During the middle of the Nineteenth Century, the most notorious tenement in the Five Points section of New York was referred to as the “Old Brewery.”
It was a teeming, filthy, squalid place of darkness, a place where poor blacks and Irish immigrants dwelt in disease-ridden rooms, unsafe conditions, crowded into a reeking misery that few people could ever imagine.
It is said (most notably by author Jay Robert Nash), that the unwanted children born in this stinking hellpit sometimes never saw sunlight or breathed fresh air for years…if they managed to survive at all.
It is also said that the place averaged a MURDER A DAY, for an entire year.
Crime was endemic there, as was poverty, prostitution, drunkeness, violence and want. A mother is reported to have left her infant child to rot in her home after it died. She finally managed to dig a grave for the poor toddler on the premises, with an old spoon.
We could go further with the sickening details, but, really, we think you begin to understand.
The building is long since gone, having been razed over a century ago to make way for an orphanange. It is easy, though, to imagine the hideous wail of ghostly infants, the strange, empty, cold feeling of the presence of those who lived and died most miserably within the decrepit walls of the Old Brewery. That is, if the building had stood until present day, which it hasn’t.
One building that HAS, reportedly experienced ghosts is the site of the former Holy Family Orphanage in Dublin, Ireland. But, to tell the tale, one must TELL IT.
The Holy Family Orphanage was a great, bleak place of massive grey stone walls, and bellies that were frequently empty, hungry. The discipline was severe, and the lives of the children who lived (and sometimes died) there, were sad and full of want. The place was finally shut down in the middle sixties, and stood empty and vacant for a long, long time.
It was in the 1980s that it was finally decided that SOMETHING should be done with the frightening old abandoned building. After all, it was just rotting there, attracting vandals and homeless people, wild animals and graffiti artists. Couldn’t it be renovated, converted into something more useful?
The answer, to a local business magnate was: of course! Why, it is simplicity itself. To that end, this businessman purchased the property, with an eye toward turning it into an upscale apartment complex.
“I plan on fetching high prices for my rentals. After all, considering the history of the building, it’s a real conversation-starter!” he told a reporter from one of the city’s morning papers.
Soon, he hired work crews to come in and start the renovation. It was not long after, however, that strange, even troubling events began to occur:
The workmen started reporting bizarre cries, whispers, laughter–and what sounded like the scampering of children’s feet. Of course, the halls were vacant.
Also, they began to experience the strange malfunction of electrical equipment, the disappearance of tools “into thin air” (often, they would find these later in the most bizarre place), and cold spots.
(One workman reported that tea that had just been brewed became ice cold, suddenly, for no discernible reason.)
Grim shadows appeared where none should be seen, and the workmen began to grumble that they felt as if they were being watched. One or two actually walked off the job and refused to return, with little in the way of an explanation.
A local spiritualist medium was finally brought in. She walked about the halls for an hour, finally pronouncing that the place was “teeming with restless spirits.”
Would anyone now care to rent an apartment in an orpahanage that was declared to be “teeming with ghosts”? The new owner of the property seemed to think–YES!
“Are you kidding me? I’m overjoyed! It’s the best news I’ve heard all day! Why, they’ll be fighting and kicking to get in here now! The publicity will be great for business!”
To that end, he called up the local news station. Since things had been rather slow lately, they decided to air a special on the alleged “haunting,” sending a camera crew to document any evidence of the ghosts–if any should happen to appear.
“I think it’s silly season, and a waste of time, but our viewing audience is declining, and this might bolster our ratings.” said the television producer.
So off the news team went.
And the rest of the story we can summarize as this:
Bill was setting up his camera to film a dark corridor. The sound man had gone to get himself a cup of coffee and a bag of sandwiches, so Bill was there alone.
He could hear the drip-drip-drip of water coming through the old, patched ceiling. Every footfall in here seemed to echo. He fancied he could hear his own heart beating like a drum.
There’s something about this place, he thought. At first, you don’t notice it, and it doesn’t really bother you. But, after awhile, it starts to close in. A feeling of being trapped, suffocated.
Indeed, Bill felt like he might like to go outside to get some air. To that end, he decided to leave his camera and make his way back out the front when all of a sudden, a little voice said, “Sir? Pardon me sir…”
Bill looked around, and then looked down. There was a young boy standing beside him.
He felt confused. What was this kid doing in here? Who had let him in?
“Yes?” said Bill, almost automatically.
The boy hesitated a moment, then said, “Well, sir, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, I do wish you’d tell my sister Mary McLeary that I miss her, and I’ll be waiting for her right here.”
Bill was shocked to hear the name of his producer come from the boy’s lips. Why, Mary McCleary was past sixty years old if she was a day. How on earth could she have a brother that was only around eight years old or so?
Suddenly the kid turned and bolted down the hall. Bill stood there speechless for a moment, then called out “Son. Hey, son! Come back here!”
He quickly made to follow him, then was shocked, as he turned a corner, to see that the boy had seemingly disappeared. He wiped his tired eyes. Perhaps he had imagined the whole thing. He had been working awfully hard lately.
Still feeling the chill of creepiness in his bones, he went to a payphone and dialed his producer, Mary McCleary.
The tired-sounding woman picked up the phone.
Bill paused for a moment, unsure of how to proceed, then said, “Yeah, Mary, it’s me, Bill. I’m calling from the Holy Family Orphanage. Listen, I’ve just had the…weirdest thing happen to me. I, I met this young boy, couldn’t have been more than eight years old, I’d guess. Anyway, he really shook me, because he claimed to be, get this: your brother! Asked me to say hi to you, and tell you that he’d be here waiting for you.”
There was a long silence at the other end. Bill wondered if they had somehow been disconnected.
“Mary? Hello, Mary? Are you still there?”
Suddenly, in a choked voice, one that sounded a million miles away, Mary said, “Yes, Bill, I’m still here. Bill, it appears you really have met my brother.”
“What?” asked Bill, incredulous.
“Yes, you heard me correctly, Bill. That was my brother Declan. Declan McCleary. You really did meet him. He’s been there a long time. You see, he died in the orphange, fifty-three years ago.”