We will be discussing and signing copies of our book Long Island Oddities at the following dates and locations:
10/23/13 7PM Carle Place, Barnes and Noble
10/24/13 7PM Bay Shore, Barnes and Noble
10/30/13 7PM Lake Grove, Barnes and Noble
Cold Spring Harbor is a community steeped in history. It rose to its prime during the whaling boom of the mid 1800’s. It seems as if every building still standing from that time long ago has its stories to tell, and the Harbor Mist restaurant is no different. Some say that as many as three ghosts walk these well polished floors from different eras, and strange happenings have been observed by staff and guests alike. We decided to pay Harbor Mist a visit recently with the L.I. Oddities Paranormal Society for dinner, conversation, and maybe an otherworldly encounter.
In the 1800’s waterfront property at Cold Spring Harbor was vital. A large part of the docks and connecting property was owned by Henry Jones and was extremely active during the whaling days. This would soon house an inn, as Mr. Jones leased a piece of his land to Captain Abraham Walters who built Walters’ House, later called Cold Spring House. In 1857 his brother added a tavern and the entire property would later go to his daughter Sarah. George Van Ausdall was the manager of the Cold Spring House at the time and eventually married Sarah and purchased the property outright from Mr. Jones. This is where the story really begins. The Van Ausdall Hotel as it was called at the time was rumored to contain a brothel upstairs.
Wives of whalers often lead a hard life with their husbands gone for long periods of time. Money ran out and they also ached for companionship. Work opportunities for women were few and so some chose to work in the brothel while their husbands were away. The story goes that Van Whether, a whaler, came home early and stopped at the tavern for a drink. He soon found out that his wife was working upstairs, went into a frenzy, and killed both his wife and her customer.
Almost a century later there was another death. A woman supposedly fell in the ladies room, cutting her neck on the jagged edge of a soap dish. She died before the ambulance arrived. It is unknown whether this was an accident, suicide, or perhaps murder.
The inn and restaurant went through many names through the years, becoming the Old Whaler, then Inn on the Harbor, Harbor 105, and currently Harbor Mist. The owners of the Old Whaler actually found a small underground tunnel on the premises that was used during prohibition. As the restaurant changed hands, many people reported strange experiences, especially while renovating the building.
Doors would open and close, lights would go on and off, and the stero would start playing music without being touched. The third floor was reported to be the spookiest before it was removed. Here you used to find small rooms used for storage that are said to have been part of the brothel originally. Staff refused to enter, claiming boxes would fly around and that there was a heaviness in the air that made it hard to breathe. Happenings slowed as renovations were completed.
The third floor was completely removed in the 1990’s to give the second floor a more open area and a cathedral ceiling. Only one original room was left on the second floor near the kitchens. Tina Nanas, co owner of 105 Harbor once reported seeing a silhouette in this very area.
Both the upstairs and downstairs dining room are fair game for these wandering spirits. A waiter was putting out the tea light candles in the dining room upstairs when he saw a young boy's silhouette sprint across the windows from one side to the other. Tina Nanas once heard the sound of something heavy being dropped in the dining room when no one was in the room.
Hearing of all these stories, we could not help but to go see for ourselves, so we planned a dinner outing for the group. A mix of rain and snow was falling when we arrived, which gave the sky a somber gray tint. They sat us in the upstairs dining room where we were quite pampered by the wait staff. While there we had an experience of our own. Above us was a large chandelier. During the course of our dinner we could clearly see the chandelier lights dimming and brightening. Later on I found out that this is a commonly reported phenomenon which was even witnessed by the parents of Kerriann Brosky, author of “Ghosts of Long Island”. Other lights on the same circuit do not behave in the same way.
We also were lucky enough to speak to a waitress who has had her own experiences. She told me that she once saw a woman in a white dress walk across the dining room by our table, and through the closed second floor window. In the kitchen staff hear rapping noises. On the day we were there, one of the kitchen staff had called out for work very upset and shook up. The day before, he believes he had been bitten by something supernatural in the kitchen. They did not know if he planned to return to work. Lastly, she said they get interference on their stereo, often coming in the form of a femal voice singing, but they cannot identify the song.
Is the Harbor Mist really home to a murdered wife, a sailor, and a woman from the 60’s? According to Kerriann’s book, a psychic ran out of the restaurant in the 1970’s in terror, but people still come to dine there usually without incident. It is one place where the echoes of the past mingle with good food and enjoyment today, and who knows, maybe you’ll be graced with an unexpected dinner guest from another time.