ghostly goings on

Move over haunted hayrides and scary corn mazes. Westchester County has real ghost stories to tell! Apparitions, voices and noises in the night may signal the presence of former residents dating back hundreds of years.

Footsteps and Voices… Oh My!
My first paranormal experience occurred just before daylight. The sound of heavy footsteps climbing up the basement stairs beneath my bedroom woke me up. My heart pounded. I knew there was no outside door to the basement and the hallway door to the basement was locked. The footsteps stopped abruptly. Twice more, over the years in that South Salem house, I heard footsteps climbing up from the basement and a man’s voice calling “Harry!” Once, the voice said, “Ma’am, ma’am.”

Maureen Koehl, Lewisboro town historian and author of Lewisboro Ghosts – Strange Tales and Scary Sightings, was the perfect person to ask about local paranormal activity. It seems that Northern Westchester is chock-a-block with the spirits of farmers, merchants, women and children who have decided to make their presence known. After hearing stories from residents and researching town history, Ms. Koehl says, “There seems to be a cluster in the Spring Street, Main Street and Three Lakes area in South Salem.”

A Side Order of Spooky
Private homes are not the only places in Westchester where spirits hang out. South Salem’s Horse and Hound Inn on Spring Street, built in the late 1700s, may serve up more than what’s featured on the menu. Ms. Koehl notes that paranormal activities including footsteps in an empty upstairs room and sightings of a woman in blue have been heard and seen by several employees over the years.

Another tasty example is North Salem’s The Farmer and the Fish restaurant. According to Robert L. Treadway, former North Salem Historical Society trustee, the spirit of faithful servant Ambrose Seymour has made his presence known to restaurant staff at this historic Purdy family homestead built in 1776. Footsteps on the second floor, doors opening and closing, and taps on the shoulder are attributed to this playful poltergeist. Go for the food and stay for the supernatural experience!

New Buildings, Old Ghosts
Paranormal investigator, Jason Medina, tells the story of old Public School 13 in his book, Ghosts and Legends of Yonkers. After this circa 1900 building was converted into new apartments, residents reported seeing apparitions and hearing voices and strange noises. Perhaps the spirits of former students and teachers? Barry Pirro of has investigated eerie happenings at the Bronxville Public Library built in 1942. Over the years, librarians have reported hearing voices in the locked stairwell leading down to the basement and rolling sounds in the attic.

Sign up for a Ghost Walk
Sleepy Hollow cemetery offers daytime and evening walking tours – ambling past headstones, mausoleums and statues dating back to the 1700s. This historic cemetery is the final resting place of luminaries including Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie and Elizabeth Arden. Increase the goose-bump factor and register for the night-time lantern-lit guided tours at Fall is the perfect time to soak up the otherworldly ambience!

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