“Buffalonian Horror Story”

By Sydney Bucholtz

Assistant Features Editor

Halloween, otherwise known as “All Hallows Eve,” finds its origins approximately 2,000 years ago in the area which is now the United Kingdom, Northern France, and Ireland.  Those inhabiting this area, the Celts, celebrated their new year on November 1.  As a result, October 31 signified the end of summer, harvest time for crops, and the beginning of a prolonged, bleak, frigid period of winter: a time frame also often associated with mortality.  The Celts also believed that on the night preceding the new year, the veil between the dead and the living was temporarily lifted and the dead could appear in the living realm.  However, it was not exclusively during this era that spirits passed between the veil and became known to the living, as this continued in the centuries to follow.  In fact, the appearance of such spirits became more familiar in places closer to home, such as a few distinct historic places in Buffalo, New York.

The Buffalo Psychiatric Center, otherwise known as the H.H. Richardson Complex, is located adjacent to the Buffalo State campus near Elmwood.  It was built between 1869 and 1895 after Dr. James White advocated for a new psychiatric center to be built in the city.  Although the doors opened to accept patients in 1895, patients were sent to other nearby asylums by 1974 as the H.H. Richardson Complex closed relatively quickly.  It is believed that the building was a site of several horrific measures of “improving” mental health, from eugenics to induced comas.  The location experiences an incredible amount of supernatural activity, most often thought to be the spirits of former traumatized patients as they sift through the halls and move objects or make shadow-like appearances to visitors.

Located on Buffalo’s East Side, the Buffalo Central Terminal was built in 1929 with the intention of having the capacity for 3,200 passengers and 200 trains per day, as well as being a heavily trafficked stop between Buffalo and Chicago.  After World War II, the station’s traffic dropped suddenly and the owner of the terminal put it up for sale in 1956.  By 1979, all traffic to the terminal ceased when a new station was opened on Dick Road in Cheektowaga.  The Central Terminal is now barren and desolate, but those who have visited it have felt several strong spiritual presences, potentially those who passed away in or traveled through the terminal during its more flourishing era.

The Shea’s Buffalo Theatre opened in 1926 and has been an iconic location for theatrical performances as they pass through the city.  Although the building’s namesake, Michael Shea, passed away in 1936, he has been intermittently spotted and heard at the theatre.  In particular, when the building was undergoing construction work, his voice was heard saying, “Isn’t this magnificent?”  Shea has also been known to view the performances from his own specific seats in the audience, and theatre patrons have also attested to seeing a vision of a man who looks identical to his portrait.

`The Town Ballroom, formerly the Town Casino, is the location of several concerts performed by alternative bands in Buffalo.  This location also served as a host for artists such as Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Darin, and John Coltrane during the Prohibition Era.  As many speakeasies operating in that time frame, the Town Casino was thought to carry out illegal operations from alcohol smuggling to gambling in its basement.  Current employees attest to hearing security alarms going off without provocation, as well as partying coming from downstairs accompanied by apparitions wearing the attire from the Prohibition era.

With all the history built up around Buffalo and its surrounding area, it’s no wonder why stories, legends, and sightings like the ones listed above have accumulated around certain spots, with many others besides. The city has proven itself to be on the upswing lately, but that is certainly not to deny this colorful past, both living and otherwise.



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