BURRILLVILLE – A famed Burrillville farmhouse already open for overnight investigations will soon also offer tours, following approval this week of a new entertainment license for the business based on its allegedly haunted history.
Owners of the Farm on Round Top Road – better known by horror fans as The Conjuring House – were approved for the new license by members of the Town Council following testimony both for and against expansion of an enterprise that caters to interest generated by the 2013 hit movie.
“When we first purchased this house, I’m sure the town was worried that we were going to turn it into a circus, and I know at this point that we haven’t had many complaints,” said Jennifer Heinzen, who owns the property with husband Cory Heinzen. “We’re doing our best to try and stop people from stopping by and trespassing, and turning around in neighbors’ driveways. We’re just hoping to help contribute to the town, and hoping that people are OK with what we’re doing now.”
Councilors noted that they did receive one letter opposing the application from neighbor Alan Mcnally with complaints about traffic surrounding the house.
The house was the focus of a film based on reports by well-known paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren, the first movie in what has since become New Lines Cinema’s The Conjuring Universe. The Heinzens, paranormal investigators originally from Maine, purchased the nearly 300-year-old home in 2019, and have since opened the property to others with similar interests, from filmmakers, to celebrity researchers.
A film featuring cast members from “Ghost Hunters” who reportedly spent two weeks at the house was released earlier this month.
Mcnally previously spoke against allowing paying guests to the once quiet neighborhood when the Heinzens first sought special event permits last year. They have since opened the property to overnight stays at a cost of $125 per person, with nearly all nights already booked through December.
Neighbor Tonya Hall told councilors this week that she has also experienced issues with visitors.
“There’s increased traffic. There’s people stopping in the middle of the road. There’s people getting out of their cars,” said Hall. “Unfortunately, the signs that say, ‘private drive do not turn around,’ don’t work.”
“I understand that there’s a lot of people who think this is great for the town, but unfortunately there are a fair amount of us who are directly impacted on a daily basis by what’s going on across the street,” Hall added. “Until you’re woken up at 2 a.m. by people screaming and running with flashlights, it’s kind of hard to comment.”
Jennifer said that she and Cory do their best to limit disruptions, and that they’re open to any suggestions as to how to make things better for the neighborhood. She said the new option of visiting for a tour will be pre-booked, and limited to no more than ten guests at a time.
And others spoke in favor of the application.
“I think that the applicant points out a couple of very important, critical things,” said Harrisville resident Tom Tatro. “No one can control who drives by a particular piece of property, or who turns around.”
“It sounds to me like the applicants are doing everything possible to keep this low key and yet satisfy demands that must be very bothersome to them at times,” Tatro said. “I certainly get the sense that the applicants are trying to preserve everything that Harrisville and Burrillville are all about. They have a rather unique situation on their hands, and they’re doing everything they can to control it.”
Holly Dumaine Picard, chairperson of Patrons of the Assembly Theatre, said she was, “100 percent in favor,” of the request to open the property to tours.
“I think it is not only something unique to Burrillville, but it also in supports all of our local small businesses in town,” said Dumaine-Picard. “We are getting folks to come in that would never come in otherwise. Not only do the owners respect the town, everyone that lives here and our culture, but I do as well think this is a wonderful way to put Burrillville on the map.”
Councilor Justin Batalon said the new entertainment license might make it easier for the owners to funnel traffic.
“I understand the complaints of the neighbors, and they’re valid, but what’s to stop anyone from turning around in anyone’s driveway,” he said.
Councilor Dennis Anderson pointed out that the problems have not been associated with invited, paying guests.
“I’m really kind of torn,” Anderson said. “I have sympathy for both sides.”
Council President Donald Fox noted that people will visit the house whether or not the owners obtain the license.
“It’s not in our purview to deny a license to someone who’s abiding by all of the rules and regulations that we’ve set forth,” Fox said. “This is a very unique business. There’s no doubt about that.”
Town Manager Michael Wood said his office and the police department would be happy to work with the neighbors.
“If anyone in the neighborhood has a problem, you can certainly contact my office,” Wood said, adding, “The police chief is very creative.”
Councilors unanimously approved the new annual entertainment license subject to a sign off by the Harrisville Fire Department.