"CITY HALL ... HAS SOME TERRIFIC GHOST STORIES."
Exploring psychic folklore
"City Hall . . . has some terrific ghost stories."
By ANTHONY CARDINALE
News Staff Reporter
Mason Winfield, Western New York's resident ghost
hunter, is taking his "spooktacle" to Niagara Square
during the weeks leading up to Halloween.
The Niagara Square Ghost Walk will start at 7 p.m.
each Tuesday at Spot Coffee at Delaware Avenue and
West Chippewa Street. The fee for the 90-minute tour
of haunted architecture is $10 for adults and $5 for
children ages 7 to 11. Part of the proceeds go to the
Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier.
"We start at City Hall, which has some terrific ghost
stories," said Winfield, an East Aurora resident,
"[and] we talk about the occult ornamentation" such as
Asked for a ghost story, Winfield said: "The ghosts
I've heard about are incoherent. You don't have any
idea who they are. Just a ton of crazy effects that
you run into all the time - darting shadows, and
electrical phenomenon, and the elevators acting up;
crazy sound effects."
The man who designed City Hall, John J. Wade, also
designed the Masonic Consistory, Winfield said, back
when Buffalo was a major home of the Freemasons.
"And," he added, "these types of sites tend to collect
The next stop is Niagara Square, where the McKinley
"We talk about the events surrounding the
assassination of President McKinley," Winfield said.
"There are ghost stories or some type of psychic
folklore associated with every spot where McKinley
spent his last 24 hours in Buffalo."
Niagara Square was first laid out as a radial hub in
the early 1800s by surveyor Joseph Ellicott. Winfield
believes that Ellicott created "a henge, an earth
"Ellicott had a reason for locating his formation
right there," Winfield speculates. "They often become
the center of cities, like Circleville, Ohio, which
has its octagonal city square around one of these
Native American earthworks."
Winfield believes that Ellicott was a Freemason and
that he employed some astronomy in his work.
"He and his brother, Andrew, were certainly exposed to
this type of occult architecture," he reasons,
"because they [surveyed] Washington, D.C., and
designed Buffalo" with some of the features used by
Pierre Charles L'Enfant in his design of the nation's
"Both cities have these unique, radial-patterned
streets, which seem to point to astronomical
Winfield said, "The old courthouse on Franklin Street
is a beautiful site of executions and old burial
grounds. War dead are buried there."
Then it's on to the Guaranty Building on Church
Street, designed by Louis Sullivan and completed in
"We know that Louis Sullivan, the mentor of Frank
Lloyd Wright, was very interested in the ancient
megalithic monuments that the Native Americans had
built," Winfield said. "We think that this influenced
not only Sullivan, but Wright - one of the early
models for Graycliff featured a virtual henge - an
earth circle - a big earth doughnut."
Winfield says the Guaranty Building is haunted by a
Victorian gentleman whom they've nicknamed "Oliver."
"He appears down around the basement floor, and I
think he may even appear in the women's restroom once
in a while," Winfield said, laughing. "Though he's
said to be fairly respectful. He's very discreet."
The tour passes the Buffalo Athletic Club, designed by
"Almost every building he touches get ghost stories,"
Then comes the Erie County Holding Center at 10
"There are ghost stories there," Winfield said. "The
Tunnel of Tears goes underneath. . . ."
Pressed for his personal views on all this, Winfield
said: "I'm not saying I believe all the ghost stories
I am told. Do I believe any of them? (Pause) I would
have to say I think ghosts exist. And I think places
at which generations of people have been telling
stories are significant."
Is it possible that people telling these stories for
generations are helping to shape this phenomenon?
"Yes," Winfield said. "It might be a folklore battery
- there might be some energy about the site that
affects the human imagination."
Nephilim's Paranormal Investigations - http://paranorm.cjb.net
Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005