PRS. The room covers a wide variety of functions for the organization and, even though it is one of the earliest additions, it has already proven to be a great add to the library. This room shows that PRS does not want to simply read about the history of spiritualism as well as the early pioneers of the paranormal, but also try to recreate it and have a better understanding of the time. It is rare for a group to have a permanent room that can be dedicated not only to reenactments but also to actual attempts in spirit communication in an environment that can be built up over time with little constraints.
PRS hopes to use this room as an educational tool as well for both investigators and guests. With the séance room, PRS can visually show how methods of investigation are used from history and modern day. Though the PRS office so far has no history of being haunted or any deaths, this brings up the question of whether a séance needs to be held in a haunted location to guarantee success?
PRS will continue to build on the room both esthetically and also with new ideas to further utilize it in paranormal research. We also hope to use the séance room to show where the community came from and where it will be going in the future.