A Writer's Journey

October 22, 2012

Haunted Hometown!

Filed under: The Conference House — mackenziew @ 2:30 am
Tags: , , ,

Next week is Halloween but there’s a reason I’m doing this post now. You’ll see why next week.

You know how I’m working on a historical fiction YA novel called “The Conference House”? (Yes, I’m still working on it though most things have been place on the backburner due to editing on “The Wedding Game”). Well, the Conference House exists. I used to volunteer as a docent there. At the end of the tour, I would ask if anyone had any questions. I generally got the same five questions:

5. When did Washington visit? (He didn’t).

4. Where is the bathroom? (The house was built in the 17th century and doesn’t have one. There is one in the visitor’s center).

3. Is the furniture original? (To the 18th century, yes. To the house, no).

2. Who’s who in the paintings? (Sadly, we don’t know. They were donated).

1. Are there ghosts here?

So, what was the answer? Well, the answer I usually gave was that while there were stories, I had never seen anything “spooky” at the house. Save for the disembodied head of Benjamin Franklin.*

People love ghost stories, myself included. One day, I got to spend time with a member of the women’s auxiliary who regaled me with several ghost stories she knew of the house. Like how during one event, someone saw a man standing in the dining room in period clothing. She thought he was part of the event but before she could talk to him, he disappeared! Freaky.

There are more stories about the house, including the story of a servant girl who was either thrown down the stairs pictured above or fell down them while fleeing her irate master. But other places are haunted in my hometown, Staten Island. Did you know Cornelius Vanderbilt is buried here? Well, he is and his grave is haunted. If you take a picture by it, strange things happen. Some people have reported that the people in the shot never showed up in the developed picture while others reported complete strangers who weren’t present showing up in theirs!

And most of the ghost stories I know feature benign ghosts. A female ghost who likes to take off patrons’ jewelry. Ghost children playing still in a house. A lonely female ghost looking for her long-lost love. But not all our ghosts are so. The Kreischer mansion is said to glow red from windows and a gun shot can be heard late at night.

And there is the St. Augustine Monastery. It’s abandoned now but years ago, people did reside there. One night, so the story goes, one of the monks went crazy and killed everyone. The legend says there is a subterranean cavern underneath that no one knows the depth of. This was where he buried the bodies, which have never been recovered. Anyone who tries to investigate is met with a malignant presence. Reports say it is a green light which gives off a threatening vibe.

So those are some of the ghost stories from my neck of the woods. What about yours?

*In one of the parlors—the one I called the “blue parlor”—a portrait of Benjamin Franklin hung next to the doorway. A mirror hung on the opposite wall, allowing guests to see the portrait. When I walked quickly past the room, it looked like a floating head from the corner of my eye.

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1 Comment »

  1. Greetings, came across your site in a google search about The Conference House, which my wife and I live a few blocks away from. Currently backtracking reading your very interesting posts about The Conference House. You cited a story you were working on, and am very interested if it was completed, and published. If so, would be interested in giving it a read. I am currently utilizing the Conference House in a novel I am writing and am very interested in other authors who have written of it as well. Nonetheless, great to find another Staten Island based author writing of historical locations. Best, Anthony

    Comment by Anthony Burdge — March 29, 2016 @ 10:08 am | Reply


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