The Merchant’s House Museum: “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House”

The Merchant’s House Museum is a perfect place to get yourself in the mood for Halloween; it’s reputed to be “Manhattan’s most haunted house,” according to the New York Times. In fact, few people who put together a list of haunted places in New York City seem to be able to resist it. For example:

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The house at 29 East 4th Street has come up a couple times in my reading lately. First, a couple months ago, I read Henry James’s Washington Square for the first time, and learned not long afterwards that James allegedly based his heroine, Catherine Sloper, on a real historical Village resident, Gertrude Tredwell. Then I read Footprints in New York, which went into some detail about Gertrude’s life and the house in which she lived (from birth until death).

During the week leading up to Halloween (and once a month the rest of the year), the Merchant’s House hosts candlelit ghost tours. I’m a raving skeptic, but also a sucker for a good ghost story, and this house has plenty of them. The tours take place after dark, most of the rooms lit with nothing but candles and the guides’ flashlights as you learn about the possible ghostly inhabitants, including Gertrude, her father, and several of her siblings.

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The ghost tour is a bit light on the history, focusing instead on recounting visitors’ and staff members’ strange experiences and the results of various paranormal “investigations.” But they’ve made the house effectively atmospheric — enough to make this skeptic shiver once or twice. I’ll just have to go back in daylight to fill in the gaps.

Ellen

Location: 29 East 4th Street, Manhattan
Nearest Public Transit: N/R at 8 St – NYU; 6 at Astor Place; B/D/F/M at Broadway-Lafayette St
Estimated Timespan: Candlelit tours take 1 hour
Cost: General Admission: $13; Special Events/Tours: Prices vary
Website

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Hangman’s Elm (Washington Square Park)

I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, so when I saw Washington Square Park’s Hangman’s Elm on a list of hidden sights in New York, I was immediately interested. I thought there must be some fascinating stories behind that name. Hangman’s Elm is one of the oldest trees in Manhattan, to boot.

Continue reading “Hangman’s Elm (Washington Square Park)”