CARTHAGE — They might be looking for the unearthly, but a group of ghost hunters are serving a completely practical purpose for a historic Carthage home.
The Paranormal Science Lab, a group of Joplin- and Carthage-area residents who use high-tech audio and camera equipment to look for paranormal activity, said popular demand prompted them to restart offering historic tours of Kendrick Place at least once a month.
The first of these tours happened on New Year's Day. Another public tour is slated for Feb. 2.
Lisa Martin, a volunteer with the Paranormal Science Lab, says a group from Columbia has also scheduled a private tour of the home for later in January.
Kelly Harris, chairwoman of Victorian Carthage, which owns Kendrick Place, said the tours are helping preserve the more than 150-year-old home, which was one of the few homes and structures around Carthage to survive the Civil War.
"It just allowed us to stay open for a few more months," Harris said. "Even in an old house like this, the expenses are unbelievable. It's important to get people out here to preserve the house and preserve our history."
The tours focus on the history of the home from its construction in the late 1850s to the present day. The tour leaders have studied the history, which includes the family of Harris' husband, Mike Harris, who is also the mayor of Carthage.
His ancestors lived in the home during and after the Civil War.
After a tour and a talk about the history, participants get the chance to join the Paranormal Science Lab throughout the night in searching for unexplained activity.
The group has a website, paranormalsciencelab.com, where they've posted videos of shadows that pop up in unexplainable places and audio that seems to record voices of people who are not there.
The group conducts investigations at other homes and structures around the area, but Kendrick Place has been a special project of the group since before last Halloween.
Around that holiday, the group held weekly tours of the home and raised money to help Victorian Carthage keep Kendrick Place afloat.
"It got a lot of people out to the house," Kelly Harris said of the September and October tours. "There are a lot of people who have lived here all their lives and never been out here. We made a lot of contacts too, and we raised money. They raised about $1,700 for us for those tours, and we kind of expect next year to be a lot better since people know about them."
Harris said those tours reignited interest in the home and prompted Victorian Carthage and the Paranormal Science Lab to restart the tours in January.
"We had people that were interested who didn't get to go to the tours in October so we thought, if we do it once a month, if there is interest, we'll do that," Harris said. "If not, we'll do tours every couple of months. It just depends on people and what they want to do."
Harris said the groups are planning more activities in conjunction with the coming celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Carthage in May and July.
The home served as a hospital for soldiers on both sides of that Civil War battle on July 5, 1861. A table used as an operating table during the battle is still in the home and can be seen during the tours.
She said the tours and the activities during the Battle of Carthage anniversary are part of what will allow Victorian Carthage to preserve the home.
"It means a lot to me because it's not my family, but it is my husband's family, and I would just hate to see something happen to it," Harris said. "I think if we can't keep it open, we're going to have to sell it or do something with it, and I don't know what would happen to it. I think the family would like to see it stay here and even get bigger and better."
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