The Cherry Hill murder tour

Cherry Hill house

The Cherry Hill house in South Albany.

By Jessica Pasko

A nationally-famous scandal and murder mystery resulted in Albany's last public hanging in 1827 on a site near where the ESP now stands (kind of makes the drunken revelry of Alive at Five seem tame). The actual murder occurred in the South Albany home of one of Albany's most famous families, the Van Rensselaers.

And, as it happens, you can now take a Halloween tour of the murder site.

Historic Cherry Hill's Becky Watrous says Jesse Strang was hired as a handyman to help on the farm at Cherry Hill and he apparently became romantically involved with a woman living at the estate, Elsie Lansing Whipple. Whipple and her husband were boarders of the Van Rensselaers and John Whipple was frequently out of town for work.

One day John Whipple was in one of the mansion's upstairs rooms when a bullet flew through the window and struck him. He stumbled out of the room and died at the top of the stairs. Eventually police arrested Strang and he was convicted of Whipple's murder.

Watrous says the story attracted so much attention that people came from all over the East Coast to witness the hanging. Newspaper accounts from those days say thousands of people attended, leading city officials to make it the city's last public hanging. The case itself brought up issues of women's rights, social class, slavery and many more social and ethical dilemmas.

It's a pretty fascinating and somewhat lurid tale, and there are still a lot of details historians can only guess at, such as whether Elsie Whipple was involved in the murder. The details and mystery are at the center of the behind-the-scenes murder investigation tour Cherry Hill has put together in honor of Halloween.

The tours are booking up fast, so Watrous suggests making reservations as soon as you can. The special two-hour tour is $18 for adults and $10 for children over 12. It's on October 25th at 1 pm -- to book a spot, call the museum at 434-4791.

The mansion itself is open for regular tours Tuesday-Sunday through December for $5. We hadn't been there in about seven years and were pretty impressed at what a cool place it really is. The grounds are beautiful, too.

photo: Cherry Hill

Find It

Historic Cherry Hill
525 South Pearl St
Albany, NY 12202

Comments

It wasn't the turn-out that led officials to discontinue public hangings, It was the fact that Strang lingered on the noose for about 1/2 hour, so they decided to take it indoors,

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you're enjoying the holiday -- in whatever shape it's taking for you. Thanks for being part of AOA this year!... (more)

Holiday markets 2014

Many people will be out and about doing holiday shopping over the next few weeks. If you're looking for something a little bit different --... (more)

Lark Street's Hot Dog Heaven closing

A piece of Lark Street history closes its doors for good on Sunday. Hot Dog Heaven, the tiny Lark Street diner where Barbara Lamperella and... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Thanksgiving, media criticism, a fire tower, Cooperstown, moss, the Saratoga restaurant... (more)

Checking out Slidin' Dirty's new restaurant space

I'm a big fan of food trucks, and particularly fond of Slidin' Dirty. So I was over the moon when I heard they were opening... (more)

Recent Comments

I am so very thankful for the wonderful people who wandered in and out of my life over the last few years. They have given me the love and support I need to survive and thrive. Last year at this time I was at my lowest. By the grace of all that is good in my life, I have climbed out and I'm happier than I've been in a very, very long time.

City Line Bar and Grill

...has 11 comments, most recently from Me Too

Holiday markets 2014

...has 1 comment, most recently from julie

Checking out Slidin' Dirty's new restaurant space

...has 7 comments, most recently from Cyril

Drawing: What are you thankful for this year?

...has 46 comments, most recently from llcwine

A look inside The Shop in Troy

...has 12 comments, most recently from misty