Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

Multiple spirits haunt The Shanley Hotel in Upstate NY-1


One of the most haunted places in the Northeast resides in a small town in Upstate New York. The Shanley Hotel, located in Napanoch, has at least fourteen different spirits that come and go as they please, no matter who is there. According to researchers and investigators who have made this haunted hostel their regular ghost hunting ground, the number may be more.
Thomas Ritch erected the hotel, naming it the Mansion House in 1845 on Napanoch’s Main Street. From there, the hotel changed hands several times. In 1895 a fire consumed the whole structure, but it was quickly rebuilt and open for business in no time under a new name, Colonial Hotel. James Louis Shanley purchased the property in 1906 and added an addition to the rear of the building. This wing served as a barbershop, boarding house, and later, a bordello. Shanley also added secret rooms during Prohibition to hide contraband and escape tunnels in the cellar to hide from authorities. Shanley married Beatrice Rowley in 1910. The couple was well known and respected by many prominent and influential people of the day. Thomas Edison was a regular at the Shanley, becoming friends with the owners. Beatrice became close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt, who often visited the Shanley. In fact, the Roosevelts cleared Shanley’s name when he was charged with selling alcohol during Prohibition. A room was later named in Roosevelt’s honor.
The couple had three children, but unfortunately, all three died before one year old. Kathleen died at only five months, twenty-four days old. James Jr. died at four months, eleven days, and William passed away nine months and ten days after birth. James senior passed away on August 26, 1937. Beatrice found the hotel too much for her to keep up alone, and in 1944, she sold it to Allen Hazen. It would change owners several more times before becoming abandoned in 1991.
The Shanleys were not the only ones who experienced tragedy while residing in the hotel. In 1911, Rosie, the three-year-old daughter of the house barber Peter Greger, fell down a well on the property across the street and died. She haunts the bordello area on the second floor where the Gregers resided during his employment at the hotel.
Another person who is said to haunt the establishment is a man named Alfred Volkman. Volkman was executed for murdering the local preacher’s nine-year-old daughter named Helen. Both he and Helen eternally reside at the Shanley.
Beatrice’s sister, Esther Rowley Fraughman, died of influenza while pregnant. Her spirit resides in the room on the second floor, where she took her last mortal breath. The ghost of John Powers, one of Shanley’s business partners, also haunts a room on the second floor.
In 1979, a man named William Blakmur died while living at the Shanley. He may also be one of the ghosts haunting the building.
Other spirits include a man named Frank, who was a bodyguard at the bordello. He met an untimely end after being shot in the hotel’s pub. A ghost named Joe and a man who whistles makes frequent appearances. Several children, the spirit of a former cook, and a cat named Sweet Thing are among the many ghosts haunting the property. Countless paranormal groups have rented the hotel for the night, hoping to come in contact with a spirit or two. They are never disappointed. Paranormal television shows have made the Shanley Hotel one of their must-do episodes. To this day, investigators and television producers continue to have the Shanley on top of their list of investigations.