By Suzanne Pratt Davis, Board of Directors, The Bronxville Historical Conservancy
Nov. 1, 2017: More than a dozen eery apparitions visited the village on Friday, October 27, for the spooky spectacular the "Ghosts of Bronxville" ("GOB"). The sold-out event, conceived and executed by The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, introduced 225 kids and their chaperones to the village's rich history.
The thrill-seekers navigated moonlit Hilltop roads where they met five of Bronxville's famous 19th-century residents played by Sarah Lawrence College students. The actors shared their ghostly tales on historically detailed sets at five private homes. Along the route, the children played old-fashioned Halloween games and encountered several silent, scary spirits, who were portrayed by local high school students.
First introduced in 2013, the GOB has since returned on a biennial basis. This year's event included a preview party, held on Thursday, October 26, at the home of GOB co-chair Erin Saluti. "What a great way to learn about some of Bronxville's historic and fascinating past," said Roy Montesano, superintendent of the Bronxville schools, who attended the party at 25 Prescott Avenue, which was also the former residence of artist Mary Fairchild MacMonnies Low, one of the GOB's five speaking ghosts.
Under the guidance of director Mariah Busk (a Sarah Lawrence graduate student), Low was played by Charlotte Davis. The four other speaking "ghosts" were Andrea Staats as Harriet Hubbard Ayer (cosmetics tycoon, involuntarily committed to Dr. Granger's Asylum in Bronxville by her husband) at 33 Valley; Ted Conley as William Van Duzer Lawrence (founding father of Lawrence Park, Lawrence Hospital, and Sarah Lawrence College) in the dining room of 7 Valley; Giovanni Kavota as Edmund Clarence Stedman (the "Poet of Wall Street," stockbroker, and editor of the works of Edgar Allan Poe) on the porch of 2 Wellington, across the triangle from his original dwelling; and Jackson Tucker-Meyer as William Augustus Bates (architect of many of the shingle-style homes in Lawrence Park) at one of his designs, 22 Gladwin.
Bronxville teenagers in period attire portrayed the wandering ghosts, including a macabre mother (Sarah Billings), a spectral servant (Ally Bruno), a brooding boy (Tom Dragoni), an asylum patient (Olivia Gravier), a ghostly girl (Anabel Halaby), a spooky cellist (Xavier Layton), and a morbid milkman (Bjorn Samios).
At 7 Valley, there was a New Year's Eve party scene, including a creepy butler (Emmet Balseiro) and party guests (Matthew Pytosh and Caroline Spitz).
"The dedication and professionalism demonstrated by all of the young actors was so impressive," said Saluti, who was joined by event co-chairs Michelle McBride and Suzanne Davis and junior chairs Tina Adams, Saskia Martin, and Lyndal Vermette.
The members of the 2017 GOB Committee were Hilary Blumenreich, Marie Cutaia, CeCe Heraty, Emily Liggitt, Stafford Meyer, Jennifer Russo, Linda Rafoss, and Laura Van Tienhaven.
In addition, 75 community volunteers manned the "ghost" houses, staffed the games, poured hot chocolate, and patrolled the steep and sometimes confusing Hilltop streets. "For an event of this scale, it really does take a village to make it happen," said Michelle McBride.
The Bronxville Historical Conservancy was founded in 1998 to record and preserve Bronxville's history and to celebrate the culture and life in the village today. For more information about the Conservancy or to become a member, please visit http://bronxvillehistoricalconservancy.org/.
Pictured here: Participants in the biennial "Ghosts of Bronxville" event.
Photos courtesy The Bronxville Historical Conservancy