by Gino Fanelli | published Oct. 1st, 2014
'Tis the season for goblins, ghouls and mischievous spirits to take the spotlight; however, Halloween isn't the only time restless souls wander the streets of Rochester. Far from it, in fact; ghostly legends of demons and the damned linger in the air throughout the city and its suburbs. In places hidden in plain sight, the shadows of lonesome ghosts may still creep across the unassuming walls and dimly lit corners.
The Rochester Rundel Library
115 South Avenue
Notably featured on SyFy Channel's “Ghost Hunters” in 2012, The Rochester Rundel Library has become legendary for creatures that bump in the night. Built in 1932, the Rundel library, perched atop the abandoned Rochester subway, may not be so far-fetched of a spot for casual readers and paranormal researchers alike to catch a ghostly glimpse.
“I've actually never had any experience there personally,” said Ralph Esposito, guide for the Seabreeze ghost walk. “But I am giving a lecture there at the end of October.”
Esposito goes on to talk about the Rundel library, with its strategic location near the abandoned subway, as a hotspot for railway related specters.
“I've heard stories of several people witnessing the shadow of an engineer in the building,” Esposito said. “Just as well, in the basement, many witnesses have claimed to have seen the ghosts of passengers seemingly getting on and off trains.”
Esposito, though without direct experience with the Rundel Library's haunts, is confident that his upcoming visit will be fruitful.
“I'm very much looking forward to an investigation of the library,” he said. “It's a place that seems to have a constant flow of eye witnesses, and I think that's enough to give some credit to the idea that there is something there.”
The White Lady's Castle
Lake Shore Boulevarde, Irondequoit
Perhaps the most hotly debated tale in the Rochester area, the White Lady's castle, is not a castle at all. Rather, it is a stone wall overlooking the edge of Durand-Eastman Park in Irondequoit out toward Lake Ontario.
The story of the White Lady, a ghostly trope found in legends throughout the world, is one that comes with dozens of variations, though almost all surround the loss of her beloved daughter. S.E. Schlosser compiles three of the most popular legends of the White Lady in her anthology, Spooky New York: Tales Of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, And Other Local Lore.
Some say the daughter of the White Lady went out one evening with a group of friends, some of which were young men. When her daughter never returned, a search party was sent out the following morning, and her body was inevitably found floating on the shore of Durand Lake, raped and strangled.
Other stories say the White Lady was an eccentric recluse who kept her daughter locked away from society until one fateful evening a mysterious man came to the door requesting her daughter's hand for a date, which the mother reluctantly allowed. Once again, her daughter disappeared, only to be found in the same condition as the previous story, the man presumably disappeared into the night.
In some tales, the White Lady's daughter simply vanishes without a trace.
In almost every variation of the White Lady legend, the story ends the same. The mother, with assistance of her two German Shepherds, wanders the beach, searching for her lost daughter or the men who murdered her. Eventually, crazed with grief, she throws herself off a cliff into Lake Ontario. At night, often under a full moon, she returns as the White Lady and wanders through the beach and park, sometimes with her dogs and other times without. She is thought to exist to protect women brought to the park and attack men who she believes are posing threats to a woman. In general, she is thought to be naturally resentful of men and to wander in a mournful, melancholy way.
In reality, the ruins of the White Lady's Castle aren't that at all. They are, in fact, the remains of a community dining room constructed in 1911 following the construction of the park.
Superstition? Maybe. But still maybe not the best make out spot.
“I was actually there a couple days ago with a psychic friend of mine,” Esposito said. “Out of the three psychics I've brought there, all have claimed that there is definitely the presence of a female, dressed in white with disheveled hair and [an] unkempt look who is very angry.”
Esposito went on to recount a particularly creepy tale from the area of the White Lady's Castle.
“A gentleman who I know was in a van traveling down King's Highway towards Lakeshore Boulevard,” Esposito said. “At the intersection, he said an apparition appeared of a female dressed in all white which charged his van. Scared the living something or other out of him.”
There's a skeptic in all of us. Nonetheless, there is always a skeptic of the skeptic. A little voice that defies logic, keeping us peeking over our shoulders and the hairs on the backs of our necks standing up. Most of the year, we can stifle and ignore that voice. For those of us with an open-mind, maybe once a year is enough to give into those voices and try to catch a view of what might lie beyond.
“Ya know, Rochester is really full of stories like this,” Esposito said. “It's really a hotbed for this kind of activity that not lot of people know about. I've actually had a few friends from Queens travel here just to investigate some of the legends of the area, claiming things they've felt powerful presences here that they haven't felt anywhere else”.
So, if just once this Halloween season, stifle that skeptic, get out there and find a scare of your own.