Ghosts in the Gardens?
There is a colony tucked into the pines of Saratoga Springs, NY that caters to the creatives: artists, writers, singers and more. There are some that believe that Yaddo has a mystical effect on those in residence. Originally the area housed a mill, farm and tavern owned by a Revolutionary War hero. In the mid 1800s many writers enjoyed the hospitality of the tavern, one of them being Edgar Allen Poe. It is said he put his finishing touches on “The Raven” while in Saratoga Springs.
A family took over the 400 acre plot in 1881, Spencer and Katrina Trask who named it Yaddo. The name allegedly came from a suggestion from their daughter. Katrina, a poet, loved the land and saw it as a creative spring. After the original home burned, the current mansion was built in 1893. Yaddo was founded in 1990. After the tragic loss of all four of their children, Katrina felt that a spiritual influence gave her a vision of many, many future creative professionals benefiting from their home. Her vision has come true. According to the official website of Yaddo, 72 Pulitzer prizes, 68 National Book awards, a Nobel prize and dozens of other accolades have been bestowed on work completed at Yaddo.
With all this creative and spiritual history, are there ghosts at Yaddo? Carol Goodman, a prolific author and graduate of Vassar, wrote “The Ghost Orchid” about séances and hauntings at the fictional Bosco colony which she tailored after the real world Yaddo. Interestingly, Goodman, as a young woman, worked as a secretary at Yaddo for eight months. However, no one is talking about any actual ghostly encounters. Could it be due to the need for privacy for the creatives who still today walk the paths?
Interestingly, from the end of September until October 31st, there are tours of the amazing grotto and garden area that are open to the public. This historical guided event, entitled “Ghosts in the Yaddo Garden” offers historical anecdotes of the Trask family, such visitors as Poe and the Native American influences. The gardens do host weddings, and the public is invited just to the gardens during the summers during daylight hours.
Goodman, Carol. The Ghost Orchid. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-345-46214-5
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