Bags packed late the night before, camera charged, nerves of steel … oh wait.
Well, the first Haunted History Trail of New York State road trip is over! What. A. Whirlwind. It took some wine, my best friend, and generous people and businesses along the way, but we made it! We had breakfast at the Owego Parkview, lunch at the Calaboose Grille, visited the Bishop-Gillette Headstone and Spook Hill in Yates County, stayed overnight at the Naples Hotel, and then toured Canandaigua. Of course there were extra stops along the way!
We covered a lot of ground in two days, so I’m not going to bombard you with it all at once! (Gotta leave you hanging a little, yeah?)
On this two-day trip:
I brought my best friend, Maureen, along with me on this first trip. She was just as scared as me, so it was interesting to see how/if we’d make it through!
The first of several haunted road trips began with me getting lost … in my hometown. Great start, Lindsay! After we turned around and headed in the CORRECT direction on Route 63, it was smooth sailing to Owego: our first stop and first haunted location, Owego’s Parkview Restaurant & Pub.
Owego’s Parkview Restaurant & Pub, Owego, NY
A minty green, three-story building off to the left after you cross the bridge, it definitely looks like a historical building. Immediately, you could imagine people sitting on the second-story porch, taking in the view of the Susquehanna River. We parked on the side and walked in, where we were greeted by the hostess. We told her we were from the Haunted History Trail of New York State, and she said, “Oh, yes! You’re here to see Amelia?”
Maureen and I looked at each other, a little confused. “I think I’m here to see Beth Johnson, the owner,” I said. Then waited for a beat. “… Is Amelia the ghost?”
So, I guess in a way, we WERE there to see Amelia! (More on her story in a bit.) Beth came out and introduced herself and said she’d be back once we were finished eating. Maureen and I both had simple but delicious breakfasts (I had gluten-free toast!) and mentally prepared ourselves for the tour.
We sat at the table while Beth gave us a history of the building and then began to delve into some of the spooky happenings. The Owego Parkview was built in 1867 and added onto five times since then, through various owners. It was a bar and a women’s ice cream parlor (they even had a separate entrance), as well as a hotel and restaurant. Now, the bottom floor is a still a bar and restaurant, and the second floor is the next project Beth is tackling—trying to renovate the rooms back to hotel rooms. She has two rooms that are in pretty good shape! Each room will have its own bathroom and have a historic feel with modern amenities.
Beth and her husband, Mark, closed on the Parkview exactly around the time a terrible flood hit Tioga County in September 2011 and caused extensive damage to Owego. A lot of people thought they would shy away from seeing the deal through, but Beth said the flood actually helped them with renovations and she was determined to make progress with the Parkview.
“I was drawn to it,” she said. “I felt like one with the property.”
This much is very clear as Beth talks about all the hard work she has put into the building—the renovations, the marketing, the staff, the events. Her passion is contagious—almost tangible—and exactly what Owego and the Parkview need.
Now for the spooky stuff. The first question we had for Beth was, of course, Amelia. She told us Amelia was a young girl, two or three years old, who had been sitting in a rocking chair by the front windows, near a fireplace. Amelia was rocking too close to the flames when her blankets caught on fire. She was engulfed and died from her injuries soon after. Amelia seems to be one of the more active spirits at the Parkview. Emmy, one of Beth’s chefs, has a young daughter, Tess, who comes into the restaurant every so often. Tess has told her mother that “the little girl wants to play with me.” Beth and Emmy have also seen Tess talking to someone, presumably Amelia. She doesn’t have any imaginary friends.
Emmy has had other strange experiences in the kitchen. She once found buckets stacked into a pyramid shape when she came into work in the morning. Thinking it was the wait staff playing a trick on her; she unstacked the buckets and went back to work. She turned around a few minutes later, to see the buckets re-stacked into the pyramid! Emmy knew she was at the restaurant by herself. She has also seen boxes and other storage bins slide uphill in the kitchen.
Beth has experienced several paranormal incidents, including hearing a service bell ring several times while no one was inside (other people heard it too and thought she was playing a trick on them!)
She showed us a likeness of Dugan, one of the past owners, that is stuck in the brick wall in the pub area. One day, during a busy lunch, the head flew out of the wall! It didn’t just drop; it was like someone threw it or pushed it out.
Beth explained to us that when she first started working on the Parkview and strange things would happen, she would feel a little uneasy. But now that the building has been renovated and continues to be improved, she feels a sense of calmness throughout the building. “I think they’re happy someone is taking care of it again,” she said.
Beth gave us a tour of the second and third floors, announcing we were coming up each time. On the second floor, where the hotel rooms are being renovated, it felt a little creepy, but the sun helped calm our nerves. It’s mostly torn apart, waiting for new insulation and drywall. The two rooms they’ve started look bright and cozy!
The third floor, however, is a totally different story. It is dimly lit by a tiny bit of sunlight and a small light bulb in the middle of the hallway. Maureen and I both had an eerie feeling. As this will be the last floor to be renovated, it looks much like it would have at least 60 years ago, except more rundown. A spooky bathroom is at the end of the hall, and one room is boarded up from a fire many, many years ago. One room, several women have stepped into and started crying—for a reason unknown to them.
Neither the second or third floors are uninhabited. An older gentleman lives on the second floor and a room on the third floor is someone’s art studio—both free of charge. “I just want people in the building,” Beth said.
One of the third floor rooms at the Parkview is full of dressers and wardrobes that Beth hopes to restore and use in the hotel rooms. They won’t be re-stained, though, because she said it will devalue them and she wants to keep the historic “feel” as much as possible. She has already used that mentality downstairs. Anything she has found in the Parkview, she tries to repurpose. For example, she found old newspapers in the walls and hopes to use them as wallpaper.
We then ventured to the basement. Beth said she spent a lot of time in the crawlspaces, cleaning out old insulation, and would sometimes feel like there was someone else with her. Maureen felt cobwebs around her ankles, even though there were none to be seen. (She had heard that when you feel that sensation, the “cobweb” is actually a spirit.) The most interesting part was a square board in the corner of the stone wall. Beth said it used to be a part of the Underground Railroad! There HAVE to be some spirits lingering down there in the tunnel.
We eventually had to let Beth get back to work. It was such a cool first experience and she was so willing to talk to us and share her story. I could’ve listened to her talk all day! She asked where we were off to and suggested the “princess grave” at a cemetery up the hill and the Owego Riverwalk.
Can’t wait to tell you all about it Friday …
More pictures from Owego’s Parkview Restaurant & Pub: