When a woman sells her home and doesn’t disclose that friendly ghosts haunt it, the subsequent court case leads to the New York Supreme Court officially declaring the house haunted.
In 1989, Helen Ackley sold the 18-room Victorian mansion that she’d lived in for 24 years. Located at 1 Laveta Place in Nyack, New York, overlooking the Hudson River, and lovingly restored by Helen and her late husband when they first purchased it in the 1960s, it was the perfect home for the Stambovskys, a Wall Street Trader and his wife, who purchased it. Except for one thing–the house was haunted.
Helen Ackley was proud of her ghosts, and seemed to consider them close friends.
When a local architect mentioned the house’s paranormal reputation to the new buyer, Stambovsky immediately sued to get his down payment back, and refused to move into the home. That led to a court case, widely known as the Ghostbusters Ruling, that went to the New York Supreme Court–twice–and cumulated with a pun-filled ruling that quoted the ghost from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as well as the hit 1984 movie Ghostbusters. The judge had spoken: “as a matter of law, the house is haunted.”
• Fun facts about haunted houses
• The ghost of a Revolutionary War naval officer
• A fixer-upper with ghosts
• A spirit-approved paint job
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Sources consulted RE: The Ghostbusters Ruling
- 18 Rms. Riv Vu. Ghosts. Sullivan, Ronald.New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]16 Mar 1990: B.3.
- Buyer fears ghost of resale future but judge won’t slime the deal: [METRO Edition] Star Tribune; Minneapolis, Minn. [Minneapolis, Minn]31 Mar 1990: 01R.
- The Realities of Real Estate: Buying a haunted house
McWILLIAMS, BOB; McWILLIAMS, DONNA.Capital; Annapolis [Annapolis]27 Oct 2013: C.14.
“Let Buyer Beware? Indeed!” New York Times, 19 July 1991. New York State Newspapers,
- https://link-gale-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/apps/doc/A175292062/SPN.SP01?u=nypl&sid=SPN.SP01&xid=0ad920f8. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
- Anderson, Susan Heller, and James Barron. “CHRONICLE.” New York Times, 9 Apr. 1990. New York State Newspapers, https://link-gale-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/apps/doc/A175484954/SPN.SP01?u=nypl&sid=SPN.SP01&xid=b2b6f33c. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
- Barron, James. “Phones Ringing (Eerily?) For Nyack Spook Home.” New York Times, 20 Mar. 1990. New York State Newspapers, https://link-gale-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/apps/doc/A175445997/SPN.SP01?u=nypl&sid=SPN.SP01&xid=409f4992. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
- “‘Must home sellers disclose that a home is haunted?’.” Washingtonpost.com, 30 Oct. 2015. Gale OneFile: News, https://link-gale-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/apps/doc/A433186038/STND?u=nypl&sid=STND&xid=7110d7be. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
- Tinning, Andrea. “Four ways to avoid having a ‘deadbeat’ roommate.” UWIRE Text, 31 Oct. 2017, p. 1. Gale OneFile: News, https://link-gale-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/apps/doc/A523809066/STND?u=nypl&sid=STND&xid=97a701c3. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
- Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991) (https://casetext.com/case/stambovsky-v-ackley)
- “‘HAUNTED’ HOUSES HAVE BECOME TRENDY.” Cincinnati Post [Cincinnati, OH], 29 Oct. 1996, p. 3C. Gale OneFile: News, https://link-gale-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/apps/doc/A72811237/STND?u=nypl&sid=STND&xid=accdb265. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
Don’t miss past episodes:
- The Renwick Ruin:
- Investigating the Hawthorne Hotel:
- The Haunted Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina
- Haunted Asheville, North Carolina
- New York City Potter’s Fields
- Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York (Part 1)
- Archbishop John Hughes, aka Dagger John: Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York (Part 2)
- The Haunted Luxor Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas: Part 1
- The Haunted Luxor Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas: Part 2
- A Victorian Lunatic’s Fort: Fort Maxey, Blackwell’s Island, NYC
- The Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, or The Blackwell Island Light, NYC
- The General Slocum Disaster, Hell Gate, New York City
- The Haunted Hell Gate, New York City
- Haunted St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery
- The New York Crystal Palace (Part 1)