New York's Capital District boasts several different interesting things about being the seat of government for the Empire State. The City of Albany is the oldest continuous settlement of the first 13 Colonies, we're the home of perforated toilet paper (your bums are welcome), and we even coined the phrase "a baker's dozen" in the 1800's. Another fact of Albany's lengthy history is that it's older than New York City, and some would even say for that very reason, it's more haunted too. I can tell you I've definitely had my run-ins with city ghosts on the downtown blocks of yesteryear, so check out my 5 favorite haunted places in Albany.
#1: The Capitol Building
Albany's Capitol Building not only took 30 years to complete, but it's the largest and most ostentatious capitol building in the nation. The architecture is astounding with the Grand Staircase being the showpiece. The building has claimed two lives though. Between the late 1800's and 1911, two men met their untimely demises within the stone behemoth. Construction foreman Cormac McWilliams fell from the scaffolding he was working on in the Assembly Chamber and died on impact.
In the 1900's, the Capitol fire took place, burning precious Dutch archive material and original records of the city. 78-year-old night watchman and Civil War veteran, Samuel Abbott, perished in the flames after trying to save the priceless paper artifacts. Since those events, the Assembly Chamber has been rumored to be haunted, and the sounds of phantom jangling keys and clicking locks can be heard, as though Mr. Abbott is still doing his rounds about the building. The hauntings aren't terribly frightening though, they seem to be just the residual activities of two men who were doing their jobs when they passed away.
#2: Historic Cherry Hill
The ghost story of Cherry Hill dates back to the untimely death of John Whipple almost 200 years ago in the dining room of the home. The 1787 house was the site of a crime of passion involving couple Elise Lansing-Whipple and her husband John. They boarded there in one of the basement rooms of the large Dutch home near the Hudson River, but love blossomed between Elise and a man named Jesse Strang. After she secured Jesse a job at the house doing handywork, the two plotted the murder of her husband in order to be together. Unfortunately, they didn't have true crime documentaries to reroute their terrible idea, and on a rainy evening in 1827, Strang aimed his pistol at John through a lit window in the home where he was eating. The bullet killed John and the plot was quickly uncovered.
When Elise and Jesse were tried for John's murder, Elise was acquitted but Jesse was convicted and hanged at what was then Gallows Hill. That site of the public execution is now the Empire State Plaza. To this day, people have heard footsteps throughout the home, and even seen the silhouette of what could be John Whipple in the home where he met his end.
#3: Schuyler Mansion
The Schuyler Mansion has long been one of Albany's most prized historic landmarks. The large brick home is over 250 years old and was the childhood home of Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander. Her popularity has grown since her husband's musical hit Broadway. The interior parlor on the south side of the home was where Eliza and and Alexander were married, and they regularly returned to the home to visit with their children later in life.
The ghostly happenings from within the old structure are said to be centered more around Eliza than anyone else, including transparent visages of her in 18th Century clothing seen briefly from one's peripheral vision. Footsteps on the original wood floors of the second floor salon between the bedrooms are a more common occurrence and several doors in the home apparently refuse to stay shut. Docents and tour guides of this state owned property have reported the heavy interior shutters opening and closing on their own as well, and walking into uncanny cold spots. Voices calling out or speaking in nearby rooms have even been heard from areas where there was no living person.
#4: State Education Building
The State Education Building is one of Albany's most distinguished architectural feats, and the columnade along the exterior is a true work of art. Construction began in 1908 and was finally complete and and the building dedicated in 1912. It's what allegedly happened between those years that has become one of the city's most gruesome legends.
An Italian laborer went missing during the first phase of construction when the foundation was being laid. The man showed up to work and stored his lunch and personal belongings where he normally did, but after the workday was done the other laborers came across his belongings, but he was nowhere to be found. The theory goes that he fell into the foundation excavations and with no one knowing he had been down there, concrete was poured over his body ultimately entombing him in the building. Stories from construction workers at the Alfred E. Smith building across the street, erected several years later, were passed through the ranks somewhere between truth and legend. It's even been said the State Education Building foreman knew of what had happened, but with construction already behind schedule he didn't stop the work to find the man so as not to delay it any further. You can already guess whose ghost is said to be seen and heard roaming the massive halls and rooms of the Education Building to this day. Sadly, no one's going to be digging for the truth of this legend any time soon, so the legend, and perhaps the ghost, live on.
#5: Ten Broeck Mansion
Built for the Brigadier General Abraham Ten Broeck and his wife Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Ten Brock, they enjoyed barely more than a decade there before their deaths and passed the large home to their children. Subsequent owners stayed and left until the Olcott family moved in and updated the space for the mid-1800's. The original architectural features of the inside are beautifully restored, and once sealed in the basement for decades is an intact wine cellar.
There are an astounding number of EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomena, that have been captured on audio devices of every kind in this 1798 Federal style mansion that overlooks the Hudson River. While the city encroached upon the once sprawling acreage of the Ten Broeck estate, the living house museum now stands on the eastern end of one city block of property. The ghosts rumored to roam the property have long been passed in the form of folklore by those who once worked patrolling the home in the mid-1900's, and guests, staff, investigators and docents alike throughout the years. The door of the second floor master bedroom has a habit of slamming closed on its own, I've heard it, known those who've seen it happen, and even captured the sound on audio recorder. The home is open for daytime tours, and on occasion is opened for a portion of a ghost walk tour of the city on Halloween.
These are 5 of my most favorite haunts in the city of Albany. The city is incredibly historic, and several of the earliest buildings from the 1600's remain in the city and surrounding county. We're lucky for so much past to be present now, physically. Does the land and the architecture hold the echoes of former people? We think they do, in what capacity we can't say for sure, but the ghosts of Albany are likely out there still watching the city rush by.
Thanks for checking out the list,