• A painting of Ericstan, home of John James Herrick.
    Local History & Interest,  Places & Landmarks

    Ericstan: The Lost Castle of Tarrytown

    Once upon a time, in Sleepy Hollow Country, there were not one, but four impressive stone “castles” in the region. Two of these are still in the landscape today: Carrollcliff and Lyndhurst. The remaining two are no longer standing and lost to time. One had featured prominently, overlooking the village of Tarrytown, with towers and wisteria-covered walls that commanded one of the best views of the Hudson River. This lost castle was Ericstan. Architect Alexander Jackson Davis was busy designing and building residences in the Sleepy Hollow region in the early 19th century. He was an artistic acquaintance of George Harvey, the artist who designed Sunnyside for Washington Irving, and…

  • Van Cortlandt Manor house in Croton-on-Hudson is reputed home to several ghosts.
    Local History & Interest,  Places & Landmarks

    Van Cortlandt Manor

    Just above the Philipsburg Manor’s northern boundary, at the junction of the Croton and Hudson Rivers, is another local representation of the early Dutch colonial period: Van Cortlandt Manor. The Van Cortlandt family established this massive 86,000-acre estate that was bounded to the west by the Hudson River, to the east by the borders of Connecticut, and stretching to the north 10 miles. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark with various architecturally significant buildings and landscapes. First Lord of Van Cortlandt Manor Stephanus Van Cortlandt was well-known historically as the first American-born, Dutch Mayor of New York City in the 17th century. His youngest sister’s second husband was Frederick…

  • Scan of the title page of John Henry Titus's self published edition of The Face on the Barroom Floor.
    Local History & Interest

    The Bard of Tarrytown

    The Bard of Tarrytown. The Poet of the Pines. The Tanyard Poet. The World’s Most Gifted Seer, Palmist and Medium. These were just some of the professional titles used by the tireless and shameless self-promoter John Henry Titus throughout his long life. He missed the chance to apply even more apt titles to himself: Spinner of Yarns, Teller of Tall Tales, Purveyor of Pablum. Hold on as we explore the life of John Henry Titus through a trail of newspaper advertisements, news articles, and self published books. Here in Sleepy Hollow Country we are all too familiar with out-of-towners sweeping in to school us simple, unsophisticated yokels. A fellow named…

  • The writing study and library at Sunnyside remain much like they were at Irving's death.
    Local History & Interest,  Washington Irving

    The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Washington Irving. Part 2: A Traveling Literary Lawyer

    “To me the Hudson is full of storied associations, connected as it is with some of the happiest portions of my life. Each striking feature brings to mind some early adventure or enjoyment; some favorite companion who shared it with me; some fair object, perchance, of youthful admiration, who, like a star, may have beamed her allotted time and passed away.” Washington Irving, The Life and Letters of Washington Irving, by his nephew Pierre Irving, 1869. At the age of fifteen and the end of his education, young Washington Irving did not follow an academic path to Columbia College like some of his brothers. Education was a “drudgery” to Irving,…

  • A Tarrytown goat and two goat kids stand in a fenced pen.
    Local History & Interest

    The Obstreperous Tarrytown Goats

    In fairness to goats everywhere, Tarrytown goats are not unique in their obstreperousness. They are an unruly animal across the board. However, here in Sleepy Hollow Country we have more than our share of oddities, and our goats are no exception. Make that past tense. At the time of writing, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow restrict livestock within village limits. Here are three of our favorite tales of Tarrytown goats. Tarrytown Goat Sets Monetary Policy In the late 1800s the United States Congress hotly debated changes to monetary policy. At issue in the “money question” of the day was whether to base American currency on gold or on silver. Further, there…

  • Newspaper clipping on Silent Pete, a character who walked the roads and woods of Hudson River towns and villages.
    Local History & Interest

    The Lonely Life of Silent Pete

    “For nearly 20 years—as far as anyone knows—a shabby, slouching figure of a man has been walking daily between Yonkers and North Tarrytown, creating for Hudson Valley residents a new legend. He never speaks: so he’s called Silent Pete. Iron Mike and Nothing Joe. He just walks.” The Tarrytown Daily News, Tarrytown, NY. May 19, 1938. Tarrytown and North Tarrytown (today’s Sleepy Hollow) were once the haunts of Silent Pete, a reclusive and mysterious character who walked a regular route along the river towns in southern Westchester County. Reclusive and mysterious characters aren’t in short supply in Sleepy Hollow Country. In fact, Silent Pete picked up the mantle from two…

  • Sunnyside, Washington Irving's home, sits on the shore of the Hudson River.
    Local History & Interest,  Places & Landmarks,  Washington Irving

    Sunnyside: Mr. Irving Builds his Dream House

    “I am more and more in the notion of having that little cottage below Oscar’s house, and wish you to tell him to endeavor to get it for me. I am willing to pay a little unreasonably for it, and should like to have it in time to make any alterations that may be advisable, as early as possible in the spring.” The Life and Letters of Washington Irving, Vol. 3, pg. 30. Dutch immigrant Wolfert Acker lived in a modest farmhouse that was part of the many tenant properties on the Philipse Manor. It was situated on the Hudson River in a small hollow in the land on a…

  • The Boutonville Oak in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is reputedly haunted.
    Ghosts & Spooks,  Local History & Interest

    Tragedy at the Boutonville Oak

    Let’s hike in the woods of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation to the Boutonville Oak. We can thread along roads and trails, traverse hollows, and make our way along densely wooded hillsides. It is a nature preserve of nearly 4,400 acres and one of Sleepy Hollow Country’s largest parks. It has a deep and storied history and the many points of interest can lead from one legend to the next. History of the Boutonville Oak Embedded on the far eastern border though, towers an ancient and gnarled oak tree. Known locally as the Boutonville Oak, for its proximity to the hamlet of Boutonville, this sentinel in the landscape took root…

  • Photograph of Grand View village hall.
    Ghosts & Spooks,  Local History & Interest

    The Ghost of Grand View

    “It was not long after that when towels were mysteriously removed from the bathroom and left in fantastic shapes in various parts of the house. Whenever all the occupants left the house, things were sure to be turned topsyturvy. Clocks stopped, trunks were unlocked, furniture displaced, but there was never any evidence that these things had been done for the purpose of plunder.” The New York Herald, August 27th, 1908. The Ghost of Grand View Arrives Something strange was happening in the Blauvelt house in the summer of 1908. It began when Mrs. Blauvelt came home to find what appeared to her to be an elderly man sitting on her…

  • Ghoulish Jokester Robs a Grave in a cemetery, setting the skull atop a tombstone.
    Local History & Interest,  Vanished Sleepy Hollow

    Ghoulish Jokester Robs a Grave

    “Echoes of Ichabod Crane’s ghost stories in the Tarrytown cemetery led to the discovery early today that some one had removed a skull from a pauper grave and placed it on top of a tombstone in the conventionally gruesome manner.” -The Washington Times, May 25, 1929 One night in May 1929 a person passing through the hamlet of East View received quite a jolt at the sight of a human skull atop a tombstone in the county poorhouse cemetery. Not bothering to give his name, the individual reported to Town of Greenburgh police that a ghost was roaming the cemetery. Sergeant Dunkel investigated and found the skull placed on top…