Albany is the capital city of New York. There are a lot of places to visit here like the Empire State Plaza, an underground shopping mall that is filled with a lot of art, a performing arts center called The Egg, and many more.
Downtown Albany, New York. (Link: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2016/06/23/horse-drawn-trolley-rides-will-showcase-downtown.html)
Another building that is visited by many is the Cherry Hill, a historic house. It is said to be haunted so if you want to know more about the paranormal activities that have taken place there, read more below.
An undated illustration of the Cherry Hill House. (Link: https://seeksghosts.blogspot.com/2016/01/cherry-hills-murder.html)
History Of Cherry Hill
The Cherry Hill house was built by Colonel Philip Kiliaen van Rensselaer in 1768 when he was only 21. He built it for his bride, Maria Sanders. By 1787, the home was renovated by a local carpenter named Isaac Packard. The new house was of Georgian design and it had a gambrel roof, which was common on Dutch Colonial houses. By 1790, the farm near the home became larger and larger. However, four years later, Philip died. His family stayed at the Cherry Hill home until 1824 when Maria died.
Colonel Philip Kiliaen van Rensselaer. (Link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Philip-Van-Rensselaer-183929721622581/posts/)
Later, it became the house of one of Philip’s sons, Solomon van Rensselaer, who served in the Congress and held other positions in the government. After that, it became a manor house. Sometime in the 1820s, it served as the place where Marquis de Lafayette was accommodated after he returned to the United States for a visit.
Solomon van Rensselaer in an undated photo. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Van_Rensselaer)
What makes this home even more interesting is the fact that a murder took place here. Accordingly, since that murder, it already became haunted. More on the murder, 17 people were living at the Cherry Hill house three years after Lafayette’s stay there. Of the 17, there was a man named John Whipple. He was a rich businessman and married a woman named Elsie Lansing. However, Lansing became romantically involved with Jesse Strang, who left his wife and his children and was living under an assumed name John Orton.
Reportedly, Lansing fell out of love with Whipple, who was nine years older than him, because he was controlling and domineering. Strang and Lansing started to exchange love letters through their family servants and later they planned to move to Canada but because they had no money, they decided to murder Whipple.
Initially, Lansing used a poison. However, the poison only caused Whipple to suffer from stomachaches. Lansing then thought Strang should shoot her husband. They first laid down a rumor that claimed someone was out to kill her husband due to a business deal. They told the people in town about this. On May 8, 1827, Strang climbed up on a shed and had his rifle with him. He shot Whipple from the shed through the window of their room where Lansing removed the curtains so Strang can have a clear view of their target. Shortly thereafter, Whipple died. The bullet holes remain present to this day.
Strang came up with a story that strange men were lurking around the Cherry Hill home. Authorities became suspicious so they arrested Strang. He later confessed to the murder. The person from whom the poison was bought and the seller of the rifle both testified as witnesses to the case. Likewise, the servants testified regarding the love letters between Strang and Lansing.
He believed that by confessing, he would not be sentenced. Despite the belief, Strang was hanged while Lansing was acquitted. Strang’s execution was the last public hanging in the city. It was a very painful death because the fall from the hanging did not break Strang’s neck. Instead, he swung for an hour before he suffocated to death.
A photo of the confession of Jesse Strang. (Link: https://seeksghosts.blogspot.com/2016/01/cherry-hills-murder.html)
The case generated a lot of interest because Strang’s case is believed to be a classic example of social inequality. Many said that Lansing was not convicted because she was an elite and that social circle in Albany would never throw anyone of their own under the bus.
Later, Lansing remarried. The man was identified as Nathanial Freeman. He also died so she decided to move to Onondaga, New York. Lansing died in 1832.
The Cherry Hill house was later occupied by Catherine Putman Rankin. Her daughter Emily devoted her time in preserving what was left of the original structure of the Cherry Hill house. When Emily died in 1963, she specified in her will that the house should become a museum. In 1971, it was registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The home includes 20,000 objects that ranged from furnishings, tableware, and the like. There were also 30,000 historic documents from the van Rensselaer family.
In 2009, the Cherry Hill House was not accessible to the public because it had to undergo a renovation.
The Ghost At The Cherry Hill House
Shortly after the death of Whipple, many have reported a male ghost at the Cherry Hill house. He is usually seen on the lower floor or the terrace. It remains unclear who the ghost is because many are saying it’s Whipple while others believe it is Strang.
Visitors’ Accounts Of Their Visit At The Cherry Hill House
One visitor shared, “When we visited the house & took the tour. We had a bigger interest about the murder that took place at the address. Our tour guide literally didn’t mention it. So I started asking questions & the guide seemed a little uninformed. We were sitting on the second floor landing & I was asking questions, when all of a sudden the hallway closet door swung open rapidly, but completely silently and missed the top of my head by about a 1/2 inch. I was completely unaware until it had been swung by my head. The guide who had been facing us just stared and her mouth dropped open while it happened. My best friend who was with me, was the first to recover & said something to the effect of, ‘what the hell was that?’ The guide just muttered. ‘that’s never happened before… the door is too heavy to do that..’ & ushered us back downstairs.”
Inside the Cherry Hill House. (Link: https://www.hippostcard.com/listing/albany-ny-new-york-historic-cherry-hill-south-parlor-interior-postcard/16909262)
Another shared, “I went on a class trip here as a child, and during one of the tour guides stories I began hearing singing. I started to look around and pinpoint the noise when I began realizing nobody else was hearing it. Until I caught eye contact with a teacher/chaperone from another school, not wanting to interrupt the tour guide she simply pointed to her ear, as if asking ‘do you hear that too?’ Then promptly put her fingers to her lips to indicate that I should keep it to myself.”