The Haunting Of Canfield Casino

There are a lot of reasons to visit the Saratoga Springs Historical Museum.

The Canfield Casino, which is part of the museum, is a popular wedding venue. The museum exhibits on the first floor are an excellent introduction to the geologic and Native American histories of the region.

And then there’s the upper floors, which are haunted.

I say this as a matter of fact because every single person I spoke with at the museum said they had experienced some sort of paranormal activity – from the tour guides and the archivists right on up to the facility’s executive director.

Noises. Odd feelings. And, yes, apparitions. These are a but few of the mansion’s frightening things.

Jamie Parillo, the executive director, said the museum is one of the oldest in the state and has about 15,000 items in its collection. The history of the site dates back to 1870 when the casino opened in an effort to attract the wealthiest visitors from across the country and worldwide.

The casino was opened by John Morrissey, who grew up in Troy and became part of Boss Tweed’s motley crew at Tammany Hall. He was a founder of the Saratoga Race Course and invested a sizable amount of money to open the club house/casino.

One of the myriad of haunted happenings occurs in the high stakes room on the second floor, which is home to a roulette wheel. Multiple people – visitors and staff alike – have said they have walked into the room to find the roulette wheel spinning away when no one was around to have set it in motion.

Staff have also heard the hanging crystals on a decorative candelabra moving and chiming, when there was no reason for them to do so – no sudden gust of wind, for example. Door knobs have also been heard and seen wiggling after hours when only the staff are in the building and no one is remotely close to a door.

It’s the third floor, though, that is said to be particularly haunted. This is an area of the museum that houses furniture and personal belongings of members of the Walworth family. Due to the set up of bedrooms and of items on display, some suggest that perhaps the ghosts feel particularly at home on this floor. An apparition of a young woman, for example, has been seen moving between the rooms.

The SyFy show “Ghost Hunters” visited the museum in 2010 and at that time each of the team members experienced something paranormal in the house – ranging from a tap on the shoulder or hair being slightly pulled, to hearing disembodied voices.

During a recent ghost tour, Parillo pointed out that these experiences have never been malicious in nature. However, some staff have certainly had some major scares at the site after hours.

Halloween Ghost Tours are scheduled at the mansion for Wednesday, Oct. 30 starting at 6 p.m., with tours leaving every 15 minutes. Each tour will last about one hour and reservations are strongly suggested.

If this sounds a bit too frightening of an experience – at an especially spooky time of year – ghost tours are held at other times of the year as well, including over the summer.

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