CARMEL, N.Y. - Carmel's historic Smalley Inn is a place where generations of Carmel residents grew up. It's where they had their first beer, and was probably their first neighborhood hangout to ring in adulthood.
With its central location, Smalley's is also the go-to spot for class reunions, drawing old friends back to the familiar walls, decade after decade.
Opened in 1852 by James Smalley, the inn -- and much of the town -- was rebuilt after a fire in 1924, and then the inn somehow survived the great fire of the early 70s that claimed a number of neighboring Main Street businesses.
Tony Porto, 76, took over the inn with his mother in 1968 and still runs it today, along with son Tony, Jr.
Porto, who also ran former Putnam posh spot Dreamwold for a stretch back in the day, takes pride in his chef skills, and told Daily Voice that serving up a good meal is still the part of the job that brings him the most pleasure.
And then there are the ghosts. ...
In recent years the inn has become very well known for its ghosts, is registered as a haunted place, and has been checked out by numerous paranormal investigators, including the Travel Channel's "The Dead Files" (which can be found on the channel's web site).
Porto believes 11 ghosts currently occupy the inn, and he has pictures too, a few of which are included with this article (see gallery).
The inn, it seems, was used as a mortuary at one time, and Porto says some of the spirits - including a little girl named Elizabeth Smalley (who was killed as a toddler), daughter of original owner James, - decided they didn't want to make the trip up the street to the cemetery when the bodies were buried.
Witnesses have had their clothing tugged on, have seen ghostly figures of a man, woman and child, and, on one occasion, every cell and house phone went off at exactly the same time, with each call originating from a phone within the building.
Porto has had experiences in the upstairs apartment where he resides, and the inn's staff members have their own stories of happenings in the kitchen and basement liquor closet and meat locker.
Watch the video to see Porto, 76, talk about the history of Smalley Inn, Carmel High's historic football winning streak of 35 consecutive wins and a state championship during the 1957-58 season - and the ghosts who have become so so well known at the inn.
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