Haunts and History of the Shanley Hotel

Haunts and History of the Shanley Hotel - Photo

Within the quiet streets of the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains lies the haunted Shanley Hotel. The hotel sits proudly on the streets of Napanoch, New York, and acts as a welcome oasis for the weary traveler as well as the ghost enthusiast.

The historic bed and breakfast has boasted several famous guests as well as a few more infamous ones that used to frequent the Gentleman’s Club and Bordello. A few of those guests are said to have never left and are believed to still linger in the corridors waiting to greet newcomers and welcome back returning guests.

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History of the Shanley Hotel

In 1845, Thomas Ritch was the first to put mortar to stone and build the Ritch’s Hotel on Main Street. Napanoch was a vacation destination for those trying to escape the hustle and bustle of the surrounding larger cities.

The Thomas Ritch Hotel claimed to be ‘one of the area’s best with fine food and new furnishings,’ and even after Ritch sold the hotel in 1851, the newly named Hungerford’s Hotel continued to purport the same statement.

Mr. Hungerford catered to the same clientele as Ritch, including the elite gentleman’s club of the time.

The hotel changed hands a few times, and in 1887, Adolph Wagner became the new landlord. Eight years later, a nearby home caught fire — the fire spread quickly, and the Shanley Hotel wasn’t spared from damages.

Mr. Wagner would not see his investment go to ashes, so he quickly rebuilt, and the hotel was back in business by the end of the same year.

The most notable of the hotel’s owners was James Shanley. When his family immigrated to New York City from Ireland, James and his siblings found success in opening hotels and restaurants across the United States. He moved upstate and discovered the beauty of Napanoch as well as the hotel — he purchased it in 1906 and added a bowling alley, billiard room, and barbershop.

James was a good man with a kind heart, people were naturally drawn to him, and he shared his wealth with others. His magnetic personality drew in Beatrice Rowley, and the two married at the hotel in 1910 and took off to the Capitol to enjoy their honeymoon.

They were met with open arms and even a parade when they returned. Soon, tragedy befell the family. Even through their hardships, Beatrice and James Shanley entertained and welcomed all to the Shanley Hotel. They were well known for their card and domino tournaments and elaborate parties. Mrs. Shanley was quite famous for her high tea and social card parties.

Mrs. Shanley was always sure to appear on the cutting edge of fashion, wearing decadent jewelry and the newest trends. Her hotel reflected that with its Victorian beds and silk sheets.

Notable guests such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Edison stayed at the hotel, enjoying the many amenities that it had to offer.

It seemed like Mrs. Shanley had it all except for the children.

On January 6th, 1912, she gave birth to their first daughter, Kathleen, who only lived for about six months. She gave birth to two more children, James Shanley Jr., who lived just over four months, and William Shanley, who died at nine months.

Heartbreaking, surely. Her energies are still felt today within the hotel walls, and guests report seeing a woman wandering in period dress through the halls of the Shanley Hotel. Mrs. Shanley is known for her fragrant perfumes, and guests can tell when she’s nearby based on the glorious floral scent filling the halls randomly.

Was Mrs. Shanley mourning the loss of her children, or was she looking for her sister, who also died an untimely and sudden death?


Esther and John Faughman lived in the adjoining apartment to Beatrice and James. Beatrice was very close with her sister, Esther, a notable beauty with a kind heart. Esther met a sudden end at the hands of influenza in 1918, leaving Beatrice to raise her two little girls.

Other Tragedies

The tragedy was not limited to the Shanley clan, however. The hotel barber, Peter Greger’s daughter, Rosie, met a horrible demise at three years old. The little girl wandered across the road to the Hoornbeek Farm, where she lifted a wooden slab to peer into the covered well. Losing her balance, she fell into the well, hitting her head on the way down. Her body was found two hours later, leaving Peter with a difficult decision — he had to move, no longer being able to live at the site of his daughter’s death.

Guests report seeing the apparition of a little girl who speaks to them from corners of the room and in the hallways.

The Hotel Faces Prohibition

After young Rosie’s death, the United States was in the process of issuing the 18th amendment — thus the start of Prohibition in the United States. James was not immune to the desire to please his clientele, and the former Greger apartment became an active bordello and speakeasy.

James was involved with John Powers, a known liquor bootlegger, who kept liquor hidden beneath a trap door at the hotel bar. A raid on the Shanley Hotel in 1932 led to the confiscation of the hidden booze and the arrests of James and John.

Neither of the men did any time.

James passed away in 1937 after a massive heart attack, and Beatrice sold the hotel to Allen H. Hazen, who ran the hotel until he died in 1971. The hotel changed hands many times, and in 2005, Salvatore Nicosia bought it, unaware of the tragic tales and hauntings reported there.

He gave his heart and soul to give the Shanley Hotel a new life, and it remains open to this day to guests — and ghouls.

Perhaps you’ll be able to add to the hotel’s guest book, which contains notes from previous guests telling of scratching at the windows and walls, apparitions, and ghostly happenings.

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