Sunday, November 6, 2011


Spirit House was sold on Friday (11/4/11). The following was sent to me by one of our members:
"There was a closing this morning (Friday) on the property in Georgetown (in fact- closing on house and 2 vacant properties). The deeds went on record to Resurreccion Dimaculangan. The RP5217 (form filed with Co. Clerk for the State) shows that Resurreccion Dimaculangan is a person not a business or corporation.”

The buyer, a woman known as Rexie has been tangentially involved with the Spirit House Society. It is highly likely that she learned about Spirit House through our efforts. An SU professor emailed me in the late spring telling me that she was interested in our effort and was knowledgeable of museum history/work. I passed her name along to Steering Committee member John Patane who was responsible for the restoration and the physical aspects of the house and asked him to try and involve her.

John told me that he has had several conversations with her since. She attended our Cazenovia Spirit Fair on August 14th. I may have met her, but I tried to meet everyone that day and it was a crazy day for me.

She is on our email list. She never contacted us with her interest to purchase the house or made a stronger effort to be part of the group and help shape and influence our direction as others have.

As noted earlier everything is on hold. We will wait some time before distributing money raised to local historical/environmental groups. The below article about us in Sunday’s Post Standard is wrong about distributing money immediately; repeat money will not be distributed immediately as we have consistently said.

Madis Senner

Home > News from The Post-Standard > Madison County
Sudden cash offer ends group's plans to buy Georgetown's historic Spirit House
Published: Sunday, November 06, 2011, 10:47 AM Updated: Sunday, November 06, 2011, 11:02 AM
By Alaina Potrikus / The Post-Standard The Post-Standard Follow

Georgetown on Feb. 16, 2011.
Madis Senner was days away from filing a grant for state funding to buy and restore Georgetown’s historic Spirit House when he heard the news that the seller had accepted another offer on the property.But he went ahead with last weekend’s fundraiser to establish the proposed spiritual healing and retreat center and said this week he still is optimistic the Spirit House Society might find another way to make the project work.
“It doesn’t feel lost yet,” Senner said. “It feels like another impediment. We will have to see what happens.”Senner, who returned to Central New York after a career on Wall Street, discovered the Spirit House in 2006 while writing reviews of sacred locations.
He founded the Spirit House Society when the building went on the real estate market in 2009 at a list price of $89,900 and envisioned that activities such as educational workshops, guest speakers and holistic and psychic fairs could make the site financially self-sustainable.
» House of the Week, 8/14/09: Georgetown's Spirit House
It was a fitting next chapter for the rural Madison County landmark, which served as a place of pilgrimage for the growing Spiritualism movement in the late 1800s but had languished in recent years.
Senner spent the last year making presentations to local organizations about the group’s plans to purchase the landmark. The project attracted the interest of area preservationists and historians, as well as members of spiritual and religious communities.The group was in the process of applying for a grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation for acquisition of the 3.5-acre property and exterior restoration when Senner approached the seller in September to obtain a letter of intent to sell the house.
Senner said the seller had agreed to the sale in July, but later asked for a binding purchase offer that could only be superseded by a cash offer.
“We were a little surprised, but thought nothing of it,” Senner wrote in a letter to supporters distributed at last weekend’s fundraiser at Madison Hall in Morrisville. “At the insistence of the owner, we had agreed to pay several thousand more than a recent appraisal showed it was worth, just to make sure we would get the property.”
Senner would not say how much the society offered to pay for the building, but said that as he was preparing a formal contract, the broker called to say the seller had received and accepted a cash offer.
“We were shocked,” Senner said. “The broker assured me that a buyer mysteriously appeared after almost three years of being on the market.”
Senner said the news is particularly frustrating because of growing support from local tourism officials, who said the project could spur the local economy.
“Folks would come here, and then stop in Peterboro or go to learn about Matilda Joslyn Gage,” Senner said.
“The museum model struggles,” he continued. “Through our events we showed that spirituality could be an economic driving force that could help save Spirit House and possibly help other historic sites.”
Senner said one of his biggest worries revolves around the restoration of the historic site. Early estimates for needed repairs topped $200,000, with at least $78,000 to paint the ornate exterior.
“That is just to stabilize it, not even doing anything inside,” he said.
In less than a year, Senner has grown his vision into a group that boasts 80 members and has nearly 300 names on its email list. Senner declined to say how much recent fundraising events have brought in, but said the money would be distributed to local historical organizations when the property is officially sold to another owner.
The property’s owner, Valerie Wilson, could not be reached for comment.
Senner said he would continue to hold out hope until the property officially changes hands. In the meantime, fundraising efforts have been suspended.
“If the community can’t use it, I would see it as a loss,” he said of Spirit House.

Contact Alaina Potrikus at 470-3252 or

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spirit House Sold??????????

Dear Spirit House Society Member,

In an update sent to you on September 29th we had noted that there was a cash offer made for Spirit House. It appears that this transaction will take place shortly. We will not be filing for a NYS grant on October 31st because the seller, Valerie Wilson, would not sign our purchase offer and told us of the pending sale. We don’t know who this buyer is or their plans. We are putting our operations on hold and will wait to see what happens. As promised we will distribute the money that we raised to local historical and environmental groups at the earliest in 6 to 12 months pending developments with Spirit House.

The Details: In late September we approached the buyer to get a letter of intent to sell the house, which we needed for our NYS Parks Grant Application. The seller had agreed to this in July, but now wanted a binding purchase offer that could only be superseded by a cash offer. We were a little surprised, but thought nothing of it. At the insistence of the owner we had agreed to pay several thousand more than a recent appraisal showed it was worth, just to make sure we would get the property. I told the broker that I would get her a formal contract shortly and was busy with the newsletter and planning for the Madison County Halloween. One week later I got a call from the broker telling me that the seller had received and accepted a cash offer for Spirit House. We were shocked. The broker assured me that a buyer mysteriously appeared after almost three years of being on the market.

When I called NY Parks they told me that they see this all the time. A buyer anticipating a grant, runs in front of a group and buys a historical home. She mentioned a home in NY Mills among others.

Since I began this effort almost a year ago a lot of good things have happened. One of our members, Joscelyn Godwin, wrote a book on Spirit House, a community of people with diverse interests has supported SHS, many of which will remain lifelong friends. We have also brought an enthusiasm and hope that extended beyond our group. Through our events we showed that spirituality could be an economic driving force that that could help save Spirit House and possibly help other historic sites. This is important because the museum model struggles. The many letters of support for our grant that we received witnessed the enthusiasm for the SHS from prominent Madison County officials and citizens. Many felt that Spirit House could become an international tourist destination and potential anchor for other historical places in greater upstate NY. We believe that as well and had just initiated our nascent “Burned Over District” effort to educate people about upstate NY’s gems, Upstate is wonderful place, it just needs to learn as Socrates taught: “Know Thyself.”

To me it has always been about the land that encompasses SH. I feel that the SH property is a truly spiritual place that all should be able to enjoy and benefit from. It is something special; its owners have felt this. Alice Cossit’s family lived there almost 90 years and Helen Katorie refused to sell it for two decades fearing it would bring about her death. It is also a property that I believe selects its owners and sadly, at this time, it appears that our (SHS) dream of making it a retreat center open to all is not going to be a part of it.

We are going stop our fund-raising efforts, etc., and wait to see what happens. Perhaps Spirit House still will call. At some point all money raised will be given to local groups.
Madis Senner