GREENFIELD — There is little but rubble left of Black Moon Manor, the historic home on CR 300N that had become a ghost-hunting hotspot in recent years.
Owner Walter Eastes, whose family has owned the property for more than 200 years, made good last weekend on his promise to have the house demolished amid controversy over its use as a haunted attraction.
The two-story dilapidated house, which was torn down Sunday, was dubbed Black Moon Manor in 2009 by Matt Speck, a local man who leased the home from Eastes.
Speck had originally hoped to use the property for a haunted attraction but failed to receive approval from the Hancock County Board of Zoning Appeals, Eastes said. Shortly thereafter, Speck began advertising the house as a legitimately haunted property and invited investigators to camp there, overnight, and hunt for ghosts.
As the newly named Black Moon Manor gained popularity – it was even featured on a variety of paranormal-themed TV shows – descendants of the Eastes family became upset, criticizing Speck for misrepresenting the family’s history.
Eastes, having heard from several angry relatives, asked Speck to vacate the property Nov. 1. Eastes said he should have had the home torn down years ago as it fell into disrepair.
Looking over the flattened property Monday afternoon, Eastes expressed relief at seeing the ordeal come to an end.
“It’s been a lot of trouble,” he said. “Now, it is done, and they are doing a very nice job of it. I am so impressed.”
Mike Leonard of Leonard Excavating Inc. in Wilkinson took on the task of razing the home and two nearby outbuildings. The house sits on 70 acres of land, much of which is leased for farming.
Leonard said he’d heard about the home and the controversy surrounding it prior to taking the job. One descendant of the Eastes family watched during the demolition process and expressed regret that the house was being demolished.
But it’s not unusual for onlookers to show up when he’s taking down an old house, he said.
“They’ll say, ‘Yeah, I remember playing in that house as a kid or that barn or whatever,’” Leonard said. “She said she was related to the Eastes family, … and she hated to see it go. She said she had a lot of memories there.”
Sharon Kingen, 68, of McCordsville, is a descendent of the family and said Monday she was sad to hear of the old home’s demise.
“It’s just part of the history of the area,” she said. “The Eastes family has a long tradition, really dating back to the establishment of the county.”
But Kingen added she’d rather see the house come down than continue as a haunted attraction based on a false history of the Easteses.
“It was an offense to the family,” she said.
Eastes said he’d been approached by various people about efforts to restore the home and convert it into a bed-and-breakfast, museum or hotel, but no feasible financial options emerged.
“That would be great if it weren’t sitting on 70 acres I didn’t want to part with,” he said. “That’s really the only sad thing is I could not find anything reasonable to do with (the house).”
Eastes estimated it would have cost $50,000 to bring the home up to a usable standard. Demolishing it, on the other hand, cost about $5,000, Leonard said.
The crew removed most of the home Sunday and Monday, recycling metal roofing and drain pipes and burning leftover wood. Leonard expects the job to be finished today.
Speck asked Eastes if he could move the house but was not able to come up with the financing to do so, Eastes said. Various paranormal groups also expressed interest, but Eastes said he didn’t want the home used for that purpose any longer.
Eastes said Speck’s stories – including that 200 people were buried in the backyard – were so obviously false he was surprised so many ghost-hunters were interested in the first place.
Going forward, Eastes said he might lease the land for hunting – animals, not ghosts.