Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.
Read Part Four here.
Read Part Five here.
Read Part Six here.
First of all — HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! Whatever you’re doing tonight, may it be trick-or-treating, going to a party, or investigating a haunted spot on the most opportune night of the year, I hope you’re all having a great time!
This is the last Haunted Road Trip blog. I can’t believe I’ve shared my whole summer with you! Don’t worry, you’re not rid of me yet 😉 The blog will continue. I’ll share with you other insights on our haunted locations, maybe have a guest blogger every once in a while, and just share fun haunted New York State stuff with you!
Back to our last stop …
A little behind in our day, we headed straight to Columbia County and Clermont State Historic Site (which is technically in Dutchess AND Columbia Counties!).
The site is called Clermont, which came from the French words for “clear mountain.” Because it was a rainy and cloudy day, we were not able to take in a completely unobstructed view of the Catskill Mountains across the Hudson River, but the view was still pretty spectacular, in my opinion!
We met Annie Cooper from Columbia County, and then we were greeted by Kjirsten, the curator of education for the site. The Legends by Candlelight Ghost Tour takes place here, at the historic home of the Livingston family. Tickets for the event look like invitations for a 1920s Halloween party and the house is filled with paper decorations (like they would’ve used in the 1920s). They hold a seance, but it goes awry, and ghosts come out to tell their stories! One ghost reminds them that Halloween is the worst time to hold a seance—it’s the night when the spirit world and our world are the closest.
There are usually seven or eight “ghosts” throughout the house, all in costumes accurate to their period—even if it means five petticoats! (Kjirsten said they don’t do anything halfway.) The ghosts tell some sad stories, funny stories, scary stories, or happy stories—it’s a full range of emotions. (Note: The event is appropriate for ages seven and up, lasts about 45 minutes, and is NOT handicap accessible.)
We continued to walk through the house as Kjirsten told us about the history and hauntings of this 1740s gem. Seven successive generations of Livingstons resided here!
The estate was established by Robert Livingston, who’s son married Margaret Beekman Livingston. (The house was burned in 1777 by the British, and when Margaret asked Governor Clinton for men to rebuild her house, he gave them to her, and the house was rebuilt from 1779-1782!) The Livingstons had 10 children, all of whom were eventually connected to other wealthy families (John Jay, Andrew Jackson, the Van Burens, Eleanor Roosevelt).
One of their sons, Robert R. Livingston (Kjirsten also called him Chancellor Livingston), is the most notable Livingston for his drafting of the Declaration of Independence, serving as the first U.S. Minister of Foreign Affairs, administering the oath of office to George Washington, negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and helping Robert Fulton develop the steamboat. (NYSParks.com)
The estate stayed in the family until 1962, when most of Clermont (including the land and furnishings) was deeded to New York State. It reopened in the 1970s as a State Historic Site. The remainder of the property was donated in 2000 by Honoria Livingston McVitty, the last Livingston to live on the property. The Livingston’s ancestors are still active in the preservation and enhancement of Clermont, according to the Friends of Clermont group. Kjirsten told us, interestingly, that every single piece of furniture, every portrait, EVERYTHING in the home was owned by the Livingstons. She said many people call and want to donate antiques to the home, but if it was not owned by a Livingston, they do not accept it.
The house looked as it would have in 1930, with beautiful furnishings, lots of gold, and an elegant but homey feel. I was surprised to see indoor plumbing in the house, which Kjirsten said would’ve been added in the 1870s.
I can certainly see how at night, only lit by candles, the house would be particularly spooky! (Margaret Beekman Livingston did pass away in the dining room …) I just may have to make the drive back to go to this Halloween seance. Maybe I’ll make a costume?
Annie led us to the Rip Van Winkle bridge and then we were on our own for the long drive home!
We stopped in Utica at a place called Raspberries Cafe for a quick dinner and then powered through, back to Genesee County! If I thought the other trips were crazy and packed, I didn’t know what I was in for with this trip. It was a wonderful whirlwind and it was a pleasure to meet everybody!
Until the next time …