Sitting just off the Staten Island’s poetically named Arthur Kill Road is the last remaining Kreischer Mansion, a lovely Victorian home that is said to be one of the most haunted places in all of New York, which may actually be true if one is referring to being haunted by memories of murder and death.
When Balthasar Kreischer came to Staten Island in the mid-1800s he brought with him terrifically successful brickworks that led to an economic boom in the area which soon became known as Kreischerville. As part of the wealth, the elder Kreischer was accumulating he had twin mansions built atop Kreischer Hill for two of his sons. Unfortunately, Balthasar died just a year after they were completed, but given what followed it is perhaps for the best. After the elder Kreischer’s death, the brick factory his children inherited burnt to the ground. The family tried to rebuild, but the blow was too great and their fortunes soon fell, leading to one of his sons committing violent suicide in the mansion that stands today.
Of the two Kreischer mansions, one was destroyed during the Great Depression, but the other, where one of the Kreischer sons died, managed to survive despite the family’s poor fortune. However, the ornate gothic house soon became the target of local superstition and all manner of ghost stories involving strange voices and lights began to surround the moldering manse. Despite its reputation, it was never completely abandoned but no business or resident has managed to stay there for long either.
Adding credence to the creepiness of the house is the very real crime that occurred there in 2005. On the order of a mafia boss, the caretaker of the empty mansion was paid thousands of dollars to carry out a hit at the site, which he did, dismembering the body and burning it in the basement furnace. Strange sounds indeed.
The City of New York designated the Kreischer Mansion a landmark in 1968, not for its macabre history but its profuse decorative ornament in the Stick style. In May 2020, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a design for 48 condominiums in 11 new buildings on the 3.8-acre property. Additional approvals by the City Planning Commission may be required before construction.
The Atlas Obscura Podcast is a short, daily celebration of all the world’s strange and wondrous places. Check out this episode about Kreischer Mansion.