Friday, February 8, 2008

Pitt Spirits

Cathedral of Learning from Pittsburgh Recreation

From its' humble beginnings in a log cabin still shown on campus in 1787, Pitt has grown into a huge institution known for its' research. But its' scientists still haven't figured out how to get the ghosts to move off campus.

Alumni Hall: Built in 1915, this building was the Masonic Hall. Now it's home for various Pitt offices. Unspecified eerie happenings occur there.

Bruce Hall:
There's some confusion about the identity of the ghost of Bruce Hall, named for chancellor Robert Bruce. Bruce Hall was once the Schenley apartments (it's now a dorm in the Quad), and it's owner, who lived on the 12th floor, was involved in an affair. The tale starts with suicide by hanging in the stairwell, or perhaps a leap from the rooftop, or both – whether the mistress, wife, or both took their life is uncertain – and ends in hazardous duty for the Pitt catering crew. The ghost, nicknamed Harriet (they even hang a Christmas stocking out for her), likes to pull poltergeist tricks on the banquet staff. She'll toss napkins off the table, bang cabinet doors, and jumble the place settings. But other than scaring the aprons off the workers (especially when it's night, and they're alone), she seems fairly tame and content to spook the Banquet Hall (officially, the floor is home to the Office of Special Events). At any rate, there's a fairly well documented ghost on the 12th floor of Bruce Hall, doing her best to disrupt the staff. Oh, and be careful with the elevator – sometimes it'll take you to the 12th floor no matter what button you pushed, and keep you there for awhile.

Cathedral of Learning:
Mary Croghan Schenley is said to roam the Nationality Rooms. The doors to the rooms are locked every night, but Mary likes to rearrange the rooms to her liking every so often, as the daylight staff discovers. Sometimes she'll set a chandelier swinging to announce her presence. She also likes to frequent the Ballroom, which consists of two rooms taken from her childhood home (the Croghan Mansion, built in Stanton Heights in 1820) and transported in their entirety to the Cathedral.

Early American Nationality Room:
This room is reportedly haunted by the spirit of Martha Jane Poe (yes, she is related to Edgar Allen, although I'm not sure of the relationship). Several artifacts of hers are part of the permanent exhibit. Her quilt can be found turned, with impressions in the pillows, as if someone was sleeping there. The aroma of freshly baked bread sometimes fills the room, and the custodian watched the baby cradle rock itself one night. A radio station tried to meet Martha by spending the night in the room, but she locked them downstairs first. Not too surprisingly, the curator of the Nationality Room is Martha's granddaughter, Maxine Bruhns. She tried to make peace with her nana by staying in the room overnight, on Martha's wedding anniversary. She got a water bottle tossed at her for her efforts and left, saying “Grandma, you can have this damn room”. But Martha has to share the room. There's also a story of an old German carpenter haunting the same room, in search of his lost wife.

Lillian Russell Room:
437 William Pitt Union, formerly the Schenley Hotel, is known as the Lillian Russell Room because she lived on the fourth floor while in Pittsburgh. She eventually married a Pittsburgher at the hotel, lived out her remaining years in Point Breeze, and is buried in Homewood Cemetery. Apparently she liked the hotel so much, she decided to stay – forever.

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