In 1934 Flemington’s Union Hotel stood witness to the media event that was dubbed the “trial of the century.” When Bruno Hauptmann was accused of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son and tried at the courthouse right across the street from the Union, the hotel’s 52 rooms became the base of operations for scores of world-renowned journalists.
Though the grand old hotel no longer accepts visitors today, there are said to be some guests who have never checked out. Recently Weird NJ was invited to tour the vacant rooms and empty corridors of the Union Hotel, which have been sealed off from the eyes of the public for three years now.
A former manager of the hotel told us that one night after closing a bouncer locked the front doors then returned to the bar. A few of the staff were sitting around having a drink, when the locked doors flew wide open and a cold wind swept past us. When the bouncer went back out to reclose the doors, he saw a disembodied pair of children’s black patent-leather shoes walking up the main stairway. He freaked out and ran across the street. He then called his fellow employees on his phone and told everyone to get out of the hotel.
Another time, the manager recalled, one of the waitresses was carrying a register drawer upstairs to the office. When she reached the top of the stairs, she heard an unearthly voice humming a lullaby. She dropped the drawer full of money right there and ran out of the building and never came back.
The Union Hotel’s manager, whose office was on the second floor, has had some experience with the spirits herself. Once at about three o’clock in the morning, she told us, when she was alone in the building and doing the books in her office she felt another presence––like there was someone else in the room with her. “I could feel the pressure of it right up against me,” she recalled, “pushing on my chest. It was making it hard for me to breathe. I didn’t feel threatened,” she said, “I simply asked it to move away and leave me alone. Then it was gone.”
Another former employee told us of their brush with the paranormal at the Union. “It was nearly midnight and the dining room had been closed and empty for at least 2 hours when a waiter came into the bar and asked, ‘Whose kid is that playing in the dining room?’ He asked. He assured his coworkers he had seen a girl of about 8 or 10 years old, running back and forth in the dining room. He said she had long dark hair and was wearing a fancy dress. ‘I know I saw a little girl in there!’ he said. Then, one of the regulars laughed, and told him, ‘You’ve just seen the ghost!’ The waiter, somewhat dazed, replied, “But she looked so real!”
Walking the deserted hallways today, one can easily imagine what it must have been like here during the media circus of the Hauptmann trial––not much has changed since the 1930s. The guest rooms on second and third floors have not be rented out to guests since the 1950s and remain frozen in the past, looking just as they did when they were first closed to the public over a half century ago. New owners, who have recently purchased the forlorn building, tell us that they’d like to restore the old hotel to its original state of elegance and reopen it to the public once again. There’s been no word yet from the ghostly tenants as to whether this plan meets with their approval or if they would prefer the Union Hotel remain as it is––cold, empty and dead.
Union Hotel video by Antiquity Echoes
This Internet story is only an excerpt of the information we have published on this subject. For the full story we suggest you refer to past issues of Weird NJ Magazine. To keep up to date on this story and all the other weird goings on in the state subscribe to Weird NJ and we’ll deliver it to your door. If your local book seller, newsstand or convenience store doesn’t carry Weird NJ, just tell them to call us toll free at 1-866-WEIRDNJ and we’ll be happy to stock your favorite store for you.