Restaurant owner Bob Willemstyn got more than just a restaurant when he took over The Country House Restaurant – he also got history.
"It's probably one of the most actively haunted places I've investigated," said Kerriann Flanagan Brosky, author of Ghosts of Long Island II.
The Country House, originally built in 1710, is said to be haunted by the spirit of Annette Williamson, a young woman violently killed in the height of the American Revolution in her former family home, which remains almost exactly true to its original form.
"I had to do a few touch ups here and there and I covered the spot over the fireplace where [Annette] was murdered. It bothered her," Willemstyn said.
Willemstyn said the haunting "brings people here for the holidays," and a psychic night he hosts every year sells out. The talk about the haunting draws crowds and curious minds to the old house-turned-restaurant; especially during Halloween. He said he embraces Annette's spirit.
"Anything that brings business to the town or village is good," he said.
According to the Country House restaurant's website, Willemstyn's partner and interior designer Scott Wendt "restored the historical architecture to its original splendor," creating a comfortable and elegant environment. It was voted "Most Romantic Restaurant on Long Island" by AOL City Guide in 2007.
As you walk through The Country House, the Halloween theme has a prominent presence. Willemsteyn lined the walls with spooky decorations and Halloween decor that blends into the historic house. Patrons often mention seeing flashes of lights and sometimes a full apparition of Annette in the dining room, according to Willemstyn.
"People see her all the time, especially kids," he said. "Some children are actually frightened and won't come in the door, and some come and play with her. They even call her by name."
Annette has been known to leave "trails and sparks of light" in the dining room, and some have heard her running around upstairs.
"Sometimes in the morning the place will be messed up or music will be blasting – she loves music. She's a fun spirit to have around," Willemstyn said.
Brosky investigated The Country House for both research for her book as well as for a documentary. She said she experienced the haunting firsthand.
"I was outside photographing the place at night, and there were tons of orbs," she said. "I would take a picture with my camera and within 20 seconds, another picture would capture the same orb, but moving in a different spot. It was obvious it was a spirit of some kind."
The 300-year-old building wasn't always called The Country House Restaurant. It was given its current name in 1978. The restaurant was originally called "1710 House" in 1970, and in 1975, it reopened as the "Haddaway House," named for the well-known English actor Thomas Haddaway, who owned the house in the 1800s. Willemstyn took over the restaurant in November of 2005 after working there for 27 years.
The Country House holds all the history and romanticism of a former era. An old grand piano by the front door and grandiose fireplaces let the restaurant remain nearly still in time.
According to Brosky, you can feel the energy of Annette's spirit in the house.
"Theres a lot of energy in that area, after the investigation of the country house, everywhere I went I blew out a lightbulb," she said. "Everything with spirits is energy based."