I was about 13 when I learned that Sleepy Hollow was a real place. AND, to learn that it’s right here in New York? Incredible. Then in 1996 when North Tarrytown voted to lean all the way in and change their name to Sleepy Hollow? I pretty much lost it. I wanted nothing more than to go check out this haunted ass town! Get some cocoa, and maybe see a ghost? But, Brooklynites don’t have much reason travel up that way, so I had to hold my horses 🐎 (womp womp) til I was old enough to go check it out on my own.
Halloween 2019, or as I referred to it, for a solid two months leading up to the trip: Sleepy Holloweekend! was that time. I was finally getting to visit the setting for my fave fairy tale. (Yes, fairy tale. I was not a Cinderella kid. I was a Dream Warriors kid.) Last weekend we went back for more, and still managed to explore only a small part of the things we want to see! For a small town, Sleepy Hollow / Tarrytown has much to offer for spooky folx and non-spookies alike. Less than an hour from NYC, it’s definitely worth the daytrip.
First thing’s first: The Headless Horseman Bridge!
The bridge itself is is no longer standing *heartbreak* but there is a historical marker at the spot where the sidewalk spans the stream. And we love those! Its not flaming-pumpkin-head-tossing levels of spooky; but you can feel a little spine tingle if you peer over the railing at the stream and let the traffic noise fall away. You can almost hear horseshoes approaching slowly. . .
The Old Dutch Church
The church falls under the purview of The Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns and is usually used for Easter and Christmas services. The rest of the year, the nonprofit volunteer organization The Friends of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground, helps to maintain the site and fundraises for restoration of the headstones and upkeep of the grounds.
The 1999 movie did this place justice! Walking in felt like entering a mini version of the movie set. We couldn’t take many photos as the small space was pretty crowded.
The town really leans into the popularity of the legend and the written works. on hallo-weekend. Last year they were giving readings from the famous story every hour, and the next group was coming in. So we snapped one clear photo of the pulpit, a fave scene from the movie, and kept it moving! (More to come soon I hope?)
Burial Grounds + Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Old Dutch Church Grounds encompass about 2.5 acres, but as a whole Sleepy Hollow Cemetery spans 90 acres and serves as a final resting place for 45,000 people. Including a quite a few famous folx. Washington Irving of course. You’ll find his grave marked on Google Maps. But there are a few more notable names worth searching for to pay your respects, such as Walter Chrysler, Andrew Carnegie, Samuel Gompers, Brooke Astor, and we haven’t found it yet, but Elizabeth Arden is also interred here. Were hoping to find that site on our own but they do offer guided tours. Both by daylight, and in the evening by lantern 👻👻👻 #Spoopy
This lot headed straight for the Van Tassel and Archer burial sites to give thanks for the wonderful characters they inspired.
Volunteers on the grounds are happy to give you some insider info along with a free map. Although donations are graciously accepted to fund the restoration of headstones. Like this one for Hulda of Bohemia.
Known locally as Hulda The Witch. A local healer, German immigrant and an American patriot who, despite exclusion from battle in the Revolutionary War, on account of her being both a woman, and a witch, came to the rescue of her neighbors in one fateful skirmish. Her skill with a rifle was such that she was singled out as a target and killed in action. Her heroism, along with the bible & will found by her bedside, earned her a Christian burial beside the Old Dutch Church. Where is her docu-series!?
We took some time to pay homage to The Lovers: Jacob Romer and Frena Haerlager Romer. These lovebirds ran away to the new world together, but were separated upon arrival. In the employ of different masters to pay back their passage, they lost contact 😭 but were reunited here in Sleepy Hollow by the grace of a local postman and married at The Old Dutch Church. That’s better than Romeo and Juliet! Wait. . .that name 🤔
And this gentleman, John Buckhout. He left behind 240 children and grandchildren. In the words of Russ Hanneman: This guy fucks!
The grounds are beautiful and if you happen to be up this way on a beautiful day to match (or even a dreary one!) we definitely encourage you to enjoy the scenery, enjoy the statuary, and enjoy yourself. Remember that it was once customary to picnic in cemeteries (though it is not here, so please don’t pack lunch). The dead have only stepped away into another room. Don’t let reverence become only silence. Come visit, explore the pathways, take photos. Who knows whose day you might brighten 👻