Is one of Buffalo’s most haunted locations as spooky as they say?
The History: Asylums have always been part of the darker side of American history, popping up in cities and communities all around the country, and Buffalo, New York is no different. The Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane opened in the Richardson-Olmsted Complex in 1880 and continued to treat patients until as late as 1975 when it finally closed its doors. It is considered to be one of the first holistic hospitals in the nation, inspired by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride who worked to treat patients by establishing a sense of community, occupational therapy, and even a “beauty of place.” The beautifully constructed building was abandoned in the 1970s and was left vacant until work began to restore it in 2006. It took over ten years, but eventually, the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane reopened as Hotel Henry.
The Haunting: When one enters Hotel Henry, they’re greeted with bright lights and modern minimalistic decorations. It’s easy to forget that this urban resort was once a hospital, and with hospitals there comes a very particular kind of energy that remains for years. Most of the paranormal claims originate from the construction workers during their decade of reconstruction work on the complex. Many workers reported hearing the sound of people crying out for help in the otherwise empty building. Tools would go missing, and there were even reports of shadow figures running around the upper floors. Some claim to feel a sense of anxiety and fear upon entering the building, but that could be based on the austere facade or even the basic idea that this was once an asylum. In truth, most people who visit Hotel Henry have reported feeling calm and even happy, leading many paranormal enthusiasts to believe that Dr. Kirkbride’s work has continued into the 21st century, creating a peaceful environment that heals the mind, body, and soul.
It might be surprising to see such a low rating for a former insane asylum (possibly the lowest I’ve ever given!). This has mostly to do with how Hotel Henry has chosen to approach it’s haunting and those who ask about it. The people behind the urban complex are under the impression that paranormal events and investigations paint mental illness in a negative light and only add to the stigma of mental illness. They have partnered with the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition (which is good), and with that, have ended any conversation that spirits may be haunting their location, looking to reach out and communicate (which is bad). While we’re disappointed to find that Hotel Henry feels this way about paranormal investigators (who are some of the most open-minded people I know), I understand why they have chosen to do this. It is out of respect for the patients who were sent to the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane and their families who might still be alive and living in Buffalo. If you decide to visit Hotel Henry, please keep this in mind and be respectful of their request.
100 Acres: The Kitchens at Hotel Henry is a small restaurant–both seating and menu-wise. The lunch menu is drastically cheaper than the dinner menu with the most expensive dish at lunch being $12 (grilled cheese), and the most expensive item at dinner costing $48 (strip steak). The lunch menu has less than ten items, focusing on dishes such as hummus, rice, and miso bowls, as well as salads, and the ever popular avocado toast. Dinner has a wider variety with appetizer and entree options. I ordered the grilled cheese and it was good (I’ll admit that grilled cheese is one of my favorite foods on the planet so I’m easy to please), but what I was most looking forward to was 100 Acres’s cocktail menu. 100 Acres offers seven “First Rate Cocktails” for $11 that sound like no other cocktails I’ve ever tried before. Unfortunately, there is no bartender at lunchtime. This was a bit odd to me because I visit most restaurants for Spook-Eats at lunch–The Roycroft Inn, Turner’s Seafood, and the Red Coach Inn just to name a few–and I’ve always been able to order a cocktail. Honestly, the cocktails were the most interesting things to me on their menu, so it’s a shame I didn’t get a chance to try one. So consider this your friendly word of warning: the lunch menu may be more affordable, but if you’re looking for interesting dishes and cocktails, you should only visit 100 Acres at dinner time. Reservations are also highly recommended, so give them a call to make sure you get a table.
Type of Experience: Restaurant, Bar, Bakery, Espresso Bar, Hotel
Dining Style: Business Casual
Cuisine: Contemporary American
Price Range: $2-45
Address: 444 Forest Ave Buffalo, NY 14213
Phone Number: (716) 955-1511
Hours of Operation:
BREAKFAST: Daily 7:00-11:00am
(Served Sundays 7:00-10:00am)
BRUNCH: Saturday-Sunday 10:30am-2:00pm
LUNCH: Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:00pm
DINNER: Monday-Thursday 5:00-9:30pm
DINNER: Friday-Saturday 5:00-10:00pm
Closed Sundays for dinner
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