Haunted New York
by Laura Kusnyer, 10/26/2010
Photo: Malcolm Brown
One if by Land, Two if by Sea
17 Barrow St., 212-255-8649, West Village, Manhattan
You'd be hard-pressed to find an abandoned street in the Village on any given night, but this tiny stretch of Barrow Street between Seventh Avenue South and West 4th Street might be the closest you get. Formerly the site of Aaron Burr's carriage house, the unmarked eatery One if by Land, Two if by Sea resides here along with, so they say, the ghost of Burr's daughter, Theodosia. In December 1812, she was returning to New York from South Carolina on the schooner Patriot. It disappeared at sea. "Supposedly her spirit made it here, because she wanted to be with her father. We've had some freaky things go on," says former dining room manager Tom Kirk. Champagne glasses tumbling from tables and paintings inexplicably falling off walls are among the spectral events. "People who work here have seen spirits coming down the stairs late at night," he continues. "I didn't let my staff drink," Kirk notes, leading him to believe there must be some substance to the apparitions. It's understandable why an early 19th-century ghost might want to stick around at One if by Land: the hitching post remains out front, the fireplace and carpeting keep the environs cozy and warm and a live piano player and 200-year-old paintings add an air of old-world elegance (not to mention its cool factor—the private upstairs dining area was once actor Steve McQueen's apartment). Kirk admits to believing in ghosts, although he himself never encountered one at the restaurant. He has the proof, though: "We actually had a paranormal expert come in a few years ago to scope us out." The conclusion? "He said it was haunted."