The Paranormal at Home: Hauntings in 50 States – New York’s St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

Please click here if you would like to read the first article in the series.

History has a way of sticking around in one form or another. This seems to prove particularly true at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery in New York. The difference is that in this case, rather than appearing in the form of ancient texts or classic architecture, history chooses to show up in the guise of a ghost.

Haunted New York: St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery can be found at 131 East 10th Street in Manhattan. The building is handsome in appearance, with a traditional look that’s more charming than creepy. The site was first developed as a place of worship in 1660 and has been used for over 3 and a half centuries.

The cornerstone of the current building was placed in 1795. It is currently the second oldest church in Manhattan.

Peter Stuyvesant
Portrait of Peter Stuyvesant
c. 1660

In order to understand St. Mark’s paranormal background, it is important to know about the land’s history before it became a sacred place. The region was known as New Amsterdam as early as 1614. Many residents were sailors who brought with them a rougher way of life.

Peter Stuyvesant was director of Curacao, a Dutch West Indie colony. A cannon ball took his right leg during an attack on Saint Martin. The missing limb was replaced with a wooden one which Peter wrapped in bands of silver to fortify it. This earned him the nickname Old Silver Leg.

Peter arrived in New Amsterdam in 1647. He wasn’t liked by the locals and he never really took to the place. During his time as the Director-General of the colony, Peter managed to construct a wall and build a canal that would later become Broadway.

Peter Stuyvesant's arrival
Peter Stuyvesant arrives in New Amsterdam – image from A History of the American People, Vol. I.,
by Woodrow Wilson,1902

Not all Peter did was positive. He was against religious tolerance, and enforced this belief on the colony. He tortured famous Quaker Robert Hodgson which outraged much of the community. This act is believed to have motivated the creation of the precursor to the freedom of religion clause in the American Bill of Rights.

Eventually a large English force arrived that Peter could not fight off. He was forced to cede power. After a trip back to Holland, Peter returned to Manhattan to live on a 62 acre estate called the Great Bouwerie. Peter died in 1672 and his home remained until 1777, when it burned down. His body was interred under the floor of his private chapel, the Bowery, which was replaced by St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery.

Paranormal Activity at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

Peter Stuyvesant had close ties to the land that St. Mark’s currently stands on. Sightings of his spirit date back hundreds of years. Witnesses claimed to see a peg-legged figure surveying the destruction the day following the fire that devoured his former home.

In 1930, members of the congregation caught sight of a strange figure in Dutch period clothing. He sat next to a woman in colonial style garments. The pair seemed to chat back and forth, not really paying attention to the sermon.

Peter Stuyvesant's home
Home of Peter Stuyvesant
found in A History of the American People, Vol. I.,
by Woodrow Wilson,1902

Local legend claims that, even though the church was locked, someone or something rank its bells in 1965. A cut piece of rope was found hanging from the bell that was far too short for a human being to reach.  The remainder of the tether was located laying over a monument to Stuyvesant.

A church service was disrupted in 1995 by the sound of a disembodied voice counting its unseen inventory of rum. When members of the church investigated the sounds, they saw a male entity in Dutch clothing walk into a wall. It vanished through the solid structure.

This is allegedly not the first time Peter interrupted services.  There were stories of a similar incident in 1884 when his voice was heard singing Calvanist hymns in his native tongue. Peter’s shoes have also been heard tapping through the church as recently a 2002.  Occasionally he takes his foray outdoors and is seen walking with a cane around his former property, the distinct clip-clop of his footwear announcing his presence.

A female entity has also been spotted wearing wide skirts. She shows up in the center aisle, near the rear entrance and in the balcony beside the organ.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery Today

St. Mark’s church seems to have a resident ghost who simply refuses to leave. The entity reflects Peter’s stern, stubborn personality, not to mention his distinctive appearance.

The building still stands and the congregation still meets for services. The church even has an official website which briefly mentions Peter on its history page however makes no mention of the paranormal activity that is often associated with the location. The site is often included as part of ghost walking tours.

Have you been to St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.

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