As October begins to wind down, the spookiest time of the year is slowly ramping…
The Shanley Hotel in Napanoch, New York, formerly a popular vacation destination for those attempting to escape the bright lights and busy streets of New York City, is reportedly one of the most haunted places in the United States.
A History of the Shanley Hotel
The Shanley Hotel’s history is serpentine and tragic at times. The building’s legacy begins in 1845 when Thomas Ritch constructed Ritch’s Hotel on Main Street in Napanoch, New York. Located directly off the railroad tracks, it quickly became a popular destination for city folk and railcar travelers.
In 1851, Ritch sold his newly-constructed hotel to Mr. Hungerford, who creatively renamed it the Hungerford Hotel. After a few more ownership changes, tragedy struck, as a nearby home caught fire and spread quickly throughout the area. All nearby buildings were burnt to the ground, including the popular hotel. The owner at the time, Adolph Wagner, quickly restored the building, resurrecting it in under one year.
The building’s history would be changed forever in October of 1906 when James Shanley, an Irish immigrant living in New York City, discovered the pleasantness of Napanoch and the Hungerford Hotel. After purchasing the hotel, he added his own personal flair, changing the name to the Shanley Hotel and adding a bowling alley, billiard room, and barbershop.
As a successful businessman from New York City, Shanley knew quite a few high-class people, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor. The Roosevelt family frequently visited Shanley’s hotel. Another notable guest was American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison. The hotel buzzed with excitement and joy through the early 1900s.
Shanley’s vision for the hotel wasn’t all family fun, though. Between 1920 and 1933, the United States prohibited the manufacturing and sale of alcohol with the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. Shanley built a secret room with hidden passageways to the outside, perfect for bootleggers to sneak in and out of the hotel. It seems as if the Shanley Hotel served as a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era, and that rumor is validated by a 1932 police report that details a raid. Both Shanley and his business partner John Powers were forced to appear in court and liquor was confiscated from the scene.
The Shanley Hotel also featured an active brothel for guests seeking more than a standard, quiet vacation retreat. Rumor has it, the Madam, or manager of the brothel, kept time of the men’s visits based on how long it took her to finish a cigarette. She ushered men in and out, returning to her Madam’s couch each time. The couch still remains at the Shanley Hotel, and some guests feel a chill when sitting in the same spot the Madam used to.
Shanley died in 1937, and since then, the hotel changed hands on numerous occasions. Shanley’s wife Beatrice sold the hotel to Allen H. Hazen in 1944. In 1967, Hazen sold the hotel to Nelson F. Waters. In 1973, G. Edward Trumbull purchased the hotel from Waters. After closing down in 1991, Salvatore Nicosia purchased the hotel in 2005, unaware of its complicated history. Finally, in 2016 Nicoscia passed away and the hotel was reopened under new management in 2018.
The Guests That Never Checked Out
The fortunate history of the Shanley Hotel with its consistent rejuvenations and fascinating tales is tragically littered with disaster. It’s as if the fire in 1895 cursed the hotel, its owners, guests, and the surrounding area. Everything that entered Shanley’s Hotel was engulfed in the flames of misfortune.
In 1912, James and Beatrice attempted to start a family. Beatrice gave birth to their first daughter Kathleen, but she shockingly died within her first six months. The Shanley family tried two more times to have children. James Shanley Jr. died within his first five months, and William Shanley lived less than a year. Guests reportedly hear infant cries throughout all hours of the night.
In 1918, Beatrice lost another family member, her dear sister Esther, who died in childbirth. Through tragedy, James and Beatrice finally got the family they always wanted. Does Esther remain in the hotel, ensuring her children are properly cared for?
Regrettably, the tragic events that befell the Shanley family extended to other hotel guests as well. Peter Greger, the barber at the hotel, lost his three-year-old daughter after she wandered across the street to the Hoornbeek Farm and fell into a well. She hit her head on a rock as she fell and never recovered. Greger found her two hours later.
In 1915, Dr. Walter Nelson Thayer accidentally ran over his six-year-old son Walter Nelson Thayer III. His son suffered severe head trauma but did not die from the incident. There is a young, active spirit that haunts the Shanley Hotel, resembling the young boy that almost died in that accident. Who is this spirit that the guests call Jonathan? Perhaps, another victim of the Shanley Hotel curse?
Find Out for Yourself with Ghost Hunt USA
Are you brave enough to spend a night at the Shanley Hotel? Ghost Hunt USA offers exclusive overnight access to the hotel’s most chilling rooms, including the bordello and Gentleman’s Quarters. Neither area is still operational, but guests never know who they’ll be sleeping with.
Additionally, group seances and vigils are conducted with an experienced ghost hunting team. Ghost Hunt USA’s specialized equipment can detect dark presences and trapped spirits via trigger objects and electromagnetic field meters, or EMFs. Psychic mediums are available on occasion. Will John or Beatrice personally welcome you to their hotel?
For the more adventurous, free time is granted to explore the hotel without distraction.
Ghost hunting works up an appetite, but don’t worry, food and beverages are covered. A hot, dinner buffet is offered upon arrival, and if you’re not in a hurry to leave, a continental breakfast is served the next morning. In between dinner and breakfast, unlimited snacks and refreshments are readily available, including soda and coffee.