The beginnings of Christ Episcopal Church as a place of worship began in 1773, on a different location in Poughkeepsie; the corner of present day Church and Market Streets. It was described as a “substantial brick church, with ” two foot thick solid masonry walls.” While Christ Church was completed and consecrated in 1774, it didn’t get its pews installed until after the Revolutionary War. Christ Church wasn’t a fully functioning congregation, and this lovely church building was empty between 1776 – 1784, because of the strife of outside political forces, that erupted into the Revolutionary War. The Patriots and the Tories in the congregation weren’t friends at this time, and poor Mr. Beardsley’s new Rectorate ended when the war broke out, as he was strongly in favor of the Tories.
After the Patriots won the war, and the American Episcopal Church was created in 1787, the church settled down, healed their schisms, and went about doing the Lord’s work! By 1833, the congregation had outgrown its facilities, and this 1774 church building was torn down in 1833, to make room for the construction of a new sanctuary and support buildings. The new church was built in 1834, after having a heck of a time tearing down the two foot thick masonry walls of the old church, built to last many lifetimes.
Just 54 years later, in 1888, the congregation of Christ Church needed a bigger structure. They sold the 1833 church, and bought another property to build their new brick church. This new site was traditionally the place of “The Old English Burial Grounds”. It was a run-down plot of land that was considered an eyesore by the city government, who hadn’t allowed any more new burials there since 1871. Hopefully, all the remains that were buried there were respectfully moved to another location, for their eternal rest.
This glorious, 1888 structure is still the home to the Christ Episcopal Church family. Tom and I visited Christ Episcopal Church, and were quite impressed with its huge, massive bell tower in the front, stunning, brick workmanship, and the lovely stained glass windows, of the very best quality! Loved the Victorian architecture, with nice touches, like the iron-work on the front doors.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who die unexpectedly, in the middle of something meaningful to them, sometimes aren’t ready to move on just yet, or like to visit and try to finish, or enjoy what they missed. Around 1910, an elderly woman died in the middle of a church service. Perhaps the living missed a grave when they moved the buried remains from the former English Burial Grounds to another cemetery. When the living build structures or roads on top of someone’s grave, or move the remains themselves, this can cause spirits to be restless and move into the building or structures that are close by.
Perhaps someone’s remains are still buried underneath the church itself. It would be easy to miss graves in a burial ground that dated back to the settling of Poughkeepsie. Not much respect were given these graves by the 19th century city fathers, perhaps because English citizens were buried here. Despite being the resting place of early citizens of Poughkeepsie, the grounds were not kept up, disrespected and considered an eye-sore.
Sometimes people who dedicate their lives in service to others, wish to continue to do so, even in their spirit form, without a body. Rev. Alexander Cummings faithfully served Christ Episcopal Church as Rector, from 1900 through 1948; for 48 years! In some of the stories found on HauntedHouses.com, entities have become active when changes are made to or in their favorite building in this world that they don’t like, or approve of. Rev. Alexander Cummings became active again during the 1990s, when the Rector’s Office (his old office) was moved to another part of the church.
Entity of Elderly Female
Benign church presence, who enjoys the inside of the church, and church services. Her apparition, dressed in her Sunday clothes, has been seen sitting in a pew halfway back. During the evening hours, people who sit in her section of the pews, have felt an unseen presence keeping them company.
Entity of Jovial Man
Perhaps a spirit from a forgotten grave A woman had fallen asleep on the pews, while waiting for her musician sister to finishing her practicing. She was awakened suddenly by a disembodied belly laugh. Upon opening her eyes, she saw a male face apparition floating above her, laughing good naturedly at her.
Entity Annoyed Presence
Could be the spirit of someone whose grave was built upon, or forgotten and unmarked, somewhere on church property. It has been seen for a long time by many in the congregation. Suddenly appears in the form of a bat, that vanishes into thin air. The candles go out when this bat appears, out of nowhere. Poor Bishop Pike was dive-bombed by this agitated bat.
Entity of Rev. Alexander Cummings
His apparition was seen by witnesses, and made his presence known, beginning right after he passed away. The late Bishop James Pike was the next Rector assigned to Christ Church, back in 1948, right after Rev. Cummings died. Pike saw a clear apparition of Rev. Cummings going up the bell tower steps, and also saw him hanging around the altar. Sanctuary of Christ Episcopal Church and Rectors office. Candles were blown out, without any natural explanation. (He hated the use of candles)He could also be responsible for this annoying behavior. Overhead objects moved by themselves, without any help from the living. Doors had a mind of their own. Strange noises and sounds were heard often, coming from nothing recognizable in this world.
The entity of Rev. Cummings became quiet for years, until a Rector in the 1990s moved the Rector’s Office to another part of the building, and turned the old office space into a Library! This environmental trigger upset Rev. Cummings! In the morning, it was reported that the library was icy cold like an icebox. Other paranormal activity listed above came back into the library. This happened for awhile, and then stopped.
Perhaps, but unknown at this time. Parishioners of Christ Episcopal Church prayerfully hope that these restless entities have found peace and have moved on to the other side permanently. The entity of the elderly, faithful member may still be visiting the sanctuary, and the entity of Rev. Cummings may be quietly watching the living run his church. The jolly, jovial spirit hasn’t wakened any other people, and the crabby bat hasn’t made an appearance lately.
Hauck’s book was published in 2002, and Smitten’s book was released in 2004, and I haven’t found any recent reports of paranormal activity caused from these three benign spirits, and one angry presence. Cheri Ravai states in her 2005 book that the entities have been quiet and non-active, with even the crabby bat being gone. No hard evidence that may have been collected by an outside investigation group has been shared on-line, if it was allowed at all. It is also very possible that the church building was blessed, and this may have given these restless spirits some peace.
While people who have had interesting, personal experiences have shared what happened to them, some of the experiences listed above could be from natural causes. Large buildings often attract bats, but it seemed to be the same bat, that appeared and disappeared out of thin air. Seeing apparitions of spirits is something a person doesn’t forget easily though, and these entities have made some personal appearances, over the years.
There haven’t been any paranormal investigations that have been made known to the public.
Christ Episcopal Church can be found in a residential neighborhood on Carroll Street, between Montgomery Street and Barclay Street (two way,run east-west), and Academy Street and South Hamilton Street (two way-run north and south.) Carroll Street runs north/south, connecting Montgomery Street with Holmes. Take Route 44 (Church Street to Academy Street, go south. Turn from Academy Street onto Montgomery Street, going east. Turn south onto Carroll Street.
- Haunted Places; The National Directory
by Dennis William Hauck
Penguin Books, 2002
- Ghost Stories of New York State
by Susan Smitten
Ghost House Books, 2004
- Haunted New York
by Cheri Ravai
Stackpole books, 2005