A Ghost House In Queens

This property was demolished in April 2013.

Growing up in Massachusetts, there was never any shortage of ghost houses: crumbling, hundred year-old derelicts that would fuel many a sleepover double-dog-dare (“I double dog dare to you to knock on the door!” “No way!” “Wuss!”).

One of my favorites was just a few blocks from my house, a gorgeous Federal mansion that had been abandoned for decades.

house1

Of the dozens of eldritch legends ascribed to the shadowy home by sleeping-bagged storytellers, perhaps the eeriest concerns a young man who is said to have lit himself on fire in the front hall. Even stranger, his father, who had been writing at the time, upon hearing the screams, stuck his head in to watch – and then returned to his work.

house2

I loved these stories growing up, and I’ve always felt a bit sorry of the kids of New York – land is at such a premium in the city that few houses are allowed to stay this way for long before being torn down and replaced by a bland modern construction.

For this reason, I’m always on the lookout for the type of house an adolescent New Yorker might walk a little faster by on his way home at night. One of my favorites is located off of 31st Street in Queens:

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An old Victorian adjacent to the N line, 3101 37th Avenue has been abandoned as long as I’ve been scouting:

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To me, 31-01 has all the details that make for a perfect ghost house: a looming facade, sharp, menacing angles…

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A weed-strewn front yard and battered door…

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…rotting wood and lots of broken windows:

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I wish I knew some history about 3101 37th Avenue, but there’s little to be found online. Despite the disrepair, a few interesting details have survived, like this squiggly pattern above the door:

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A seashell design above a window:

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And even some fishscale shingles on the upper story:

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While 3101 37th Ave might have little else to offer while it awaits its inevitable demise, I can only hope it’s serving as a muse to dozens of young storytellers conjuring up unspeakable monstrosities within in its walls.

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There’s something to be said for that sort of inspiration.

Have a favorite New York City ghost house? Let me know about it in the comments!

-SCOUT

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42 comments

  1. Weird address, google maps cant find it. Are your pictures current? Cause the ones on google maps street view have a different color exterior

  2. Oops, that should be 31-01, not 51-01. About the only thing I could find is a court document regarding a dispute over ownership.

  3. It no longer exists — unfortunately razed sometime in the early 2000s — but there was an incredibly eccentric mansion on 12th Street between 26th and 27th Aves in Astoria. It was covered in mirrors and pinwheels, there were dolls and stuffed toys hanging from the trees, and every spare patch of lawn contained some sort of doodad mounted on a stick. That was the “ghost house” my friends and I would gawk at growing up… “legend” had it that the owner’s dead wife was buried on the property and would appear to him in dreams to tell him what to add to the decor!

  4. There is a creepy house at the intersection of 34th Avenue and 74th Street, Queens, NY 11372. Driving past it, it always catches the eye of everyone in the car. I usually pass from the 34th Ave side, with it on my right. I think it has a cool chimney. Do you have any information on this house? Is it even lived in?

    • That house was abandoned about three years ago. It’s been under 24-hour surveillance since last year or so (at least, a very large sign hanging outside the house said it was under 24-hour surveillance). I’ve seen a car parked in one of the garages more recently than that, though. No idea who it belonged to. The house is almost completely hidden behind a board fence now; it’ll probably be demolished soon.

  5. Very strange that on Google maps not only is the exterior color different, but so are the shingles. Anyone care to venture a guess? Puzzling me to no end.

  6. Makes me sad to see a grand dame in such disrepair. Looks like there was some serious workmanship put into that house.

  7. The best used to be the Hammerstein Mansion (Whitestone), it was all kinds of decrepit and spooky we used to visit it alot, the problem was it was land marked. Funny thing is that it almost burned down twice, but the FDNY rescued it both times, funny thing is in order to get approval for about 100 units of condo’s on the water they developer was forced to restore and uses it for a clubhouse,common room for the development.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilio_guerra/3597467986/

  8. First off I have to tell you how much I love your website! Keep up the good work.

    I live in Astoria and I see this house everyday from the elevated N line. I have always been strangely drawn to the structure. I’m glad that you profiled it and hopefully others can shed some light into it’s history. On a side note within the past yr or less the majority of it’s outer shell has been stripped of the patina-ed gray robin’s egg blue.

  9. I absolutely love your website. I grew up in Massachusetts as well, but now live in Colorado and after seeing your articles, wish I still live back there so I too could investigate what you discover. Not much around here as far as historical finds or ghosts, but there is a stone house in a canyon below where my parents used to live in Loma, CO where a woman supposedly died and my daughters, when they were little, say that she used to stand at the foot of their beds and watch them. So I investigated and found that she really existed.

  10. Not in NYC but in NY State: when I was growing up I only knew the Hawkins House as the “Haunted House.” This slideshow shows the amazing transformation it went through in its restoration process:

    http://www.jeffhallockbuilders.com/hawkins_slideshow.html

  11. I’ve often wondered about this house. I wish somebody would restore it to its old glory. Have you tried asking the Astoria Historical Society about this house?

  12. Force Tube Avenue

    I submit a house on a de-mapped street in Midwood Brooklyn. On 19th Century maps, the street is Ocean Avenue in South Greenfield, Kings County. Fragments of the street remain as Olean Street. The house can be found on Google Streets, on East 19th Street, just north of Avenue M (try 1271 East 19th Street). The sealed up house faces the defunct street, now an alley, and is surrounded by apartment buildings and houses of more recent vintage.

  13. The Astoria house has been empty for at least 20 years. I live nearby and see it every day. The siding was recently pulled off, exposing the wood you see in the photos. It really needs to be ripped down. It being so close to the N train, makes the land much more valuable than the structure.

  14. Where was the amazing mansion in MA? Love the overgrown Sleeping Beauty flowers!

  15. Not in New York, but here in England there were two ghost houses within half an hour of where I live, emphasis on the were.

    The first one didn’t have a happy ending. It was a large, two-story (probably Victorian) house stood in a boarded-off garden, surrounded by appropriately massive trees. Most of the exterior was unremarkable, apart from a fantastic metal framed glass “observatory”, a bit like the top of a lighthouse, but square in shape. The site was demolished to make way for a new development (which, interestingly, mimmicked the design of the exterior. It even has a feature that resembles the “observatory”, which was removed prior to the structure being knocked down.

    The second has a happier ending. It was a large residential house in mock Tutor style, probably built in the 20s-30s, with faded exterior and unkempt gardens, a truely evocative haunted house appearance. The house underwent a lot of work and was eventually restored to it’s former grandeur.

    Sadly this was long before I developed my interest into urban exploration, would’ve loved to have poked around those two houses.

  16. in sandwich, ma the house of the 1st constable of sandwich (1763? i think) is said to be haunted not inside but outside; a ghost (woman) is known to be walking about lost looking for her husband. it is located on rt 6a in east sandwich. if you’re ever on the cape let me know, i’ll show it to you with more details of who lives there now (someone kind of famous so can’t really blurt it out).

  17. There is a house in Astoria on 21st street and 31st avenue that always makes me wonder. It has been abandoned for years (from all evidence) but has a development for sale sighn on it as of recently. Sadly I guess that means it is not long for this world. It surely must have some stories though.

  18. I second Rebecca – where is the house in Mass?

  19. There is a house in Maspeth on 53rd Street at Flushing Avenue that has been abandoned for several years. It looks like it may have been a hotel at one point.

  20. Jude Mermelstein

    As of November of 2010, an outfit called either Ventura Land Acquisitions of Rahway, NJ owned & had a permit to demolish the house. They bought it six years ago for $180,000. It’s approximately a hundred years old, contains three apartments–and, believe it or don’t, NYC thinks it’s worth $878,000!

  21. This house is only a couple of blocks away from Kaufman Astoria Studios. How convenient for anyone who would want to use it for a location shoot!

  22. There’s a house not quite as creepy, but interesting nonetheless: it’s on the other side of Astoria, on 47th Street between 25 Avenue and Astoria Boulevard – great photos of it at this link: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/4703448

  23. Yay! I’m so glad you mentioned the house on 31st Street. I call it Boo Radley’s house.

  24. This building is just up the road from where I live in Ireland. It was built as a work house during the famine and later it was turned into a psychiatric hospital. It is the widest building in Ireland. It is now after being renovated into apartments but due to our economic situation and ghost stories the developers are finding it vey difficult to sell any. I often walk around that area and it is really very scary and also vey sad to think of all the poor souls who once lived there. In fact in that area there are two more abandoned psychiatric hospitals they are all on a hill looking down on the city. Ahhh http://www.flickr.com/photos/30489859@N05/5162276970/

    • That’s a beautiful photo! How haunted is this building? In America, builder’s would have turned it into million dollar apartments, especially in New York. I live in Connecticut, a building like this would house a single family of four! LOL.

  25. “I loved these stories growing up, and I’ve always felt a bit sorry of the kids of New York – land is at such a premium in the city that few houses are allowed to stay this way for long before being torn down and replaced by a bland modern construction.”

    I wrote a short story about this very topic – http://guy.tumblr.com/post/9578772/the-abandonment-king

  26. This house turns up on Zillow.com, with a picture which looks exactly like yours. The site shows sales in 1998 and 2005, and a marked increase in the “Zestimate” of the property value over the last few months.

    They now estimate the property at $2.2 million, and it was closer to $600,000 at the end of last calendar year. No indiction of what event might have spurred the increase (a zoning change?) and I can’t find a way to NY property records on-line.

    Great blog, BTW!

  27. Another great example of juxtaposition in New York City. Love the photos.

  28. The first house pictured is beautiful! It’s a shame to such artistry and brickwork to go to waste. Unfortunately, most of these properties have likely become home to many a squatter.

  29. certainly like your web site however you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the reality on the other hand I will definitely come again again.

  30. Hidden gems such as the above mentioned are fast being raped pillaged and plundered by unscrupulous foreign real estate developers. OUr movie theaters, restaurants,etc,etc are being bulldozered into oblivion along with our culture. This blasphemy must cease. Do we need another Hollywood Mall, massage pallor or cheap trinket store.

  31. There is an old haunted house where i used to live in ny we called it the blue house or bird house. it was so creepy.The story goes there was a brake in and the daughter who lived there was raped and coped into pieces when the mom came home she found her daughter.Its said she went crazy and died in that house, she did voodoo and and there were dead animals also found in the house. every one who owned it sold it so quickly because they report screaming, ghost sightings, and weird things happening. even when it was knocked down and rebuilt its still said to be haunted.

  32. Do you know about a house in Chelsea that was part of the underground railroad? On 29th Street near the highline. I heard the current residents talking about seeing a ghost in there. It’s next to another townhouse that’s been under construction, like, forever. It’s empty and looks ghostly too. Both properties are landmarked property.

  33. There’s another “ghost house” in Astoria I’ve heard about several times growing up. Deserted (from what I know), a mess, looks like no one has touched it in years. Corner of 31st and 28th avenue under the N.

  34. wow I just passed there and it’s not there no more they knock it down……funny when I was lil we new the people who lived there and I was like you live there and it was a real nice place but when there father left them the house when to shit….but the father still would come from time 2 time…then in the mid 2 lste 90′s a friend rented the back of the house and made a office out of it and the last I no of it was that the father got ill and the brother took over it….

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