The dead risen at Schaghticoke Mansion.
Legends of Schaghticoke Mansion
the candlelit mansion a ghastly faced militiaman beckoned.
He welcomed a crowd of onlookers into a dilapidated antechamber,
and told the story of his life—and not-so-gruesome death:
This soldier died quietly in his 80s. About 250 years ago
or so, the soldier walked from New Hampshire to Schaghticoke
to fight heavy taxation by the British, and he returned from
the grave in remembrance of his commander, John Knickerbocker.
Upstairs, however, a less peaceful wraith paced the floorboards.
At the Knickerbocker Mansion’s annual Halloween haunting,
deceased Knickerbocker family members and illustrious houseguests
“returned from the dead” to tell their stories. Played by
living Knickerbocker descendents, the cast of apparitions
changes from year to year; some tales are cordially informational,
and some are sardonic, surprising, or genuinely scary. Last
weekend, an appearance by Abraham Knickerbocker (died 1869)
was a combination of all three. Standing in front of the parlor’s
beautifully restored fireplace, the forbidding gentleman sternly
related how he protected his homestead with a mounted posse
of vigilantes. Horse thieves and other criminals were captured
and placed in chains formerly used for slaves in the mansion’s
basement, where, as the ghost enigmatically remarked, “justice
was served.” Abraham also talked of his beloved wife, Mary
Ann, who redecorated the parlor in Gilded Age fashion (which
the Knickerbocker Mansion Historical Society recently restored).
Upstairs, Abraham’s younger brother, Herman (died 1855), regaled
listeners with his dandyish vanity, referring to himself as
the “prince of Schaghticoke” and describing his first two
wives, Arietta Lansing of Lansingburgh and Rachel Wendell
of Albany, as royalty. Herman also boasted of his lavish spending
and the honored guests he entertained, such as Washington
Irving and Herman Melville. Downstairs, however, the specter
of Rachel was (seemingly) less amused by his jaunty conceits
and she related the family scandal of Herman’s in-house mistress,
and her own cares with 10 children. The couple’s posthumous
bickering was a comic highlight of the evening, which concluded
with the remembrances of the wife of Herman’s nephew, who
happily “married up” at age 14, and whose son, Diedrich, had
his name immortalized as the fictionalized narrator of Irving’s
A History of New York.
Surrounded by deserted cornfields, the centuries-old mansion
added to the haunted atmosphere—its decayed interiors are
especially conducive to spooky, candlelit shadows and overactive
imaginations, and visitors were invited to view the headstones
of the storytellers in the nearby graveyard. Next year, however,
the crumbling, corpse-stuffed chimney may look quite cheery:
The mansion received a $58,000 matching grant from the New
York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation
to rebuild its chimney system.
Sat., Dec. 5, the Knickerbocker Mansion will host a Visit
from St. Nicholas and a performance of the Baker’s Dozen.
For more information, visit knickmansion.com.
ARTIST GOES GLOBAL Albany’s own David P. Geurin is
showing three works in the Superheroes exhibit at the
Look At This Art Gallery in Chiang Mai, Thailand
beginning Oct. 31. That’s right, Thailand. Geurin is steeped—immersed—in
classic comic-book iconography; the works are said to explore
“superheroes and super villains as mythologized representations
of the common human and his/her relationship to society.”
(See? We’re “common!”) This is a pretty cool thing, considering
that over 100 artists from 15 countries submitted works for
consideration. And considering that this is the “first international
exhibition in the history of northern Thailand.” We’d like
to give you directions and gallery hours, but if you really
happen to be traveling to Southeast Asia, we recommend Google
and Google Maps for all the necessary coordinates.
ELECTRICITY IN THE AIR The Fourth Annual Electric City
Film Festival, presented by SACC-TV Channel 16,
will be held at Proctors (Mainstage, 432 State St.,
Schenectady) on Wednesday (Nov. 4) from 5 to 11 PM. The finalists
of the 25 submitted films will be screened, and the prizes
aren’t bad: $500 for 1st place, $400 for 2nd place, and $300
for 3rd place. There will also be a screening of Schenectady
native Antonio Ferrera’s The Gates, a documentary about
Christo’s 2005 Central Park show. For ticket info and tickets,
call 346-3181; for general info visit sacctv.org or call 346-3181.
SHOP TALK Last week, we suffered what we’re calling an “e-mail
apocalypse” here at Ye Olde Metroland—and we’re
still trying to sort out the rubble. If you sent a listing
and it didn’t get in the calendar, that’s why. Direct inquiries
to Josh Potter at 463-2500 ext.144. And resend those e-mails.