By Christine Graf
When South Glens Falls native Steven Brodt was 5 years old, he had what he would later consider a paranormal experience.
He said while sleeping over at his grandmother’s house, he woke in the middle of the night and saw an old woman sitting at the end of his bed. Ten years later, Brodt saw a picture of his great grandmother for the first time and surmised she was the woman he saw when he was 5.
“I can still picture her to this day. It was very clear and very real. As I got older, I became very interested in how it was possible that I saw what I saw,” he said.
When he was 16, Brodt and a friend established a nonprofit group called the South Glens Falls Paranormal Society. They purchased digital voice recorders, night vision cameras, handheld video cameras, and electromagnetic field detectors and offered free paranormal investigative services to the community.
“We did some local investigations in South Glens Falls and with the Historical Association of Moreau at the Parks-Bentley Place. We gave a presentation of our findings at the house, and once people found out about that, we started getting calls for residential and business cases,” said Brodt. “To this day, we do all residential and business cases free of charge. We only charge when we do public events.”
Over the years, Brodt conducted numerous public events including those at Parks-Bentley Place in South Glen Falls and Skene Manor in Whitehall.
“We would bring all of our equipment in and teach people how to ghost hunt,” said Brodt. “Our group would split the money with the historic site so that they could use the money for renovations or whatever they needed it for. We used the money for things like new equipment and travel expenses.”
In 2019, Brodt established a business called Haunted Nights. In addition to hosting ghost hunts throughout the country, he and his wife, Sidney, own Be Social Marketing, a digital marketing company in Glens Falls where the couple resides.
A graduate of Saint Rose with a degree in entrepreneurship, Brodt is on the road hosting sold-out events almost every weekend. He is well-known in the ghost hunting world and was featured on the Travel Channel as well as Discovery +.
Brodt is now partnering with a fellow ghost hunter, real estate investor Mark Erskine, to purchase the former Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Moreau. They submitted a plan to the state over a month ago and are hopeful it will be approved.
Erskine and his wife, Deanna, live outside of Chicago and met Brodt through their mutual interest in ghost hunting.
“They help out at my events all of the time and Mark has always wanted to own an historic site. We’ve both wanted to own a haunted location,” said Brodt. “We decided now was a good time to go for it.”
The Mount McGregor property contains more than 30 buildings with a total 550,000 square feet. Over the course of more than 100 years, it has been home to a hotel, a tuberculosis sanitarium and a WWII veterans rest camp. For that reason it is eligible to be listed on the National Historic Register.
According to Brodt, former correction officers who worked at the facility said they witnessed paranormal events there. Several reported seeing a little girl in a white dress running through the halls of what was once part of TB sanitarium.
Although Brodt and Erskine plan to host ghost hunts at the property if their plan is approved, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“If we get it, the ghost hunts will be just a very small aspect of what we are going to do,” said Brodt. “We are going to open a full heritage museum where we will go through the history of the mountain starting from when it was a hotel. We are going to have historic tours, photo tours, farmers markets, and craft fairs. There’s a 400-seat theater that we are going to restore so that we can do open mic nights, comedy nights, and documentaries.
“We want to restore the 1915 mission-style chapel so we can do weddings. We have a lot of plans and the ghost part is a way that we will generate income to restore the buildings immediately.”
If their proposal is approved, Brodt said they will hit the ground running.
“If we got the call today, we would go out and celebrate and then tomorrow we would be right to work patching holes in the roof,” he said.
Even though the Erskines live in Illinois, Brodt said they will be “elbow deep” in the project.
“They aren’t just throwing money at this. It’s Mark’s baby, and he thinks about it 24/7 and really cares about it. It is just as important to them as it is to us. It’s a beautiful place, and we want to bring life back into it so that we can bring the community up there. We’re trying to honor every part of the mountain’s history.”