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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just in Time for Halloween: Stambovsky v. Ackley revisited?

Haunted-house2 Previously on this blog, Eric Goldman provided a wonderful compilation of resources for Stambovsky v. Ackley -- the haunted house case.  Maybe the West Village will get a haunted house case all of its own.  The Daily News Reports:

A West Village house with a resident ghost is back on the market - just in time for Halloween.

The historic Gay St. property, on the corner of Waverly Place, is rumored to be inhabited by a restless spirit who walks the creaking floorboards at night.

Legend has it a man in top hat and tails has been spotted in the building; some local historians say it is former Mayor Jimmy Walker, who once owned it.

"I wouldn't go in there right now - it's legendary that ghosts live there," said Randy Credico, 54, who has rented an apartment across the street from the haunted house for two decades. "That place would be like moving into 'The Shining.' "

The property, recently put on the market by realtors Corcoran, comes with a $4.2 million price tag - ghosts included.

It was built in 1827 and housed a speakeasy before Walker bought it for his mistress, Betty Compton, in the 1920s.

Puppeteer Frank Paris, who designed the original Howdy Doody, also lived there. Most recently it was home to Scientific Americaneditor Dennis Flanagan and his wife, Barbara.

Records show the Flanagans sold it in 2007. It has been gutted and is now an empty shell.

"I never saw him, I never heard him," Barbara Flanagan said of the ghost. "I never smelled anything - except onions. The stairs were creaky, but you know what? It was a 200-year-old house. Now it really looks like a haunted house - I guess it's a self-fulfilling prophesy." 

Other longtime Gay St. residents say the rumors about the street's uninvited houseguests go with the territory.

"There are ghosts in all of these buildings," said Celeste Martin, who owns and manages the next-door townhouse. "They talk; they're living things these buildings."

Martin said that over the years, she has seen mysterious faces in windows and heard inexplicable noises. "It just happens, it's very spiritual," she said.

A Corcoran real estate agent said the company wasn't aware of the home's storied past.

West Village ghost tour guide and historian Phil Schoenburg doesn't expect a prospective buyer to be deterred by the spirits. 

"Whoever moves in will be creative," he said. "Some people like ghosts. They think it keeps the burglars away."

[Meredith R. Miller]

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