Friday, October 3, 2008

Mahoning Valley's Haunted University

Sweeney Center

We bid a fond adieu to the Pen and head northwest, to the home of Sylvester the Jester and Lady Miss Kier - yep, on to Youngstown, Ohio.

Our next stop is Youngstown State University, home of the Penguins - and the paranormal (as if a 7' penguin mascot isn't scary enough!).

The Wick Mansion was built in 1906 by Col. George Dennick Wick, president of Youngstown Steel, and his wife, Mollie. It sits at the intersection of Wick Avenue and Route 422.

The wealthy couple didn't have long to enjoy their new digs. In 1912, the Wicks booked a cabin aboard the Titanic. Mollie was saved after the unsinkable liner sank; the Colonel went down with the ship.

Mollie returned to her Youngstown mansion, never to remarry. After she joined George in the afterlife, the house was sold to the Wellers. In the 1980's, YSU bought the property and turned it into dorms known as the Wick House.

Weird stuff happened there, as witnessed by the students. The front door would open itself, blinds would roll up the window panes, and the lights would flash on and off. The staff even unplugged the lights, but they still burned bright. People experienced an uneasy, eerie feeling in the old Mansion, especially at night. And no wonder.

Rumors were that Mollie was still in the building. One resident accused her of stealing her socks - we suppose even spooks get cold feet - and several students reported seeing an etheral female haunting the lobby.

Once, YSU workers saw a face staring at them from the second floor window, where Mollie and one of her daughters had passed away.

The university closed the dorm several years ago, and it's now the home of YSU's Disability Services. But the spooky shenanigans with the lights and blinds can still be spotted by the residents of the next-door Weller House at night. Mollie must be afraid of the dark.

We soldier on to the Kilcawley House, a residence attached to the University's hub, the mid-campus Kilcawley Center.

Strange voices, gurgling and raspy, have reportedly been heard in the back stairwell of the K-House. This is the same stairwell where, according to university lore, a janitor met his fate years ago. Some say he died from a tumble down the stairs, while others say he hung himself.

His shade has been reportedly seen roaming the sixth floor, where students also say they hear unexplained scratching noises and the sound of the wind whistling through the hall.

That story sent us scampering to the nearest church. Well, actually, it's not a church now, but it was when it was built in 1908. The holy house eventually became Dana Hall, and currently the building goes by the name of the Sweeney Welcoming Center, YSU's recruiting and admissions office.

If you're new to the school - and why else would you be in Sweeney Hall? - try to stay out of the basement. It's urban legend is that a reverend committed suicide there, and for his eternal purgatory, his sad spirit is ordained to forever roam the place of his self-inflicted doom.

From the serenity of an old chapel, we're off to the livelier pad of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity on Broadway Avenue. There's more going on there than just the usual keggers and mixers.

The house is a rental, and it's been a halfway house and later a home to other Greek organizations during its time. And according to some of the brothers, the old residents of its past have never left.

There have been reports of footsteps when no one is around, things being dragged around in an empty cellar, and mumbling voices in the stairway to the basement. The front door has opened, but nobody's there. People have experienced stereos turning on by themselves and cupboards opening on their own volition.

One brother even claimed that the spook of a young girl watched him from the kitchen doorway and then disappeared.

Psychics have visited the place, and sensed trouble in the basement. One said there was a malignant spirit that resided in a side room, and could feel that a violent act took place in the cellar, involving a couple of girls. Both are places where the Sig Taus have felt uneasiness.

Some of the brothers believe the place is haunted. Other say that they've never heard or seen anything out of the ordinary in the admittedly creaky and creepy old house. Who to believe?

(These tales were reported in a series of articles over the years by the YSU student newspaper "The Jambar." H&H thanks them for keeping the lore of the University alive.)

No comments: