Haunted Places in New Jersey
I am always looking for different things to write about that pertain to the paranormal. As I look around now, I discovered that there are a lot of places right here in the United States that are full of paranormal activity. This includes all 50 states. Although I read some very cool stuff about the different states, I decided to look at New Jersey as I was born and raised in this state. I still currently reside there.
In the state of New Jersey, I found six places that are said to be haunted for one reason or another. The six places are as follows:
1. Burnt Mill Road in Alco
2. The Burlington County Prison in Mount Holly
3. The Devil's Tree in Bernards Township
4. Domani's Restaurant in Roselle Park
5. Essex County Hospital Center in Vernon
6. The Union Hotel in Flemington
Although I found all six places interesting, I decided to touch base on the Burlington County Prison, The Essex County Hospital, and The Union Hotel for this article. My reasoning for this is that these three places intrigue me the most. The Union Hotel more so than the others because as a young adult with a car and a license I spent a lot of time in Flemington shopping at the outlet stores. All the time I spent doing that I had no clue I was that close to a haunted building.
Let's start with Burlington County Prison. This prison was open and operating from 1811 to 1965 in Mount Holly, New Jersey. This a total of 154 years. When designed and built, prisoner rehabilitation was the key. A motto posted over the door was written by Robert Mills. The motto reads "Justice Which, While it Punishes, Would Endeavor to Reform the Offender". The prison was the oldest operating prison until it closed in 1965. Now currently a museum, it's reportedly haunted. People claim there's a legless floating spirit which moves from the entrance into the yard. In the basement, it's said that a tall man in uniform walks around. On the third floor there are claims of tons of paranormal activity going on.
The Prison Museum Association (PMA) supports the prison with various things. They do fund raising, tours, volunteer work, and they also promote the landmark. PMA is a non-profit organization.
The next site is the Essex County Hospital Center. Located in the Township of Cedar Grove, it was a normal hospital that was converted into a mental hospital. In 2001, the building was designated as a Conservation Easement. It's now part of the Essex County Park System.
Now, a little history on the property. The City of Newark purchased a large portion of the land in 1896. The reason for this was to build a new hospital to ease the overcrowded Newark Hospital. More buildings were constructed to house additional patients and facilities, like a power house, a laundromat, and a theater. All this was done during the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the winter of 1917, a catastrophe struck the hospital when the boilers failed and 24 patients froze and died in their beds. The hospital was converted into a mental institution in the mid-1920s when the Tri-State Mental Corrections bought the land. Overbrook Asylum continued on, constructing more additions and wards. Then in the winter of 1975, it abruptly closed.
In late 2006, Essex County Hospital Center is born. It opened just down the road from the original site of Overlook Hospital. Patients who are chronically ill with psychiatric problems needing to stay longer than they can in community hospitals and medical centers were sent here. The new hospital is ahead of its time with behavioral health care compared to the 100-year-old facility it replaced. The address for the new hospital is 204 Grove Avenue in Cedar Grove.
Here is some additional information on the hospital I didn't know but is quite interesting:
The hospital was used as a film location for the film "Choke" in 2008.
In 2008, the paranormal realty series "Ghost Adventures" featured the hospital.
The program aired on the Travel Channel, but the name and location weren't revealed due to privacy issues.
The paranormal realty shows "Ghost Hunters", "Ghost Hunters: Live Halloween
Countdown", and "Ghost Hunters Academy" did feature programs on the hospital as well.
All three programs aired on the Syfy Channel in 2009.
The last site, the Union Hotel in Flemington, New Jersey. The hotel was built in 1814 by Neal Hart. High society stagecoach passengers and socialites gathered here from the time the hotel opened through the 19th century. Tourists also stayed here as well. The outside of the present building dates back to 1878.
In the early months of 1935, the hotel gained national notoriety as the Bruno Hauptman trial was being held across the street at the Hunterdon County Courthouse. The national media members covering this trial stayed at the hotel.
New owners purchased the property decades later. They renovated and restored the hotel, then converted it into what is now known as the Union Hotel Restaurant. Nothing was done with the second and third floors which use to house guests of the hotel. This choice to not touch these two floors added to the myths of this highly recognized Hunterdon County icon.
The managing partner, John Blanos, decided to sell the liquor license but keep the restaurant open. This was done in July, 2008. In August, Blanos sells the liquor license to Bensi, which is an Italian chain restaurant opening elsewhere in Flemington. The transfer of the liquor license is declined by the Flemington Borough Council in September, 2008. Bianos closes the restaurant anyway, negotiating with a possible buyer. He claims the hotel was losing money since he and his partners purchased it in 1999.
Then, in October of 2012, the town gets four proposals to redevelop the hotel. Out of the four groups, Flemington Union Hotel LLC is chosen to revive and restore the hotel by the Flemington Borough Council. Matt McPherson and Liam Burn are FUH LLC and they have a vision for the hotel on Main Street. They want to make the hotel a 50 to 55 room hotel and expand it into the building next door at 78 Main Street. They want to put a steakhouse and casual pub on the ground floor and add a ballroom in the back. A special bill is proposed, allowing for a liquor license.
Now, it has been said that the hotel is haunted. The public, however, never gets to see the levels above the dining hall. I guess the reality is that very few people get to see the top floors.
Only some of the upper rooms are used anyway, and the management uses them for business purposes. The employees are the ones reporting ghost sightings or poltergeist activities. One of the things being reported are a pair of shoes going up stairs all by themselves. Another is hearing or seeing children in rooms even though there are no guests. Even the manager has felt an unseen presence late at night while in her office. When this happened, no one was inside the hotel that night except herself.