NEWFANE, NY - For nearly two centuries, this stately home has stood as a landmark in Newfane. Its builder, and first resident, was a pioneer and entrepreneur. James Van Horn made a fortune from his orchard, factory, saw mill and other businesses. His mansion is a living legacy, but also a home to the departed.
"I've seen white shadows walking the premises and in the house. Black shadows walking through the house," says Rose Schaeffer, President of the Newfane Historical Society. "It just happens. It doesn't take dark. It doesn't take light. It doesn't take a certain time of day. Things just happen."
From sounds of a family, kids playing, even parties. To the far more frightening - like the appearances of Malinda Van Horn, who was only 21 when she expired.
"I have seen her twice in the attic. Both times it was in the exact same corner. She looked exactly the same. The strange thing is I could tell you what she had on, her dress, what color it was, the way her hair was, what color her hair was, and the expression on her face, but I couldn't see any hands or feet," says Schaeffer.
Perhaps peculiar for a phantasm, but oddities exist outside this haunt's home as well. In the Van Horn family burial plot, Malinda was the only one unaccounted for. Until some mortal sleuths found her remains, alone, in the backyard. Her final resting place now in the rose garden, on the mansion's south side. A stone marker, encased in steel and weighted with a 500 pound anchor, cover the spot. Here too the unexplained is not unnoticed.
"Periodically, when we go out there, the stone has been shifted to the north. And it always goes to the north when it shifts. And the men have to go back out there and mallet it back into place. But then it shifts again," says Schaeffer.
Many passersby notice the strange happenings. Specters walking the property, appearing in windows. A blue curtain above the carriage house placed with care to protect the living. The incessant appearance of an apparition here deemed too distracting to travelers on the road.
And the man responsible for this edifice of afterlife, the family patriarch, James Van Horn Sr., is also said to make is his presence known as well. "Every once and awhile he likes to pop up behind groups of women. And kind of growl," says Schaeffer.
A not-so-subtle reminder about whose home this is. In the mortal world. And hereafter. For eternity.