Photo of the Week: Sailors’ Snug Harbor, Staten Island NY

Most of our photos of the week are exterior shots, but this one was taken inside one of the most active places we’ve ever investigated: The Governor’s House, located on the grounds of Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island, New York. Founded in 1801 by Captain Robert Randall, Snug Harbor was built as an institution to care for “aged, decrepit and worn-out” seamen. It opened in 1833 and was the first home for retired merchant seamen in the history of the United States. Snug Harbor was treated as a self-contained community and was overseen by a governor. Captain Thomas Melville, a retired sea captain and brother of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, was governor of Snug Harbor from 1867 to 1884. The facility officially closed as a home for sailors in the 1960s and it was declared a landmark in 1965, opening to the public 10 years later. It is estimated that thousands of sailors died on the grounds of Snug Harbor in its over 130 year history.

The Governor’s House as we know it today is not where the actual governors lived, however. The actual home for the governors was torn down years ago, and what is known today as the Governor’s House was believed to be where a member of the governor’s staff lived, most likely his treasurer. Rumors of a “woman in white” haunting the Governor’s House and the surrounding grounds have persisted for years. The building was even featured on the Season 7 episode of Ghost Hunters, called “Murdered Matron,” where Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson investigated with guest investigator Meredith Vieira in 2011. They also investigated the Matron’s House, which is also on the grounds and a place we’ve investigated a number of times.

The first time we investigated the Governor’s House was in late November of 2009. We had all heard stories about the house, but we never expected to experience what we did. Shadow figures, EVPs, weird EMF and K2 spikes (something we have rarely gotten), and an overwhelming sense of unease throughout the investigation made our very skeptical group rethink things. The night was cold, the grounds were deserted, and the four of us investigated the house until the wee hours of the morning. Even photos of us looked creepy, as evidenced in this week’s photo.

the governor's house - sailor's snug harbor - murdered matron

Laura Pennace is a New York City wedding photographer specializing in city hall and courthouse weddings. You can see more of Laura’s work at Pennace Photography (

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