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

Today's moment of autumn

From a parking lot in Albany's University Heights neighborhood on Friday. It looks like we're headed for more splendid September sun this week.... (more)

Albany » Hartford » Landon's last game

The US men's national soccer team is playing a friendly in Hartford October 10 against Ecuador, and the American Outlaws Albany chapter has organized a... (more)

"I have no idea what we're going to play. I won't be able to tell you until it's about to happen."

Jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris -- an Albany High School grad -- is playing at Proctors this Thursday. And while doing a little bit of... (more)

Saint Rose adjuncts vote to unionize

Adjuncts at the College of Saint Rose have voted to unionize with SEIU Local 200 by a tally of 175-61. In a statement, Saint Rose... (more)

Margination: An attempt to create a different sort of local economy

In North Troy there's a group of nine individuals trying to promote economic development and social change with very different approach. This collective, working under... (more)

Recent Comments

Dutchfest. Dutch food, Dutch beer, wooden shoes, Vincent van Gogh lookalike contest. Everybody pays their own way (goes Dutch) and arrives by bicycle...

Drawing: Oktoberfest

...has 53 comments, most recently from Tyler W

Saint Rose adjuncts vote to unionize

...has 2 comments, most recently from LB

Margination: An attempt to create a different sort of local economy

...has 2 comments, most recently from Harold

The latest One Monument Square plan evolves

...has 12 comments, most recently from ace

Help with kitchen renovation design?

...has 8 comments, most recently from Elisabeth