Beardslee Manor & Castle
Outside of Utica, in the town of Little Falls, New York, is Beardslee Manor. Now a beautifully restored restaurant, Beardslee Manor hosts weddings and receptions. But some visitors have found more attending their wedding parties than just their invited guests. Beardslee Manor has a reputation for being haunted, and once you understand its history, you may know why.
Beginning with a small, fortified homestead in the middle of the 1700s, the property where Beardslee Manor now rests was occupied by European settlers. Located deep in the heart of the Mohawk Valley, the quaint homestead became an important storage depot for the local militia’s munitions. Legend has it that one evening a band of Native Americans sneaked into the homestead to investigate and their torches touched off the gunpowder—blowing them straight into history. Perhaps their spirits continue to explore the region, watching for new interlopers…
Borrowing from traditional Irish castle designs, Augustus Beardslee created the building that became known as the “Beardslee Castle” in 1860. When the original family left the area, the property passed from owner to owner several times. One owner, “Pop” Christensen hanged himself after a long battle with a terminal illness.
But perhaps the Indian influence is not limited to the ghosts of those lost souls. One of the early owners of what was initially called “Beardslee Castle,” Guy Beardslee returned home from military service out west with several Sioux war bonnets, weapons and ceremonial artifacts. Items of this nature were revered by many of the Sioux, so it is possible unrest followed them and has remained even after the original building (with the artifacts inside) burned in the first fire (1919).
Beginning in the 1950s, travelers nearing the property claimed to see strangely colored lights rush towards their cars. Several accidents occurred, being blamed on blinding lights. Some accidents proved fatal. People have speculated that the strange floating lights are long-lost reflections from Beardslee’s lantern as he searched for a child who’d gone missing many years ago. A few other drivers reported seeing a mysterious and ghostly child walking along the side of the road. Regardless of what sights have been reported in the area, the final quarter-mile stretch of straight and clear road leading to the manor boasts more car accidents than are easily explained away.
People claim that weeds will not grow in the path leading to the old family mausoleum, though it is seldom tended. And in those same pine woods people have reported seeing more strange lights and hearing voices. Strange rainbows have appeared in photos here, disregarding the regular patterns of light.
Staff members complained of voices and singing emanating from the second floor until the area was closed off in 1984. Now footsteps are heard in the dining room after dinner service has ended and phantom keys jingle as if someone is readying to lock up. Voices have successfully been recorded in the Manor, and ghost hunter Norm Gauthier felt the Manor was haunted by at least two different spirits. Visitors have also claimed seeing a young woman in white, now nicknamed “Abigail,” who supposedly died the night before her wedding was to take place.
In 1989 the manor caught fire again, some people feeling that it was sparked by the spirits who felt disrespected by the ghost tales being told so often and investigators entering so frequently. In 1994 the property was again named “Beardslee Castle”, out of respect for the Beardslee family’s original designs and intentions.
Open to the public, Beardslee Castle is still a place to experience the richness of the past—even as it ghosts up to your car or dinner table.