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Castle of the White Lady

In the small town of Irondequoit, outside of Rochester, is Durand-Eastman Park. The park is frequented by many hikers and nature enthusiasts, who spend their days exploring the vast area, enjoying its pristine beauty. But there are others who travel to this park for far different reasons. They come from far and wide, and make their way to the crumbling remains of a structure that sits near Lake Ontario along Lake Shore Boulevard. They aren’t here to enjoy any pristine beauty––instead, they are looking for a glimpse of the mysterious crumbling remains of the White Lady’s Castle.

Before this area became Durand-Eastman park, this was the home of a reclusive woman and her teenaged daughter. The daughter was very beautiful, and was pursued by many young male suitors. Her mother, however, was incredibly protective, and insisted that she ignore the charms of these boys and spend her time at home in their isolated estate. The mother warned her daughter of the danger these young men presented, and told her that they had nothing but unsavory intentions. Her daughter was respectful of here mother’s warnings, but still secretly longed for the company of a young man.

One night, the daughter left their home to take a walk down to the shores of the lake. Her mother waited up all night for her, but the young woman never returned. The mother convinced herself that her daughter had met a young man from the area and must have run off with him. But some people believe that the young woman was far too devoted to her mother to have not returned home that night, and for this reason they say that the girl must have been murdered that evening.

Unable to cope with her daughter’s disappearance, the mother took to wandering the desolate area every night with her two white dogs, looking for her daughter or the young man she had run off with. People would see the grief-stricken old woman out on her solitary walk every night, wearing a white dress. Eventually, after years of her nightly vigils, the old woman died alone and heartbroken.

Her house fell into disrepair, eventually to the point where it was nothing more than a foundation. Teenagers began using the area as a “lover’s lane,” driving out to the quiet, private area with their dates to neck. Reports began spreading of something very unusual taking place at the site. Many of these young couples were scared away from their amorous activities after seeing a white apparition, followed by two ghostly dogs, coming towards their car. Some even reported seeing the specter rising out of the waters of the lake, always flanked by two dogs––most witness say they are Dobermans.

The tragic story of the mother and daughter was remembered and passed down from one generation to the next for years now. The foundations of their former home have come to be called White Lady Castle. And she is known to all in the area as the White Lady.Today, Durand-Eastman Park is frequented by many curious locals and ghost hunters, who spend their evenings in the vicinity of the White Lady Castle hoping for a glimpse of this enigmatic entity and retelling the legend of how she came to wander.

White Lady’s Revenge

I first visited the White Lady’s Castle not knowing any of the legends associated with it. My friends had just heard that it was a good drinking spot where kids from different high schools congregated to cause trouble. So we made our way down there, hoping to join the party. And there were a lot of teenaged miscreants who hung out there on weekends, at least in the early eighties when I was of the proper teenage miscreant-ing age. When we got there, it seemed unimpressive. Just an old foundation tucked away in the park. But the locals filled us in on the real deal of the place, told us all about the lady who used to live in the building who showed up looking for her daughter. We were told

that she was particularly aggressive towards men, especially ones who were disrespectful of women.

One story they told us was of a real wannabe tough guy. You know the type––high school jock, thinks he’s hot shit, says whatever he wants to anyone at any time. The type of guy who people despise, but who for some reason runs the show and gets the girl in those teenage years. Well he had this girl in high school, and everyone knew he was hitting her, cursing her out, all sorts of awful things. So one day he brought her back to the park to make out in their car, and she did something wrong––spilled a soda on him or something trivial like that––and he went nuts. He started yelling at her, calling her stupid, and even shook her up a little bit physically. Well the next thing anyone knows, there was this white flash outside the car and the sound of something banging against the door. He turned around freaked out, thinking someone’s messing with him. Being a testosterone ridden jock, he gets out looking for a fight, only to come face to face with the White Lady. No one knows exactly what he saw or what happened, but the girl told everyone that when he got in the car his face was all scratched and he wouldn’t speak. He was never the same. He barely graduated high school, and became totally anti-social. Nowadays he still lives with his parents, and never leaves his house. He just sits silent in his room all day, watching TV.

Now I don’t know that this story is true. In fact, I never heard anyone tell it except that specific group of guys, and I’ve heard stories about this place for decades. But to be standing at the White Lady’s Castle, hearing about how the White Lady hates men, knowing you came out looking for trouble––well that will put a little bit of fear in you!  –Ray Jay, Rochester

White Lady’s Down by the Lake

My friends and I have seen the White Lady many times. She’s kind of a guardian of these parts. She lost her daughter many years ago, now her ghost walks around looking for her daughter’s killer. My friends and I (all girls) always agreed that she seemed very peaceful, yet extremely sad. She appears as a sort of mist or fog that is shaped vaguely like a woman, and moves around very slowly. We’ve seen her down near the lake, never near the castle.  –Felicia

She Didn’t See the White Lady, and She’s Glad

I live in Rochester, NY.  About 10 miles away, in the town of Charlotte, is a very large park called Durand Eastman. One of the main roads that runs alongside this park is called Lakeshore Boulevard. Lakeshore Boulevard runs parallel to Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is on one side of Lakeshore Boulevard, and Durand Eastman Park is on the other side.

Off of Lakeshore Boulevard, on the park side, set back far from the road, are the remnants of a “castle.” Legend has it that the "White Lady" had a daughter who disappeared at the hands of a predatory young suitor, and so the White Lady roams the lake-front to this very day, searching for her missing daughter. The supposed residence of the White Lady is actually the base of a demolished hotel that was built in the 1800's. Known as "The White Lady's Castle", it has become a popular tourist attraction and party-site for teenagers.

In my late teens, I had heard about this legend from my boyfriend and his friends.  So one summer afternoon, in broad daylight, we went to check it out. Once we got to the site, some of my friends started jumping on the remains (at that point, very broken concrete stairs and surrounding old wall stump) and running around the area. Everything was very overgrown, and you could see that other kids had been there––probably to party and to spook themselves. I found a place to stand and then sit. I remember the woods were very quiet, and you couldn’t hear the traffic anymore from the street. It wasn’t exactly unpleasant, but I was relieved when we all decided to head back to the car. I have heard that the White Lady is visible mostly at night during a full moon, and that she is always accompanied by two large dogs.  –Janet

You can read more about the all the Local Legends of New York in Weird New York.

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