The tomb of Queen Hetepheres was once lost. Its discovery started in 1925 with a photographer's tripod. He was setting up a shot near the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Giza, Egypt, when the leg of his tripod slipped into a crevice. This crevice led into a hidden shaft that led into a hidden staircase that emptied into a limestone filled vertical shaft. The limestone had been used to seal the grave from grave robbers. It would take 10 years for archaeologists to excavate the tomb and what they found was amazing. The tomb was filled with the finest examples of ancient Egyptian jewelry and furniture. There was gilded wooden furniture and silver bracelets full of jewels and precious stones like lapis lazuli and turquoise. Queen Hetepheres was the mother of Pharaoh Khufu. The strangest part of the discovery was that the Queen's body was not in the tomb. Archaeologists have no explanation as to the mystery of the missing body and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Mona Lisa Stolen
This was anything but folly though. The boarding house flourished and in 1810, Putnam added on to the boarding house and renamed the place Union Hall. The hotel grew to the size of a whole city block and was renamed the Grand Union Hotel and was operated by the Putnam family until 1864. As we said before, this was demolished in 1953 to make way for a grocery store and parking lot. Putnam died at a young age. He was only 49 when he died from injuries he sustained when another hotel he was building called Congress Hall, had a section of scaffolding collapse on him. He was the first person buried in the cemetery that he founded, Gideon Putnam Burial Ground.
Both staff and guests have experiences to share. They claim to have experienced cold spots and breezes and unexplained noises. One employee went up to the attic to fix light fixtures that would not turn on up on the roof. He found that the lights somehow had turned themselves on by themselves. He was shocked when he then saw the face of an old woman staring back at him from a window in the attic.
The mansion here was built in 1893 by the Trask Family. Spencer and Katrina Trask had bought the property in 1881 because Katrina felt a spiritual connection to it. The couple let their daughter, Christina, name it and she came up with Yaddo. She wanted something that rhymed with shadow. Sadly, Christina would not live to adulthood. And even more depressing is that she was not the only Trask child to die young. The Trasks had already lost their eldest son, Alanson, when they bought the property. A few years after the mansion was built, Christina died along with her brother Spencer. They had caught diphtheria from their mother. The doctors had thought that Katrina was going to die, so they brought the children in to say goodbye and that's when it is thought they caught the disease. It was all very tragic.
The youngest Trask child was named after her mother Katrina and she died shortly after her birth. The poor Trasks could not catch a break when it came to their children. Katrina would take the pain of her loss and write. A Tiffany stained glass window in the mansion features an epiphany that she had in the garden. She was a Theosophist and believed in an immense creative spirit and part of that spirit was here at Yaddo. The Trasks had followed that spirit in the design of the gardens. They had consulted landscape architects, but the design was entirely their own. These gardens are situated on lower and upper terraces that are divided by a pergola. The lower part is formal with a Rose Garden and reflects Italian and French Renaissance influences. The upper part is a woodland rock garden, which was a style that came into fashion in the late nineteenth century. Both gardens have fountains and statuary. There are four statues inspired by the four seasons. Another statuary features a sundial that bears the inscription, "Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways, Pass by, Love stays." In 1893, the original mansion burned down, but the Trasks rebuilt and that is the mansion that is there now.
The mansion at Yaddo has been an artist community since 1926 and most artists who have made this their home base at some point, describe the location as paradise. Changing this into an artist retreat was Spencer's idea as a gift to his wife. It offers residencies to artists working in choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video. Collectively, artists who have worked at Yaddo have won 66 Pulitzer Prizes, 27 MacArthur Fellowships, 61 National Book Awards, 24 National Book Critics Circle Awards, 108 Rome Prizes, 49 Whiting Writers' Awards, a Nobel Prize and at least one Man Booker Prize. Since this is an active retreat, the public is not granted access to the mansion. For a time in the 1980s, the gardens fell into disrepair. In 1991, Saratoga Springs resident and Yaddo board member Jane Wait founded the Yaddo Garden Association. Under her leadership, the all-volunteer association brought the gardens back to life and raised funds to restore statuary and ornaments. The gardens have been vandalized in more recent years too unfortunately. There are many who believe the property is haunted.
The inn was then sold to Gilbert Morgan in 1787 and he turned around and sold it to Alexander Bryan who was a hero of the Revolutionary War. He had served as a spy on the British. He worked his way into a British camp and found out the plans of the British. Bryan then made a run for it, but was pursued and chased on horseback for three days. He then had to leave his horse and make his way down a river with only his mouth above the water. He succeeded and the information he had helped the outnumbered Americans to win the Battle of Saratoga. This man was never given the credit for what he did at the time, but many believe that he was the reason the Americans ultimately won the war because this was a huge turning point. Bryan expanded the property where the inn sat even more, adding a log house across the street that served as an inn and tavern and he also added a blacksmith shop. These two inns were the only hotels in Saratoga Springs until Gideon Putnam built the Grand Union Hotel. Bryan's son, John, inherited the property and he built a stone house where the tavern had been in 1825. This structure remained in the family until the 1900s.
The Bryan home was sold to the LaMountain family in 1925 and they added a brick addition and Burnhams hand laundry was opened up there. In 1954, this became a family home for the Veitch family and they remained until 1979. Dave Powers and Joe Wilkinson purchased it at that time with the goal of restoring the Olde Bryan Inn. When Steve Sullivan joined them in 1981, that vision came to fruition. Little did the men know, but this location was haunted. Many locals think of it as the most haunted place in Saratoga Springs. There are a number of spirits here. The first is a man who has been seen in colonial era clothing. Another is the Lady in Green. It is believed that she is a Civil War widow named Beatrice, but there is no story about how she died. She is usually seen in the upstairs women's room, hich is believed to be her former bedroom. She is referred to as the Lady in Green because she is wearing a high neck Victorian green dress. To add believability to the story, a green Victorian dress was found in a trunk in the attic.
The official website of the restaurant shares some ghost stories. The first is "The chandelier hanging now is not the one we used to have – it used to be an old, giant one. The power was out one afternoon, but we all came in for the night just in case, because if it came on we would open for business. We were all sitting in the main dining room chatting and we started joking and making fun of the portraits on the wall, and the idea of a ghost, when one of the servers suddenly gasped and pointed – the chandelier was swinging in circles! I did a head count and we were all there. The owner stood on a chair and stopped the chandelier. As soon as he let go it started swinging again!"
Another employee said, "One night I was coming from the third floor with a box of things from storage. As I took a step down something snagged my pants leg, hard. I took a couple more steps down and turned to look and see if there was a crooked nail or something, and there was absolutely NOTHING there. Another night I was about to leave for the evening, and nobody was in the restaurant but me and the manager, who was in the office on the second floor. When I turned my reports and cash in to him and went back down to leave, my keys were in a glass of water."
A patron say the Lady in Green and described it this way, "It was 2001 and my first time coming to OBI. I had just moved to the area and didn’t know any of the history. I was having dinner in the main dining area in the front. I looked up and there was a woman in a green old fashioned dress standing on the catwalk, looking over the railing. I asked the waiter if there was a reenactment event taking place that evening and he said no. It was puzzling but we left it at that. At the end of our meal I went upstairs to the restroom and heard someone else come in. I could see a green dress under the door of my stall. When I exited there wasn’t anyone in the restroom. I never heard anyone open the door to leave. I had chills all over."
The Batchellers loved to host big social events and they did so often. The family had to leave their home again when George was appointed minister to Portugal in 1891. He served in Europe until 1902, when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Alexandria, Egypt. Catherine would pass away in Egypt in 1903 and a grand funeral was held for her and she was buried temporarily in Egypt. George would bring her back to Saratoga Springs and have her buried in their Egyptian style pink granite mausoleum in Greenridge Cemetery. He would join her five years later in 1908. Kate Batcheller decided to sell the family home in 1916 to D. Walter Mabee. He moved out in 1937 and it sat vacant for three years. Edward and Pauline Muscovier bought the house in 1940 and they ran it as a boarding house. This started the destruction of the interior and this continued when Meyer Goldman bought the property in 1952 and remodeled it into a 28-unit retirement home for orthodox Jews named Goldman’s Park View. His daughter inherited it when he died in 1965 and she left it basically abandoned. And as happens with most abandoned properties, this one was vandalized.
Bruce J. Levinsky for $500,000.00. He continued restoration work and used the house as his home until 1994, when he opened it as an inn and named it for the family who originally built it. The house is considered the Crown Jewel of Saratoga Springs.
Morrissey did not operate the Club House for long. He came to an untimely end at 47 in 1878. Ownership went to two men, Charles Reed and Albert Spencer, and they joined forces with Richard Canfield in 1883. Eventually, Canfield bought them out of the Club House and he remodeled the gambling hall, pouring $800,000 into the building and the grounds of Congress Park that surrounded the establishment. He added an early form of air conditioning to the building and marble statues to the grounds. Canfield eventually was known as the King of the Gamblers and Saratoga Springs was known as the American Monte Carlo. This would all come to an end in 1907 when gambling became an illegal practice and he eventually sold the building to the village in 1911. There had also been the Congress Park Hotel here and a bottling plant, which were demolished.
Today, the Canfield Casino sits in the center of Congress Park on 17 acres and serves as the Saratoga Springs History Museum and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Ghost tours are hosted here and this location has not only been investigated by Ghost Hunters in Season 6, Episode 18 in 2010, but it has also been featured on Most Terrifying Places on the Travel Channel. There are many ghost tales told about the former gambling hall. A visitor in the 1990s, claimed to see a woman dressed in a Victorian era gown walking through the corridors and then she climbed the stairs to the third floor. A man in Victorian clothing knocked on the office door in 2007 and a museum volunteer turned toface him. The man asked the volunteer a question and then disappeared. There is furniture here from the Walworth Mansion that seems to have spirits of that prominent family attached to it.
Night crews have had doors slammed on them mysteriously. In 2009, a visitor had a glass slapped out of her hand by something she could not see. The smell of cigar smoke wafts through the air when no one is smoking. Objects move about on their own and once an employee saw a garbage can lid go flying into the air and then it crashed to the ground on its own. Some of the energy in the building has even felt hostile. The costume exhibit had a candelabra that made a noise that several people heard from another room. When they investigated, they found no one. Linda Zimmermann is a friend of mine and she wrote "America’s Historic Haunts." In it she writes about the Canfield Casino and claims that there are spirits who hang around the roulette table on the second floor and spin the wheel. She also writes about a female ghost who has blonde hair. The Ghost Hunters caught most of their evidence on the third floor and this included EMF spikes. Some members had their hair pulled and were touched too. They heard things move and also heard an audible male voice and later the voices of a male and female who seemed to be having a conversation.