When the National Trust named Historic Downtown Flemington (New Jersey) to our 2016 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List, one of the key properties included in the nomination was the historic Union Hotel. The 1878 building has been vacant for several years as a few redevelopment plans fell through, but the former stage coach shop was also the base of operations for the press, jurors, and families during the 1934 Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial.
Flemington’s unique history is now threatened by a new developer’s proposal that would demolish the Union Hotel along with three other adjacent buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places to create an 8-story mixed use project that would tower over Main Street’s remaining buildings. The town council supports the hotel/housing/retail development despite vocal opposition from citizens, the county historical society, and more than 1,500 individuals who have signed a local group’s online petition urging the preservation of the Union Hotel and downtown Flemington’s irreplaceable historic fabric. With the groundswell of public support growing, local preservationists in Flemington hope to show their leaders what treasures they have in their midst and what their loss would mean to residents and visitors alike.
And, according to Weird N.J., the demolition of the hotel would leave a lot of ghosts without a home as well. Here's one example:
In its most recent incarnation, the Union Hotel operated as a bar and restaurant. A former manager (who asked to remain anonymous) told us that one night after closing a bouncer locked the front doors then returned to the bar where a few of the staff were sitting around having a drink. Suddenly the locked doors flew wide open and a cold wind swept past them. When the bouncer went back out to reclose the doors, he saw a disembodied pair of children’s black patent-leather shoes walking up the main stairway. He freaked out and ran across the street. He then called his fellow employees on the phone and told everyone to get out of the hotel.
“I had friends that worked there, they were servers and waiters and waitresses. As everyone knows, the top three floors are haunted. Well, every now and then they would have to go up there for some reason, check with the manager or just run something up there. One day my friend was going up the steps at a quicker pace and just fell out of nowhere on the third step, like she’d been tripped. She said it didn’t feel like she hit the step, but it felt like a foot had come out of nowhere. She told one of her buddies that worked there, and he said that a little ghost girl sits on the third step, holding a doll, and trips people that go up the steps too quickly. She also says that when she’d been closing with the people at the bar, there would be voices from the dining room and when they’d go and see if anyone was locked in, the room would be vacant.”
On this particularly spooky holiday, we're calling on all beings (corporeal or otherwise) to support the preservation of the Union Hotel and the entire block under threat of development. We're always supportive of protecting the past, but for Halloween all we want is to preserve the home of a few ghosts from the past, too. Take a moment and sign this petition in support.