About two years ago I dragged a good friend around the village to houses and sites that are supposedly haunted after binging the Bowery Boys’ Halloween episodes.
If you haven’t heard of the Bowery Boys podcast, you should definitely go give it a listen, especially if you love New York City and/or history! It’s very, very entertaining and interesting.
Our night began with a stop at Cos at 129 Spring Street. It was unfortunately closed by the time we got there. However, there in the basement of a luxury clothing store is a hundred-year-old well in which the body of Gulielma Elmore Sands was found in 1799. She’d left her Greenwich Village boarding house the previous night on December 27th to meet a supposed suiter, and fellow boarder, Levi Weeks, to supposedly elope. Her body was found eleven days later at the bottom of the well that still exists. Spring Street used to be Lispenard’s Meadow, hence why there was a well. It was called the Manhattan Well Murder and it became the crime of the century overnight.
The well was discovered in 1980 during the excavation of the basement. Some people still say Sands haunts the spot. Many people who used to work at Manhattan Bistro (before it was turned into Cos) would report strange happenings in the basement. So cool, right? I found myself on the corner of Spring Street earlier this year and went in to get a glimpse of the well in person. The lower level of the store has an eerie feeling indeed. (I also wrote about this well last year!)
Next we wandered over to Mark Twain’s former residence at 14 West 10th Street. There’s a plaque on the wall but other than that, it’s pretty much your standard New York City apartment building.
Some people say Twain still haunts this residence. But because of a series of deaths that have occurred at 14 West 10th, this has become known as the “House of Death.” I wonder if they disclose that when brokers show apartments here?
Quickly we made our way over to 12 Gay Street. Gay Street is a tiny street off Waverly Street in the West Village lined with beautiful townhouses. The townhouse at 12 Gay Street is still a single-family home now as it was back in the 1920’s, and it was where the mistress of Mayor Jimmy Walker lived, as he owned it. (He, of course, lived elsewhere with his wife.) It was a speakeasy called the Pirate’s Den in the basement during prohibition. Some of these party guests haven’t left. Spirits are felt inside the house. Party guests can be seen vanishing in a flash inside the front door. Even pounding can be heard on the parlor’s walls or party sounds coming from the basement. The most notable is the man in a suit and a cloak who has become known as the Gay Street Phantom.
After loitering outside a private home for as long as we could without having the authorities called on us, we headed over to 11 Bank Street, further west towards the West Side Highway.
In 1928, Mrs. Netty A. Pellett died due to a fire at the rooming house in at 11 Bank Street. Let’s fast forward to 1954 when an abstract expressionist painter named Yeffie Kimball and her nuclear physicist husband, Harvey, purchased the townhouse to live in. They were known for having lively parties at their house and shortly after these began, footsteps began being heard from the upper floors as well as a rapping against the walls. When the couples’ carpenter was doing renovations on the top floor of 11 Bank Street, he found a woman’s remains in a crematorium can stored inside the ceiling. On the can it read: “Remains of Elizabeth Bullock, cremated Jan. 21, 1931, Middle Village, Queens.” The creep(ier) twist: This was a woman who had never lived at 11 Bank Street and has no association with the building.
Yeffie and Harvey kept the can with the remains of Bullock in their home on display for many years. When Harvey died after Yeffie passed away, his new wife decided to have a seance during which the spirit of Elizabeth said she wasn’t allowed in the Kimball family plot, hence her being discarded inside the ceiling of her home. Who knows if that’s true. Eventually, a Catholic church on the West Coast agreed to watch over her remains where they still are today.
Those are just a few of the haunted sites in the village. St. Mark’s Church, the Merchant’s House, and Washington Square Park itself are all haunted sites in the same area.
If you want to hear these complete stories and more like them, make sure you listen to all of the Halloween episodes of the Bowery Boys’ podcast. It’s how I created this little self-guided tour and my friend was in awe of all my knowledge. (This post isn’t sponsored, I promise!)
Pro-tip: Do this tour at night and have a blast freaking yourself out!
Want more creepy stories? Make sure to check out my other posts on ghost tours that I’ve taken in the past:
Nightly Spirits Ghost Tour (Denver, CO)
Spirit Tours in the French Quarter (New Orleans, LA)
Macabre Krakow (Krakow, Poland)
Self-Guided Tour in St. Louis Cemetery #1 (New Orleans, LA)