General Wayne Inn
Now a synagogue and Center for Jewish Life, the General Wayne Inn was once the longest continually operating restaurant in America. Opened in 1704, the building served as a tavern, general store, wagon stop and post office. Folks like George Washington and Lafayette dined and stayed at the inn, and in 1795 it got its name. General “Mad” Anthony Wayne completed a successful military campaign and stopped at the inn for a 3-day celebration of his success. In the course of things the inn was renamed for him, and until very recently, the name stuck.
Stories suggest that a Revolutionary War soldier got accidentally locked in the basement while hiding from his enemies. Legends say he died there—but there are also other versions to the story. Some claim Hessians in the area sent one of their own to get wine from the cellar, not knowing that there were armed revolutionaries hiding in a tunnel or hidden location (the story varies, as they often do) there. It ended badly for the Hessian, and people have reported seeing his ghost, wearing the uniform he would have died in.
Most of the ghosts that have been reported through the General Wayne Inn’s lengthy history date back to the period of the Revolutionary War. Some shook glasses in the bar; others caused the lights to flicker and napkins to be strewn throughout the dining area. Furniture in a locked room would be toppled by mysterious interlopers. Locked doors occasionally opened by themselves. Women sitting at the bar reported feeling someone’s breath on their necks, and no, it wasn’t a lonely bar patron looking for a date. It seems to have been something even more frightening.
Psychics visiting the Inn years ago claimed to see ghosts of soldiers, one in particular reporting that a Hessian soldier had been killed by a spy in the cellar and buried behind one of the Inn’s walls. The body was not found, but in the psychic’s defense, the search was called off early.
Some claim the building was built on a Native American burial ground, but there seems to be little historically to agree. And although most of the deaths and hauntings seem tied to one particularly bloody period in American history, there was, much more recently the murder of one of the Inn’s owners.
Shortly before the murder of restaurateur Jim Webb, radio station y100 was going to hold an annual Halloween séance at the Inn. The medium reportedly was too anxious to do the normal séance there—participants claim he warned Webb that the spirits were telling him something bad was about to happen. The two business partners had purchased the General Wayne in a state of disrepair, intending to restore it. But the task was bigger than they expected. As the business faced financial difficulties, Webb and his business partner, Guy Sileo, argued over how to handle the dwindling fund. One was ready to pack it in, the other wanted to redouble their efforts.
Then, on December 27, 1996 Sileo found Webb’s lifeless body in his office at the Inn. Webb had been shot. Suspicion was quickly cast on Sileo, but the Assistant Chef, Felicia Moyse, provided his alibi. She and Sileo were having an affair. She passed a lie detector test and later she committed suicide in February as Sileo awaited trial. Sileo changed his story, saying that Moyse had killed Webb because Webb never approved of their extramarital affair. Sileo was found guilty and is now serving a life term in prison.
Today the General Wayne Inn is little more than legend and memory. The traditional stone has been stuccoed and the building looks quaint and modern. The building’s new owners have decided to focus on their mission and goals, and rightfully so. Some even claim they’ve put the spirits to rest.