PEOPLE's Julie Jordan and a few girlfriends—the "Ghost Moms"—braved a terrifying night at the Rhode Island farmhouse that inspired the hit horror franchise

By Julie Jordan
Updated June 05, 2021 07:59 AM
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The Conjuring house
Jordan, Liz Beedle, Emily Penke and Kelly Seibert
| Credit: Emily Penke

To be honest I don't really care for horror movies, but I love being scared.

Those traits served me well when I found out the house that inspired the hit franchise The Conjuring (the next installment, The Devil Made Me Do It, is out now) could be booked for overnight stays. The property is infamous for some creepy events that happened in the 1970s involving paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and the haunting of the Perron family.

Let me back up a bit: I've always been fascinated by the paranormal. Then in 2018, I wrote a We Tried It story for PEOPLE on Travel Channel's hit series Ghost Adventures and suffice to say the experience of being a guest investigator on an episode sealed the deal for my passion (just blame Zak Bagans).

Fortunately, I have three close girlfriends, sisters Liz Beedle and Emily Penke, and Kelly Seibert, who are just as intrigued as I am. Friends and family now call us the "Ghost Moms" and we routinely investigate reportedly haunted locations together and post about it on social media. It's a unique kind of Moms Night Out (we all met through our kids' school) and way more fun than a book club.

The Conjuring house
Credit: Emily Penke

I think it was Kelly's fault, er, idea to travel to Rhode Island and tackle the Conjuring house, now known as the Farm on Round Top Road. We flew into Providence and drove a little more than 30 minutes to Harrisville, which is a village in the town of Burrillville. Winding country roads brought us to the old clapboard Colonial owned by Cory and Jennifer Heinzen, who bought the property in 2019. The couple met us at the door and gave us a tour.

Opening up the house for overnight investigations had always been their plan. "It's a once in a lifetime thing," Cory explains of their purchase. Originally from Maine, the two have been involved with the paranormal community for years as well and have made a point of clarifying the truth from the dramatization of the movies.

The Conjuring house
Jennifer and Cory Heinzen
| Credit: Emily Penke

Cory informed us that there have been no violent deaths recorded in the house. The witch in the movie, Bathsheba Sherman, was simply a neighbor during the 1800s. As grateful as we are for the knowledge, it doesn't make us any less fearful of the evening ahead.

"We knew when we bought it we wanted to be able to share it with other people," adds Jennifer, noting they haven't experienced anything negative. "Why keep a place like this to ourselves?"

The Conjuring house
Credit: Emily Penke

The house itself is farmhouse rustic with an occasional Ouija board and Raggedy Ann doll thrown in for good measure. Past paranormal activity has included books falling off the shelf by themselves in the library and shadow figures are often seen in the upstairs bedroom where one of the Perron daughters was frequently attacked by an unseen force. The Heinzens stay on the property in an annex of the house during all overnight bookings. Nothing about us argues with them.

Around 11 p.m., we started our investigation in the library and turned off all the lights. Within minutes a nearby motion detector was triggered repeatedly for no apparent reason. There were also loud creaks in the living room as if someone was walking by.

Upstairs we sat down in the bedroom where the attacks took place. Again a motion detector went off and we saw a ball of light in a corner where there was no obvious source. Shadows seemed to be closing in on us and our terror prompted us to all pile in the bed. What can I say? There's just something about four grown women snuggling together that can clearly make things feel a lot less scary.

Downstairs in the basement was a lesson in just how hard it is to navigate in the dark. All of your senses become heightened and every little noise causes a jump scare. And don't get us started on how many snake skins dangle from the foundation, left exactly where their former occupants discarded them (that brought on a whole new level of fear, especially for Emily). As we were standing in a room next to an old well, a table somehow shifted into Liz's leg even though no one was next to it.

The Conjuring house
Credit: Emily Penke

We returned to the library in the wee morning hours. I had taken some books off one of the shelves and right after I replaced them, one of them fell off and hit the floor hard. We can't say for sure what caused it, but I'm OCD enough to know that I pushed them all to the back wall and even aligned them on the top because I didn't want them to look disturbed.

Calling it a night around 4:30 a.m., we all went upstairs to "sleep." I'll admit I kept my head completely covered by my sleeping bag. All the scenes from the movie kept racing through my mind and there was no way I was peeking out to see who or what might be standing there.

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Credit: Warner Bros.

When daylight finally started brightening the room, I was utterly overwhelmed with relief. And more than a little proud that we had made it through the night—without leaving early or even sleeping in our rental car.

As always, whenever we finish an investigation, we informed any spirits (out loud!) that they are not allowed to follow us home. On the drive back to our hotel, we all decided the house was "horrifically awesome." And worth every terrifying minute.

Rates for an overnight are $125 per person, except on weekends, when it's a flat $750 for six guests and $125 for each additional person. For more information about the Farm on Round Top Road or to book a stay, visit TheConjuringHouse.com.