It's full name being St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, this famous New York religious building is located on 10th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. It is the oldest site of Christian worship in NYC and been at was built in 1799 to replace the Bouwerie chapel of Peter Stuyvesant.

Isadora Duncan once danced there and Robert Frost read poetry there. Sam Shepard produced his first plays there and it is the resting place of Peter Stuyvesant. But is he truly resting?

Considered one of the most haunted places in New York City, there are many stories relating to Peg-Leg Peter - the ghost of Stuyvesant - and his unwillingness to leave his former domain.

A bitter. cankerous old man, Stuyvesant owned quite a bit of property in the East Village and Bowery. He ruled his landholdings with an iron hand, a hickory walking-stick - and a wooden leg.

Amongst the most enduring ghosts of the United States, stories of his spiritual presence have been reported for over three hundred years, starting days after his death in 1672 when housemaids and workers reported seeing his ghostly form hobbling around the property.

In 1774 a fire destroyed much of the former governor's mansion, and some witnesses claimed to have seen Peg-Leg Peter amidst the rubble, sadly surveying the damage done to his estate.

A sexton of the church during the Civil War years feld the building when he could not escape the reptitive clunk of Stuyvesant's wooden leg following him around the building. As the ghost seemingly approached him, the sexton ran into the night, screaming. He turned his head, glancing over his shoulder and saw a sight that frightened him terribly - a menacing figure garbed in ancient clothing, wielding a cane and walking 'pon a wooden leg

The sexton's screams reputedly woke neighbors with their volume and they, angry at the nighttime disturbance, assembled at the church to find the source of the trouble. The sexton told them his tale, and their fear grew until finally it reached an unbearable level when the bells of St. Mark's Church began to ring in the middle of the night - especially as the only person supposed to be in the church that late was the sexton.

Agreeing that the spectre seen by the sexton must've been the ghost of Stuyvesant, a few brave citizens went up to explore rope used to ring the bells - only to find it torn in half, higher up than any mortal could have reached. The lower half of the rope went unfound - until the next morning when the sexton discovered it lying on top of Peg-Leg Peter's grave.

There are other stories about this church and about this ghost - and perhaps I shall detail them further at a later date. But if you ever find yourself in the East Village of NYC stop by the St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery and be sure to say hello to Peg-Leg Peter!

The graveyards are often open to the public, even at night, and it's quite interesting to see the older tombstones and burial grounds of the original New Yorkers like Peter Stuyvesant.

-- This WU was aided by a book called New York Ghost Stories by Charles J. Adams III.

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