Does Rudolph Valentino Haunt Conklin's Town Hall? (New York) Aug 19, 2015 11:42:38 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Aug 19, 2015 11:42:38 GMT -5
Does Rudolph Valentino Haunt Town Hall?
Most of us are aware of the Castle on the Hill – the main building in the original New York State Inebriate Asylum. But we have another castle in Broome County, now part of the Conklin Town Hall, and it has a long and interesting history.
Around 1900, local artist Alpheus Corby decided to build a house for himself outside the busy and noisy streets of Binghamton, where he had lived for several years. But as an artist, he wanted to make sure his home made a statement. Apparently, a few years before, Corby had visited England to see some relatives and while there, became intrigued by the many castles that dotted the landscape of Great Britain. So, when he decided to build his house, he was determined to the flavor of England to Broome County. He purchase land on Conklin Road in the Town of Conklin for his residence, but this wasn’t just a house, it was a castle. It was constructed of large building blocks and small turrets and corbeling added to the castle-like appearance. Inside, a staircase near the main door that led to the second floor.
Unfortunately, while the home was resilient and would last for generations, Alpheus Corby was not. He died in 1918 and there several family members disputed Corby’s will. Eventually, the castle-like edifice went to Fred Pratt, a nephew. But Pratt did not stay in the house for very long. During the next 20 years, a variety of uses for the grand building were proposed and rejected and it was rented to various tenants. One of the more unusual residents was Carol McKinstry, who operated a spiritualist “church” from the site in the 1920s. McKinstry claimed that every night, a ghost would appear and her. Who was this spirit who brought words of wisdom? It was none other than Rudolph Valentino, who died suddenly in 1926. She claimed the “Sheik” came to the Corby house each night at 11, would remain until 1 a.m., and then return to the spirit world.
While the famous movie lover and star of The Sheik was visiting, he started dictating a movie script that he called The Warning from out of the Ages. Eventually, McKinistry, along with her “friend,” created an 80,000-word movie treatment, which she renamed The Return of Rudolph Valentino. She traveled to Hollywood and attempted to market the script and even had her picture taken at Falcon’s Lair (Valentino’s home) standing in front of a portrait of the dead movie star. But she didn’t have much luck in her endeavor. Too bad there aren’t any transcripts of her conversation with movie producers in which she tried to convince them Valentino had written the script as the Twilight Zone theme plays in my head. Nevertheless, McKinstry became known as the Crusading Spiritualist after she took her work and started the Valentino Memorial Church of Psychic Fellowship. Despite her confidence in her convictions, she left Broome County, although she did publish a book using the script in 1952.
Corby’s “castle” caught the interest of George F. Johnson in the 1940s and he purchased the building and turned it into a facility for disadvantaged youths. This experiment, however, was short-lived and in 1948, Johnson deeded the extravagant edifice to the Town of Conklin, with the stipulation that it would be used as a community center. As the years passed, the town turned the structure into the town hall. Recently, a new annex was added and the Colby home is slowly being converted into museum space.
Does the Sheik still make his 11 o’clock appearances?
Source: Gerald Smith, The Press & Sun-Bulletin, August 18, 2015.
See also “August 23, 1926: The Death and Return of Rudolph Valentino”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/5869/august-death-return-rudolph-valentino