Sunday, February 25, 2018

Haunted Houses: Williams House, Old Bethpage Restoration Village

Williams House was built in the 1820s. It is the home of Henry Williams, a farmer and carpenter. Different things have been experience by staff members at the restoration. Sometimes footsteps are heard or movement of furniture upstairs. A cleaning lady picked up a small toy teacup and heard a voice say, “Please put down my teacup.” One staff member was talking to visitors by the front door. She noticed a frame on top of the fireplace, but when she turned around, the frame was next to the doorway in the sitting room.

Interpreters are responsible for taking care of the house they are assigned to. One was scolded for leaving the iron in the parlor, but she insisted she did not put it there. There is also a window that refused to stay open for an interpreter working in the kitchen. It seems something at the House doesn’t appreciate doors and windows being propped open. A staff member told of a story how she had to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving in the kitchen. She tried to prop the kitchen door open to get a breeze. She braced it with a long pole and sat down. She barely got settled in when the pole hit her on the head.

A staff member was doing spinning work and kept hearing noises coming from upstairs. She thought it was another staff member, but saw her across the way. She went over to the other staff member and they searched the house. When they reached an upstairs room, they found a chest full of fabric that had come open. Fabric was strewn all over the room.

One hot afternoon, two interpreters were working the Williams House, and opened a window to let in the breeze, which is often quite nice there. They went back to their sewing, which is their charge at Old Bethpage, when they heard the window slam shut. One opened it again, this time propping it up with a stick, which is typically used to lock the windows, by jamming it into the top of the window. They left the room, only to hear the window shut again. Coming back into the room, they found the stick lain on the sewing table. A third time they opened the window, once again propped it open and once again left the room. The window slammed closed again, and this time the stick was found far from the house in the garden, by a child visiting the park.

A woman working said she saw a man walking up and down the hallway – the same man that was in a photo in the house.  He was not dressed up in the picture, but looked like he had been walking in the fields.  Everyone else in the photo was dressed more formally.  One day in February, she was cleaning and the maintenance man came down from upstairs.  She was telling him some stories and showing pictures.  A recorder was on at the time.  When she held the picture, a voice said, “Oh Johnny, handsome, O John,” in a mocking fashion.  Boxes also have moved to different spots upstairs.  One time the faucet sounded like it was running and when they went to turn it off, it had already stopped.  A different voice has said to girls who volunteer, “Get out!” 


Carter, Nance. "Old Bethpage Village Restoration is haunted." January 10, 2017.

Gothiccurios, et al. “The Ghosts of Old Bethpage Village Restoration.” A Gothic Cabinet of Curiosities and Mysteries, 28 Sept. 2017,

Leita, John. Long Island Oddities: Curious Locales, Unusual Occurrences, and Unlikely Urban Adventures. The History Press, 2013

Friday, February 2, 2018

Nassau County Sanitarium

In 1914, a referendum was held to build a county tuberculosis hospital. The vote narrowly passed. Around 1917, the County purchased the Keil farm and part of the Taliaferro Estate near Round Swamp Road. A “preventorium” for children opened on the grounds in 1927. The Nassau County Sanitarium opened in the early 1930’s. In 1965, the site, which featured 26 separate buildings, became Nassau Hospital for Pulmonary Diseases. It was later named Plainview Division of Nassau County Medical Center.

The first superintendent was Dr. J. Davis. In 1936, Dr. James C. Wash became the Superintendent. Dr. Walsh had been stricken with tuberculosis and decided to make the campaign against it his life’s work. He retired from his position in June, 1951.

Richard Thornville, a member of the Peace Corps, contracted tuberculosis while serving in Ghana. When he was placed in the sanitarium, he noted the rooms were divided by race. He wrote a letter to the NAACP, and as a result, the county stopped segregating.

Following its closure, the facility was given over to mixed use, including the establishment of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in 1976, and a branch of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. In 1999, Charles Wang, founder of Computer Associates purchased the 144-acre property from the county for $23 million. Included in the purchase was 1535 Old Country Road, which now houses the corporate offices of the New York Islanders and New York Dragons, both of which are owned by Wang. In addition, the building is home to the Wang-created, Plainview Chinese Cultural Center. Wang had planned to create a mixed-use development, but public outcry forced him to withdraw the plans in 2007. As of 2017, a 750 condominium residence is being planned for the space.


Carr, Thomas. Plainview-Old Bethpage. Arcadia Publishing, 2017

Leita, John. Long Island Oddities: Curious Locales, Unusual Occurrences, and Unlikely Urban Adventures. The History Press, 2013

“Old Bethpage, New York.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Jan. 2018,,_New_York

Special to The New,York Times. "Nassau Sanitarium Stops Segregation." New York Times (1923-Current file), Oct 29, 1961, pp. 67, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times,