The King Mansion at Tarrytown House Estate is home to Goosefeather restaurant and allegedly a ghost!
Ghosts & Spooks

The Ghost of Sybil Harris King

The ghost of Sybil Harris King is reputed to linger around her former mansion which today is part of the Tarrytown House Estate. This corporate retreat center and event venue, located in Tarrytown, New York, has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. The property is the combination of three Gilded Age estates owned by wealthy families who were drawn to the Hudson River Valley for its scenic beauty and proximity to New York City. It is situated on East Sunnyside Lane, just off South Broadway and not far from Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside.

Of the three original mansions, two remain standing: Uplands of broker James S. Cronise (later Thomas King) and Grey Court of American Tobacco Company executive William R. Harris. Malkasten, the country retreat of famous landscape artist Albert Bierstadt, was lost to fire in November 1882 and never rebuilt. The Bierstadt property was folded into the adjoining Cronise estate.

1908 map published by E. Belcher Hyde Map Co. of Brooklyn, NY.

Sybil Harris was the daughter of William Rees Harris and Florence Lewis Harris. William, an executive of the American Tobacco Company moved the family to East Sunnyside Lane in Tarrytown in 1907 to a mansion he constructed adjacent to the estate of Thomas King.

When Harris died in January 1915 his will divided his $3,948,000 estate (about $123,000,000 in 2024 dollars) between his widow and four children, except Grey Court which was left outright to Florence.

Get the room with the ghost

According to local lore the ghost of Sybil Harris King continues to inhabit her long-time home, Uplands, where her spectral footsteps are sometimes heard on the second floor. Guests report her presence in and around Room 293, which hotel staff reveal is where she died on August 1, 1955.

The Haunted History Trail of New York State says of the purported ghost “She has been heard pacing up and down the second-floor hallways and tends to linger near Room 293, the room she is said to have passed away in. Sometimes Sybil will even appear as an apparition in white, or show herself through sounds, orbs and faint shadows to guests staying in her former home.”

A 2014 article in Westchester magazine expands on her reputation, suggesting that the ghost of Sybil Harris King is well versed in modern technology that did not exist in her lifetime: “Legend has it, she’s fond of playing with electronics. One guest said he woke up to find his phone’s date had been changed to 1865. Another guest said his Pandora kept repeating the same song, again and again and again.”

“Get the room with the ghost. Room 293 is the room that someone haunts. We did not know this until the second day, when the maid asked where our monitoring equipment was. Had dreamt the night prior of a brunette woman trying to climb into bed with us and of children playing under the bed.”

A June 2018 review of Tarrytown House Estate, Tripadvisor

Sybil’s ghostly presence is picked up now and then by travel publications. In October 2019 the adventure travel site Thrillist named Goosefeather, the Tarrytown House Estate restaurant, to its list of the 17 of the Creepiest Haunted Bars and Restaurants in America. The reporter suggested “Venture up the Hudson Valley for Dale Talde’s modern, seasonal Chinese cuisine and you just might catch a flash of Sybil’s white gown in a second-story window.”

That same season ShermansTravel named Tarrytown House Estate to its list of The 19 Most Haunted Hotels in America. The ShermansTravel editorial staff observed: “Located near the haunted village of Sleepy Hollow, this 214-room property is comprised of several 19th century-era buildings, with The King Mansion being the oldest. Today, several guests have reported supernatural sightings on the second floor, including the ghost of Sybil Harris King . . . who can be heard pacing up and down the hallways.”

For more on Goosefeather and other restaurants with resident spirits, see our article on Haunted Taverns of Sleepy Hollow Country.

Death and Burial of Sybil Harris King

Sadly for fans of Room 293, Sybil Harris King did not die in that room or anywhere else on the estate. Her obituary in The Irvington Gazette lists her place of death as a New York City hospital. The burial records at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery narrow the location further: Presbyterian Hospital. A private funeral service at her home was followed by a service at Irvington’s St. Barnabas Church, which is itself reputed home to two different ghosts, and burial at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Her husband Frederick died three years later and was buried next to her.

The pink granite monument for Frederick and Sybil Harris King is in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The ghost of Sybil Harris King is reputed to linger at her former home.
The King’s pink granite head and foot stones are in the far north end of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

A Gruesome Discovery at the Harris Estate

While Sybil Harris King did not die in her own home, there was a shocking and grisly death next door on her parents’ estate: the gardener, David Rintoul. The December 11, 1908 edition of The Irvington Gazette reported, “At about 5 o’clock on Wednesday evening David Rentoul [sic], gardener for Mr. W. R. Harris, killed himself by blowing his brains out in the greenhouse.” The reporter continued that Rentoul [sic], 38 years old, was “of very nervous temperament, and had suffered from a serious malady, which no doubt preyed so much on his mind as to cause him to commit the above act.”

The greenhouses are long gone and Rintoul is not known to have made a spectral appearance around the estate. Like the Kings, David Rintoul is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

David Rintoul’s gray granite head stone is in a secluded, quiet corner of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Jim is superintendent of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where he has researched the cemetery’s history for more than 20 years. He draws on an extensive collection of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown historical resources for the material on Sleepy Hollow Country.

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