By Cameron Cupp | October 30, 2021
Like all Northeastern colonial-aged cities, Albany has its share of locations that exhibit unusually high levels of paranormal activity, along with a plethora of sinister stories and terrified patrons.
Here are the seven most haunted places in the Albany area:
Cohoes Music Hall
This grand music hall was constructed in 1874 in the young and bustling industrial city of Cohoes by two local businessmen. This four story building was designed to have retail shops on the first floor and a 475 seat music hall on the third floor.
In its heyday, the hall hosted numerous celebrity guests such as Buffalo Bill Cody, John Philip Sousa, and P.T. Barnum’s baby elephant Hunky Punky. It also hosted an entertainer named Eva Tanguay.
Ms. Tanguay first performed in Cohoes at age 12, where she was booed off stage. She became a famous Hollywood entertainer and singer, returning after she found fame to charm the Capital region, and she was said to have never forgotten her experience in Cohoes. Tanguay died in 1947 and her ghost returned to Cohoes Music Hall.
Staff has reported numerous eerie happenings while working backstage; props mysteriously disappear, and Tanguay’s figure has been seen in empty windows and in the stage left balcony’s second row. The workers are so superstitious, they keep a “ghostlight” on center stage to soothe Tanguay’s spirit, according to the Times Union.
The New York State Capitol Building
There are few places in the Northeast more haunted than New York State’s Capitol Building. It has always been associated with hauntings and legends. Two of the most common stories involve workers whose lives came to an end in the halls of the Capitol.
In the late 1800s, a foreman named Cormac McWilliams was working from a scaffolding in the Assembly Chamber where great politicians like Theodore Roosevelt once debated.
McWilliams slipped and fell off of the scaffolding onto the Chamber floor, and the impact killed him immediately. The Chamber has ever since been reported to be haunted, as there have been reports of ghastly sounds and a presence that can be felt close behind passersby, which they claim is McWilliams himself returning to finish his work.
In 1911, an archivist caught the scent of thick smoke radiating from the building’s library as he returned from his lunch break. The building went up in flames shortly thereafter, destroying over 700,000 documents in the State Library and damaging the Million Dollar Staircase.
After the fire was put out, firemen discovered the body of 78-year-old Samuel Abbott, a night watchman and a veteran of the Civil War. Capital workers have long reported the sounds of Abbott’s jangling keys and twisting locks during late nights around the fourth floor corridor where his body was discovered.
Historic Cherry Hill
Cherry Hill, an unassuming colonial mansion located on Pearl Street and built for Philip Van Rensselaer in 1787 was the site of a brutal crime of passion.
In 1827, a young man named Jesse Strang met Elise Lansing-Whipple. She and her husband, John Whipple, were boarders at Cherry Hill.
Strang and Lansing-Whipple fell madly in love, and conspired to kill her husband so they could be together. Lansing-Whipple secured a job for Strang at Cherry Hill as a hired hand while they worked out the details of the plot.
On a dark and rainy evening, with the Albany wind whipping, Strang took aim at John Whipple, who was sitting beside a lit window. Strang’s bullet struck Whipple, and he died from his wounds.
A dramatic trial ensued, which saw a jury acquit Elise Lansing-Whipple and convict Jesse Strang for the crime they had both plotted. The sentence handed down to Strang was death by public hanging, the last in Albany’s history. Strang was hung until dead at Gallows Hill, which sits on modern day Empire Plaza.
Albany residents notice little activity at Cherry Hill most of the time. However, some claim to, on occasion, see John Whipple’s silhouette in the window, returning to the very spot where his wife’s lover shot him dead almost 200 years ago.
New York State Education Building
The New York State Education Building is home to the most notorious urban legend in Albany.
When the building was being constructed in the early 1900s, an Italian stonemason named Jason was working alongside others on the first floor of the building when he tripped into the basement, which was being filled with concrete.
As Jason struggled, an Irish stonemason scowled, angry at Jason for being so careless around the jobsite. The legend says the Irish stonemason uttered, sadistically: “keep filling” as Jason suffocated under the pouring concrete.
The story reflects popular sentiment at the time, as tension between working class Irish immigrants and Italian immigrants in the city were at an alltime high. One could simply write this story off, however, employees who’ve braved the basement would disagree.
Workers in the Education Building who are required to venture down into the basement, dubbed “the dungeon” after the story, testify that they interact with Jason’s ghost quite often.
Consensus says that Jason is friendly, even helpful, as the book they’d be looking for falls off the shelf behind them as if Jason was aiding them in their search. Some workers feel chills running up their spines going down the elevator, as Jason looks to keep them company on their ride.
New York Senator Ira Harris accompanied President Lincoln to Ford’s Theater the night he was assassinated, and so did his daughter, Clara. When Lincoln was shot, blood from his wound splattered all over Clara’s white dress and traumatized her for life.
Upon Clara’s return to Loudon Cottage outside of Albany, she couldn’t bring herself to destroy or clean the white dress, so she hung it in her closet, permanently. She had it sealed off with a brick wall, so the dress would never be desturbed.
Two years later, Clara was awoken to see the President standing by her bedside.
She was not the only one to encounter Lincoln’s ghost. On Feb. 12, 1909, the young future Governor of Maine, William Tudor Gardiner, was staying with his cousin in the Cottage when he shouted in the middle of the night: “Abraham Lincoln!”
Ten Broeck Mansion
Ten Broeck Mansion was built in 1797 for General Abraham Ten Broeck and his wife Elizabeth Van Rensselear. This handsome old house on Arbor Hill is the site of some unusual hauntings.
Typically, ghosts have specific reasons for haunting the location they appear at. However, in Ten Broeck, one of their ghosts seemingly has no connection to the house itself. In the mid-20th century, children whose families lived in the house claimed to see a strange man on the top floor of the house. He was always dressed in the cloth of a 17th century Dutch soldier, which predates the house by over 100 years.
The mansion has become a popular site for ghost hunters, who have captured recordings of several ghostly voices late into the night. One of these voices appears to be a little girl repeatedly saying, “I’m downstairs.”
The Olde English Pub
Looking for a haunted pub for an unforgettable Halloween night out? Look no further than downtown Albany’s Olde English Pub and Pantry.
Built in 1763, it was once the Historic Quackenbush House, named after the family who lived in Albany for more than 200 years. Now, it's an English themed pub with a red telephone booth outside, and a popular spot for thirsty patrons on any given night.
Over the years, staff have reported a series of haunted happenings in the pub. They have claimed to look up at the bar’s mirrors only to see a reflection staring back at them that wasn’t theirs.
The eeriest stories happen at closing time. A staff member remembers that he was to be picked up by his brother after his shift, which ran until closing time. While he finished his duties, he heard his name being called from the basement by a voice that was clearly not his brother’s. As he started to walk towards the basement steps, he heard his brother call his name from State Street, and went running out to him.