By Sherry Mazzocchi
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – When he began working at the Campbell Apartment 12 years ago, Elpidio Hernandez, now the bar’s manager, said he noticed something unusual at the posh Grand Central location.
“Always when you are here, you feel like someone is watching you,” he said of the establishment.
And while Hernandez ignored the feeling for a time, the last eight months have brought an uptick in what some call “paranormal activity,” leading many to believe that the swanky Midtown haunt is just that – haunted.
Mark Grossich is the CEO of Hospitality Holdings and owner of six exclusive Manhattan nightspots, including the Campbell Apartment. He said that employees at first were reluctant to admit to seeing any bizarre behavior.
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“No one wanted to come out and say they’d seen a ghost,” Grossich said.
But soon secrets came tumbling out.
Employees feel an eerie “presence” and sudden gusts of wind on the stairs leading to the mezzanine. Waitresses feel a hand on their back when no one is behind them.
Hernandez and some of the bartenders heard their names called late at night when no one else is in the bar. They’ve seen shadows and heard footsteps.
Another employee saw an older couple having drinks at a table in the mezzanine, after hours. But when she went upstairs to check, no one was there.
“It was spirits having spirits,” said Arthur Matos, founder of EPIC, the Eastern Paranormal Investigation Center.
On Saturday, a team from EPIC arrived with a truckload of cameras, recording equipment and other ghost-detecting gadgets.
Matos, his wife Jennifer, and their two employees—ghost hunter Dennis and the psychic Jasmine–snapped photos, shot infrared video, set out sound recorders and took various readings. Jasmine said she felt a strong presence, especially in the upstairs restroom.
A few weeks ago, customers saw someone enter the restroom but not come out. As a line developed, people knocked on the door. No response. Worried that someone inside might be ill, employees called a locksmith. When the door finally opened, no one was there.
“There’s no way that door could have been locked from the outside,” said Hernandez.
Despite its name, the Campbell Apartment was never a residence. It was the office of John Campbell, president and chairman of Credit Clearing House. He obtained the 3,500 sq. ft. space in 1923 from Cornelius Vanderbilt’s grandson, William Kissam Vanderbilt II.
Campbell hired architect Augustus Allen to transform the railway station space into a 13th century palazzo. The leaded stain glass windows and plaster of Paris ceilings, hand painted in a Florentine style, look as if they were lifted out of a medieval museum.
After Campbell’s death in 1957, his expensive Persian carpet and other furnishings mysteriously disappeared. The space became a railroad office and later a jail. Grossich renovated the space to its former glory in 1999 to create the elegant bar.
Jasmine told Grossich she felt the presence of an older man in the upstairs restroom. He was agitated about finances and she saw him turning the pages of a ledger. “He’s going over the numbers, “ she said, “like something is missing.”
Grossich told her that, before the space was renovated, the restroom was actually a small office. EPIC is still reviewing their recorded data, which captured an odd rumbling sound from the former office.
“It’s all very weird,” Hernandez said.
The Campbell Apartment
15 Vanderbilt Ave
(between 42nd St & 43rd St)
New York, NY 10017