The Unexplained: The Dark Side of the Craig House

The historic Craig House has a dark and frightening past. Photo: The Highlands Current

Craig House became a psychiatric facility for the elite, welcoming such guests as Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Marilyn Monroe.

Craig House:  “It looks like Bella Lugosi should live there,” Tom Delaney, an amateur historian residing in the area was known to say.  He was speaking of the Tioronda, the most striking structure in the Gothic compound known as Craig House.

It has suffered abandonment in some recent years, after quite a past.

In 1859, Joseph Howland and and wife Eliza purchased a modest farm and began turning it into a memorable country estate – memorable because of its eccentric style.  To appreciate it fully, one needs to see it in person.  Photographic images do not suffice.

Howland was a shipping magnate who picked out the site where Fishkill Creek intersects the Hudson River in the Hudson Valley of New York.  He hired Frederick Clarke Wither as the architect for the Gothic creation, and Henry Winthrop Sargent as the landscape architect.

Howland was poised to luxuriate in his beautiful creation when he was called up for the Civil War.  He made it back but was scarred for life with something similar to PTSD.  This caused him to start thinking about the need for mental health facilities and education about the subject.

Joseph Howland set about building a nearby hospital for the insane – he also built a fine library in the close-by town of Beacon.  These were his post war projects.  He also served as New York’s State Treasurer,


Sara Marie Hogg

Howland died in 1886 while in France, and his wife did not wish to live there any longer, so she sold the property to Dr. Jonathan C. Slocum, a local psychiatrist.  Soon it was known as Slocum Sanitarium.  The doctor converted it to a mental health facility.

Slocum later named it Craig House in honor of Craig House in Scotland, an innovative psychiatric facility that put an emphasis on treating patients in a home-like setting.

Before long, Craig House was a psychiatric facility for the elite.  The patients, known as guests, were given opportunities to pursue painting, and other art forms and crafts, golf, and even tennis.  There was a gym, a chapel and a well-appointed music room.  There was a luxurious dining room with fine cuisine.

Sometimes as many as three employees were assigned to each guest, to make sure they had what they needed– this provided valuable jobs for locals.

Craig House was also discreet.  The guests were given confidentiality, their privacy protected.

We now know that F. Scott Fitzgerald took Zelda here.  It is rumored that Jackie Gleason went here for treatment for some of his binges.  He gifted a pool table to the facility.

Both Truman Capote and Marilyn Monroe had some visits here for rest periods.  An artist, Constant Whitney Warren, stayed there for eighteen years.  Some of the guests stayed there for quite extended periods – including Rosemary Kennedy, JFK’s sister.  She stayed for three years, starting in 1957, in a private cottage.  Frances, wife of Henry Fonda stayed there.

Craig House was closed in 2013.  Of course it is haunted–just look at it.  Doors slam shut, eerie noises including shouts and screams sometimes pierce the air.  A woman with long brown hair has been seen floating about.  She often appears in a window of Tioronda.

Several tragedies are associated with Craig House, including suicides and deaths on the premises.  One of the buyers jumped out of his office window in Manhattan.  It was a remarkable facility but it has its dark side.

Craig House may soon be a hotel and spa–or not.  The new owners are still in talks with the county about redevelopment plans.

Please click HERE to find a collection of Sara’s  strange and bizarre true stories, Quite Curious.

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