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Photographers investigate strange happenings in Wesley Building

| Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008

Tales of hauntings and strange sights and sounds run rampant during days and nights leading up to Halloween.

To verify claims of strange activities at the Wesley Building on Apple Street, two studio photographers came to Connellsville on Tuesday night.

According to building owners, there have been reports and witness accounts of strange lights, loud noises and shadowy figures in the building.

"It's just really weird stuff," said Lisa Shirley, an employee of West Apple Inc.

She has given some assistance to Homes by Sturge, the developers of the building, and has been witness to several of the strange happenings.

"It's just things you can't explain," Shirley said. "Sometimes when I go in there, I get this real eerie feeling like someone is there and I don't even believe in this kind of stuff."

The possibility of the building being haunted was enough to pique the interest of Tonya Kapis and Larry Spritz. Kapis and Spritz work at Uvodem Studios in Pittsburgh and in Delray Beach, Fla. Kapis and Spritz take photographs of old buildings and other forms of architecture for the studio.

According to the pair, many times their photos reveal things that let the imagination run wild.

"We've done a lot of photography work and come up with some interesting things on film," Spritz said. "We've been successful at capturing things on film that are questionable."

Spritz and Kapis spent the night taking photographs in the various rooms, hallways and stairways throughout the three-story structure. According to many accounts, the suspicious activities primarily have occurred on the third floor.

"They say that the month of October is the time of year when a lot of stuff happens," Kapis said. "It's just very exciting."

The 108-year old building is the former home of businesses such as Karen's Hair Fashions, McLaughlin Construction and Connellsville Printing. However, the building caught fire in September 2006 and has been vacant since.

The building is being developed with the hope of transforming it into a hotel, possibly next spring.

But for now, the structure is serving as a possible source of discovery for Kapis and Spritz.

"We're just going to shoot a lot of photos and video and see what we see," Spritz said. "When we process the photos, you can come up with a lot of different things."

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