Saratoga is a magnet for people looking for great restaurants, shopping and, of course, horse racing.
But is it also a hotbed for the paranormal? You’d be surprised.
Exploring the city’s spookiest spots is Joe Haedrich. He’s been giving haunted tours for over a decade.
“There’s an awful lot of things in Saratoga that cannot be explained,” said Haedrich.
The Adelphi Hotel was built in 1877. It was once the largest in the country. A $25 million dollar renovation took longer than expected to complete and was filled with unexpected issues some believe were caused by spirits displeased with the changes in their space.
The renovation left only the original front side of the building facing Broadway and some believe spirits still linger there. Guests have reported feeling a presence in their rooms when the lights are out.
“The second floor, the room to the left is the same room John Morrissey died in,” said Haedrich.
Saratoga legend John Morrissey has left his mark all over the city.
There is also the historic Arcade Building. Now in it’s fourth iteration, the building has burned down three times, with the one in 1902 being one of the worst fires in the city’s history.
“Four people died in the fire,” said Haedrich. “Two people died in each other’s arms and their cat died next to them.”
Filled with secret rooms and underground passageways, some people who have worked in the building have reported feeling an invisible cat brush against their ankle.
“This kind of spirituality in ghosts can be found in all sorts of things,” said Haedrich. “It’s many that you can only feel.”
That feeling has been strong enough to send a few tenants somewhere less feline friendly.
En route to Congress Park, Haedrich describes the mystery and tragedy connected to the Spirit of Life statue. It’s associated with several untimely deaths, and the model who posed for the statue disappeared for several decades.
Then there’s the sacred, healing water that drew millions of people to the city.
“If you go back, oh a few hundred years, this was all the territory of the Mohawk Indians,” said Haedrich. “They had a lot of spiritual beliefs. People actually thought that tuberculosis could be cured by the water and the magic, beautiful Adirondack air that we have here.”
Congress Spring is one of 21 mineral springs that remain.
The final destination believed to be the most haunted building in the city is the current Saratoga Springs History Museum, which began as a casino built by John Morrissey. He was also the main force behind the creation of the Saratoga Racetrack.
“Morrissey was so loved by the city, and it’s because he was very generous at the end of the season. He would give a huge chunk of his profits from the casino to all the local charities,” said Haedrich.
Old Smoke, as Morrissey is known, loved the city just as much as it loved h, so much so, if you believe the rumors, he’s stuck around in the afterlife. Rumor is he still roams the halls of the museum, making his presence known through the smell of burnt hair. Some staff claim they’ve actually seen him.
Haedrich understands why people are skeptical of spirits, but he believes it’s important to remain curious.
“I’ve traveled a lot, and as I’ve traveled, I’ve changed my perspective, and now that I’m on in years and I’ve learned all these stories, it’s changing all the time,” said Haedrich.
Haedrich wrote about these stories and many more in his book “Haunted Saratoga.” He offers tours Fridays and Saturdays through October through Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tour Company.