Killmeyer's and the Kreischer Mansion: Meat and Murder in Staten Island

The haunted Kreischer mansion was built in the 1880s.

I always have an amazing time when sojourning in Staten Island, but the experience often turns gothic at some point. That was the case recently when I recruited a friend who scouts movie and photo locations to join me on a re-visit to Killmeyer's, an ancient Bavarian beer hall on Arthur Kill Road that sits a stone's throw from Jersey in a decaying industrial swamp on the nether side of the island. She brought a couple of friends with her: a party planner and a co-ed from Sarah Lawrence.

The interior is extremely ornate, and boasts 25-odd rooms on four floors, one turret, and two balconies.

On the way, we made a little side visit. Scouting for a future fashion shoot, we stopped at a Victorian mansion built by 19th-century brick baron Balthasar Kreischer at 4500 Arthur Kill Road, in the town once known as Kreischerville, but now called Charleston. The dude was pretty interesting. He arrived from Germany in 1836 after a giant fire had obliterated 65% of New York, and quickly made a tidy fortune fabricating fire bricks, which were then in great demand for "fireproof" construction. Though he started his factory on the Lower East Side, he later moved to the western shore of Staten Island, where vast clay deposits were known to exist, as evidenced today by Clay Pit Pond State Preserve, which lies not far from the house.

Kreischer had seven children, and further distinguished himself by giving $75,000 dollars to Henry Englehard Steinway, who went on to found Steinway & Sons, the great piano manufacturer. Balthasar died in 1886, but not before building two identical mansions on the hill where one now stands. The first was occupied by the oldest son Charles, and the other by his younger brother Edward. Charles' home burned down, but Edward's still stands, the mansion we were approaching on foot, after we parked outside and then detoured around the elaborately locked gate.

Finished in 1885, the mansion has a reputation among local children for all sorts of spooky occurrences, and is a favorite to visit on Halloween. A woman's wailing is often heard, said to be the wife of Edward Kreischer, who put a bullet in his head following a dispute at the factory - or, some say, following an argument with his brother. Other legends suggest that a German cook who was murdered in the kitchen still haunts the halls, clanging his pots and pans. Some claim that children who'd been locked in the closet for being bad are heard scratching to get out.

Some of the historic wallpaper is made of incised leather.

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