Nestled in the quiet village of East Aurora, lies a community whose leader was known as the Sage of East Aurora.
The History: The Roycroft Campus (and subsequently, the Inn) was established by Elbert Hubbard (not to be confused with L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology) in 1895 as a haven for members of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th Century. The Roycrofters turned their back on industrialization and focused on quality, handmade goods. Their name is said to originate from the term “King’s Craft” from medieval Europe and the guilds of King’s craftsmanship. The Roycroft was home to artisans, free thinkers, radicals, reformers, and suffragists in a sort of utopian community. Hubbard, the fearless leader of the Roycroft Campus, was killed alongside his wife, Alice, on the Lusitania when it sank off the coast of Ireland in 1915. The Roycroft Campus continued under the guidance of Hubbard’s son, Elbert Hubbard, Jr. until 1938. The Campus was quiet until it was granted National Historic Landmark status in 1986 and reopened in 1995 where it still functions as a restaurant, inn, and workshop for artists.
The Haunting: While the Roycroft might not boast stories of murder or malevolent spirits stalking its halls, it certainly has an air about it that seems both soothing and sacred. As if continuing Hubbard’s legacy, guests have claimed to feel happy and welcomed in the hotel and restaurant of the Roycroft Inn. Objects are said to move in the hotel rooms, noises can be heard in the restaurant, basement, and guest rooms, and lights have been known to flash on and off. The hotel staff tells of guests refusing to stay the night because they feel a presence in their room and even our waitress, Rita, told us that when she began working at the Roycroft Inn 15 years ago, she heard someone whisper her name in Hubbard Hall. There are rumors of Hubbard being a part of a secret society (most likely a Rosicrucian), and sacred architecture can be found all throughout the campus and inn.
The Roycroft Inn has embraced its unique history as a mecca for the Arts & Crafts Movement even into the 21st Century. They’ve worked hard to maintain the historical integrity of the Inn and Campus and also offers historical and ghostly walking tours with the Buffalo native, Mason Winfield. The staff is split on whether or not they think the Roycroft is haunted but those that do will excitedly tell you of their experiences. To see for yourself, book a room at the inn… if you dare…
The Roycroft Inn is by far one of my all-time favorite haunted restaurants I’ve been to in a long time (it gives the Farnsworth House a run for its money). You can choose to sit inside or outside, the menu is varied and exciting, and there is an impressive selection of beer, whiskey, and specialty cocktails. I would definitely recommend the Larkin About–a dry rose cocktail named after Hubbard’s time working for the Larkin Soap Company. Prices are a bit on the high side (my sandwich was $15 at lunchtime). However, you get your money’s worth. The portions are enormous, and the food is absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend the Roycroft Club Sandwich with smoked ham, turkey, bacon, and basil mayo or the cashew caramel cheesecake for dessert. The plate that stole the show was definitely their shrimp and lobster bisque (I like to consider myself a lobster bisque connoisseur, and this could very well be the best lobster bisque I’ve ever had). The truffle chips were a bit on the bland side for me, but I am addicted to salt so I wouldn’t trust my palate when it comes to that!
Type of Experience: Hotel and restaurant
Dining Style: Casual to Fine Dining
Cuisine: Contemporary American
Price Range: $5-42
Phone Number: (716) 652-5552
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday: 7:00am – 10:30am
Sunday Brunch: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Monday – Saturday: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Monday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Sunday: 4:30pm – 9:00pm
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