Revolutionary Spirits Haunt Old '76 House Restaurant May 23, 2016 6:35:06 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on May 23, 2016 6:35:06 GMT -5
Revolutionary Spirits Haunt Old '76 House Restaurant
TAPPAN, N.Y. – Robert Norden hears things go bump in the night at the 76 House located at 110 Main Street. "I’m still trying to be a skeptic," he said. "But I’m failing at being a skeptic."
In the 30 years since Norden took over ownership, he's seen evidence – from staff, customers and paranormal experts alike – that the hamlet eatery might be housing some guests of the ghostly variety, despite whatever healthy skepticism he harbors. "This is table 2 and this is the seat that, if it’s 95 degrees in the dining room, somebody will feel cold there," Norden advised, standing over the corner table of the restaurant's front dining room, somewhat dimly lit and still largely composed of Revolutionary War-era lumber, on a gloomy Friday the 13th. "We’ll all be doing a staff meeting in the other room and you’ll hear a glass fall off the table," he added. "Nobody even bothers getting up anymore because it’s always that a glass fell off of table 2 and they never break. So you just pick it up, put it back."
The belief that the 76 House's past patrons might still be hanging around has become so entrenched in local lore that the restaurant will soon be hosting ghost-hunting tours, organized by Ghost Hunt USA, with a May 17 kickoff event already sold out.
Almost 250 years ago, the section of the restaurant now occupied by table 2 served as the temporary prison of Major John André, the British officer hanged in 1780 as a spy who conspired with Benedict Arnold to surrender West Point to the British during the Revolutionary War. When his treachery was discovered, André was tried and convicted at the nearby Reformed Church of Tappan before being marched to the gallows on what is now André Hill Road.
It was about 10 years ago, when the restaurant was visited by psychic medium Craig McManus, that Norden realized the table's setting was a hot spot for potentially paranormal activity. "He (McManus) just asked if he could walk around and see if he felt anything here," Norden said. "And his eyes went wide and he beelined it all the way over here, to this table here right here."
According to Norden, McManus told him the location was the meeting place for numerous spirits, one of whom is always there, counting silver coins. Today, the restaurant's staff is constantly finding misplaced dimes on and around table 2. "A dime fell from the ceiling onto the book (I was reading) one time I was at that table," said Katerena Kampouroglou, a restaurant employee for the past five years.
And it's not just table 2 that's had restaurant employees witnessing otherworldly occurrences. Table 11, situated in the opposite corner of the dining room, which is the oldest section of the building, has also seen its fair share of unexplained phenomena. The 76 House uses fireplaces for heat in the winter and, while closing for the night and shutting off the fireplace's gas valve, Norden noticed a man dressed in a white shirt sitting back in one of table 11's chairs. A bartender saw him, too, and, assuming he was staying for an after-dinner drink, began reaching for a bottle. By the time either employee looked back up, the man was gone, Norden said.
On another occasion, Kampouroglou said she was preparing to open the bar for the day while Norden was in the kitchen when she heard a deep sigh behind her back. Thinking it was Norden, she turned only to realize he was nowhere near. She came to Norden with her experience, at which point he informed her that day was October 2, the anniversary of André's hanging. "It was the only time I felt a little scared," Kampouroglou admitted.
Even patrons will remark that their table settings have moved or mention shadowy or ghostly images appearing in photos taken at the restaurant, according to Norden and Kampouroglou.
Leading up to the ghost hunt tours, Tyler Evans, a founder of Ghost Hunt USA, visited the restaurant to get the feel of the place. A British expat, Evans said the site's supposed ghosts reacted strongly to him on account of the restaurant's Revolutionary War history. "When I went in there, just the things I was saying, we were hearing the knocks and the bangs coming from the kitchen and coming from the upstairs," Evans said. "And the staff said 'Oh my God. Every time you talk about this (there's a reaction).'" Evans' team members were stationed outside, he explained, and asked for a sign that the spirits wanted him to leave. The streetlight outside reportedly blinked on and off. "They told me about it and I came outside and said, ‘Flash it twice then if you really want me to go,'" Evans said. "And the streetlight directly outside flashed twice." Kampouroglou was there that night and corroborated Evans' claim.
Norden admits much of this is hard to believe. "But it’s hard to dismiss," he added. "Which makes it kind of weird. We’re brought up in a scientific world and this is just outside of it."
He's not alone in displaying a bit of uncertainty about it all. "Some people believe it's haunted," said Mary Cardenas, Orangetown historian and director of the Orangetown Historical Museum and Archives. "I don't really know and all the times I was there, I can't say that I've seen any apparition or anything or heard any strange noises. But other people may be more sensitive to that kind of thing."
Whether the activity is genuine or a fabricated result of the area's long and bloody history during the Revolution, Norden said customers aren't being scared away. "We always compete with this reputation of being this quaint, old, historic, haunted restaurant when our customer base doesn’t even care or know about that," he said.
Source: Kevin Phelan, Lower Hudson Journal-News, May 17, 2016.