Downtown Paranormal Investigations For establishing a ghost tour of the downtown Madison commercial area. About 15 investigators from East Georgia Paranormal Society. Three locations: old Madison Hardware, lower floor of Merchants Hall, one undisclosed.

By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor

In an effort to establish a ghost, er, haunted history, tour in Madison, between around 15 East Georgia Paranormal Society investigators will come to the city this Saturday to make an attempt at objectively measuring the paranormal activity at three downtown locations.

Melissa Piche, tour guide and owner of North Georgia Tours, which currently operates in Madison and Watkinsville, has invited the investigators to Madison to inform her haunted history tour of the area. With the blessings of property owners, the investigators will examine three Madison sites: the old Madison Hardware store on W. Washington; the lower floor of Merchants Hall, or the old Mapp-Gilmore building, also on W. Washington; and one other location that remains undisclosed according to the owner’s wishes, Piche said.

“I am personally not an investigator; I am a history nut who likes to get out there and do storytelling,” Piche said. “Whatever kind of findings they have helps me in creating my ghost walk, to validate it and have stories to talk about.”

The crew will operate with cameras and varying recording devices, much like the TV show, “Ghost Hunters,” she said.

Piche has been operating walking, horse-drawn carriage and ghost tours of Madison year-round for some time. The ghost tours have been a little more difficult to get up and running because of local business owners’ hesitancy to be associated with the paranormal, according to Piche.

“It’s taken me three years to put together this ghost walk,” Piche said. “I’ve really struggled with downtown merchants…but we’re getting there. Three buildings agreed to do the investigation, so that’s a huge step forward in pulling it together.”

She’s hoping to eventually develop two separate ghost walks for Madison, one featuring downtown businesses and the other focusing more on the residential Historic District. The downtown business-oriented tour allows Piche to be a bit of a proponent for the shops and restaurants on and around the square.

“I take the history of that building, and I take local legends and ghost stories, and weave it all together to make a ghost story about that location,” Piche said. “I generally try to highlight the business in there in that way so that when people come back, they want to shop in that store.”

This approach seems to have worked in Watkinsville. Piche said that between September and November last year, she took 900 participants on tours throughout the downtown area there.

More will be known about the paranormal in downtown Madison after this Saturday, but Piche does currently host walking and carriage tours of Madison. She also does one ghost walk in the city on Fridays starting at 8 p.m. Reservations are required, especially at this time of the year. Visit her website, www.NorthGeorgiaTours.net, for more information.