Fifteen-Room 1835 Landmark Mansion


Location Staten Island

Price $100,000 (1998)

Square feet 3300

Occupant Peter McNally (senior computer analyst, HIP); his sister, April Entrieri (real estate management); her children, Anthony, Frank, Tara, and Kelsey

You mentioned an occurrence . . .

[Peter] I was sitting in the den and I looked over and saw a body sitting behind my sister. We saw him about five times. A short kid, with a little derby on his head.

I’m not a professional parapsychologist—haven’t published any monographs on cold spots or anything—but let me ask, does whatever walks here, walk alone?

I don’t know, but on my very first night four years ago, I heard a moan that made my hair stand up on my head. I went to the hall and said, Whoever is here, you can no longer stay here. You have to go into the light. It was such a sad and sorrowful sound. Just so you know I’m not nuts, a woman came to deliver a pizza one night. She used to live here. She said, Do any strange things happen here? But she wouldn’t tell me what.

This is a tough case—the kid, the moan. Maybe the moan was Susannah Tompkins on her wedding night. She lived here in 1835. Or it could have been her father, the former governor, who, by the way, pushed for the abolition of slavery. Maybe he was visiting and moaning about some political problem.

I don’t know, but the land belonged to Cornelius Vanderbilt. This was a wealthy seafaring area, prominent shipping tycoons.

You said your plumbers wouldn’t go in the basement unless you went with them.

That was because of the rats. When I got the place, it was an active, falling-down crack house—garbage up to the waist, old cars in back, 10-foot-tall weeds. Somebody’d planted bamboo. I could have killed them. I got on my knees, pulled every frigging tree out.

You mentioned you dabble in spells.

Oh, nothing much, just a little candle magic. I’m a computer analyst. I’m going to have some mediums come to the house this spring.

I didn’t think Staten Island was going to be so spine-tingling when I went up that 1950s mint green escalator in the Manhattan terminal, got on the ferry, watched people eat peanuts, and listened to a woman with a guitar sing, “Hello, it’s been a while,” then saw some pizza places upon disembarking. So, you grew up in the Stapleton Projects here in the late ’60s.

It was great: 150 kids outside every day playing ring-o-lario. Later I lived in 25 places—Williamsburg, Hell’s Kitchen—every neighborhood before it was hot.

Now you have a landmark house! The New York Landmarks Commission wrote about it in 1973: “Tetrastyle portico with Corinthian columns rising two stories to an entablature below an overhanging springsave.” How much to renovate?

When it got over $100,000, I stopped counting. I’m still not done. I invited my sister and kids to live here, gave them the big part of the house. I took the servants’ quarters. Just got digital cable. Now I can watch Queer as Folk. I light the fire, listen to some Barry White. I’ve got a seven-month-old kitten who goes into heat every two days.

Are there a lot of gay bars in Staten Island?

A few. My Crisco Disco club days are over. The whole North Shore here—St. George, Tompkinsville, Stapleton Heights—today is a mishmash of people: Rastafarians, Ukrainians, Turkish, Arab, gay, straight. Foreign restaurants are opening. Everybody’s working together to make a community. As soon as I finish work on my house, I plan to become very involved in community action here. My neighbor just contacted Starbucks to open a place. We need somewhere to go at night.

So does the little kid in the derby.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 13, 2001

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