A pen and ink sketch postcard of Emily Shaw's Inn, Pound Ridge, NY.
Ghosts & Spooks,  Places & Landmarks

The Ghosts of Emily Shaw’s Inn

Emily Shaw’s Inn, once a popular restaurant, was located just 20 miles from Sleepy Hollow as the raven flies. Generations of Westchester County residents celebrated holidays and special occasions over the more than four decades Emily and her son John operated the venerable Pound Ridge establishment.

The original part of the building was built as a residence around 1833, attributed to Alsop Hunt Lockwood. Eventually it served as a boarding house known as Dexter Lodge. By the early 1900s the population of this part of the county dropped precipitously as farming in the area fell into steep decline. By the 1930s the building, like many of its neighbors, was rundown and derelict.

Enter Hiram Halle, a wealthy businessman, inventor, and philanthropist who moved to Pound Ridge in 1928. Over the next decade Halle purchased about 700 acres of land including farms, barns, and 33 homes in the township. During the Depression years leading up to World War II, Halle virtually ran his own private Works Progress Administration, employing dozens of workers to renovate, and in some cases restore, houses and barns. 13 of the Halle homes are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Becoming Emily Shaw’s Inn

Once overhauled, Halle would often rent out houses to family, friends, and business associates. One of those was the Lockwood house, to which Halle had added a commercial kitchen. Halle’s transformation of the town attracted new, upscale residents, including celebrities drawn to the bucolic setting. Emily Shaw rented the Lockwood house for her eponymous restaurant. Her family would run it until 1982.

Dorothy Treyball, a long-time resident of Pound Ridge who purchased the inn in 1989, would later recount the Shaw years: “Through the years, many celebrities have dined here. Jackie Gleason and Tallulah Bankhead came quite a bit. There used to be a real gathering at the bar on Friday nights. Jack Shaw put out a big round of cheddar cheese. Tallulah would play the piano, and everyone would gather ‘round and sing.”

An undated pen and ink sketch post card of The Barrel Room at Emily Shaw’s Inn.

Today the landmarked building, located 4 miles south of the Boutonville Oak, is home to one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants, The Inn at Pound Ridge. The inn had been abandoned for five years before the internationally famous chef saw it. After purchasing the building in 2012 Vongerichten, who has a weekend home nearby, embarked on a two-year renovation of the space.

While the exterior has been preserved as part of a landmark district, the interior has been completely overhauled since the days of the Shaws. The renovation purported to preserve as many of the original materials as possible, including four working fireplaces. In a 2014 review of Vongerichten’s iteration of the historic building The New York Times complimented the changes: “The inn’s dashing good looks — think of Copenhagen, then Mendocino — are marked by reclaimed wood, rough stone, butter- smooth taupe leather and iron filigree.”

It is important to point out that the reputation for ghosts predates Vongerichten’s tenure. Sleepy Hollow Country isn’t aware of reported apparitions since the chef purchased the inn. Did the renovations banish the spirits of Emily Shaw’s Inn or do they linger on in the bones of the house? Has Vongerichten’s stewardship settled the spirits? If you have insights, let us know in the comments below or email us at ghost.editor@sleepyhollowcountry.com.

To summon the spirit of Emily Shaw’s wherever you are, scroll down the end of this article for the recipe for the Shaw’s signature cocktail, the Emily Shaw’s Special.

The Upstairs Ghost of Emily Shaw’s Inn

In her 2006 book Pound Ridge Past: Remembrances of Our Townsfolk, author Bonni Brodnick sought out Dorothy Treyball, proprietor of the restaurant after the Shaws. In a June 5, 2004 interview Treyball recounted “I always felt we had a woman ghost on the second floor of the Inn. I would walk down the hall and suddenly feel coldness in the air. I could just feel her.” After Treyball communicated aloud her intentions to take good care of the place, her interactions with the female ghost subsided.

For others, however, the contact continued. Treyball asserted that her daughter-in-law heard footsteps on the second floor of the empty building while closing up one night. When the footsteps followed her, she ran out the door, locking it behind her, and refused to come back in. One of Treyball’s sons reported doors swinging for no apparent reason. Even the heavy safe door would swing of its own accord.

In the interview, Treyball also noted that one night she was in conversation with one of her skeptical chefs when the female ghost whisked past him, unseen, into the wine room. He did not notice her until he turned and caught sight of a shadowy figure. Treyball recounted, “He just stood there, mesmerized by the ghost, and it dissolved. The chef later told us that the hairs on his arms were literally standing up when he saw the ghost.”

The English taproom at Emily Shaw's Inn at Pound Ridge, NY.
This color post card shows The Original English Taproom at Emily Shaw’s Inn. Cards produced by Dexter Press were common takeaway advertisements at restaurants from the 1950s through the early 1980s. This one is numbered 76330-B which Diane Allmen of Dexter Press Archives dates to 1964.

The Contentious Ghost

Of the second ghost, Treyball recalled, “One night, we were downstairs, and everyone agreed that we could sense a ghost’s presence. This time it felt more like a man ghost. But he wasn’t a nice ghost.” She continued that this male ghost seemed to be a presence at certain tables and mostly on Friday nights. His presence would cause friction among guests, with couples sitting down to dinner “lovey-dovey” but on the verge of fighting by the end of the evening. This, Treyball, said, happened week after week.

We imagine this sort of ghost was not good for repeat business.

The Barrel Room at Emily Shaw's Inn as it appeared with faux colonial decor.
The Barrel Room at Emily Shaw’s Inn as it appeared with faux colonial decor. Did the ghost of a man linger among the colonial kitsch? This Dexter Press post card is numbered 49683-B which Dexter Press Archives dates to 1961.

Emily Shaw’s Special

For almost four decades Ted Saucier was publicist for New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His 1951 book of cocktails Bottoms Up attributes a variation on the vintage cognac drink, the Sidecar, to Emily Shaw’s Inn. The Emily Shaw’s Special cuts the Cointreau in half, replacing the other half with vermouth, allowing the fresh lemon juice to come a little forward over the orange flavor.

Emily Shaw’s Special

1/4 lemon juice
1/8 Italian vermouth
1/8 Cointreau
1/2 brandy
Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass.

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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