Mordecai Historic Park


Mordecai Historic Park is located near downtown Raleigh between Person St. and Wake Forest Rd. It is on the National Historic Register and is open to the public, along with guided hourly tours on set days. More information can be found at Mordecai Plantation. Our thanks and appreciation to the staff of Mordecai House for the opportunity to conduct an investigation.


Mordecai House - built originally by Joel Lane - is named for Moses Mordecai, not the first owner but rather the husband of Henry Lane's daughter Margaret. Originally built in in the mid 1780's,with additions added in 1826 by the state architect William Nichols, it was to become the center of one of Wake County's largest plantations. Currently it still houses original furniture and portraits of five generations of family. A successful plantation, it was many thousands of acres producing cotton, corn and wheat among other crops. Like most plantations it was worked almost entirely by slaves. Mordecai Historic Park now houses other historic buildings from the Raleigh area including Andrew Johnson's birthplace.


Does Mary Willis Mordecai Turk still watch over her home? Many have reported their encounters with a woman who fits her description. More than one person has seen what is believed to be Mary descend the staircase and enter one of the front rooms. Unkind remarks regarding Mary's photo have resulted in the photos being slammed down. A child on a school field trip became inconsolable and had to be taken back to school after she saw what she claimed was a man with a scar on his face appear and disappear by the Andrew Johnson house.


We were greeted with a wonderfully open staff who were a pleasure to work with. It is clear they consider this not just a job, but have come to love the family, house and history. The home is gorgeous and well maintained in it's original form, including photos, furniture and personal items to a great extent. Other items are from the same era. The evening begin with a walk around the exterior of the property (which includes the house, a chapel, the Andrew Johnson house, among other outbuildings) taking photos for documentation and mapping the area. It is interesting at this time that with no prior knowledge of the interior layout of the home or knowledge of the activity centered in Mary's room, the photographer/investigator was repeatedly pulled to the southwest room on the second floor (several hours later revealed to be Mary's).

Present this evening were three staff members, 2 area media representatives, and 3 Seven members. Approximately 7:00pm after talking with the staff, we did a walk through of the house determining potential natural interferences and influences. The immediate problem was the large windows in each room, many with original panes still intact and all uncovered by curtains due to work being done. Flash photography was out, and if used light anomalies would have to be discarded. In addition exterior lights from street lamps or passing cars had the potential of interfering so would have to be noted. Because of the value of the antiques and original papers, the environmental MUST be kept controlled, thus the advanced system they have installed allows for only the most minor variances (less than 1 degree) on heat (This evening the heating was turned on and verified by us). The temperature and humidity are controlled 24 hours a day. A cold draft felt later in the evening could have come from the air exchange and a nearby vent (high on the ceiling). Beneath the house are cables leading to a ground, which could affect EMF readings on the lower floor, especially near the floor.

Solitary surveillance was set up in Mary's room with audio, video and motion sensors in place. An EMF detector was left in view of the video camera. At this time we worked on the lower floors with 35mm photography, digital documentation and audio recording. All person present were recorded for later comparison to any possible EVP. During this period, a comment was made about Mary being rather stubborn in showing herself (gee, we sure would appreciate if she'd make life easy!). Instantly the new batteries in a 35 SLR camera flash died. Testing with a multi meter (done prior investigation during equipment checks showed normal) showed they had indeed drained. Batteries were replaced. Into the evening we moved the surveillance setup downstairs and to the stairway area while working upstairs. One short period of minor temperature and humidity variances occurred (5-7 degrees up and down over the course of 2 minutes) and flashlights used in Mary's room died. At the same time a digital in use in the hallway outside drained as well.

Overall, the evening did not net us any outstanding phenomenon, nor did we get any outstanding photos/audio. However our opinion based on interviews and general work with this location is that there IS activity. Whether it is Mary keeping watch over her beloved home remains to be seen. Like most such activity it is certainly not controllable or even predictable. But we do feel it is there and are working to arrange future investigational work on the property.


This second investigation occurred October 18, 2003. New staff member Chandra Milliken had experienced several recent events that appeared to be possibly paranormal. From 7:00 to 10:00 PM Seven members set up full equipment in the house. Also present were several staff members (including Chandra) and 2 local WTVD News members documenting our methods and the house's history. Everyone got a little more then they bargained for this time!

At 7:50pm during a routine videotaped interview of Chandra by Seven (the interview done in the foyer of the house) several orbs are captured on the video near Chandra.

Less then 30 minutes later the WTVD camera captures orbs in the east bedroom, something they discover when reviewing the tapes.

Later that evening another Seven member is on video with orbs seen near her. At 9:30PM A Seven member is sitting in a chair in the west bedroom (Mary's bedroom) when she feels it begin to shake.

We were fascinated by the events captured - they seem to be occurring in locations that have previously been the focal point of activity. The orbs are distinct on the video. Because of the extreme care taken with the environment due to the value of the antiques and historical documents, as well as the fact we have twice before extensively documented this house with no similar phenomenon, it is unlikely that the orbs can be easily explained by 'dust' or other mundane causes. Combined with careful elimination of 'normal' causes and evaluation of logs and data we feel it's very likely these orbs are real phenomenon.

Later evaluation of 35mm photos revealed one more surprising event. The appearance of a period dressed woman in the window of a building. The photo was taken from the outside of the building with high speed film, and examination of the room behind the window shows no physical cause for the image. The image is complete and continuous, not pieced together - in other words it appears to be complete behind the wooden frame of the window - like a person standing on the other side.