Uploaded on Sep 28, 2011
**UPDATE: The Purgatory House has burned to the ground and no longer stands**
Brian D Pittman - 1960-1978 - Vincentown Methodist Cemetery
SOUTHAMPTON — The "haunted" Purgatory House is no more.
The vacant property off Route 70 and Purgatory Road, long rumored to be haunted, caught fire Thursday morning and burned to the ground.
The large dwelling already was engulfed when firefighters responded to 9:33 a.m. reports of smoke coming from the dense woods surrounding it, said Tom D'Amico, chief of the Vincentown Fire Company.
Crews doused water on the burning rubble for several hours to keep the fire from spreading to surrounding trees and brush, but D'Amico said there was no way to save the house.
"It was well involved when we got here," he said. "We weren't able to do much."
The cause is under investigation. D'Amico said the house was well-known because of the ghost stories surrounding it.
"It's got a website," said another firefighter at the scene.
Numerous videos and photographs of the property are posted online and show a run-down interior that is littered with graffiti.
The property was owned by Pinmar Corp. of Evesham, said Jody Mazeall, Southampton's construction official and zoning officer. The driveway was so overgrown with trees and other vegetation that it was impossible to inspect the structure before the fire.
"I could never get back to even look at what was there," Mazeall said. "Just looking at its old stone foundation, it's got to have been 60, 70 or 80 years old. It could even be 100."
Attempts to reach a representative of Pinmar Corp. were unsuccessful Thursday.
One area resident who watched the house burning from a distance said it last was inhabited in the late 1970s, but had become a popular hangout for teenagers and other trespassers curious about the rumored hauntings.
"It's listed as a haunted house, but most of the stories are all wrong," said the man, who declined to be identified. "The last people who lived there had a daughter in an accident coming home from Lenape (High School). The family split up afterwards, but her mother used to burn candles in the windows. They were nice people."
An account of the accident published in the Burlington County Times identified the girl as 16-year-old Maria Alarcon. She was killed in a March 13, 1978, collision between a car and truck at Route 541 and Church Road. The accident also claimed the life of 17-year-old Brian Pittman of Southampton.
"There's been a couple of owners since then, but nobody's done anything with it. The story is the present owners wouldn't tear it down because they were superstitious," the man said.
Although the house is believed to be nearly a century old, he said its destruction may be a blessing in the long run.
"It was just a matter of time before somebody got hurt in there," he said.