Haunted History: The Morgue Spirits of 139-141 Ludlow Street

Posted on: October 28th, 2013 at 12:04 pm by
This image has been archived or removed.

The buzz on this place becoming the new Soho House (aka Ludlow House) is seriously overshadowing its creepy history, a topic we’ve previously visited in depth. Recall that this ornate building at 139-141 Ludlow Street once served as the HQ for Nieberg and Sons Funeral Home (and later, Kleen Stik). We were granted exclusive access to the basement – home of the morgue – during one of the community open houses last spring.

Now, some of us on the Boogie team are more spiritually inclined. Translation = some of us refuse to enter old morgues while others (clearly, me) not only enter, but encounter.

I said it before “If you’re walking past 139-141 Ludlow and you can see spirits like a ghost whisperer can, you better squeeze those eyes shut tight…”

I don’t take my own advice, and on that second visit, what I observed in the basement is now yours to experience.

It was about 3 pm on a winter Saturday in March. Again, nowhere near Halloween.

This image has been archived or removed.

Armed with my passion for history and penchant for all things haunted, I attempted to make my way downstairs after seeing the remnants of the funeral home on the main floor.

And like all great adventures, someone tried to stop me. I was told to stay in the main room which, sorry, wasn’t an option. I wheedled my way down, with my editor and his fancy camera in tow, accompanied by a less-than-pleased rep for the Soho House.

We entered into what had become the motor room and an office. I looked around and noticed that I was alone. Nobody followed me into the room. I turned to my left and there it was – the morgue shower.

I walked towards it, while in my peripheral saw my two companions jet up the stairs.

Did they know something I didn’t?

I was about to find out.

Once again those creaks – that old building-innate feature; but this time, given the tile and steel, what was creaking?

It was the floor. Slow, soft steps creaking all around me. Now any right-minded person would have Hussain Bolted out of there. This time, clearly, not me.

Taking my cue from Ghost Adventures  I introduced myself.

My name is Allison. I am not here to harm you. Can you tell me your name?

Annnnd then I felt stupid because I am not Zak Bagans; no ghost hunting equipment, just my intuition, my gut and the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.

I can’t prove it. I can just tell you what happened.

This lightbulb flickered.

This image has been archived or removed.

Visibly unattached to any electrical source. Was my mind playing tricks on me?

I stared at that light bulb for hour-long minutes. It did not happen again. Defeated, I began to exit when behind me I heard water dripping. Walking back towards the morgue shower I saw this:

This image has been archived or removed.

No faucets or shower-heads and yet the sound of water? Could it have been a leak? Snow melting in? Sure, but there was no water on the floor. None. Anywhere.

And as I ventured cautiously back out into the hallway I heard the sound of chipping like a hammer against brick. Faint, but audible. I watched tiny pieces of mortar and plaster falling to the floor. I glanced away and upon looking down again I saw nothing. Just a clean (relatively speaking) floor.  That was it. I was done. I flew up the steps only to come to face to face with an image I will never, EVER forget.

This image has been archived or removed.
This image has been archived or removed.

A man in a bowler type hat, standing hip out, hands clasped in front of him. No face, no other features, just a black silhouette. I was frozen and captivated and so again I spoke:

My name is Allison. Can you tell me yours?

This “man” started to fade into what looked like wisps of smoke and a faint smell of fire remained in his stead. In the historical piece about 139-141, I had discovered that gangster Morris Grossman’s funeral was held at 139-141. I knew Grossman was shot five times and left in a burning vehicle, but I was previously unaware of this:

This image has been archived or removed.

“…charred almost beyond recognition…”

This image has been archived or removed.

Burned car and the charred remains (under burlap bag) of gangster Morris Grossman in front of 240 E. 81st St. His murder was blamed on a gang feud. Copyright 2000 by Daily News LP.

One of the fellow visitors asked “does anyone else smell smoke?”

Someone outside smoking a cigarette yelled in “Sorry, I’ll move downwind.”

She replied “Not cigarette smoke, smoke like a fire.”

I just stood there. Seemingly unable to move. A woman came up to me and began speaking about the new establishment and my opinion of it….

What had just happened faded into the recesses of memory until today, the day in which I have chosen to share it.

Halloween all year round?

I think it’s time for a paranormal investigative team to pay a visit.

I’m going to sage myself again. Good luck Soho House. I think you’re going to need it.

This image has been archived or removed.


Recent Stories

Chinatown Garment Industry Hanging by a Thread

Once a hub of manufacturing for the city’s garment industry, there are only a few remaining factories in Chinatown from a peak in the hundreds. The localized industry, which once employed thousands of immigrant women and men, sparked an area restaurant boom in the 1970s. Yet, began to decline in the late 1980s when manufacturers started […]

Residents Unite Against Developer Plans to Swap Park for Parking on LES Waterfront

Residents on the Lower East Side waterfront may soon lose more publicly accessible outdoor space. The developer of a new super-tall plans to reduce a children’s playground to a parking lot. As excavation work commences on Chetrit Group’s 70-story, twin-towered development at 265 South Street, tenants in the adjacent building – Lands End II – […]

Chinatown Homeless Murder Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

More than two years since the horrific murder of four homeless men in Chinatown, the suspect has yet to be held accountable for the crimes. In the early morning hours of October 5, 2019 Randy Santos stalked, then allegedly bludgeoned to death Cheun Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vasqez-Villegas while asleep on the streets. In […]

Excavation Begins for 70-Story South Street Towers

Cranes, and plywood, and pile-drivers, oh my! Such is the story down on the Lower East Side waterfront. Department of Buildings on April 12 issued official approval to the Chetrit Group to begin foundation activities for its dual 70-story tower at 265 South. A month later, the big trucks are mobilized. While excavation is now […]

For 7th Year Running, Greek Jewish Festival Returns to Broome Street this Weekend

After a more subdued outing last year, the Greek Jewish Festival this spring is on the rebound, pulling out the stops. It returns on Sunday for another go-round. Founded by Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome Street seven years ago, the event celebrates the culture and traditions of the Greek Jewish community. Years past saw crowds […]