Haunted History: Ghosts on the Shore of the Ear Inn

Posted on: October 30th, 2015 at 10:31 am by
This image has been archived or removed.

This is a city with millions of stories, many of which belong to ghosts. The Ear Inn implores you to tell these tales if you see any such apparitions. The historic establishment at 326 Spring Street finds its way into countless haunted New York City tours and books.

Being that the Ear Inn is considered one of the most haunted places in the city, it’s perfect for our favorite time of year. The time when the veil between worlds is lifted and spirits can walk among the living. Wear your masks, people! It will protect you from getting stuck on the “other side” when the veil is dropped back down (e.g. sexy nurse costumes won’t save ya).

The spirits said to haunt the Ear are sailors who never left, victims of the river’s relentless tide, people who lost themselves to a bottle or twenty, and women of the night who remain stuck in the darkness. And then of course, the most popular of ghosts, “Mickey,” the man who died in one of two ways (both widely accepted and unable to prove): (1) He was hit by a car in front of the Inn; (2) He drank himself to death while waiting for his Clipper to come into port.

Meet me at the banks of the mighty North River (aka Hudson) and I’ll tell you a tale of how it all began…

This image has been archived or removed.

NYHS James Brown House to far right

The Ear Inn, aka The Green Door (perhaps an allusion to the O. Henry short story), began its life at 326 Spring Street as the James Brown House in 1817. The first owner was James Brown who fought in the Revolutionary Army. Legend has it that he was an aide to none other than George Washington himself, and that he even appears at Washington’s side in Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting titled “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”

This image has been archived or removed.

Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), by Emanuel Leutze. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

This image has been archived or removed.

Adapted from “A Short History of Hudson Square” by the Friends of Hudson Square:

In 1705, Queen Anne of England made a land grant of 215 acres to Trinity Church. The Church Farm, to the north of the city proper, stretched from Fulton Street to Christopher Street along the Hudson River, and was mostly farmland and swamp. Although most of the farm was eventually sold, Trinity is still the largest individual landowner in the Hudson Square area.

By 1800, the community centering on Spring and Greenwich Streets was a thriving market area known as Lower Greenwich. It was a working class, racially mixed neighborhood south of the more affluent Greenwich Village. Most of the buildings were Federal style single-family homes with storefronts on the ground floor. Several buildings still survive from this era, including the James Brown House at 326 Spring Street (now home to the Ear Inn) as well as 486 and 488 Greenwich Street.

Here are two maps that show the original shore line against landfill and what the shore line is set to return to/look like in 2106.

This image has been archived or removed.

Library of Congress (original banks in green, landfill in brown)

This image has been archived or removed.

Ear*Inn*Virons is the definitive history [book] of the James Brown House and West Soho neighborhood.From NYC Architecture’s interview of the man who bought the building in 1977, RIP Hayman:

“This is sand from the foundation of the building,” said Hayman, holding a beer stein full of grayish sand. The house, now a block and a half from the Hudson River, was right on the riverbank in the early decades of the 19th century. “There was a sand spit in the river at Canal St. at that time,” said Hayman. “We have to pump out the tide from the basement twice a day.”

This image has been archived or removed.

This image has been archived or removed.

RIP Hayman with gun found in chimney on 2nd floor

This image has been archived or removed.

Waterline

HALT!  A little spirit told us that those tunnels were also used to haul ice in from the river for those drinks the sailors loved so dearly and also, let us not forget that tunnel can be an escape route for, let’s presume, runaway slaves. And finally, to haul alcohol in during prohibition.

From Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America, By Clint Lanier & Derek Hembree:

This image has been archived or removed.
This image has been archived or removed.
This image has been archived or removed.

This image has been archived or removed.

Courtesy of Ear Inn

“The Green Door” is literal. It has no significance other than the door to the establishment being green; and it still is.

Meanwhile, the river fought against the disruption of its original bank many times, perhaps most unforgettably during Hurricane Sandy. Sadly, the damage was done in places never meant to exist … Manhattan rose up from the river in the form of schist, not landfill. Much like New Orleans (Hurricane Katrina), it’s always been a given that the rivers will rise trying to make their way home. Lives lost and places destroyed are heartbreaking, but when humankind tries to defy nature…

This image has been archived or removed.

Hudson River during Sandy

This image has been archived or removed.

As per the Ear Inn’s request, please tell us if you see any ghosts. Happy Hunting!

From the James Brown House website:

This gallery has been removed.

Recent Stories

Christopher Marte Launches City Council Campaign for 2021

Christopher Marte is jumping back into the City Council election ring. With three-time Councilmember Margaret Chin terming out next year, the local politician is looking to capitalize early on the District 1 seat. Essentially building on the momentum he created during the 2017 election that gave Chin a run for her money. (The incumbent squeaked […]

The Delancey Street ‘Rainbow’ is No More

Discount retailer, Rainbow, is no longer part of the Lower East Side landscape. The longtime store at 110 Delancey Street is now closed up for good. Employees told us back in October that the lease expired, and wasn’t renewed. This particular store had been at 110 Delancey for well over a decade. At one point […]

First Look at the Latest Luxury Development Planned for Clinton Street

The transformation of the east side of Clinton Street to luxury continues apace with the next big reveal. In due course, the former home of New Life will sprout an eight-story development. The gleaming newcomer fits in with the what’s happening between Rivington and Stanton Streets. Indeed, it sits adjacent to 50 Clinton Street. This […]

COLORS Comeback Closes After Less than a Month on Stanton Street

It was supposed to have been a grand return to form for COLORS restaurant. The venue, which reopened with plenty of hype at the end of December, closed again after a comeback of less than a month. The New York Post reported that the nonprofit in charge of the establishment, which previously championed staff diversity […]

Grand Street Pickpocketer Arrested for Robbing Off-Duty Officer

Maybe don’t pickpocket the police officer… Police arrested a man last Tuesday afternoon (January 14) who attempted to pickpocket an off-duty cop. The perp snatched the officer’s phone outside 500 Grand Street (near East Broadway), and ran off. But he was caught, arrested, and charged with robbery. (The 7th Precinct station house is around the […]