• Cara Cilento

Tales of Paranormal Investigator’s Wife: The Shanley Hotel

The globe is replete with locations rumored to be haunted, but at the Shanley Hotel in Ulster County, New York, regular operating procedure suggests that there is something more serious going on than just nebulous ghost stories. You must be at least 16 years old to remain there, and you must sign a disclaimer before you can spend the night, according to reports. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ll let you know. I am staying there within the next three weeks.

The Shanley Hotel

If there was ever a place that could prove to the biggest skeptic that ghosts are real, it is the Shanley. A simple search turns up reports of apparitions, cold and hot places, rocking chairs that rock on their own, the chiming of clocks, the sight of a ghost cat, footsteps, laughter, the sensation of being touched, the sensation of being watched and/or followed, and instances of items being moved. In other words, just about every paranormal encounter you might think of is included here and there.

The History Of The Shanley

In 1895, the structure was constructed, and it was acquired by James Louis Shanley in 1906. The Shanleys were an integral part of the Napanoch, NY social scene. Card and domino tournaments, as well as elaborate parties and events, were some of their specialties. High teas and social card parties hosted by Mrs. Shanley were well-known. Despite the fact that she lived in a small town, she still sported opulent clothing and jewelry. The Victorian-style beds in her hotel were dressed in satin and silk, reflecting her big city style. It's possible this is why notable figures like Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt visited.


People wanted to be close friends with the Shanleys because they were a charming couple as well as prominent figures within the social elite. The couple even went to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural ball with him. Due to Eleanor and Beatrice's close friendship, the future First Lady made the necessary arrangements and visited the Shanley Hotel frequently. You must admit you have to be a tad intrigued by how magnetic the family must have been.


Despite the fact that Shanley and his wife, Beatrice, entertained celebrity status visitors, tragedy struck the inn almost from the start. Beatrice was the mother of three children, all of whom died before they reached the age of one. In 1911, the hotel barber's younger daughter, who resided on the premises with the Shanley family, ran out to a neighboring farm and fell into a well, resulting in her death, In 1918, Beatrice's sister Esther died in the hotel as a result of influenza, which occurred a few years following the girl’s death.


As the years passed, the Shanley changed hands sometimes to people with unscrupulous intentions. One of the more haunted parts of the hotel is the bordello, which was fashioned in the 1920s and reportedly sold bootleg liquor during Prohibition. This is where I will be hanging out with my wife in full 1920s garb. You see, one way to encourage real ghosts to interact with you is to recreate the setting they are most comfortable with. This means we will be recreating the bordello complete with faux gambling, music, period foods and non-alcoholic 1920s drinks. We hope that the rumored mafia hitman, Frank, who lingers within the area, will deliver clear EVPs.


Am I stoked? You better believe it. The chance to get a class A electric voice phenomenon from a real ghost, gets me excited. But that is not all I am excited about. Besides prisons, asylums and hospitals, it is rare to find a place that is so rich in history as well as tragedy. One has to wonder, did the Shanleys’s magnetism attract good and bad occurrences? Judge for yourself. The following is a list of all the tragedy that occurred at the Shanley:


• Mrs. Beatrice Shanley lost three children in their infancy and suffered her sister’s premature death because of the flu.

• Three-year-old, Rosie Grager, the daughter of the Shanley Hotel barber, fell down the well and drowned.

• A six-year-old boy, Johnathon was hit by a car being backed out of the driveway of the house next door to the hotel.

• A distraught man committed suicide in the Blue Room Bathroom after he lost everything in the 1929 market crash. His name is rumored to be Vincent.

• Some prostitutes chose to kill themselves while other were killed by their customers on premises.

• The nine-year-old daughter of a Napanoch minister was kidnapped and brutally stabbed to death by Alfred E. Volckmann on premises.

• Claire, a distraught woman that supposedly hung herself from the third floor, is now thought to have been killed at the hands of another.

• The remains of people that the mob may have killed could have been buried in the then dirt basement.


All in all, it is reported that as many as thirty to forty real ghosts either visit or stick around due to the circumstances around their passing. So, it is no wonder, given the hotel’s sordid and tragic history, people flock to it for the chance to meet Frank, Claire, Vincent and the other real ghosts that occupy the premises. It has been featured on Ghost Hunters (S7:E17) and Ghost Lab (S2:E6). But, despite it all, I was not interested in visiting until I met the owner of the Shanley at a conference and listened to the cast of Ghost Hunters speak. Their experiences got my attention and my wheels turning. Even if one percent of what they said is true, then that leaves one percent of unexplained and possibly paranormal activity to bring me closer to the answer of “Are Ghosts Real?”.


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