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

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA: + Daniel and the Best Dozen stopped in at Stewart's for donuts. + Christina... (more)

10x10: Casinos, John Oliver, new spots

A while back we did a thing where wrote 10 reviews/comments in no more than 10 words each. People seemed to like it, and it... (more)

Holiday gifts: Deanna Fox

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past... (more)

NY Thruway Guide

Might be worth a look: NY Thruway Guide, an iPhone app that's pretty much what it sounds like. It provides access to the lineup of... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

There's lots going on the the Capital Region this weekend -- both holiday and non-holiday. So if you're looking to take a break from all... (more)

Recent Comments

... I tend to ask questions that make the person think about what they just said. I ask it sweetly and in a tone that notes confusion on my part. I have been called honey in the office and asked the person, " Can I ask what you mean when you call me honey? Because you don't call John honey." It calls out that he's treating you differently for being a woman. If he still doesn't get it, you can be more direct: "I appreciate that you respect my work and treat me equally, but I wouldn't want others to think otherwise based on how you address me."

Local food gifts

...has 10 comments, most recently from Carolyn

Capital Region high school graduation rates 2014

...has 2 comments, most recently from Greg

NY Thruway Guide

...has 1 comment, most recently from Rob

Good neighborhood holiday light displays?

...has 4 comments, most recently from MikeH

Where to get latkes?

...has 14 comments, most recently from Susan Anthony Brownell