Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Paltz - Haunted Library and more...

Village of New Paltz

Hey, we're taking another trip outside the friendly confines of Pennsylvania today to visit the village of New Paltz, about 35 miles northeast of Milford in Ulster County, New York. It seems there's been a spook thumbing through its ghost books, according to the New York Times:

New Paltz Journal
The Librarians Call It an Anomaly (It Wasn’t Rattling Chains)

April 20, 2008

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — It appeared as a meandering shadow in the Elting Memorial Library, pausing on the wide plank floors in front of a bookcase with titles like “A Gathering of Ghosts” and “Still Among the Living.”

Was it was a spirit looking for something to read in the middle of the night? Or was it, as some killjoys suggest, just a spider?

A surveillance tape picked up the image about a week before Halloween, and the mystery has deepened rather than dissipated with time. The video, called “Ghost in the New Paltz Library,” has been viewed on YouTube by some 4,385 people so far, while library employees and patrons continue to debate the possibilities and recount the coincidences.

Not only was it almost Halloween. Not only did the “anomaly,” as the library officially calls the shadow, appear in the oldest part of the building, where the shelves are filled with ghost stories.

But the library had erected a temporary altar, or ofrenda, used in celebrating the Day of the Dead in Mexico. “Some people say that since we had an ofrenda here, maybe that conjured up some spirits,” said John A. Giralico, the library director.

For a while, the story of the enigmatic shadow stayed among the stacks. Some library workers came down on the side of a spider that somehow slipped under the dome and, at such close range, might appear blurry. Others argued for a ghost or at least some unexplained electrical energy.

“It’s definitely not a spider because you can see right through it,” said Avery Jenkins, a library volunteer. “If it was a solid object like a spider, there’d at least be a dot you couldn’t see through. I just think some people don’t want to believe.”

Carol Johnson, coordinator of the library’s local history and genealogy section, the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, unearthed information about two deaths that occurred in the Main Street house, where the library took up residence in 1920.

Oscar C. Hasbrouck, who owned the home, died there in 1899 of what was then called consumption. Charles V. Auchmoody, a boarder in the house, died in 1908 after suffering “a stroke of paralysis.”

New Paltz was founded in 1678 by 12 Huguenot families who had fled religious persecution in France, and may be home to other spirits.

Every Halloween, Historic Huguenot Street, a nonprofit group, gives a haunted house tour of its National Historic Landmark District and its seven original stone houses, the earliest built in 1705, and burial ground.

The tour director says that every home there is haunted.

At the Abraham Hasbrouck House, the ghost of a man dressed in colonial garb with an axe has been sighted going through the yard, according to locals. He wanders around the outside of the house with his dog, the pair leaving nary a foot or paw print in their wake.

The man then enters the house by going through the door and quickly reappears in a window, holding his axe above what is believed to be a sleeping and apparently unsuspecting occupant.

The house door features witches' marks, customarily etched on the hardware to ward off evil spirits. Doesn't seem to be doing much good, though.

A word of warning - another source says the axman wears a black cape and tall silk hat with a black hound trailing him, and was spotted at the Freer House. So keep your eyes open at both spots. We're not sure if there are a lotta mad hatchet spooks running around New Paltz or exactly who's spooking who on Haunted Huguenot Street. Hey, it's more fun that way!

The spook of Elizabeth Hasbrouck is said to haunt the nearby Jean Hasbrouck House (The Huguenot Museum.) Yah, there were quite a few Hasbroucks back in the day. Still are, it seems.

Then there's the Deyo House, which is considered the most haunted house on Huguenot Street. The portrait of Gertrude Deyo, a young girl of about 20 who died of tuberculosis in the 1840s, used to hang on the second floor of the house with her parents’ portraits.

During a makeover of the house a few years ago, her parents’ portraits were moved to the first floor, leaving Gertrude's behind. Her portrait mysteriously fell on several occasions and was discovered on the other side of the hallway flipped over.

Her picture was brought downstairs to rejoin her parents' paintings, and has hung happily ever after, so we're told.

A couple of lady apparitions have been reported in the Locust Tree Inn. One is supposed to be the shadow of Dina DuBois Elting. And speaking of DuBois, the DuBois Fort - it still has gun ports, though it's said they were never used in anger - has a wraith or two.

One is the headless ghost of a woman in a brown dress. Maybe she's the one who had the run-in with the Abraham Hasbrouck House axman. She shares the grounds with the resident "ghost in a nightgown" spectre, who roams around the Fort at night.

Another DuBois - lotta them, too - bit of lore is the suicide of Annie Dubois in the 1931. Following the death of Hugo Freer, her dreamboat who died of appendicitis, Annie went AWOL. She was found at the bottom of a well that still stands on Huguenot Street, at the Bevier-Elting House.

Her ghost has been reported, wearing a white nightgown, with long, dark hair. She holds her hands close to her, looking out towards the driveway, and makes a sobbing noise.

The Old French Church, known now as the Crispell Memorial, burial grounds, and other homes all have a tale to tell, too.

A reader adds that "The New Paltz Cinema, a small movie theater that's about 100 years old, is also haunted by a little girl. Employees have heard her laughing and playing."

And as an extra treat, New Paltz is right across the lake from the Mohonk Mountain House, a 265-room castle that was used as a backdrop in Stephen King novels "Thinner" and "The Shining."

So if you're getting tired of the same old spooks, jump in the car and head towards Poughkeepsie and the Hudson Valley. You'll run into New Paltz and all the spirits you can handle.

The perp on tape.


Anonymous said...

The New Paltz Cinema, a small movie theater that's about 100 years old, is also haunted by a little girl. Employees have heard her laughing and playing.

Ron Ieraci said...

Anon - thanks; we added your note to the post.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

My friend just posted something on Facebook on Clinton Road in NJ. That in turn had me googling: “Locust Tree, New Paltz, Haunted” which led me here. Funny thing. I ate at Locust Tree’s restaurant with a few people a couple of years ago. Throughout the whole dinner, I was a bit on edge; just feeling a bit creeped out for no reason. At some point during the meal, my girlfriend urged me to check out the other rooms of the restaurant as it was a historic building (and pretty empty that night). I walked around the place a bit and found myself standing at the foot of a staircase looking outside opened French doors. The night was pitch black and I could make out just a few trees in the distance. That seemed fine. But I’d turn around and look upstairs which was brightly lit, and it felt completely creepy. And I’d turn around to look outside: fine. And I’d turn around and look upstairs: creepy… At some point the restaurants owner came up to me and chatted with me (creepy actually, but not ghostly), and at some point mentioned a ghost (which I didn’t prompt). That was pretty much it. I returned to the table, told my friends of what I was feeling and my talk with the owner, and we left. I didn’t really see anything, and I wouldn’t ever really claim I was a psychic or anything, but something’s up at the Locust Tree.