One of five built by Italian-American stone mason Joe Moshini in the 1930s, this tiny stone castle is located at 2669-2673 Briscoe Road in Swan Lake, south of Liberty, New York. It formerly sat in front of the grand Commodore Hotel, which burned in a controlled fire in 1979.
From the 1920s to the 1970s, New York City Jews flocked to Catskill resorts like the Commodore for summer vacations. There were once over 500 resorts and hotels in the area, known as the “Borscht Belt“. The hotel’s garden, and its tiny castle, was reclaimed by nature, but in 2013 a group of volunteers restored it and erected signs relating the history of the site.
Built in 1895 and rumored to have been a brothel and speakeasy during Prohibition, the Shanley Hotel on Main Street in Napanoch, New York has gained a reputation for the unusual. Napanoch is a hamlet in Ulster County along Rondout Creek, which straddles the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. James and Beatrice Shanley bought the hotel in 1906 and welcomed many prominent guests, including Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Tragedy followed, however. All three Shanley children died as infants, as well as the hotel barber’s daughter and Beatrice’s sister, who died of influenza. James Shanley died in 1937. Sal Nicosia owned the hotel from 2005 to 2016, and his son Sal, Jr., has picked up the mantel. Since appearing on shows like Ghost Lab and Ghost Hunters, the Shanley Hotel has capitalized on the paranormal tourism market, offering special rates for paranormal investigations and marketing itself as a “haunted hotel.”
The hotel doesn’t have a website and appeared to be closed when I visited.