Albany is an old, old city and, with so much history, we’re bound to have a few ghosts, too.
Of course, the NEW YORK STATE CAPITOL is known for its ghosts which include Samuel Abbott, the night watchman who was the sole victim of the 1911 fire and William Morris Hunt, the artist whose ill-fated murals originally graced the Senate Chamber. The Capitol Hauntings Tours are quite popular and are often completely booked.
Diagonal from the Capitol on Washington Avenue, the OLD STATE EDUCATION BUILDING with its stunning colonnade, has a ghost, too. A workman who was accidentally entombed in the foundations during construction is said to haunt its lower levels.
HISTORIC CHERRY HILL in the South End was the site of one of Albany’s most infamous murders and its said that the ghost of John Whipple, shot to death there in 1827, still walks the upstairs rooms. Convicted of Whipple’s murder, Jesse Strang was executed in what was the city’s last public execution. Thousands came to see him hang and its said that his ghost still haunts the former Gallows Hill. Workers building the EMPIRE STATE PLAZA reportedly saw the condemned man wandering near Eagle Street, dressed in the shroud he wore to his death and looking bewildered. Others say he still walks the path to the scaffold through the Plaza’s small courtyard off State Street.
Another haunted former execution site the northwest corner of LAFAYETTE PARK. Years ago, Saint Agnes School stood not far from here and its halls were haunted by a man who swore he was innocent and vowed to haunt the site of his death until his name was cleared. Who he was and what he was condemned for is unknown, but this area of the park is said to have been the site of a gallows.
Just south of Cherry Hill, MOUNT HOPE DRIVE was once the site of the grand Prentice family estate. A gate flanked with lions overlooked South Pearl Street and, just inside the gate, there was a burial vault for the family of Ezra Prentice who died in 1876. In 1898, the remains were removed to Albany Rural Cemetery, but the vault was not demolished and it was said that the spirits of the Prentice family would regularly emerge from the empty crypt to wander the estate.
The TEN BROECK TRIANGLE neighborhood has quiet a few ghostly tales. The heart of the neighborhood, Van Rensselaer Park, was once a colonial-era burial ground. When the old cemetery became an eyesore, the bones and headstones were gathered into a vault which still exists beneath this pretty little park. Just across the street from the park, a certain brownstone built in 1859 is haunted by the phantom of a Dutch soldier in a metal helmet and breastplate dating to the 17th-century. And the nearby Ten Broeck Mansion, built in 1797, has its share of ghost stories, too.
The LINCOLN PARK gully is also haunted by some very old ghosts. Once, a substantial waterfall on the Beaver Creek tumbled between the shale cliffs and, in 1626, this was the site of a small, but very bloody battle when a party of Dutch soldiers and their Mahican allies were ambushed by the Mohawks they were en route to attack. Ghosts of the men killed that summers days (including one who was burned alive) still walk through the gully, though the Beaver Creek has long since been channeled underground as a sewer.
WASHINGTON PARK is said to be haunted by vague gray figures; prior to 1869, the park was a municipal burying ground and its possible a few graves were forgotten when remains and headstones were moved to Albany Rural Cemetery. Likewise, the former ARMORY on New Scotland Avenue stands near the old Alms House cemetery and similar gray figures have been seen there, too.
Speaking of ALBANY RURAL CEMETERY, it has a few ghosts of its own. In 1869, a Troy newspaper reported on one particular phantom which would step out of its vault for a stroll across Consecration Lake and a phantom horse, killed by colliding with a monument, still gallops about the grounds.
Many private homes and old buildings have their own ghosts, former residents who haven’t left yet. If you believe in them, there are many more spirits haunting this old city!