Friday, November 28, 2008

Eerie Edinboro

Edinboro's Diebold Center

Erie County's Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy for Teachers, and remained a teacher's institute until 1982 when it attained university status. They have nearly 8,000 students spread out over 585 acres, and it's a little slice of Scotland in the new land. Their teams are the Fighting Scots, they have a pipe band (bagpipes and drums) and host a three day Scottish games contest. Watch out for those flying tabors and burly bearded men in skirts! They're scarier than the school's many spooks.

Diebold Center For The Performing Arts: One of the older buildings on campus, the structure was erected in 1906. It's served many purposes, from gymnasium to student union, and now hosts local and university stage productions and programs. It's spook is supposed to be Dr. Dorothy Clifford, a former professor that ran the drama department.

Her story, according to one of our readers is: "Her badly decomposed body was found in her home, and the cause of her death was never determined. Some students were convinced that she was reincarnated as a particularly hideous stray cat that appeared on campus right after her death. Some of us called the cat, 'D.C' after Dr. Clifford's nickname; others called the cat 'Thing of Evil.'"

Her spook liked to fiddle with the stage volume, until some one hung a rosary on the control button. Her footsteps can be heard on the back stairs and around the stage area. Actors have reported seeing a face floating through the audience during sold out performances, as if looking for a seat. They haven't had any more trouble from Dorothy ever since the cast put out an extra chair with a program on it for her before the show.

Diebold’s namesake building today serves as a classroom, lecture, and conference facility, and houses the Intergenerational Center. There's no word on how Dorothy amuses herself now as she tries to while away eternity.

Evergreen Tavern: The tavern was over a century old, and we included it because it was a popular student hangout. Its latest incarnation was as the Hotel Evergreen. There were allegedly several spooks there, the most famous being the playful Worthington, a former employee from the turn of the century who haunted the upstairs rooms.

There were also supposed to be other unnamed ghosties that roamed the halls of the old tavern. The spooks were written up by the Edinboro student newspaper The Spectator in the 1990s, but it's not archived on-line. And sadly, we'll never be able to check it out personally - it burned down in April, 2008. Another haunt gone.

Lawrence Towers: One of the more recent dorms put up at Edinboro, the twin towers were built in 1974. The story goes that a music major committed suicide in Room 517 of Tower A. You can feel her presence in the halls, and on some nights, you can still hear her softly singing.

One of readers adds that "The elevators in the building will stop at floor five no matter what floor you want to go to before taking you to the proper floor." So take the steps if you wanna get upstairs in a hurry. (Emily wrote in and said she was told the elevator has a mechanical flaw that causes it to stop at five. So take your pick, wiring or weirdness.)

Reeder Hall: Reeder Hall was built as a dorm in 1908 until it was closed in 1972. It sat empty until 1986, when it was renovated as an administrative building. During that time, it's said that the cellar was used to hold seances and was also co-opted by a coven to celebrate occult rites. The basement is supposed to very cold, and the lights will turn themselves off. It sounds like every old cellar we've ever been in (except for the seances & witches part.)

Rose Hall: In the early 1980's a RA was reputed to have committed suicide by lighting a gas grill and sealing his room, turning it, in effect, into a gas chamber. It's said to that the victim's spirit remains behind as a poltergeist prankster, creating eerie noises and rearranging objects. Doesn't sound all that threatening, but at least one RA moved out of his Rose Hall room because he couldn't take the disturbances any longer.

The Tower Woods: A reader added this bit of woodsy lore after a visit: "If you go into the stand of trees between towers and the health center at night, you can catch some unusual goings on. We captured EVPs and orbs after disturbing whatever it is that resides there. Also, it's beyond creepy if you go into the woods behind towers. There are three trees in a triangle with large boulders at the base; odd phenomenon occur there. And don't go into the ravine in the woods after dark, flashlights won't work there, and there wasn't even light by the full moon, in the middle of winter with snow and bare trees."

Scots and spooks - our kinda school!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Andalusia College Exploding Spook

Image from Theocracy of the Pale

Dr. William Chapman ran a school for boys in the early 1800's in a building that was the forerunner to Andulasia College in Bensalem, Bucks County. He did a good job relating to his students, but not so well with his missus.

She and a lover - some tales say it was a Spanish vagabond, others say a student - had an affair, and in 1831 decided that three was a crowd. So they poisoned the doc with arsenic.

They might have gotten away with it, too, except they poured the evidence into the dirt outside and the ducks got into it. They starting dying, which led into an investigation. It's a sign of the times that a person could suddenly croak without question, but when fowl play was suspected...

At any rate, the guy was hung, although Mrs. Bowman finangled her way out of the mess. The building eventually became a boarding house, and that's where the ghost story begins.

A lawyer named Horace W. Eshback was sleeping when a glow woke him up. To his dismay, he saw a head and torso - no legs - with a white mantle wrapped around it floating by his bed. In a bit of a panic, he said "What do you want?" to the spook.

Wrong question. It's response was to punch him in the mouth and then explode! It's ghostly remains dissipated through the ceiling. Must have been quite a wallop. The glow gradually diminished, and Eshback woke up with a fat lip.

Was it the shade of one of the Chapman's? The hung Romeo? Or perhaps a spirit of one of the nameless souls that called the school/boarding house home? Tough to tell, although if you're in the area and spot a legless spook, don't give it any lip, unless you want yours fattened.

The wooden structure is long gone now, as is its pugnacious phantom, replaced by St. Charles Borromeo Church. Read all about the eerie encounter in the December 4, 1886 NY Times.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Carson Long's Creeped-Out Cadets

Col. Theodore Long

Based in New Bloomfield, Perry County, Carson Long Institute is the longest tenured military boarding school in the country. It started in 1836 as the New Bloomfield Academy. In 1914 it became the Carson Long Institute after Theodore Long bought the school and named it after his son who had died in a logging accident. It's got a colorful haunted history:

The Chapel: The red eyed ghost of Colonel Edward Holman, who ran the school from after WW1 until 1971, has been reported in the Chapel. His portrait hangs in the Chapel, and it's said that its' eyes follow you around the church. It's also been alleged that the eyes of a sculpture of an eagle carved above the Chapel doors glow red. So if you think someone's watching you, well, you're probably right.

Dorm Stories: It's said you can spot a pool of blood outside one dorm where a cadet crashed a sled into the wall and died. Another report claims you can hear screams and a crackling fire from a boiler room where a teacher's wife died while trapped in a blaze. Another tale tells of a student that died while "huffing" aerosols, which led to a fatal fall down the stairs. You can allegedly hear him still walking up and down the steps. There's also a story of a cadet that hung himself in a room after getting into disciplinary problems. The lights supposedly flicker in the room, and you can see shadows flitting around it. The most famous legend is that of the phantom drummer. You can sometimes hear the distant drumming begin after taps. It's supposedly the work of the ghost of a cadet drummer who died after accidentally locking himself in an attic.

The Maples: This is the oldest building on campus, dating back to 1840. It housed classrooms and living quarters originally. Now the building is a museum and reception hall. It's said that you can see a pale figure looking out the bay window of the building. Some speculate its' the ghost of Carson Long; other believe it's an old commandant who's been seen walking the Maples grounds or perhaps his father Theodore. There's also reports of voices and poltergeist activity such as opening & closing doors, TV pranks, and the moving of museum exhibits at Maples.

Colonel Carson Holman, CLMI's president, denies that there are any spooks on campus, or even that any student has ever died there. In fact, one teacher said that the faculty embellishes the tales to help keep the students in their rooms after curfew. So urban legend, spooky soldiers, or instructor's aid, take your pick...

Here is a former cadet's view of the whole tale, as he wrote to us:
"Most of the stories above are crap. I attended CLI for 4 years in the mid 1980s. The chapel is most definitely haunted. It was not uncommon for an old piano in the basement to start playing on its own when activities were taking place in the building. Strange noise were also very common. The story of the cadet who died while huffing is true. He fell down the metal steps in the Annex building smashing his skull. There was no ghost activity in the building however. By far the chapel is the most creepy place."

Hey, one confirmed ghost chapel and a few urban legends. That's plenty for us and the good folk at Carson Long.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Macabre Marcy State Hospital

Leech Farm Complex from Allegheny County

Marcy was originally opened as the Pittsburgh City Tuberculosis Sanatorium (known as the "Haven of Rest") in 1915, eventually becoming the C. Howard Marcy State Hospital in 1957 when the state took it over. It became a mental institution in 1974 before closing in 1984.

The facility was also know as the Leech Farm hospital, after the site it was built on.

Over 2,000 patients died while it was a TB hospital, with reports of patient abuse, outdated medical practices, and suicides. Not too surprisingly, there are quite a few bad vibes and stories allegedly associated with the place.

The shadowy ghosts of former patients have been reported roaming the property, with some that vanish or walk through walls. Other sightings include a man standing at the third floor window of the hospital, looking out; shadows seen going from window to window, as if they're walking through the building's interior walls; and another figure seen in the bathroom, with the black edema of tuberculosis visible on his body.

In another hospital wing, crying, screaming voices and laughter can be heard, mists can be seen floating in the shower area, and some poltergeist type activity occurs, according to reports.

There's also the tale of a small child in a hospital gown, bouncing a red rubber ball, dating back from the days when the hospital still operated. She asked for her mother, and if you didn't answer, she bounced her ball off your door for the next several evenings. Her sighting is one of the most common in the complex.

One of our readers tells us that "I worked at Marcy. My work place was a lab room next to the former morgue in the basement. Never experienced anything odd during the day, but staffers usually heard movement or banging at night in the morgue room. Creepy and most likely haunted." And what self respecting morgue isn't?

The Farm House, which was home for the hospital's head administrators, features flashes of light emanating from within, with sightings of a former administrator seen on the front porch and through the windows (which have since been boarded up. Whether that's because of spooks or asbestos depends on who you ask).

The legend says that he killed his family before taking his own life because the warden suspected that he and his family had contracted the dreaded and at the time incurable disease of tuberculosis themselves, although the official line is that the family did die of consumption, but not by the administrator's hand. Nothing like an ironic spook story.

Leech Farm Job Corp students have written in, and their views on the complex lay somewhere between "creepy" and "definitely haunted."

If you're ever up for a visit, Marcy's deserted buildings are located on Leech Farm Road/Highland Drive in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, off of Washington Boulevard. Its ramshackle bones are nestled among the newer institutional buildings that now fill Leech Farm.

Maybe you'll get to met the spirits that couldn't rest peacefully in life and can't find the light in death.