Look carefully at the heart of the Long Island Sound in the night, and you’ll see it: a flashing white light, piercing the fog every ten seconds or so to steer boats away from the deadly shores of Execution Rocks. These are the icy waters where the British drowned their prisoners during the revolutionary war, chaining them up to the rocks at low-tied to wait for the inevitable. Today, it’s New Rochelle, New York’s most unique, albeit unsettling, B&Bs…
Ok, calling it an B&B is a bit of a stretch. You can indeed rent out a room on the island through their website, but you won’t be served bacon and eggs in the morning by a cheery host — you’ve got to find a captain brave enough to bring you to its haunted shores (yes, it’s said you can expect ghosts), and must bring your own provisions. There’s also no electricity…
The current keeper’s house was built in 1867, but the fog signal house to its right (see below) was destroyed in a fire in 1918:
Even when its formal execution days were over, the island continued to attract sinister intentions. It became the hideout of one of the U.S.’ most dangerous serial killers in the 1920s, Carl Panzram:
He would end up killing 21 people in his life, commit thousands of robberies, and never regret a bit of it. To the contrary, he said, “For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry.” Panzram went on killing and yacht-robbing sprees by the Sound, and the bodies of his victims were often dumped about 100 yards from the island’s base.
By the 1970s, the island was abandoned, and falling apart into the sea. It took the intervention of a company called Historically Significant Strucutres, Inc., to start giving it a facelift, and put it on track for a less sinister future. “[We’re] a federal and state non-profit,” explains the Island’s site, “Inspired by a passion for the preservation of lighthouses, [we were] established to restore and preserve Execution Rocks Light Station, to operate a historical destination for the public to enjoy, and to educate children and adults about maritime heritage and culture.”
“Amenities are on the Spartan side,” wrote one of the rare overnight-guests, “You’re provided with an air mattress, bottled water, and a portable camp toilet. [It] has to be one of the most unique overnight experiences you’ll find in New York, and you’ll be helping a good cause. Once restoration work is complete, [they] hope to open a true bed-and-breakfast on the site”. Let’s have a look around, shall we?
What do you think about converting the Island into a B&B? If you’re keen on visiting, you can book a water taxi through this website.