Haunted Places in Saratoga Springs that are Filled with Ghost Stories
October 19, 2023
In a place with as much history as Saratoga Springs, there are bound to be legends of hauntings and ghosts. So it should come as no surprise that the capital region city encourages paranormal enthusiasts to visit – particularly in the fall. Many of the buildings have stories to tell, including the history museum, hotels, and several houses. Are there haunted places in Saratoga Springs, New York? Visit these locations for yourself and make your own decision.
Canfield Casino at the Saratoga Springs History Museum
The most noteworthy haunted place in Saratoga Springs is the historic Canfield Casino. Located in beautiful Congress Park at the center of town, the Casino is also the home of the Saratoga Springs History Museum.
A special thank you to Executive Director Jamie Parillo for guiding me through the museum on my visit.
The history of Canfield Casino
The casino is the work of Irish immigrant John Morrissey. The professional bare-knuckle fighter was big in the gambling world and is the brains behind both the famous race track and historic casino. Morrissey arrived in Saratoga in 1862 and established the ‘Saratoga Clubhouse’ in 1870. At the time the casino was an underground operation for out-of-town, wealthy men only. Membership was $250 per summer (roughly equivalent to over $9,000 today). Famous visitors included politicians, barons, and writers. John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, and Mark Twain are just some of the noteworthy men to have frequented the casino.
After Morrissey’s death in 1878, ownership of the casino went to Albert Spencer and Charles Reed. Fifteen years later, the property was purchased by Richard Albert Canfield, who invested greatly in the casino and became its namesake. In 1902 he added the dining room.
The building retains much of its original architecture and design, making a true joy to explore. Canfield Casino was added the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Saratoga Springs History Museum
When reformers succeeded in outlawing gambling in 1907, Canfield was out of business and sold the property to the city a few years later. In 1912 the Saratoga Springs History Museum moved into the building, becoming the epicenter of the spa city’s history and artifacts. The museum now houses over 16,000 artifacts across multiple floors.
The museum also has relics from the casino, including a roulette wheel and card tables.
The Ghosts of Canfield Casino
With such a sordid history, the underground casino has a handful of ghosts that go along with its wild stories. The most notable ghost is “Old Smoke” himself, John Morrissey. But others have been spotted as well. On separate occasions, two psychics have noted seeing an older man wearing period clothing and sporting a watch outside Jamie Parillo’s office. Rumor has it this might be a man who was keeping track of the gamblers on the floor in the late 1800s.
Other experiences in the museum have been noted by guests over the years. It is said that the twin mirrors on either sides of the high stakes room serve as an other-worldly portal. Visitors have also said they smell lavender perfume throughout the building, and residual sounds, rattles, and lights are regularly experienced. Jamie Parillo says that the paranormal happenings have increased in frequency since they added an exhibit of historic clothing.
Ghost Tours at Canfield Casino
One or twice a year the historic casino/museum hosts a public ghost tour led by a paranormal group. The event usually sells out (as it is for this year), so interested people should book their spots in advance. During the evening, guests can walk throughout the museum and use ghost hunting equipment.
On my ghost tour, a group gathered on the second floor and used dowsing rods to communicate with a young girl’s spirit.
The Devil’s Chair in Congress Park
Sitting at the northeast corner of Congress park is a oversize chair that is crudely carved out of rock. Just looking at the chair gives you an eerie feeling, which only intensifies once you learn about its stories. The most famous one? Legend has it that if you sit in the chair long enough, you will be transported back in time.
The Adelphi Hotel
One of the most prominent and beautiful hotels in Saratoga Springs is undoubtedly The Adelphi Hotel. Built in 1877, the Victorian Era accommodation attracted the most notable and wealthy guests. Including Saratoga Springs’ famous John Morrissey. In fact, since Morrissey died at the hotel in 1878, his spirit has seen still roaming the hallways.
During building renovations in the 1970s, contractors found secret passageways and tunnels that have inspired more stories and ghosts at the property.
The Arcade Building
Another notable landmark in Saratoga Springs, the Arcade Building is known for multiple spirits that are regularly seen, heard, or felt. The building suffered extensive fire damage in 1902, destroying offices for the local newspaper, theater, and post office. Following the tragedy, multiple bodies were found in the wreckage, including a couple who died in each other’s arms alongside their cat. People who work in the building have felt a cat brush up against their legs – but there was no cat around. Others have seen the image of an Asian woman who also perished in the fire.
The Olde Bryan Inn
Legend of the Olde Bryan Inn dates back to the Revolutionary War, when Alexander Bryan operated the inn he purchased next to High Rock Springs. According to the inn’s website, “It is generally recognized that Alexander Bryan was the first permanent resident of Saratoga Springs and his inns were the only Saratoga hotels until 1801 when Gideon Putnam built the famous Grand Union Hotel.”
Over the years, the property and its accompanying buildings passed through various owners until Dave Powers, Joe Wilkinson, and Steve Sullivan partnered to open the Olde Bryan Inn. Now the inn serves as a restaurant for the community, offering classic American fare and a fully-stocked bar. It retains its beautiful stone structure and wooden beams.
But now for the real question: Is the Olde Bryan Inn haunted? Well, the restaurant is not listed on the Haunted History Trail of New York State. And I did not experience anything during my meal. But local legend says that it is. Both staff and guests have reported seeing a woman named “Beatrice” in the ladies’ room and on the staircase.
Other Haunted Places in Saratoga Springs and the Ghosts that Frequent them
Of course, these are just a few of the famed haunted places in Saratoga Springs. Many more stories have been told over the years, tying to the Native American history, historic figures, battlefields and more. You’ll just have to visit Saratoga Springs and take a ghost tour to hear them all.
Haunted Tours in Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Ghost Tours
If you’re looking for a convenient way to visit all of the haunted places in Saratoga Springs, consider booking a haunted tour. Saratoga Ghost Tours run every Friday and Saturday from mid-May through mid-November with extra tours scheduled in October.
The tours are outdoors, rain or shine. So be sure to dress appropriately. Stops along the 90-minute tour include Canfield Casino, various natural springs, the Devil’s Chair, Adelphi Hotel, and others. Guests will learn the tales of “Old Smoke” at the casino, “Angeline” (the witch of Saratoga), and “Hattie”, who is known to be present at her former restaurant.
Tickets do sell out, so it is recommended to purchase them in advance. Adults are $22 and children are $10.
The company also hosts ghost tours through Saratoga’s Greenridge Cemetery every Saturday in October.