architecture

Haunted Western New York: The Roycroft

Saturday, October 08, 2011

       Continuing with the theme established in my last two posts, and in honor of this most spooky month of October, I bring you the first post in a series I am calling "Haunted Western New York."


First stop on our tour, The Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, NY. 

       Founded in the late 1890s by Elbert Hubbard, the Roycroft was a community of craftsman whose Arts and Crafts inspired style had a strong influence on American arts and architecture in the twentieth century.

Elbert Hubbard:
American writer, publisher, artist, philosopher and founder of the Roycroft.

Printers, metalsmiths, leathersmiths, bookbinders and furniture makers occupied a dozen or so buildings on a quiet street in the town of East Aurora. 
The Campus

The ivy covered building of the Roycroft Campus still stand, as does the Roycroft Inn across the street. 

If you're ever in the vicinity of East Aurora, NY, the Roycroft alone warrants stopping for any fan of architecture, design or history- but this is a subject for another day and another post. 

Now, on to the haunting. 


The Roycroft Inn

View of the Campus from the Inn.

photos from The Roycroft Campus website


       Rumors of strange happenings at the Roycroft are vast. Founder Elbert Hubbard and his second wife, suffragette Alice Moore Hubbard, died aboard the Lusitania in 1915 and his likeness is said to appear regularly around the Roycroft Campus, often peering from windows or walking the grounds.

 One of my favorite stories comes from 1997, when a devastating fire consumed the top floor of the large furniture shop building at the back of the Campus. Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters reported a figure inside the building, a man on the top floor gazing out from the flames, but found the building to be empty. This figure has been said to resemble Hubbard though some theories identify this gentleman as Hubbard's doppelganger and the figure of misfortune often present at and responsible for the many unfortunate fires that have taken place at the Roycroft.
The Furniture Shop before the fire. The top floor of the building was never restored.

Stories of secret societies and coded architecture are popular as well, linking the Campus and its founder to a supernatural world (think The Da Vinic Code on a much smaller scale). 

For a more visual tour of the Roycroft, its sarchitecture and its slightly macabre history, 
I highly recommend this short video: 





Also, to see what Hubbard's ghost is saying these days (and he's not too pleased) visit his blog.





Look for future posts about the Roycroft coming soon!






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