Dare to Explore these Haunted Places in Seneca Falls, NY
Another day in October in Upstate New York, another few stops along the Haunted History Trail. This time my journey takes us to Seneca Falls, the midpoint between Syracuse and Rochester. It’s also the site of some of the most important moments from women’s history and the women’s suffrage movement. And with so much history, there’s bound to be some spirits lingering around. Both the historical society museum and the main hotel in town are considered to be among the haunted places in Seneca Falls.
Thank you to the folks at the Haunted History Trail of New York and Discover Seneca for inviting me to experience these haunted places for myself.
Seneca Falls Historical Society at Becker Mansion
The Seneca Falls Historical Society is located in the old Becker Mansion on Cayuga Street. The first property on site was erected in 1823 – a small wooden house. Then in 1855, Edward Mynderse built a two-story, Italian-style brick home.
Twenty years later, Edward sold the house to Ellen Partridge, who then did extensive renovations. She expanded the mansion by adding a third floor, bringing the total to 23 rooms. The epitome of Queen Anne Victorian style, the home had lots of modern amenities that many people couldn’t afford at the time. In 1990, the mansion caught fire, but surprisingly was saved because the house had a telephone. The folks inside were able to call for help and quickly get the fire put out. Many of the features Ellen added to the house still remain today.
The house was sold again in 1891, this time to Catherine & Norman Becker. The Becker family owned the home until it was sold to the Seneca Falls Historical Society in 1961. With no major changes to the mansion since the late 1800s, walking through the home is like stepping back in time.
Two of my favorite features in the house are the chandeliers and the main staircase. The chandeliers are mostly original gas-lit fixtures that have been converted to electric. And each one is just as beautiful and unique as the one before it. As for the staircase, each landing has a checkerboard designed into the wood. That was for the children to play on, keeping them occupied when there were guests in the house.
Becker Mansion Today
Now the home of the Historical Society Museum, the Becker Mansion is open for tours, events, and community gatherings. For example, next month they are celebrating Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s birthday with a luncheon. Every October the Historical Society hosts their Haunted Mansion Tours, bringing to life the former residents of Becker Mansion and Seneca Falls.
While some of the rooms are kept in original Victorian style, others have transformed into museum galleries. There are exhibits on Women’s Rights, circus toys, a fire company, and more. And as the home to the historical society, there is a library of historical records as well. But my favorite artifact? That’s the authentic British red coat worn during the Revolutionary War.
Haunted Mansion Tours in Seneca Falls
Every October, staff and volunteers get together to put on a living history ghost tour at Becker Mansion. Reenactors portray some of the most prominent residents of both the mansion and of Seneca Falls. As guests make their way through the building, they will “meet” and learn the stories of the “ghosts”.
The “ghost” tours are scheduled for every Tuesday in October and reservations are required. Guests will learn about famous residents of Seneca Falls. That includes Grace Woodworth, a photographer who was known for her photos of Susan B. Anthony.
Then there are a selection of folks who lived in the home. Three Beckers talk about their time living in the mansion: Catherine, Norman, and Florence. Edward Mynderse, original owner of the home, also makes an appearance. Lastly, Mary Merrigan, nanny and maid to the Becker family shares her stories.
Is Becker Mansion Haunted?
According to folks who have lived, worked in, and visited the mansion, the answer is a resounding yes. The two most noteworthy ghosts are Edward Mynderse and Mary Merrigan. Reports say that Edward likes to prank people, by holding doors and turning pictures around. Mary is often seen looking out her bedroom window, or banging pots and pans in the kitchen. Mary’s room is the one that paranormal investigators find the most activity and unexplained noises.
The Gould Hotel
Depending on who you talk to will tell you if The Gould Hotel is haunted or not. Many people believe it is. But there have also been various owners throughout the years who were hesitant to admit it.
Why would the hotel be haunted? Before The Gould Hotel opened in 1920, the Hoag House occupied that exaction location. Until that hotel burned down on Thanksgiving morning in 1918. Add to that over 100 years of history, including some of the most monumental moments in women’s suffrage. Enough things could have happened in the past century to give the hotel a spiritual presence.
From the outside, The Gould is the depiction of modern elegance. Originally constructed with the best materials and equipment in the early 1900s, The Gould maintains its initial opulence. But, recent renovations have modernized the building. Deep purple and silver furnishings fill the lobby and guest rooms (a color scheme I love), and other conveniences have been added.
Is The Gould Hotel in Seneca Falls Haunted?
So apart from the history, why do people think The Gould Hotel is haunted? Various employees have reported strange things happening to them while they worked. Lights that go on or off unexpectedly. Unusual noises.
There’s even a report of an adult male guest who was so alarmed by something that happened in his room, he demanded to be moved. Upon learning there were no rooms available, he left and never returned.
* Note that The Gould Hotel is not on the Haunted History Trail of New York. But, many people I have spoken with believe there are spirits lingering inside its walls.