If you've every felt a cold chill, or had the hair on your neck stand up while walking through the New York State Capitol, there might be a good reason behind it. YNN's Geoff Redick explains.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- It looms large in the Albany night sky: the 114-year-old New York State Capitol. A marvel of a bygone architectural age, it stands as a solid reminder of Albany's role at the head of state politics.
But who lurks in a fourth-story corridor, and what curses the hallways of the legislature, may surprise you.
"We do get a lot of stories from state employees," says Capitol Education Coordinator Stuart Lehman. He hosts the October "Capital Haunting Tour" each October.
"We have some (employees) who tell us some very interesting reports, of things that have happened to them," says Lehman.
The sound of a jingling keyring is said to echo through the western wing of the fourth and fifth floors at times. Some workers have reported seeing grayish apparitions, or even a full-bodied ghost walking the hallway.
Lehman believes those experiences are borne of a 1911 fire that consumed much of the upper levels of the Capitol. A night watchman named Samuel Abbott died in that fire, and ever since then he's been rumored to haunt the corridors he once patrolled.
"A few years ago, a young woman who was working late on the fifth floor said an oddly-dressed night watchman came into her office, and asked why she was working so late," Lehman told a tour group Tuesday evening.
Then there's the majestic Western stairwell. It's four stories of incredibly ornate medieval-style carving and architecture. But some of the carvings often unnerve Capitol-goers. More than 100 faces peer down from the columns and keystones of the stairway. Former United States presidents Ulysses Grant Abraham Lincoln are carved there, after both laid in-state post-mortem at the New York Capitol.
They're joined in the detailed carvings by a somewhat Satanic legend. According to Lehman, the immigrant workers who were enlisted to carve the stonework in the late 1800's were allowed some decision in what they carved. A disgruntled stone carver is often blamed for the miniature image he set in stone.
"You can see there's a leaf pattern on the wall, and below each leaf there's either a little circle, or a blank spot. That's you get to this one," points Lehman, near a rather mundane looking stretch of sculpture, "and that's a little devil's face peering out at you. That's our Capitol Secret Demon."
The horned creature is tiny, but imposing. When Lehman revealed it by flashlight, the tour crowd audibly gasped.
"Some say a curse was placed on the Capitol by a stone carver," says Lehman, "and while I don't necessarily believe in the curse, the stone carvers were very skilled, and they did have a great sense of humor. It's not surprising that one of them would have played a trick on us, by hiding something in plain sight."
Capitol Haunted Tours are by reservation only. This October's tours are now entirely booked.
Daily Capitol historic tours are available most weeks during the year.