When looking for an incredibly haunted place, some can have the most promising of origins, and among these are those that are inherently imbued with dark histories. Some of the most haunted places out there are those that are referred to as “murder houses,” where gruesome crimes and killings have been carried out. Besides the stigma attached to such properties, there is the inevitable impression that they have somehow been stained by the tragedy, permeated with a certain ominous energy that invariably leads to ghost stories. One such murder house can be found in New York City, and it ticks all the boxes of a spooky place, sinister past, death, misfortune, and plenty of paranormal activity to go around.
In 1836, a successful German-born brickmaker by the name of Balthasar Kreischer made his way to the shores of the United States with his wife and children, arriving in New York City with impeccable timing. A great fire had recently raged through the city, gutting large swaths of it, so Kreischer set up a brickwork factory for manufacturing what were called “fire bricks,” used in the construction of more fire-resistant structures. Considering the tragedy that had ravaged the city, the massive rebuilding going on, and the demand for more fireproof materials, Kreischer made a killing, with a ripple effect from his business creating an economic boom that caused the area to be reverently called “Kreischerville,” which would later be changed to Charleston. Things were not all rosy for Kreischer. He lost a son, Henry, at the age of 6, his wife Caroline died in 1853 in childbirth giving birth to their seventh child Edward, and in 1877 his second wife, Mathilda, also died, only made worse when his factory burned down to the ground, although he managed to rebuild. It is perhaps from here that the legacy of this mansion would grow to include dark fates, death, murder, and misfortune that would contribute to it becoming one of the most haunted places in New York.
Kresicher would retire and hand his business over to his sons, Charles and Edward, and build two mansions for them at Charleston, Staten Island, in 1885. At the time the business was booming again, and things had never been better, however, this seems to be where things started to derail into darkness and tragedy. Just a year after the houses were complete, Kreischer suddenly died in 1886, leaving the business solely to his sons. Shortly after that, the factory was razed yet again by a fire, ironic for a fire brick making facility, and although the sons tried to rebuild, this was the beginning of a downward spiral to doom. They were never able to get the business back to where it had been, their fortunes diminished, and in 1894 Edward took his own life with a gunshot to the head. In later years, Charles’ mansion would burn to the ground during the Great Depression in the 1930s, leaving just one left. Abandoned and tainted, with the suicide that had taken place on its grounds hanging over it like a cloud, it went through a quick procession of owners and became a magnet for all sorts of spooky stories. There were lots of rumors, such as that a chef had been murdered in the kitchen and that the Kreischers had often locked their many children in closets as punishment, with at least one said to have died in that state. Paranormal tales were numerous, such as shadowy figures standing at the windows, orbs of light moving about within, the sound of wailing, and even the ghost of Edward ambling about, such reports were common.
One of the only things keeping the decrepit building from being condemned was it being made into a landmark in 1968, after which it would be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It was at one time in the 90s a restaurant said to be frequented by the mob, but this operation did not last long. In 2000, the property was purchased by a man named Isaac Yomtovian, who renovated it and restored it to somewhat of a shadow of its former glory to be resold, but it mostly was just inhabited by a caretaker by the name of Joseph Young, also known by the nickname “Joe Black.” Little did Yomtovian know that Young was a dishonorably discharged ex-soldier who was heavily connected to the mafia, which would lead to another dark and sinister splotch on a place that was already well-known for being haunted and possibly cursed.
In 2005, a mafia associate the name of Robert McKelvey apparently owed money to Bonnano mafia crime family patriarch, Gino Galestro, and was lured to the Kreischer mansion by Young, after which the caretaker strangled and stabbed him, drowning him in a nearby pond for good measure. It would come to light that Young had been doing a bit of side work as a mob hitman for the Bonanno family, and that several associates had helped him to hack apart the body into pieces to be disposed of in the mansion’s basement furnace. Young would be found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 2008, and in the meantime the ghost of McKelvey has been said to join the roster of spooks said to haunt these halls, and what a roster it is.
Among the ghosts said to dwell at the mansion are that of Edward Freischer, his wife Frieda, the German chef who was rumored to have died there, that of a young boy whose identity is unknown but who is thought to have been one of the Freischer children, and other less definable shadow figures. Common paranormal activity here other than the sightings of these apparitions include slamming doors, rooms locked from the inside only to be unlocked later, flickering lights, and all manner of anomalous noises such as disembodied footsteps, whispers, and screaming, and videotapes made by paranormal investigators have been mysteriously erased. The house has become the site of an annual Halloween haunted house and has appeared on the TV dramas Boardwalk Empire and Gotham, with the crew and actors reporting various strange phenomena such as moving objects, and freak equipment malfunctions, and the apparition of a little girl, as well as the paranormal investigative shows Paranormal Lockdown and Ghost Hunters. It has gone on to become a very well-known locale in New York, and a prominent murder house that has managed to have paranormal phenomena stick to it. What is going on and why do these forces swirl around it? We may never know for sure, but considering the death, tragedy and strife that permeates these walls, it is perhaps not that hard to see why it might be considered to be haunted.