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If there are spirits remaining from onetime occupants of a downtown building in Cotulla, they were given a chance to make themselves known to paranormal investigators Saturday night, June 26.
Robbie Brown of Unknown Ventures was joined by Jim Whitley and Chris Gregory of South Texas Ghost Ventures in a live-feed exploration of the NAPA auto parts store at the corner of Center and Main streets during the evening and nighttime hours, making recordings and taking measurements of electro-magnetic frequency anomalies.
The visit was organized by Brown with a view to exploring one of the community’s most storied buildings. Occupied today by the NAPA business, the building was subject to a recent historic preservation effort that restored its facade to original appearance from the early years of the 20th century. An original wooden floor, freight elevator, architectural features and a basement remain in their original condition.
The investigators hosted a ‘meet and greet’ event in front of the store alongside NAPA representatives on Saturday evening, displaying the various devices they were expecting to use in the building. Local residents and visitors were able to quiz the trio on some of their experiences, learn about the recording devices, and share some of their own stories about the building.
The NAPA store has served as a retail business for generations of Cotullans, and operated as the Model Market, Bill’s Dollar Store, and Dollar General before undergoing restoration. A decade ago, it opened as Chuck’s Bar & Dance Hall, for which a wooden serving counter was installed.
“We have not been given an in-depth history of the building,” Whitley said of the store prior to the overnight investigation, “but we have heard stories of unusual activity in here.”
Long-time legends surrounding the building include one of an apparent haunting by a young girl.
“We heard that she likes to play,” Brown said of stories that have been offered by local residents about a child’s spirit in the building. “We have a doll and a ball that we are going to leave for her.”
Each of the investigators noted that surveillance camera footage provided by the NAPA store manager showed items being moved in the building after closing time. One of the film clips shows cans being swept from a shelf; another shows items falling from a serving counter.
A recent incident involving a car wheel lug nut being flung at a customer’s legs is cited by the investigators as further evidence of paranormal activity in the building.
“We are very interested in looking at the basement,” Brown said of the investigation.
The investigators made recordings throughout their time in the building Saturday night, capturing a number of anomalies and apparent responses to their questions.