Explore the Shanley Hotel’s Haunted History
Napanoch, NY—Crossing over the Shawangunk Mountains is like driving backwards through time. The western valley is a landscape dotted with old farmhouses, trailer homes and empty motels. As you take the turn off Route 209 into the tiny village of Napanoch, you transcend even further. What was once a bustling mill town is now practically abandoned with some buildings on the main street vacant since the 1930s. When Sal and Cindy Nicosia bought the Shanley Hotel they hoped their plans could revitalize the town. Little did they know they would be bringing life back to approximately 40 souls dying to be heard.
In the beginning of 2005, the Nicosias were your typical couple with a passion for a fixer-upper house. When the Shanley Hotel went up for sale they saw the project of a lifetime, bringing the urban ruin back to a thriving inn. It was merely 24 hours after the building was officially theirs that their lives changed forever. There was no electricity running in the building yet, so they sat on the second floor in the darkness celebrating the next chapter in their lives over some beers with a friend when the sound of footsteps started up the grand staircase. This event marked the beginning of their ghostly adventure into the past.
First built in 1845 by Thomas Rich, the hotel changed hands many times but it is James Shanley’s name that still adorns the building today. Shanley and his wife Beatrice were well loved in the town of Napanoch and their inn was like home to many guests who enjoyed a variety of social activities and events hosted by the hotel. For some guests, being at home meant visiting the Gentleman’s Club located on the first floor or the three bedroom brothel on the second. Sal believes that the comfortable feeling the patrons experienced at the inn is the underlying reason why so many spirits still remain at the Shanley today.
Aside from the comforting atmosphere of friends and family, there were also times of tragedy and debauchery at the inn. Tragically, all three of Mrs. Shanley’s children died before they were 9 months old. Rosie, the four-year old and daughter of the in-house barber, drowned in a nearby well. As with any hotel, there are stories of accidental deaths and possibly even murders. The spirits remain to tell their stories after the history books have closed.
By working with many different psychics, paranormal experts and extensive historical research, the Nicosias have been able to identify at least 40 different spirits residing at the Shanley Hotel. Nearly every paranormal research technique has yielded positive results. People have experienced full-body apparitions as well as other visual and auditory cues including doors opening and closing, rocking chairs moving, whistling. The spirit of Rosie loves to play with jewelry and has been known to take it right off some women who visit. Of course, video and still cameras as well as electronic voice phenomenon records have documented mind boggling results. In fact, most EVPs that are recorded here are Class A, a concept almost unheard of in the industry.
The amount of data that Sal and Cindy has accumulated is extensive. Connections made range from the spirits of Mr. and Mrs. Shanley themselves to Jonathan, a playful six- year old, T.J., a bartender who died in the 1980, Joe, a spirit who prefers to be left alone and will tell you so, and Claire, a suicide from the 1800’s. Clearly, all the spirits have a story to tell. The use of EMF meters, EVP recorders, cameras and other gadgets as well as the human mind have been used to help tell that story, as well as transform the Nicosias into true believers.
Over the few years, not only did the building go through some massive renovations, but so did the Nicosias themselves. Becoming more in tune with their spiritual guests, the Nicosias have become experts in a field they never expected. They have been features on countless radio shows, TV programs and articles of both local and paranormal interest.
Written by Laura Schnecke