Historic Huguenot Street leads haunted ‘Boos & Brews’ tours until July
Although it is a picturesque street, with its cobblestone houses, wild roses and daylilies rippling in the sun, at night Huguenot Street in New Paltz can light up with ghosts eager to make their presence felt and to tell their stories. The neat, uninhabited section of America’s oldest incorporated street was home to Native Americans, French and Dutch refugees and colonizers, and enslaved Africans.
Thanks to archival and genealogical research, as well as annual anthropological excavations carried out in collaboration with professors and students of SUNY New Paltz, the street, for those who know its history, can become very alive if one takes the time to stop to watch and listen. closely. To that end, every Friday and Saturday evening in July, Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) offers its haunted “Boos and Brews” tours. There are plenty of tales of murder and mayhem, fascinating folklore and tales of visits to the other side of the tomb that come to life as tour guide Megan Stacey, director of arts and performing at the HHS, unveils some of the most gruesome story of the streets.
This last Saturday, Hudson Valley One joined the Boos and Brews tour, where a dozen attendees tasted a local cider or microbrewery and followed Stacey, as she alternately made everyone laugh and gasp with her stories.
She started the tour just outside the old fort near the wigwam. “The Lenapes, who were here long before European colonizers, believed storytelling should only take place in winter,” she told the group as the sun set. “Winter is a difficult and lonely time, and storytelling can be fun; but for the rest of the year, they thought the corn, wheat, and squash might be distracted by these fancy stories. True stories, however, can be told year round, so I promise you that everything I tell you tonight is based on the truth.
Stacey explained that HHS leaves “ghost lights” on in every house – sometimes several. “If any of you are involved in the theater, you will know that a ghost light is left on stage to keep ghosts company or to keep them away.” As there are many ghost sightings reported to HHS, Stacey was very enthusiastic about leaving the ghost lights on, either to keep the company of the good ghosts or to keep the bad guys away.
One of the stories involved an older woman, Mrs. Annie DuBois, who lived in the Freer House in the early 1900s. According to Stacey, the rumor was that she was madly in love with a “younger man – a man very much. younger, around 40 years old, ”she said. “At the beginning of July, when Annie learned that young Hugo Freer had died from a failed appendectomy, she was heartbroken. She walked to this well in a long white dress and threw herself to her death. Stacey explained that neighbors, staff and visitors reported seeing a woman in a long white dress sobbing in the well or feeling a sense of intense grief and sadness as she walked past the well outside. the Freer House.
One spooky story included that of Howard Grimm, an 82-year-old widower who lived alone in a historic stone house across South Manheim Boulevard from SUNY New Paltz. “He was a highly respected member of the community and even served on the board of directors for Historic Huguenot Street,” Stacey said. She recounted how the older gentleman heard noises in the barn at the back of his house. When he went to investigate, he was brutally murdered by 24-year-old exchange student Henry Baddoo. This murder took place in 1970. Stacey said there were reports of Mr. Grimm’s ghost walking the streets, so they leave a ghost light on to keep him company.
At the Deyo House, which has an original stone house foundation with a Victorian addition built on top, the group peek inside a window where they could see a large portrait of Gertrude Deyo. . “She was born in this house and lived her whole life in this house and was married to Thomas Jessup,” the guide explained. “This portrait was taken of her about three months before she gave birth to her baby girl.”
The portrait reveals a very sickly young woman with an almost yellowish tint, red circles under the eyes and sunken cheekbones. “It was very likely that she was suffering from tuberculosis,” Stacey told the group, who kept taking turns looking at the portrait through the moon-streaked windows. “Back then it was almost considered chic to have tuberculosis and have your portrait painted, as it made women lose weight and had that pale Victorian look that was apparently all the rage.” Sadly, Gertrude passed away 17 days after the birth of her daughter, and it was believed that she had put a fertility curse on the house after her untimely death. The portrait of the Deyo – the authentic one that hangs inside the house – has been reported by many conservation staff as moving from room to room, lying upside down or lying face down on the ground.
The tour ended in the cemetery next to the Old French Church, where Stacey listed more HHS folklore and haunting historical crimes as the group mingled with gravestones, sipping on their local spirits, asking questions and being reveling in the darkest tales and transgressions of the past.
The tour lasts under an hour and is filled with fun facts, spooky stories, Victorian rumors, and the desire to include all of Huguenot Street’s past in its narrative, not just the European version. You will not be disappointed and will certainly never look at wells or caves the same way.
To find out more about booking the tour, go to www.huguenotstreet.org/calendar-of-events/boos-brews-2021.