For those of us who love a good ghost story, there’s nothing more exciting than exploring a real-life haunted house. When four men heard about an abandoned girl’s college in New York, they knew that they had to explore it! So they decided to break in and they were blown away by what they discovered.
20. New York
Located on a remote hillside above the New York village of Millbrook is a stunning mansion that is slowly crumbing apart. The entire aesthetic of the mansion screams ‘creepy’ as the windows are dark and empty and the overall woodwork is rotting apart. Due to this haunted scenery, a group of men decided to step in and explore the remains.
The mansion’s story begins with H. J. Davison, Jr., a publisher from New York. Back in 1893, the publisher was inspired to create a stunning hotel based off the Mohonk Mountain House, an upstate hotel built in the style of a Victorian castle. So Davison wanted to recreate this in upstate New York.
18. Spectacular Results
In order to recreate the Victorian style, Davison hired architect James Ware, who had worked on the design for the Mohonk building. Ware was able to create a masterpiece and Davison absolutely fell in love with the hotel. The hotel was built with 200 rooms and it had beautiful terraces and carved columns.
17. Exotic Decor
Davison was also quite the traveler and soon he began to fill the hotel up with beautifully exotic decorum. He brought back various trinkets from everywhere that he had traveled and it soon gave the hotel quite a unique aesthetic. Finally in September 1893, the hotel was ready to be opened for guests.
16. Successful Venture
When the Halcyon Hall hotel was first opened it was a great success. Visitors would go out of their way to ride the Dutchess & Columbia Railroad from the city to Hillbrook station. Many of the guests were some of the highest in New York society at the time. However, as time passed, less and less visitors came to the hotel.
15. Economic Problems
The Spanish-American war greatly impacted the economy of America at the time and this meant that less people had dispensable incomes to spend on holiday getaways. This ended up impacting the hotel’s business severely as less and less people came by. Eventually, the hotel shut its doors in 1901. However, in 1907 a new buyer became interested in the property.
14. School For Girls
May Bennet was the buyer that was greatly interested in purchasing the property. At the time she was running a highly successful all-girls school and she wanted to expand. She felt that Halcyon Hall would be the perfect property for an expansion of her school. Soon enough, the guest rooms were transformed into dormitories and lecture halls.
The school turned out to be a highly successful venture for Bennet. She successfully taught and ran a school that had over 100 students. Her school taught girls about science, language, and even fashion design. Many of the girls were also encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities such as horseback riding and golf.
12. Many Changes
Throughout the years, the school underwent a variety of changes to its exterior. In the 1950s, a science hall, theater, and stables were all added to the building. The students greatly enjoyed the campus and there were often wonderful functions hosted by featured celebrities, such as poet Dylan Thomas and composer John Cage.
11. College Education
At first, the school only taught girls for six years, as they taught an extra 2 years of post-highschool studies. However, after a certain point Bennet decided to turn the school into a college and adopted the name Bennett College. While it was a nice effort, the funding for the college wasn’t low and it didn’t last too long.
Although Bennet tried very hard to keep the college going, it eventually went bankrupt. The school officially shut down in 1978 and although there were rumors of it reopening, that never happened. Since that day, the school has been abandoned…
Eventually, New Jersey photographer Steven Bley decided to visit the decaying school in order to snap some photos of the interior and exterior. Before heading to the school, Bley had begun exploring old abandoned hotels and decided to keep it up. “Since then I have kept my eyes open to everything around me, taking in small details which many overlook and seeing the beauty in the world with everything it has to offer,” he explained.
8. Three Companions
So Bley brought three companions with him and all four of them explored through the old halls of the school. The men were blown away by the condition that everything was in. It was obvious that the school had not be touched in many years with how broken apart everything was.
Bley walked all throughout the school and took photos of the ruin. He couldn’t believe how untouched everything was. The only proof that anyone else had been there since its closure was the graffiti that covered some of the walls.
6. Glory Days
Although the place has been rundown, you can still have an idea of what Halcyon Hall might have looked like during its prime. The beautiful staircase, stunning fireplaces, and overall architecture prove that this was once a truly prestigious place to reside in. The beauty is still evident if you’re willing to look.
5. Historic Place
Back in 1993, the building was actually added to the National Register of Historic Places. This means that the government has recognized the mansion as a piece of architecture that needs to be conserved. However, Bley’s photographs have showcased that the place still hasn’t been worked on.
4. A Barrier
In August 2011, the government attempted to prevent intruders from coming into the mansion by building up a barrier. However, it didn’t seem to do much to stop anyone as many people still went in to explore. In fact, many people uploaded videos of themselves exploring it on YouTube.
3. Haunted Look
When you take a look at all of the photos that Bley took, it can be easy to assume that the mansion is haunted. After all, it has an eerie feel to it since nothing has been touched or moved in so many years. According to The Paranormal Guide, however, there does seem to be a haunting presence at the mansion.
2. Hearing Voices
Some of Bley’s companions swore that they heard someone whispering their name as they explored through the various rooms in the mansion. Others that have explored the premises have also stated that they heard footsteps coming from rooms that had nobody in them! Spooky, huh?!
1. New Owner
Back in 2014, a company purchased the building in hopes of developing the site. While they have plans to keep some of the building’s original features, the building overall will be demolished. However, until that day comes Halcyon Hall will remain a mysterious beauty.