The Eyrie House – A Haunted Mountaintop Hotel and Resort

William Street of Holyoke MA always had a dream and at the age of 22 he started building it on Mt. Nonotuck, which is now part of the Mt. Tom State Reservation. The year was 1861.

The Eyrie House, (pronounced eh-ree), was a wooden-framed structure that started out with five guest rooms, but over the years transformed into a popular resort. In the ‘70’s and ‘80’s the hotel had grown to incorporate 30 guest rooms, two promenades, a pavilion, a picnic grove, a croquet area, an overhang swing for children, stables, and a new look-out tower that replaced the old observation deck. Business was thriving. Both locals and visitors to the area made Eyrie House their go-to destination. And William Street’s dream had come true. The place he loved and built with his own hands was appreciated by many.

By the 1890’s Eyrie House had started showing signs of wear. And many people stopped coming to the former grand hotel. So, in 1893 William decided to build a new one with an incline railroad that would bring people right to the front door.

In 1901, on 13 April, William Street lost everything to a blazing fire. Earlier that day he had discovered two of his horses had died. Not being able to get them off the mountain easily. he decided to build a pyre and cremate them. Thinking the flames were out, he went to bed. Later that evening he noticed smoke and flames. The fire had reignited and set the top of the mountain in a blaze that many said could be seen for 20 miles around. William didn’t have the money to re-build and he didn’t have adequate insurance. He was devastated.

The state offered William $5000 for his property. He thought it was worth more and wouldn’t sell. So, wanting to create the Mt. Tom State Reservation and wanting to get rid of Mr. Street, the state deposited a check for $5000 in a trust for William and took his property by eminent domain.

William never took the money. And, William never left his beloved Eyrie House.

Today, sitting atop Mt. Nonotuck, near Goat Peak, are what remains of a once grand resort. Mother Nature has reclaimed a lot of the area, but wonderful vistas and the peace of nature still abound. Remembrances of the Eyrie House still remain – and so does William.

There is a trail in Mt. Tom Reservation that leads to the Eyrie House. It’s well marked and it’s all up hill. Old stone foundations abound, some built into the sides of hills. There are outer walls still standing, telling the story of how much work and thought that went into their creation. Many trees and a lot of vegetation thickly invade the area. There’s evidence of wildlife. And, there are plenty of snakes to keep a good distance from. A few of them wedge themselves between the old foundation stones to take in any sunlight they can find.

It’s a peaceful sort of place even when you start getting the feeling that you might not be alone. I think William would still like to show you around. The woods make all kinds of noises as you wander through them amid the old hotel. I’m not sure though, some make rhythmic sounds like someone walking near you. They walk when you walk and they stop when you stop.

Sunlight through the trees can also play tricks on your eyes. But, if you feel a friendly presence and if you perhaps feel a little sad, you might have the pleasure of meeting the thwarted hotel owner welcoming you to his venture. It’s possible to catch a glimpse of his faint, translucent figure walking the property he cared for so much. William Street intended to stay close to his property both during life and now after death.

– ashanta

Abandoned But Still Inhabited Factory Hollow (CT)

Factory Hollow isn’t a high profile place anyone would go to investigate the paranormal, but don’t let that benign facade fool you….. where there are cellar holes and lone standing chimneys – there’s a story.

In 1796 a small village sprang up along the Blackledge River in the towns of Hebron and Bolton CT. It seems Hartford, at the time, was home to a number of both Methodists and Congregationalists who couldn’t get along with one another. The contention was over booze – the Methodist Church members out-drank the Congregational Church members and the latter assumed an ‘holier than thou’ attitude against them. Tired of the dissension, Pastor Elijah Andrus led his people out of Hartford to a secluded spot of their own south of the city in what is now Tolland County.

About 25 families followed Andrus. John Gay was one of the founding fathers of the settlement as were most of his family members. Andrus left the group after about four years for unknown reasons and Pastor Henry Sumner took over ministerial duties. He also brought a lot of family with him.

In an effort to sustain themselves, the group built a sawmill. Lumber was needed for homes and workplaces and contributed to the village’s economy. It was also beneficial in building the distillery that kept residents content. But, that really wasn’t the case.

A large part of daily life in this community consisted in drinking. Even the twice-weekly mandatory church attendance was a venue for imbibing in one’s favorite quaff. Ultimately, as it can turn out, many fights ensued, vulgar language was common, and any culture that had existed soon degenerated.

The little community witnessed two murders, but no one was ever accused of the crimes. A frequent peddler made his last stop in Furnace Hollow. He was relieved of his wares and money. His body was found in a charcoal burning pit – not quite cooked. And although the village charcoal-burner was investigated, no charges were ever brought against him.

Maybe seeing that homicide was tolerated in town, the blacksmith who became overly angry with his quite young apprentice for being a little late one morning decided to slice him up. Not only did the boy die – he was beheaded. This horrendous act also went unpunished.

Having had enough, many people started leaving the hamlet. The Civil War was also on-going and many men and boys from Factory Hollow went off to war and died on the battlefields reducing the population even further.

Over the years, the lumber mill burned down, a woolen mill replaced it which a few years later also went up in smoke. A third mill, a paper factory, wasn’t a charm, either – it also ended in ashes. After about 80 years the small community that could – couldn’t.

Factory Hollow is now known as Gay City State Park and sits along Rt. 85 where Hebron meets Bolton. It’s named after the Gay family who founded the area. Old cellar holes, lonely chimneys, stone foundations, the burned rock structure where so many fires took place, a wheel pit that held the overshot water wheel, and stone walls once used for gardens and pastures all remain to tell the tale of what was. There’s even a small cemetery. And – there are unsettling vibes and hauntings.

While during the day hiking trails, Still Pond swimming beach, and remains of the community seem calm and quiet, once the hint of dusk starts – old residents wake up.

Over the years – and still happening, many people report hearing disembodied voices that sound like townsfolk are still enjoying their inebriation. Orbs have been seen and shadowy wisps of shades meandering through the trees are witnessed. Near the area of the old charcoal pit a ghostly figure has been spotted. Perhaps it’s the old peddler wanting his killer to be brought to justice. Some people have noticed a boy running through the woods holding his head in his hands.

This place has a distinct feeling of heaviness. Wherever you go, you are being watched. You can hear rustling through the brush where no one is walking. Something is moving and you catch a glimpse out the corner of your eye. The breeze seems to murmur. And dark figures definitely walk among the trees.

Furnace Hollow or Gay City, if you prefer, may be abandoned, but it still lives on.

     – ashanta