Happy 716 Day to my fellow Western New Yorkers! What better way to celebrate than with some ghost stories found only in the 716 area code?
People always like to ask me what is my favorite haunted location I’ve visited. Now, this is always a difficult question because I could come up with so many answers! I have a favorite haunted restaurant, a favorite haunted bar, a favorite haunted cemetery, a favorite haunted museum… I could keep going.
To celebrate 716 Day on 7/16, I’ve decided to list my Top 10 Favorite Western New York Haunts for you to check out for yourself! To learn more about these locations (and over 100 others), be sure to get yourself a copy of The Haunted Atlas of Western New York!
10. Zoar Valley
Zoar Valley is an enigma when it comes to haunted places throughout Western New York. When you try to research paranormal claims, you won’t find much aside from the universal belief that Zoar Valley is haunted.
Despite the lack of concrete evidence, Zoar Valley is still considered to be one of the most haunted places in Western New York, and it always has been. Algonquians initially inhabited the area during the Stone Age, and they left behind immense burial mounds, some of them dating back 3500 years. According to legend, inside these mounds were nine-foot-tall skeletons. Once the Algonquians left, the Seneca moved in, and stories of witches and wizards and a haunting continued through the centuries.
Today, the valley acts as a state forest and is a favorite place among hikers, but with an increased number of visitors to the area, means that more hikers go missing. One story of lost hikers managed to have a happy ending. When the group was rescued, they informed the police that they began following another group of hikers in the hopes of asking for directions, but before they could ever catch up with them, the mystery hikers disappeared. Could it be that the spirits of those lost to the valley continue to wander along the trails, leading hikers to safety?
9. The Winery at Marjim Manor
Appleton Hall was built in 1854 by Shubal Scudder Merrit for his wife, Sophia. For the next few years, they lived there happily with their children Phebe Sophia, Cordelia, and Lewis… well, happy for a short while.
Over the last 160 years, Shubal’s beloved Appleton Hall has gone through many different owners. Multiple deaths were recorded on the property, including Sophia and Lewis Merritt, and there have been even more hauntings recorded over the years.
According to claims made by both staff and customers, the ghosts of Shubal, Sophie, and Lewis Merritt are all present in what was once their family home.
Today, Appleton Hall has been converted into a winery where the legend of the Merritt family is alive more than ever. Many of the wines are named after the ghost stories, such as Lady of the Manor, Cordelia’s Desire, and Thursday Afternoon at Three.
Speaking of Thursdays at three…
If the legend is to be believed, every death that has occurred on the premises, happened at precisely three o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday.
To learn more about the haunting at the Winery at Marjim Manor, check out Spook-Eats’ newest book The Spirit Guide: America’s Haunted Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries.
8. Stockton Hotel
The Stockton Hotel has been a staple for the town of Stockton and the surrounding Chautauqua region for over a century now. Built in 1899, the Stockton Hotel hasn’t changed much, having served Stockton as a hotel and restaurant ever since.
According to legend, a young man attempted to commit suicide up in the attic by hanging (and strangely enough, a rope still hangs up there). A woman in an old fashioned dress has also been seen in the bathroom on the upper floor where the current general manager believes a brothel was once run. The sound of footsteps can be heard in the empty building, and some of the staff refuse to go into the basement because one waitress had a spooky encounter in the cooler with several items moving on their own.
7. Lily Dale
I know! I know! I’m cheating by combining a few locations in one!
First incorporated in 1879 as the Cassadaga Lake Free Association, Lily Dale was home for Spiritualists, suffragists, and freethinkers. Since its initial establishment, Lily Dale has been a community for psychic mediums and those hoping to further the science and religion of Spiritualism.
Lily Dale is home to several haunted locations including Maplewood Hotel, the Assembly Hall, and Inspiration Stump (I warned you I was cheating with this one).
Lily Dale is not your usual haunt. You won’t hear stories of grisly murders or deadly battles, and there’s no word on whether there are any poltergeists or malevolent spirits haunting the historic buildings and surrounding woods.
Lily Dale might be considered more of a spiritual experience, and not a paranormal one. The level of activity you might experience will depend on how sensitive you are.
6. The Lady in Glass
It seems as if the legend surrounding the Lady in Glass grows more dramatic with each generation. Some stories claim that she was a tragic bride who died on her wedding day of a broken heart. In the 1950s, the bride transformed into a prom date gone wrong. My personal favorite claims that the young bride was left at the altar. She was so overcome with grief, she turned to stone, and her father decided to protect her with a glass case.
The beauty behind the glass case overlooking Lake View Cemetery is Grace Galloway. ‘Twas not a broken heart that killed the young lady, but rather, tuberculosis.
The marble visage of young Grace has sparked countless urban legends and ghost stories throughout the years. Some people report spotting a woman wandering through the cemetery in a wedding dress. Locals who like to break into the cemetery at night have also reported seeing the glass case empty, only adding to the wandering bride tale.
5. Flint Hill
Flint Hill is one of the pieces of Buffalo history that has been forgotten over time. It may not look like much now, but it is, in fact, a burial mound that we have built on top of over the centuries.
Flint Hill became the winter campground for the American troops during the War of 1812. The winter was harsh and what resulted was the death of over 300 men. Eventually, the bodies were moved to a nearby meadow. They’re still there to this day, but a meadow no longer marks their final resting place, but rather, the Delaware Park Golf Course.
Right near the fourth hole along the course, there is a boulder that was placed there in 1896 to mark the place where 300 soldiers from the War of 1812 still lie.
Many golfers report feeling as if the ground around that particular hole moves on its own, making it nearly impossible to make the shot.
4. Roycroft Inn & Campus
The Roycroft Campus was established by Elbert Hubbard (not to be confused with L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame) in 1895 and acted as a haven for members of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Many historians and paranormal enthusiasts, alike, suspect that Hubbard was part of a secret society, most likely Rosicrucianism (or the Order of the Rosy Cross). In his writings, Hubbard referred to himself as Fra, which is a traditional Masonic title, only fueling the suspicion that he was involved in a secret society. And the Ruskin Room is said to be where Hubbard conducted his rituals.
Paranormal claims have been made throughout the Roycroft. Guests have left the boutique hotel in the middle of the night after objects moved on their own, wait staff have heard their names called out in Hubbard Hall, and there have been apparitions of both an older woman and a young girl in the gift shop of the Campus.
3. Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery
Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery is considered by many to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Western New York. Perhaps not as (in)famous as Goodleburg, Gurnsey Hollow’s history is just as tragic and its reputation is just as unnerving.
There is a cross on one side of the cemetery, and according to local folklore, all visitors must kiss the cross before leaving the cemetery, and if you don’t, you’ll diiiiiiiie!
Urban legends aside, Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery was the sight of a tragedy that has somehow managed to leave a scar on the land. In the early days of the town of Frewsburg, a gang of townspeople chased a mentally ill child to the cemetery, stoned them to death, and buried them on the grounds.
The young child is believed to terrorize any late-night visitors for fear another child will meet the same fate. Guests have also reported seeing the classic Lady in White and even an older woman who likes to glare at trespassers.
2. Iron Island Museum
Formerly a church built in 1883, Iron Island Museum is considered to be one of the most haunted places in Western New York. The church closed its doors in the 1940s and like so many other buildings in Buffalo, remained empty in 1956 when it became a funeral home. It was donated in 2000 to the Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy, and since Linda and her mother, Marge, have taken over, it has become a beacon for paranormal investigators for almost two decades now.
It is believed that the museum is haunted by the ghost of Edgar Zernicke, whose cremated remains went unclaimed for years. Iron Island is also haunted by the spirits of two six-year-old boys whose funerals were held there in the 1960s. People have reported hearing their names called by children, both audibly with their own ears as well as in EVPs. The coat rack is thought to be a vortex, stirring up psychic energy, and the attic is said to be home to a grumpy spirit known by many investigators as the Night Watchman.
1. Ghostlight Theatre
The Ghostlight Theatre was not always the home of Starry Night Theatre, Inc. Up until 2001, it was the home of the Evangelical Friedens Church of North Tonawanda. According to legend, the cornerstone was laid on a dark and stormy Halloween night in 1889.
Since Starry Night Theatre, Inc. moved into the old church, volunteers both on stage and off have reported unusual and unexplained activity all throughout the building. The most haunted place in the entire theatre is the infamous spiral staircase where EVPs have been captured saying people’s names, the sound of phantom footsteps have been heard, and most who venture up the stairs share a feeling of uneasiness.
Aside from full-bodied apparitions (though that is impressive in and of itself), the spirits of the Ghostlight Theatre have made themselves known by running around and moving hangers in the costume room, through electronic recordings (spoken in both English and German), as well as appearing in photographs. The most famous photo taken at the Ghostlight was during a performance of A Christmas Carol where a figure can be seen standing behind the actor playing Jacob Marley.
What’s your favorite haunted location in Western New York? Did it make the list? To learn even more about my favorite haunts in Western New York (as well as over 100 other haunted locations in the 716 area), be sure to get a copy of the Haunted Atlas of Western New York!
Cover photo by Emily Wayland of the Singular Fortean Society.
If you own a haunted bar, cafe, hotel, or restaurant and you’d like us to check it out, reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If you have a favorite haunted hot spot with great food and atmosphere and you’d like to share it with us, hit us up on social media or leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you… Thanks for joining us, and Happy Haunting!