Featured Story

An authentic haunted Halloween at Sylvester Manor

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | A mysterious visitor seen walking down by the creek at the Manor.
JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | A mysterious visitor seen walking down by the creek at the Manor.

Sylvester Manor’s history and ghost stories will converge this Halloween for its Mysteries of the Manor tour.

On Saturday, October 31 from 1 to 4 p.m., the Manor will host ghost tours and take visitors on a haunted hayride of the farm. Sylvester Manor has more than just rumors of ghosts, they have actual documentation of ghostly occurrences dating back hundreds of years.

“It allows us to weave entertainment into history and the cultural landscape here,” explained Maura Doyle, Sylvester Manor’s historic preservation coordinator.

“Every one of our ghost stories actually happened and we know that person existed and has some place in the narrative here. We do not judge. I myself have never had a paranormal experience, but many other people have,” Ms. Doyle said.

“What’s fascinating is that there are references to some of these experiences in the family archive that is now at New York University. That’s 10,000 documents that include wills, ledgers and correspondence.”

The nearly 400-year-old Manor has more than its fair share of history and ghost stories. Some of the stories relate to specific items that still exist in the house, like a haunted mirror, while others detail parts of the property that visitors can see for themselves.

For example, there have been reports of a female spirit allegedly haunting a section of woods near the Manor House.

“She flits in and out of the trees,” Ms. Doyle said. “The story goes that she was an indentured servant from Ireland. She is seen around there because her toddler drowned in a nearby pond where they used to water the livestock.”

Another ghost story pertains to a specific mirror in the house in which more then one person has reported seeing a woman in white in the reflection.

“It is a 1750s London-made mahogany and gilt looking glass,” Ms. Doyle explained. “This is the one that for more than 100 years has been referred to as having the spirit of a woman appear in it.”

There are many more ghostly tales attributed to the Manor. One story claims that alleged pirate Captain Kidd murdered two pirates who now haunt the property. “Captain Kidd was genuinely involved with Sylvester Manor,” Ms. Doyle said. “He would take goods from the Manor, bring them to market and keep a consignment fee for doing this — it’s in the archive. He buried treasure on Gardiners Island, that is in the historic record.”

“We want this event to be authentic,” Ms. Doyle continued. “These are all stories or people that connect with this place in its timeline, so it’s not just a generic mummy or zombie. These were real people.”

On Halloween, volunteers will tell ghost stories during house tours. A haunted hayride will make stops at various locations on the property, while a guide tells spooky tales.

There will be a costume parade, a treasure hunt, snacks and warm cider. Tickets are $5 per person; children ages 4 and under are free.

House tours require a reservation in advance. This event is free for Sylvester Manor members.

For more information, call 749-0626 or visit sylvestermanor.org. To purchase tickets, go to Eventbrite.com.