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Local lore has it that spirits haunt some prominent Buffalo landmarks

Buffalo is a city rich with history. It has seen the turn of centuries, the rise and fall of eras, and has collected thousands of stories within its walls.

However, it seems like the people of the past are in more than just in the history books. In fact, many people claim that they are walking among us, their spirits haunting the city’s most historic areas.

As Halloween draws closer, the curiosity of the living becomes drawn to the ghosts of the dead, and many wonder just how haunted Buffalo could really be.

Of all the sites rumored to be haunted, there are several places that stand out more than the rest. These are five of the most allegedly haunted areas in Buffalo.

The Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park

The Buffalo Naval Park is one of the most popular sights in the area. It is the largest inland naval park in the United States, and is home to USS The Sullivans, USS Little Rock, and a WWII submarine, the USS Croaker. These vessels have lived through many years on the water, but unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the sailors who were on them.

The risks of being at sea have taken the lives of many sailors, and their spirits are claimed to roam the ships. Stories encompassing all kinds of supernatural-happenings are set at the naval park. From voices, to strange noises, to unexplainable photographs, it seems like the ships have it all. There is even a story of an unknown uniformed man letting people onto the boats in the offseason, when the park is closed. Yet when the staff goes to check who is letting people onboard, no one is there.

Of all the vessels held in the naval park, it is USS The Sullivans that has gained the most attention. The ship was named after the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives in WW II when their ship was struck by a missile. Now, it is said that their spirits watch over the ship that shares their name.

These stories have attracted countless numbers of people hoping to have their own experiences aboard the ships.

Ghost tours and overnights are popular events at the park, and the attention only grows as Halloween approaches.

Shea’s Performing Arts Center

Shea’s Performing Arts Center was the crown jewel in Michael Shea’s theater collection. From the day construction began in the 1920s to the day he died in 1995, Shea poured his heart and soul into the place, attracting some of the industry’s biggest stars. It is said that his ghost still looms inside the theater, too attached to move on.

Many people have claimed to have seen his spirit, complete with his signature suit and white mustache, walking through the lobby and on the balcony. Some have even said that he had spoken to them, asking, "Isn’t this place magnificent?" before disappearing.

There have also been reports of phantom footsteps, unknown voices, equipment malfunctions and the mysterious rearranging of Mr. Shea’s portrait. However, it seems that the theater has embraced the spirit of its former owner, even hosting ghost-hunting events.

Buffalo State Asylum

Ranked as one of Buffalo’s most haunted sights, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, also known as the H.H. Richardson complex, has a fascinating history with ghost stories to match.

The building was constructed in 1870 by architect Henry Hobbs Richardson. The hospital was, and still is, seen as a work of supreme architecture, but it is what went on inside its walls that adds extra layers to its story.

Designed to care for and treat the mentally ill, the practices of the time period were faulty, and often inhumane. Procedures such as shock therapy and lobotomies often left patients traumatized and without any improvement. The asylum became overcrowded, and there were even accounts of abuse toward patients.

The hospital was eventually abandoned in the 1970s, and the building was left to deteriorate into a state of decay.

It is said that the unhappy spirits of the patients still roam the grounds. Reports of shadow people and sounds of screaming coming from the building are not uncommon. Those who have been inside the asylum have experienced intense feelings of dread.

The building is now being renovated into a hotel, which should be completed by the spring of 2017, allowing anyone willing to pay to spend a night in this historic structure.

Iron Island Museum

The Iron Island Museum was originally built as a Methodist-Episcopal church in 1885. Eventually, it was turned into a funeral home in the 1950s.

Hauntings had been rumored in the building for many years, but the stories flared when it was converted into a museum in 2000. It is believed that some of the spirits are attached to the artifacts that now reside there, while others were brought to the building when it was a funeral home.

No matter the reason, there are a variety of ghosts that allegedly haunt the museum: ghost children play tricks and sit on guests’ laps, shadow people slink through the basement, and there is even a ghost cat that rubs against the legs of the living.

There are also reports of strange noises, voices, flickering lights and the rearrangement of furniture and other objects. The museum had been featured on television series such as "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Lab." It also hold frequent tours, spirit hunts, and overnights.

Buffalo Central Terminal

Built in the 1920s, the Buffalo Central Terminal was one of the largest projects in the area at the time. This monumental art-deco building was designed to handle over 200 trains and 10,000 passengers daily.

Although it had the unfortunate timing to open in 1929, just before the start of the Great Depression, the terminal was still largely successful for its first couple decades. As World War II took hold, the trains escorted thousands of soldiers out of the city, many of who did not return.

Following the war, the use of trains dropped dramatically, and the terminal was forced to close in 1979.

As the terminal fell through the hands of various different owners, the building became neglected and succumbed to deterioration. With such a heavy history and ominous appearance, it is not hard to believe the rumors of supernatural activity.

Many people say they have heard the rumble of trains leaving the station, although the tracks have been in disuse for decades. Others claim to have seen floating orbs of light and ghostly apparitions that dissolved into thin air.

These stories attracted enough attention to get the terminal featured on the Syfy channel television series "Ghost Hunters."

Numerous ghost hunts, tours and sleep-overs give people chance to experience the terminal for themselves.

Rachel Valente is a sophomore at Kenmore West High School.

 

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