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I Spent the Night in a Haunted Hotel

SmarterTravel

In Mount Morris, New York, The Allegiance is a bed and breakfast that screams hospitality. Its tall Greek columns, red-white-and-blue draped windows, and a bucking horse statue on the front lawn make it an impressive, all-American sight. But I know something about the Allegiance most guests don’t—it’s haunted by a shroud of ghosts.

I’m a first-time guest visiting the Finger Lakes region on a weekend tour of the Haunted History Trail of New York State, which is dedicated to cataloging the state’s haunted and historical attractions. I’ve never knowingly checked into a haunted hotel before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would there be a creepy groundskeeper to tell me there was no going back? Would I feel a chill go down my back as I entered? Or see a mysterious face staring out of the window?

I’m a skeptical person and on most days I’ll tell you that I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe that some places feel inherently different. Maybe some places hold on to good or bad energies, which are what give you that good or bad feeling when you experience a place for the first time. That’s why I elected to stay in a haunted hotel in the first place: I wanted to see if something would happen, something I could be sure was more than just a creepy feeling.

As I approached the Allegiance, I was not at all prepared for what actually happened. As I climbed up the front steps, two wraithlike flashes darted out at me, heading straight for my ankles with wide eager eyes.

It was Sarah and Mr. Wizzy, the Allegiance’s resident teacup schnauzers.

Checking into a Haunted Hotel

I cooed over and rubbed the bellies of the two small dogs as the Allegiance’s owners, who had been on the porch with their schnauzers, welcomed me. Steve and Glenda Lueck moved from California to the quiet village of Mount Morris (located between Rochester and Buffalo) in 1999 and purchased the historic mansion.

The Allegiance is named for Francis Bellamy, the Mount Morris native who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. Today, it’s a bed and breakfast that attracts mostly travelers on their way to nearby natural wonders like Niagara Falls and Letchworth State Park. Steve and Glenda were attracted to the historical charm of the home, but they didn’t know it was haunted until guests, and Steve himself, started having strange experiences.

A Haunted History

As Steve shows me to my room he tells me about the ghosts. He has heard the sound of people walking upstairs when nobody was home, spotted a large tabby cat in his bedroom, and has seen a man sitting in a chair in the library. Many guests over the years have also reported seeing and speaking to a teenage girl in the Wadsworth Room, seeing a woman with long gray hair standing at the top of the stairs, and have even described seeing the same tabby cat Steve saw. Many have also heard a dog barking, but it was never seen until very recently, when one guest spotted a white dog sitting in the back window of the Rochester Room.

With word of the haunted hotel spreading over the years, the Allegiance has attracted paranormal groups and mediums who have been able to communicate with the ghosts and provide more details about them, including their names. The woman with long gray hair is called Karen, and the man Steve saw sitting in the library is Raymond, who’s known for being very talkative.

“And don’t call him Ray, because he hates that apparently.” Glenda tells me.

There’s also Sammy the manservant, in the basement. He worked for one of the home’s former owners, Mr. Prophet, and is still very loyal to him. Members of the Wisner family who built the home in 1838 are also still present: Mr. Wisner, his first wife Sarah, and his second wife Ellen have all been discovered by paranormal groups who reported that “Mr. Wisner and Ellen are hiding out from Sarah because she is angry that he replaced her.” Mr. Wisner has also said that he loves the horse statue out front because it reminds him of a white horse during his time that would get loose and run up and down the street.

Guests have woken up in the middle of the night feeling something heavy on their legs. Steve says that they also have a ghost cat and a ghost dog that sometimes like to sleep on top of guests’ feet. He mentions that the cat in particular likes the room I’m staying in.

“We’ve had a lot of people come and it’s pretty clear that our spirits are harmless.” Steve tells me. “We had one woman who was a medium. As soon as she walked in the front door she said ‘It’s a party in here!’ … so we know it’s all good energy.”

I’m not a medium, but when I stepped into the Allegiance it felt like a party to me, too. Trimmed in Victorian touches, the first floor looks like something from a different time. Chandeliers hang in just about every room, and from the decorative wallpaper to the patterned rugs, the decor provides a feast for the eyes. As I walked past the dining room, the sitting room, and the library, I didn’t see any strange figures out of the corner of my eye—but I was suddenly overcome with the desire to book the whole place for the world’s most authentic murder-mystery dinner party.

Steve showed me to my room, and I settled in.

Sleeping with the Lights Off

After exploring the surrounding area for a few hours on a nearby ghost-hunting tour, I returned for my overnight stay in the haunted hotel. The Luecks and all the other guests had gone to bed. I let myself in with a key they provided and tip-toed to my room.

As I went through my motions before bed, I felt extremely aware. The stories of each ghostly character played through my head. I looked in corners and windows, checking to see if everything is exactly where I left it, and listened constantly for sounds of—well, anything. I was extremely present and definitely paranoid.

As I drifted off to sleep, though, I hoped I might feel a cat curling up by my feet.

But it never came. After the full day ghost hunting in the Finger Lakes, I was exhausted. In the plush, king-size bed of the Dansville Room, I was in for a deep and dreamless sleep. But that doesn’t necessarily prove anything: Even if any ghosts did pay me a visit that night, I doubt Raymond’s talking or any ghostly barking could have stirred me.

Earlier in my stay, Glenda had told me that this house was one of parties, dances, and was always filled with children. Although it’s haunted, it’s by friendly spirits who don’t mean anyone harm. Maybe they just didn’t want to leave the party.

After just one night in this friendly haunted hotel, I felt that energy for sure—the party. Which might be why I found it so easy to fall asleep despite my paranoia. There’s a cozy and comfortable energy here, from the celebratory decor to the historic air of the manse.

Morning Comes

Once the sun was up, I enjoyed a quiet breakfast of coffee and cinnamon cake and wandered through the study and sitting rooms one last time. I said goodbye to the Luecks and their schnauzers. I packed up my things and as I walked out the door, I looked back one last time at the staircase where Karen with her long gray hair was known to stand.

I felt overcome with eerie curiosity and a strong desire to spend another night, or to return one day with friends for that murder-mystery dinner party. After experiencing this particular haunted hotel for myself, it’s easy to see why so many spirits have decided to stay indefinitely.

More from SmarterTravel:

Jamie Ditaranto visited the Finger Lakes as a guest of the Haunted History Trail of New York State. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @jamieditaranto.

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