Sept. 18, 2022

Kreischer Mansion // 129 // Haunted

Kreischer Mansion // 129 // Haunted

The Kreischer Mansion is located just off Arthur Kill Road in Staten Island, New York.  The home was built by Balthasar Kreischer for his son, Charles, and there was an identical house built for his son Edward as well.  In 2005, the Bonanno family hired a hitman to murder Robert McKelvey in the mansion and the home is said to be haunted.
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Transcript

Just off Staten Island, the remains of Kreischer Mansion, is located at 4500 Arthur Kill Road at the intersection of Kreischer Street and Arthur Kill Road. This Victorian home is said to be one of the most haunted places in all of New York because it's haunted by the memories of death. Balthasar Kreischer was born on March 13th, 1813 in a small village in Germany. His grandfather was a brick manufacturer and Balthasar went to school for a short amount of time, then he became an apprentice as a stonecutter and sculptor for his grandfather's company. When he turned 21 years old, he was selected with two others to lay the stones of a fortress of Germersheim (Ga-mass-h-eye-m) near a ruined castle of Friedreich's Buhl (bool).



He emigrated to New York City in 1836 and a year after a great fire destroyed much of Lower Manhattan. The Great Fire of 1835 happened on a December night and the volunteer firefighters were not able to get the flames out because the water kept freezing in their hand-pumped engines. By the next morning, much of the city was reduced to rubble. During the night, the fire had grown so much, that they believed they would lose the entire city of New York. To stop the threat, they would need to build a wall. They got gunpowder from the Brooklyn Navy Yard by US Marines and used this to level buildings on Wall Street. Rubble from the buildings that were blown apart was used as a firewall to stop the flames from consuming the rest of the city.



Balthasar quickly found employment rebuilding the burned district and he had a special interest in the construction of baker's ovens. He met and married his wife, Caroline in New York and he also worked in New Jersey. That's where he met Charles Mumpton and they became business partners. He and a business partner opened a fire brick company on the Lower East Side in 1845 and the firm was called Kreischer and Mumpton. 



Unfortunately, Charles Mumpton passed away in 1849 and Balthasar just couldn't handle the business on his own, so in 1850, he began doing some chemical work, but he eventually went back to brick work. When he had his own company, their fire-proof bricks could withstand the high temperatures in chimneys and furnaces. Balthasar was using a raw material known as fire clay. There was a discovery of rich clay deposits in southwest Staten Island in the 1850's, so he chose to move there to be closer to the source. At this time, Balthasar was extremely successful with his brick business and he himself actually led to the economic boom in the area which soon became known as Kreischerville.



This location was actually called Androvetteville, after a prominent local family. When Balthasar got there, he bought the clay pits and the waterfront to build his factory and they began producing 20,000 bricks a day and housing and jobs were provided to the citizens and that's how it was turned into Kreischerville. Balthasar was a very generous man and if any of his employees became ill or had financial distress, he helped them. In return, he expected that all of his employees kept up a certain appearance. 




They had to keep their yards and homes tidy and up to his standards. To be fair, he had actually built homes on site, around the factory, so the employees didn't have a commute, so it makes sense that he wants the area to be kept a certain way. Most of the homes were built as duplexes so they could fit two families per building. Four of the houses are still standing today. Balthasar was also a very strict man when it came to his employees. If someone missed a day of work for something silly such as drinking too much the night before, he could be heard yelling their name around town and telling them to get back to work. 



Balthasar was married to his wife, Caroline for 17 years and they had 8 children together: Catherine, Caroline, Henry, Fredericka, George, Louise, Charles, and Edward.

In 1853, Balthasar's wife died a few days after giving birth to Edward from childbirth complications. This wasn't their first major heartbreak that the family had seen. Only 4 years prior to this, their 6-year-old Henry Kreishcher passed away and was buried in the family plot at Green-Wood Cemetery.



In 1858, Balthasar built a mansion and he named it Fairview. It sat on a hill just east of Arthur Kill Road and this overlooked the town and the factory. He got married to a woman named Mathilda and they had two children, but neither of them survived into adulthood. He also built a church and a post office for the town. In 1877, his wife Mathilda died and his factory burned down. It was eventually rebuilt, but Balthasar ended up retiring a year later and he handed the business over to his adult sons, George, Charles, and Edward. 



In 1884 twin mansions were built close to Balthasar's home and they were designed to be mirror images and they were facing each other. The twin mansions are described as large, asymmetrically massed, two and a half story, wood-frame houses, styled in Late-Victorian. The homes featured verandas, gables with jigsaw bargeboards, decorative railings, tall chimneys and a corner tower. There was incised leather wallpaper called Lincrusta which is a cross between leather and linoleum, ornate chandeliers in nearly every room, mad stucco that looked like swirling clouds, and a pair of balconies with views of wetlands on the north and west. There are fireplaces in every room and they all have the Kreischer bricks in front of them. Charles and Edward each married got married to sisters Antonia and Frieda Lanier. The mansions were completed by 1885 and Balthasar passed away a year later. His body was transported on a block of ice by horse-drawn carriage to a Brooklyn cemetery.



Upon his death, his business was to be divided between his five surviving children, but things didn't end up the way he thought. His oldest son, George, bought out his two sisters, so he now had control of the company. He dismissed his brother Charles who had been in charge and he appointed his brother Edward and hired someone outside of the family to be superintendent. Charles left on an extended trip to Europe after being removed from the company and the factory actually burnt down a second time and had to be rebuild again. This time, it was different though. The families fortunes were dwindling and in June of 1894, Edward Kreischer ended his life by shooting himself in the head and his body was discovered near the factory. Rumors were circulating around town and it's believed that the disagreements he had with his brothers and the superintendent lead him to this, but there were also other rumors that Edward's wife Frieda was having an affair. 



In 1899, the brick factory was coming to an end and they declared bankruptcy and the factory went to auction. Captain Peter Androvette, a member of a very prominent family, won the factory and the town of Kreischerville was later renamed to Charleston.



The homes that the Kreischers built were left unattended and Baltasar's Fairview mansion was burned down in the 1930's, Edward's mansion was torn down in the 1940's and Charle's home is the only one left. The home was turned into a landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic places and in the 1990's, it became a Victorian style restaurant which was allegedly used as a front for the mob. The home was abandoned again in 1999 when the restaurant failed and Isaac Yomtovian bought the five-acre estate for $1.4 million and decided to restore the home back to it's original state.



Isaac didn't live in the area, so he hired an ex-marine, Joseph, “Joe Black” Young to look after the property and be the caretaker, but he did not know that Joe Black had connections to organized crime and had been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces after only a few months for going AWOL.



In April of 2005, Joseph “Joe Black” Young was hired by the Bonnano family. If you haven't heard of the Bonnano family before, they are an Italian-American Mafia crime family that dominated organized crime activities in New York City. 



The Bonnanos decided to take out Robert McKelvey because he owed money to the Bonnano patriarch Gino Galestro. Joe Black and three other men brought Robert McKelvey to the mansion and stabbed him with a knife. Robert was somehow able to get up and run for the door, but the other men grabbed him and tried to strangle him, but he still didn't die. So, all four men decided to drown Robert in a shallow pool in the front yard. Once he was dead, they put his body in a shed for awhile and they headed to Dunkin Donuts to celebrate with some coffee and pastries, then they went to Home Depot to grab some supplies. They needed gloves, tarps, and power saws. When they got back, they carried his body to the kitchen, placed him on a mattress to wait for him to bleed out and cut him into small pieces and put one piece at a time into the coal-burning furnace.



This whole thing may have gone unsolved, but a year later, one of the participants in the murder, Stefan Cicale (cheek-all-ay) turned informant and went to the FBI. By that time, the furnace in the basement had already been removed from the building because the owner of the home had no idea that a grisly murder happened, so he continued doing renovations. The FBI was able to remove a step from the stairway leading to the basement and found further evidence in the reflecting pool.



There was enough evidence to sentence Joe Black to life in prison in 2008 and in 2009, Galestro was given 20 years for ordering the hit. During the trial, Joe Black admitted that he dismembered the body and incinerated the corpse, but he said he didn't murder,, stab, or drown Robert Mckelvey. He said, “I committed the crimes in this case because I'm an irresponsible person. Completely and totally. I have no excuse.” The prosecutor asked him “What did you list your occupation as on your MySpace page?” Joe Black said, “Uh, Death.” 


The Ohio based developer that owned the mansion was planning to build a community for the elderly called Kreischerville and the mansion was going to be the centerpiece. The plans were scrapped in 2012 because there were many delays in permits, and an unstable market, so the property went on the market for $11.5 million. There was one potential buyer, but the offer was rejected.



In 2016, the mansion went up for sale again at $9.5 million. One of the listing notes showed that the site was approved for 120 to 130 condos. The home has been used for a recording studio and several videos were shot in the mansion by Deer god Productions, but some of the recordings done at the house were mysteriously erased. Parts of the pilot of HBO's Boardwalk Empire series were filmed on the property in 2009 and the TV shows Gotham, Paranormal Lockdown and Ghost Hunters have shot scenes there as well.


HAUNTINGS:

It's believed that Edward Kreischer haunts the mansion and that he may not have taken his own life, maybe it was murder. Employees at the factory claimed he was in a good mood that morning and they had seen him shortly before his body was discovered. His death was actually listed as a suicide under mysterious circumstances. His brother Charles held seances to contact him and get answers and it's possible that this is the source of the hauntings. If he was inexperienced, he may not have closed the spirit doorway properly.



Rick Rispoli has been a concert planner for about 40 years. He started planning a summer concert at the Kreischer mansion in 2019. He said that one day, he and his assistant walked into the mansion and they heard a woman crying. His assistant, Elizabeth Marino said, “We came in one day and heard doors slamming and a woman crying on the second floor. Then we heard what sounded like a child's footsteps.” Rick Rispoli said that on that same day, as he walked through the front door, it slammed shut behind him. He said, “I thought, well, I guess I'm leaving.”



The lady ghost who wails is said to be Balthasar's second wife, Mathilda who buried her two children, or it could be Edward's wife, Frieda who is distraught that her husband took his life or was murdered. There is also a rumor that the woman could be a German cook who was murdered in the kitchen and she still haunts the halls and clangs the pots and pans together. People have also claimed that you can hear scratching sounds in the closets and it's believed to be the children who had been locked in closets for being naughty. There are no records of children being locked in closets or a German maid that died, but it's still something that's talked about.



There have been multiple reports over the years of people seeing a young boy who is believed to be one of Balthasar's children. It could be 6-year-old Henry that he had had with his first wife, or one of the two children he had with his second wife. Every year for Halloween, there is a haunted hayride event at the mansion and Elizabeth Marino said, “We had someone driving a tractor and there was this little boy running around. The driver said Someone has to tell the boy to move; he's going to get hurt.” Another employee said, “I was on the back end of the hayride...Part of the act was me getting pulled off the hayride, and every time an actor pulled me off, I saw a young boy running around. We thought it was the son of one of the actresses. But she didn't being her kid that day.”



The mansions concert promoters said that they recently saw mysterious orbs of light near the entrance of the home. Rick Rispoli said, “We captured five orbs of light that moved to different spots in the same formation on a cell phone. There is no way we could have done this. The orbs just kept getting bigger and bigger and moved closer to the home, and eventually to the entrance.”



Other paranormal activity includes slamming doors, rooms locked from the inside only to be unlocked later, flickering lights, furniture moving, and many noises such as disembodied footsteps, whispers, and screaming. A busboy said he could hear arguing and doors shutting down to the basement when no one was there. Others have complained of being touched and grabbed in the home. 


There have been rare sightings of a woman wearing Victorian-era clothing sitting on the porch and other people have reported seeing the ghosts of Edward and Freida on the grounds. Author Lynda Lee Macken wrote about the hauntings in “Haunted History of State Island.” She wrote, “Patrons and staff observed odd goings-on. Loud banging noises were heard, and an unseen force liked to slam doors. Pictures flew off walls. Cold spots and icy drafts were felt. All classic signs of a ghostly presence. Some say, it is the son Edward and his wife who cannot rest.”



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