Haunted Holy Trinity

Most Holy Trinity Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was built between 1882 and 1885 (a school was added in 1887) on the site of a former cemetery. The church occupies an entire city block and is an incredible tangle of secret passageways, concealed rooms and fake closets that interconnect throughout the church’s basement.

It’s rumored that runaway slaves used these areas while escaping to the North. However, that would mean that the labyrinth predates the church; slavery was abolished with the end of the American Civil War in 1865.

A number of deaths have occurred in Holy Trinity since its construction; many dying while at prayer. In 1895, its pastor died in his apartment on the second floor of the rectory; he had built it himself a short time before.  Over the years, guests who have stood in this room have heard peculiar noises and the sound of someone walking back and forth. For nearly 115 years, no other priest has ever taken up permanent residence in this room.

The strange footsteps aren’t limited to the dead pastor’s room but, during the night, are often heard ascending and descending all four flights of stairs in the rectory. On cold nights, dogs have been reported to suddenly cast trance-like stares at the stairs leading down to the dining room and basement. Even when a person was apparently alone in the rectory, they claim to have felt a presence, of “someone” or “something” other than themselves, nearby. In the school gymnasium, the lights often turn off and unaccountably and in the school building yet more footsteps were heard scurrying about, accompanied by faint yet distinct voices.

The apparent causal agent behind Holy Trinity’s ghostly ambience is one George Stelz, the church’s former sexton. He was murdered in the vestibule in August of 1897 and, while the police had a suspect, no one was ever convicted. The bloody handprints of both Stelz and his murderer* (a missing index finger on the ghostly handprint; his alleged killer was also missing an index finger) were allegedly seen on the wall of a stairway leading to the bell tower; the church bells often ring inexplicably. Stelz’s name is said to appear on a stained glass window he had donated to the church twelve years before his murder. Tradition has it that Stelz will roam Most Holy Trinity parish, from walking its passageways to ringing its bells, until his murderer is found.

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