By Alison Fox
October 02, 2019
View of the 19th century house known as the Merchant's House Museum from its back garden.
Brooke Pierce/Getty Images

New York City is full of weird, unexplained activity — and no, we’re not talking about the odd smell that comes out of the subway. There’s paranormal activity all around the city, all you have to do is know where to look.

New York has been the site of many battles dating back before the American Revolutionary War, and it has had a long and storied history since.

From Manhattan to Staten Island, there are unexplained and mysterious sightings in historic buildings that you still visit today.

Here are some of the most haunted places in New York City’s five boroughs.

Manhattan

Morris Jumel Mansion

The Morris Jumel Mansion is the oldest house in Manhattan. It was built in 1765 by Colonel Roger Morris as a summer house for his wife. It sat on about 135 acres of land that is now Washington Heights. The family abandoned their house when the American Revolutionary War broke out, and General George Washington moved in, making it his headquarters in the fall of 1776. After the war, the estate was confiscated and sold to cover war debts. It served as a tavern before being abandoned and then later used by Washington — then the president — to hold his first Cabinet dinner in 1790.

In 1810, Eliza and Stephen Jumel —she from New York and he a merchant from the south of France — bought the mansion. But after Stephen’s suspicious death, Eliza remarried none other than Aaron Burr, the former vice president who killed Alexander Hamilton, according to Curbed New York.

Since the 1960s, rumors that the house is haunted have plagued it. Sightings have included a group of schoolchildren (who were reportedly told to be quiet by the ghostly image of Eliza), a talking grandfather clock, and a Hessian soldier emerging from paintings on the wall, according to Curbed.

Much of the land was sold by the 1880s, but you can still visit the mansion from Tuesday through Sunday.

Merchant's House Museum

This 19th century house was built on East 4th Street, once an exclusive suburb of New York City. In 1835, just three years after it was built, the house was purchased by hardware merchant Seabury Tredwell, whose family continued to live there for nearly 100 years — and some say they never left, according to the Merchant’s House Museum.

One of Tredwell’s daughters, Gertrude, was born in the upstairs bedroom and lived in the home her entire life until she died in 1933 at the age of 93. Since then, staff, volunteers, visitors, and even people passing by the house have reported “strange and inexplicable happenings,” including sounds, smells, and sightings.

The house, which has been a museum since 1936, was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1965 at the first meeting of the newly formed Landmarks Preservation Commission. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark the next year.

The museum now offers monthly ghost tours on the third Friday of each month between January and July, and events “to die for” leading up to Halloween.

Brooklyn

St. Mazie Bar & Supper Club

Today, this Williamsburg bar serves up live music and oysters and offers a supper club experience in the basement. But during Prohibition, it was a speakeasy, according to FREEwilliamsburg. And staff have reported glasses breaking mysteriously and chairs moving with no explanation.

We can’t say if there’s paranormal activity, but we can say their Mexican Firing Squad cocktail with tequila, fresh lime, house-made grenadine, and Angostura bitters sounds delicious.

Queens

Flushing Quaker Meeting House

The Flushing Quaker Meeting House, in what is today Flushing, Queens, was first built in 1694 and may be the oldest house of worship in New York, according to the Flushing Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The National Historic Landmark building has been visited by several famous people in our nation’s history, including George Washington and William Penn.

But, in 1884, an article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported someone dressed in white with “an old style sword hanging at its side.” According to the article, “this spook moves along quietly and interferes with nobody.”

Today, the Meeting House still serves as a place of worship. And while we can’t promise you’ll see that eerie figure, you can visit every Sunday at noon for a tour.

The Bronx

Van Cortlandt House

Construction on this Georgian-style house started in 1748 by Frederick Van Cortlandt. The house was built on land his family had owned and farmed since 1691, but Frederick died before the building was completed. The structure was used by George Washington, Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau, and Georges Washington Louis Gilbert de La Fayette during the Revolutionary War and was eventually sold to the City of New York in 1887. It opened as a museum a decade later.

For years, people have reported seeing dolls walking about, doors that close on their own, and experienced the feeling of being touched, according to The Riverdale Press.

Today, the museum is the oldest surviving building in the Bronx, and — if you’re brave — you can visit Tuesday through Sunday.

Staten Island

The Historic Old Bermuda Inn

This mansion, now an event venue and bed and breakfast, was built in 1832 by the Mesereau family, according to USA Today. Years later, Martha Mesereau is said to have died of a broken heart after her husband was killed during the Civil War. According to reports, Martha still haunts the inn, with people saying they heard strange noises and that one of the lights on a chandelier never shuts off, even if the power is cut. Adding to the mystery, a portrait of Martha apparently caught fire and singe marks are still visible.

You can book a stay at one of the inn’s guest rooms or head there for their Sunday Champagne Brunch.

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