Spend a Night at Burn Brae Mansion, One of NY’s Most Haunted Hotels
October 25, 2022
Located in a remote region of the Catskills, Burn Brae Mansion has repeatedly been named one of the most haunted hotels in the country. Stories of a woman seen sitting on the stairs in the middle of the night have been reported by different people at various times. Batteries drain quickly. Footsteps are heard when no one is around. Many guests, including myself, have felt unusual pressure in their chests, and overall uneasiness. So, would you dare spend a night at Burn Brae Mansion?
The History of Burn Brae Mansion
Built between 1907-1908, Burn Brae Mansion is one of three remaining mansions from the MacKenzie family estate. At the time they were built, there were seven scattered throughout Glen Spey. One built by each of George Ross MacKenzie’s children. George had amassed a fortune as president of Singer Sewing Machine, worth $3.5 million (worth roughly $100 million today) when he died in 1892. Burn Brae was built by George’s daughter Margaret and her husband Charles Elkin.
With a few dozen rooms, Tiffany stained glass windows, and architectural charms, the mansion was the symbol of opulence. In its prime, the mansion was home to Margaret’s extravagant parties. But over time it has also been home to a boarding school, tea room, apartment building, and now a bed-and-breakfast and cyclist training center.
Burn Brae Today
The current owners of the mansion, Pat & Mike Fraysse, bought the property in the early 1990s. Surprisingly, the plan was to turn it into a cyclist training center. They had no knowledge of its paranormal activity. With its expansive acreage, large mansion, and accompanying stables, it was the perfect spot to host and train cyclists. Why? Because Michael Fraysse is a world-famous cycling trainer, and twice president of the United States Cycling Federation. When walking through the main rooms of the mansion, you’ll notice trophies and awards from around the world. Including two different Olympics – Montreal in 1976 and Los Angeles in 1984.
The Bed & Breakfast
Now, Mike & Pat operate their large mansion as a bed-and-breakfast, inviting guests from around the world into their home. Due to its remote nature, the Fraysses provide not only breakfast, but also dinner for their guests. Then, they sit around, sharing stories about both the house and their worldly travels. Guests are welcome to explore the house, including the collection of Singer sewing machines, antique dolls, and the “attic of curiosities”.
If you visit Burn Brae, you have to explore the attic. Filled with treasures from both current and previous owners, the attic has the most eclectic collection of “stuff” I’ve ever seen. Dolls, toys, collectibles, old clothing, antique furniture and dishes… There is even a collection of horse saddles – including one owned by John Wayne himself.
As for the dolls scattered throughout the house, they are intentional. Some of them were found in the house when the Fraysses bought the mansion. Others have been bought or gifted to them over the years. Pat says that dolls tend to have very strong emotional attachments to people, and that’s why they keep them around. She feels like they belong there. And she continues to accept dolls sent to them to be kept throughout the mansion.
Ghosts and Haunted Happenings
Stories about spirits in the house have been told for several decades. Various people who have stayed in the house have reported the same things at different times. None of them knew each other and none had heard the stories themselves. The most common story? Multiple people say they’ve seen a woman in white sitting on the steps in the servants’ hallway. Most reports say they sense a sadness about her. Paranormal investigators suggest she may have lost a baby. (And yes, the servants’ hallway is where three of the guest rooms are. You’ve been warned.)
Other visitors report that their electronics don’t work properly, and their batteries drain quickly when they are in the house. Some people hear animals in the house – but there are none. Other figures people see include a man dressed in old-fashioned clothing, and another dressed more modern.
When the Fraysses purchased the home, there were tenants upstairs that they allowed to stay. One of the apartments was inhabited by an elderly Ukrainian couple, the Hapijs. Both of them died in the house in their 90s. But people still claim to see and hear them around the property to this day.
My experience at Burn Brae
Personally, I’ve visited dozens of haunted places around the world. And yet I’ve never experienced anything concrete enough to say there was a ghost or spirit there. (I’m very much a science-based myth buster.) Yet, spending the night at Burn Brae Mansion gave me the eeriest feelings. I was uneasy all night long, and I felt this immense pressure in my chest. Maybe I was psyching myself out after hearing all the stories? Or maybe, just maybe, I was sensing something out of the ordinary.
On the morning of our overnight stay at the mansion, my friend and I were each treated to an intensive tarot reading. Local angel card reader, Lily, told us that she loves doing readings in the house because she draws from the mansion’s energy. Always the skeptic, I had my doubts going into the reading. Yet Lily got my personality traits and tragic flaws spot on. I was so emotional, I cried. So it is definitely something I recommend asking for if you visit Burn Brae.
Each October, the Fraysse family works together on a haunted trail through the woods surrounding the mansion. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most popular events for them and for the town. In addition to the spooks and scares in the woods, there are local vendors, tarot readings, food trucks, and more.
Pat & Mike also play host for murder mystery dinners throughout the year. And honestly, what better place to host one that at a haunted mansion?
Of course, many paranormal groups come through to do their own investigations of the property. Several tv shows have featured Burn Brae Mansion and their experiences there. The most popular appearance was on Ghost HuntersSeason 10, Episode 3. But on Ghost NationSeason 2, Episode 10, the team discovered a secret room — and tore down a wall to uncover it.