With the holiday that involves ghosts and goblins almost upon us, we've been hearing our fair share of ghost stories lately. Since our history dates back well into the 1700s, there are certainly bound to be a host of ghosts somewhere in the deep recesses of the old homes of Lake Placid. I went out in search of some stories.
The experiences that keep popping up in abundance revolve mostly around the buildings of the former Lake Placid Club. The Club's buildings dated back to the late 1800s and some are still standing today. The main club house and many of its larger buildings no longer exist, but many of the old "Club Cottages" were sold and renovated or restored. We've heard of a few stories about hauntings in some of these historic buildings.
Annie in the rocker
One of the repeating experiences people have shared is the existence of at least one spirit who floated around the main building of The Lake Placid Club Forest section. The stories were that of an old woman either floating in the air in the hallways or seen rocking in a chair in the library. Melvil Dewey, founder of the Lake Placid Club, was also the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System. Not surprisingly, the Club housed an extensive library on the second floor of the building, about dead center in the structure. One of the main staircases was directly in front of the entrance to the library, the walls of which were mostly glass. It was easy to observe what was going on in the main part of the library from the hallway, and it's believed by those who saw her, that it was the ghost of Annie Godfrey Dewey, Melvil's first wife. She purportedly haunted the hallways around the library as well. Annie died in the summer of 1922, at the age of 73 at her home near Albany, NY after attending a symphony concert and psychology lecture with her friend Emily Beal. According to the story, they returned home, and Annie retired as she always did. At about 1 a.m. she rang for her nurse as she had done many times because of ill health, by 2 a.m. she had passed away. In her typewriter was an unfinished poem to her husband. With her last breath she asked the nurse to give the poem to Melvil. She must have been searching for him in the halls of the Club until the structure was so damaged by fire it was razed in January of 2002.
Grand ghostly group
A friend recently related a story involving the former Grand View Hotel, which was situated on the same site as the current Crowne Plaza Resort, on the hill above the Conference Center at Lake Placid. This is the story related to me by Lake Placid resident, Ben Cross:
"This is a personal story that happened to me sometime around 1957 or 1958. I used to spend time searching through the old, closed up Grand View Hotel before it was demolished. The windows were all boarded up, but I found an opening to get in. This particular day I was walking down a corridor on the ground floor and came to what I guess was at one time the lobby area. For about 10 seconds it was just as if it was in business... there were several people in old-style clothes standing and walking all around that area. I couldn't get out of there fast enough and never went back..."
Who knows if those same spirits inhabit the Crowne Plaza, although I've never heard any such stories.
Locked up ghosts
Another friend who worked at the Adirondack Correctional Facility in Ray Brook (3 miles from Lake Placid), related a story confirmed by numerous employees in the same facility. Fortunately for most, you'll likely never get to experience this one first-hand:
"I worked at the prison which was originally the Tuberculosis hospital in Ray Brook...
I worked the midnight shift and had to make rounds of all of the buildings. Every time I would go through the dining/kitchen area at a certain spot, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up. And an area about 15-feet-long was much colder than the rest of the room. It happened several times before I dared to tell anyone about it because I thought they would think I was nuts. When I did tell a coworker, he told me the same thing happened to him but he never said anything until I did. That opened up a big box of others, who had been reluctant to say anything about their experiences.
One guy said he was sitting in his office in a long hallway. The lights in his office and hall were on, but dim. All of a sudden he saw an apparition sort of float by his doorway and down the hall. This was a secure and locked area so no one could get in. He went out to the hall and searched, but there was nothing or no one to be found.
A nurse then relayed the following: She worked the midnight shift and had just returned from checking the inmates in the infirmary down a hallway. When she got back to the office area and turned to the right to make the corner, she was stopped abruptly because she was face to face with "a lady dressed in early 1900s nurses clothing." The apparition immediately vanished. That nurse was scared for the rest of her employment at ADK Correctional.
The last part involves an inmate who was housed in an adjacent building dorm. He had gone to sick-call because he was being "tormented" by a ghost. He even had a name for her (Ellen Clark). She had also been seen walking outside on the roadway between two of the building dorms. He was so upset that he had to be transferred to the psych ward at Clinton Correctional Facility.
The interesting thing about my experience is that the area I was affected in is just above where the old Sanatorium morgue was located and where the nurse encounter happened was where the old operating room used to be."
Adirondack Correctional was converted to its current use in the 1980s.In its former life, the building served as a hospital for treating Tuberculosis patients. Many patients died in the facility and the spirits are likely those of former patients.
A spirit among us
The Stagecoach Inn on Old Military Road in Lake Placid has a friendly ghost. The Stagecoach is the oldest operating inn in Lake Placid, dating back to the 1700s when it truly was a stagecoach stop. The innkeeper/owner, Mary Pat Ormsby, reports numerous occasions when items within the Inn were moved to randomly odd locations for no explainable reason. She insists it's a woman, although I'm not sure she's ever seen 'her.' She is also a decidedly friendly spirit - just a bit mischievous! Book a room and find out for yourself if you have the ability to attract a spirit or two.
Have YOU got a story?
I am of the opinion that spirits exist in most older buildings. Whether they manifest themselves is always a great subject of speculation. Over the years I've heard lots of "spirit" stories from around Lake Placid. Have you a Lake Placid ghost story to relay? If so, do share them in the comments below! We'd love to hear about it!
If you'd like to book a stay in Lake Placid and tour around the historic properties of town, check our lodging pages for lots of options. If you find any spirits, please share!
Note: The "edited" Halloween images above were provided by Lake Placid Club Facebook page, and have been Photoshopped.