An evening of spooky tales recreated on Historic Huguenot Street, a treasured piece of Hudson Valley history in New Paltz... what more could any Halloween-loving local ask for?
THE VILLAGE’S ANNUAL HAUNTED HUGUENOT STREET DURING THE MONTH OF OCTOBER IS ONE OF ITS BIGGEST YEARLY TOURIST ATTRACTIONS. ACCORDING TO THE TEAM AT HISTORIC HUGUENOT STREET, THE EVENT ATTRACTS GUESTS FROM “TWO MINUTES AWAY OR TWO HOURS AWAY!”
The team that plans and organizes this event every year includes: Kara Gaffken, director of public programming; Amber Neilson, programming associate; Courtney Russo, guest experience coordinator; and Kaitlin Gallucci, director of communications. It’s something these ladies love, they say. Kara, a “history nerd” with a master’s degree in museum studies, loves the history packed into the national landmark’s legacy: “Every day, I learn something new,” she says. Amber, a SUNY New Paltz alum, enjoys learning from and engaging with people from all over the world during the tours she regularly guides at Huguenot Street.
A registered national landmark, Historic Huguenot Street is a 10-acre property with seven historic homes dating back to the early-17th and late-18th centuries, Kara explains. The property features a reconstructed historic church; a centuries-old burying ground; and a newly-constructed Native American wigwam, honoring indigenous peoples from the area, Kara says.
As scenic as the sights on Huguenot Street may be, not all of the local landmark’s history is pretty: all of the 12 original founders of New Paltz made their wealth from slave labor. It’s a legacy the staff at Huguenot Street doesn’t shy away from. “We incorporate that history into every tour,” Kara and Amber say.
Each year, the team orchestrates October’s Haunted Huguenot Street event around a central theme. Last year’s theme was women’s history in the Hudson Valley. The lineup of events for guests included stories about Maria Deyo, a member of the Deyo family legacy who murdered almost her entire family; singular marriages, an archaic tradition which married betrothed women to the corpses of their deceased fiancées; and historic witch trials. It’s chilling stuff, the team says, and every story has close ties to the region.
Starting with 2014’s Haunted Huguenot event, the team began commissioning talent from the Theatre Arts program at SUNY New Paltz to perform historic local narratives, breathing life into centuries-old tales. Instead of hearing an oral retelling of a story, guests can now experience the narratives firsthand. The event is something truly unique, Kara and Amber explain. What’s most important to the Haunted Huguenot team is centering the chilling tales around local history, be it the immediate New Paltz area or the Hudson Valley region.
Haunted Huguenot is family-friendly; it isn’t a ghost tour, and nobody jumps out at guests. “It’s not scary,” Amber reassures with a laugh. “Spooky, but not scary.” Kara jumps in: “It’s educational, too!” Organizing the event is a labor of love, according to Kara and Amber. It’s an effort that takes “months of planning.” Kara and Amber don’t have specific details about 2017’s theme quite yet, but they hope to incorporate a “murder mystery” in Deyo Hall, the property’s biggest indoor space. The 2014 murder mystery game at Haunted was a smash hit with visitors, Amber says. Ultimately, guests will just have to come and see. “We sell out almost every year,” Kara adds.
haunted huguenot street pg13-rated tour schedule:
Tours depart hourly beginning at 5 pm,
with the final tour leaving at 9 pm.
Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.
Friday, October 13 at 5pm
through Saturday, October 14 at 10pm
Friday, October 20 at 5pm
through Saturday, October 21 at 10pm
Friday, October 27 at 5pm
through Saturday, October 28 at 10pm
Try something a little different this Halloween and join the crowds on Huguenot Street in October. Who knows? You might come away a little wiser about what happened centuries ago right in your backyard.
historic huguenot street
81 Huguenot Street, New Paltz