October is here and many thoughts turn to spooky and ghostly ideas about Halloween. While the holiday is a fun time for kids, there is also a ghostly presence lingering in the minds of spiritual enthusiasts. One unlikely place that one may encounter a ghostly presence is the New York State Capitol.
Capitol Hauntings, a Special Halloween Tour of the New York State Capitol, is a free special tour that highlights ghost stories, legends and reported ghostly sightings connected to the New York State Capitol.
One ghost may be Samuel Abbott, a watchman of the Capitol who was the only casualty of the Capitol’s tragic 1911 fire that also claimed 270,000 original early American documents when it consumed the Assembly Library and part of the New York State Library. But Mr. Abbott may not be retired yet. Several state employees maintain Abbott’s ghost still makes the rounds in his watchman’s uniform on the fourth and fifth floors of the building’s western side, jingling keys, testing doorknobs and turning out lights.
Artist William Morris Hunt painted “The Flight of Night” and “The Discoverer,” onto the walls of the State Assembly, but his paintings aren’t visible now. When the Assembly’s vaulted ceiling proved dangerous a few years after the art was finished, the ceiling was lowered four feet below the murals, which were painted directly onto the sandstone and could not be salvaged. While the paintings remained visible during the artist’s lifetime, Hunt was devastated when plans for additional murals were scrapped for a lack of funding. Some speculate Hunt committed suicide after his body was found in a pond in New Hampshire in 1879, and his ghost roams the Assembly vault searching for his hidden work.
Hunt’s is not the only ghost in the Assembly. In 1878, one worker fell from scaffolding while plastering the ceiling on a Saturday night. Although he was alive when he was found Monday morning, doctors could not save his life; he died a few nights later. His grave is marked by a unique tombstone carved to look like a tree stump, marking a life cut short – and possibly carved from sandstone borrowed from the Capitol construction site.
Whatever you may or may not believe, check out Capitol history with a tour. You can register online for free tours, which are weekdays from October 7 to November 1 from 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. The tours begin at the State Street Lobby of the Capitol Building.
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