Friday, July 30, 2010

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College Campus from Wikipedia

Founded as Pennsylvania College in 1832, Gettysburg College in Adams County was a sister institution to the Lutheran Theological Seminary.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, the school's Pennsylvania Hall was used by both sides as a field hospital and communications outpost as the tides of the battle ebbed and flowed.

The school even had its' own troops, the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Regiment. They actually got into combat with light casualties, although over 100 of the students were taken prisoner. No wonder their team nickname is the Bullets.

It became Gettysburg College in 1921. President Dwight David Eisenhower was heavily involved with the institution and even had an office there that still bears his name. Some of the spooky occurrences on campus have been shown on the Travel Channel, the History Channel, and NBC's Unsolved Mysteries.

-- Brua Hall: This is the home of the Performing Arts department and Kline Theatre, once the college Chapel. It's haunted by the spook of an older Civil War officer called the General.

He's been seen in the catwalks and backstage, and enjoys playing pranks with the props and costumes. He also likes watching the performances, and has his own center stage seat that depresses when he sits in it and pops back up when he leaves. The student actors make sure it's always empty, just in case the General wants to catch the show.

-- Glatfelter Hall: The legend goes that a young couple climbed the bell tower of Glatfelter in a suicide pact. The girl jumped, but the guy changed his mind. Her spook has since been seen on the bell tower, but only by males. It seems she's trying to lure a fellow to jump for her, to replace her cowardly beau and join her ever after in the afterlife. The 1887 structure is the computer science center now, so GC techies, beware if you hear her siren call.

-- Pennsylvania Hall (Old Dorm): Built in 1837, this is the oldest building on campus. It was used as a command post and hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg, and it's said that the spook of a guard - the Lone Sentinel - can still be seen in the building's cupola (although some tales say there are three guards marching around the outpost; they even disagree as to Blue or Gray). It was also used as a hospital.

The Old Dorm's most famous story, as related by Mark Nesbitt in Ghosts of Gettysburg, involves two administrators on the elevator. Passing the intended stop, it went down to the basement, where the doors opened to an operating Civil War hospital.

The women were terrified watching the doctors at work, performing meatball surgery on their patients - and watching the growing pile of amputated limbs stacked up in the corner. The scene was completely silent, but when one of the blood soaked doctors approached them, they hit every button on the elevator and escaped.

The spook doc probably thought they were a couple of nurses coming to help him, but they weren't about to stick around to find out, just in case he was looking for a ticket out of the OR. The women found a guard and went back downstairs, suspecting a student prank, but the basement was empty except for some boxes when they arrived. It's never been experienced again, but if it happened once...

-- Red House: This off campus apartment house is generally occupied by women attending GC. It's said that the grave of a Civil War era girl is in the backyard, and she haunts the house. You can tell she's around when you smell her lilac perfume in the home or when she pulls one of her poltergeist tricks like moving things around or breaking dishes.

-- 60 Chambersburg Street: The building has been standing since 1863, but the section in question was added later. It is reported that the off-campus apartment is haunted by a make-yourself-at-home ghost named Chuck. He whistles around the apartment for hours on end, and turns electronic appliances on and off. Once, it's alleged, he even rewound the VCR to watch a scene he liked again. It's also reported that once Chuck lifted a woman's hair off her shoulder and made it stand straight out on the other side of her head.

-- Stevens Hall: There's one very well know ghost, the Blue Boy, haunting this Hall, which opened in 1868. The story goes that a young ward fled from the brutal Homestead orphanage and was given shelter by a couple of girls in their dorm room one icy winter night at what was then Pennsylvania College Prep School.

The house mother knocked on the door, and the girls hid the boy outside on a window ledge because he would surely be returned to the orphanage if found. The weather was bitter, and the house mother stayed and chatted for an hour. She finally left, but when the girls went to get the child, he was gone. He had wandered off and left nothing behind but footprints in the snow.

We don't know exactly what happened to the poor lad, but ever since girls staying in that room have been visited by his spook. It has frozen blue lips. He's also been seen peering into Steven's windows, faced pressed against the pane.

As for his window, it's known to fly open whenever there's a winter storm - even when it's locked. Once a girl saw him, shook her head in disbelief at the sight, and when she focused again, he was gone. But the words "Help Me" were written in reverse on the icy pane. This is another tale made famous by Mark Nesbitt in Ghosts of Gettysburg.

There's a lady ghost that's been spotted roaming the halls of Stevens, but we don't have her story. There are also tales of whispers coming from the attic, voices of children, and the spirit of a young girl that looks at herself in the dorm mirrors. You can see her reflection, but not her. The hall was a girl's prep school from 1911 - 1935, and that's where these spirits are thought to come from.

-- Stine Lake: OK, nothing spooky here, just a bit of GC lore. Before the Musselman Library was built, the quad outside of its' present location would flood whenever it rained and turn into a gooey, muddy bog.

The quad picked up the nickname Stine Lake (No, we don't know why. If you do, give us a yell), and it's still called that today, much to the consternation of frosh and visitors looking for a campus pond. In actuality, the quad's been high and dry since the late 1970s when the drainage was unclogged and updated. It's also the center for many campus April Fool pranks and the College's Springfest.

-- Theta Chi House: The urban legend here is that a previous owner of the house hung himself in the basement. If you're unfortunate enough to see his ghost hanging, you or someone close to you will run into bad luck. The fraternity must have run out of luck - the Theta Chi's are no longer on campus. Maybe everyone was in the basement at a kegger and the ghost appeared, cursing them to the next life.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hobart Happenings

hobart manor
Hobart Manor, William Paterson University

Founded in the city of Paterson in 1855, William Paterson University is one of the nine state colleges and universities in New Jersey. Built on 370 wooded acres in Wayne County, New Jersey, the campus is located 20 miles west of New York City and has about 11,000 grad and undergrad students. And one spooked out building, the Hobart Manor.

The history of the estate begins in 1877 when John McCullough, a Scottish immigrant who made a fortune in the wool industry, constructed the two-story fieldstone castle with two octagonal turrets as his crib.

At the turn of the century, McCullough returned to his native Scotland and the property was sold at auction in 1902 to Paterson resident Jennie Tuttle Hobart. She was the widow of Vice President Garret A. Hobart who died in office in 1899, while serving under President William McKinley. Hobart deeded the property to her son, Garret, Jr., as a Christmas gift that year.

It stayed in family hands until 1948, when it was sold to New Jersey and added to the campus of William Paterson.

Hobart Manor is one of the two original structures on campus, and a national historic site. Today, the mansion houses the offices of the President, Institutional Advancement, and Alumni Affairs - and a couple of other long time guests.

One story has it that McCullough discovered that his wife was having an affair with a servant that worked for them. Ol' Captain John supposedly killed them both in a rage. The legend is that on some nights you can see the wife walk down the staircase in a white dress, and dance with her lover near the window.

Now as far as we know, there is no factual basis at all for this lore...but when McCullough abandoned the manse and sailed back to the Bonnie Isles never again to return, he did leave himself fair game for some wagging tongues, we suppose.

This building's star spook is the spirit of the wife of Garrett Augustus Hobart, Jenny Tuttle. Her specter reportedly roams freely through the house as if no one is there. She goes from room to room cleaning, as if still alive, and has been allegedly seen by both campus security and the Manor staff. Other say she roams around the halls as an eternal hostess, being reputed as the Perle Mesta of her era.

While we're not sure why she'd haunt her kid's house, Jenny's got a houseful of company from the other side. For starters, there are the fairly common phenomena of footsteps, piano music, and a crying baby.

Psychics visited the Manor one Halloween (when else?) to check out its permanent guest list. They encountered the spirit of a young man reading a newspaper on the second floor staircase, and a young girl on the third floor who kept flitting from room to room, avoiding them.

Another reported house spook that they missed was the man in the top hat and cape, reported by other non-psychic but apparently perceptive guests and staff.

So hey, if you ever visit WPU and stop by to see the president, and a lovely lady in turn of the century clothes entertains you as you wait, well, just say "hi" to Jenny. Then you can go upstairs and mingle with the other guests - and hopefully you won't have to wait as long as they have so far to get an audience.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cabrini College

the mansion cabrini college
The Mansion at Cabrini College from CIC's Historic Campus Architecture

Let the campus tour continue. Cabrini, a small Main Line Catholic college located in Radnor, Delaware County, was founded in 1957, and its' campus sits on 112 acres with 25 buildings and a handful of spooks.

-- Grace Hall: This is Cabrini's urban legend. It's said that there was a tunnel connecting Grace Hall with the Mansion that was used as a hideout for people during the Revolutionary War days. The tunnel collapsed while there were several people in it, trapping and killing them. Ever since then, the basement of Grace Hall has been sealed off from the rest of the building with strange sounds heard coming from the underground. Are their ghosts there? No one knows until they open up the cellar again. And they're still not sure that they really want to know.

-- Mansion at Cabrini: The Mansion currently serves as offices for Cabrini College, but it was once the country retreat of the well-to-do Dorrance (Campbell Soup president, mmmm good) and Paul families. The star spook of this tale is Mary (or Lucy, depending on the version), although we're not sure which family she's from. We've heard versions placing her as a Dorrance, others as a Paul, and it's immaterial to the story.

As a young girl, she used to play with the son of the carriage master, Xavier. But as they became older and the social strata took hold, her father forbid her to meet him anymore. But it was too late. She had fallen in love with him, and was shortly carrying his baby. When her father found out on one wintry evening, he put on his top hat and cape and went out to the stables after the lad. Fearing the consequences, Xavier ran to the bell tower and hung himself.

In fact, it's said the tower has been sealed since that fateful night, and that the rope he used still dangles from the rafters. After hearing of the suicide, Mary threw herself off a balcony, killing herself and delivering a stillborn baby. (Some versions say the baby was stillborn before her leap, some say after, and some say the dead baby was taken from her.)

They were buried in the peach orchard nearby where Woodcrest Hall now stands. It's alleged that Mary, with long blonde hair and a dress described as either white or blue, still roams the area in front of Woodcrest in search of her lost baby.

One of our readers wrote and said "A fried of mine claims to have been awakened by Mary in one of the houses, I think it was House 2, (and) being asked, "Have you seen my baby?"

As for the father, the lore claims that during the first snowfall of the year, his footprints can be seen on a driveway between Grace Hall (built over the old stables) and the Mansion that suddenly end. He's also been seen as a tall man wearing a top hat and a black cape walking along the driveway.

He's been described as wandering around and looking lost (although other versions have him storming along the path, head down), and reportedly been hit by a car or three on the driveway. The drivers can hear the thud, but when they get out to check on the man, he's gone.

Once, during a dance, the students rolled up a rug to uncover the hardwood floor. There was blood seeping between the boards. They've never held another dance in the Mansion.

One of our readers, Michael, said his mom, a Cabrini alumnae of 1966, was part of a group that invented and spread the Mansion lore back in 1964. It sure has taken off since then and hey, it's still too good a story to let pass, especially as there are readers who have told us of seeing Mary, the stableboy and/or the father.

-- Woodcrest Hall: Besides Mary's visits, Woodcrest is also the home of the "Old Hag" syndrome (also known as night paralysis). Many girls have felt a weight on top of them as they were in bed, and can't move or speak. They report hearing voices whispering around them, though no one else was in the room with them. One writer who was a victim reports an old lady dressed in gray or black standing beside her bed.

Electronics have been said to turn on by themselves, even when unplugged. The laundry room has been the site of poltergeist-type activity, as well as some bathrooms.

One alum wrote us and added another tale: "In Wood Crest Hall, there is a corner room that faces the Mansion where the cross on the wall would always turn upside down even after several tries of fixing it. So the College made the room into a storage room and would not allow students to sleep there."

-- Xavier Hall: A lady in white has been seen reflecting from the door mirrors there, apparently taking residence in response to a ouija board session that went wrong.

Friday, July 9, 2010

West Point's Spirit Cadets

West Point from ATOS

OK, as we continue with our eerie college tour, we swing north to visit one of the most famous schools in the nation, the United States Military Academy.

From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802, a favorite expression at West Point is that "much of the history we teach was made by people we taught." Great generals such as Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Petraeus, are among the more than 50,000 graduates.

And just to keep that history intact, a few of the old cadets have hung around.

-- Padlock Barracks: There is supposedly a bedroom in the barracks, behind the padlock, where no cadet has slept in years. It's rumored to host a ghost that rises through the floor.

-- Pershing Barracks: A cadet was returning to his room after his afternoon classes and saw his roommate by the window. Beside him was a figure of another cadet, who wore a full-dress uniform with crossbelts, a brass breastplate, and plumed tar bucket (shako) hat. Wondering why someone was in dress uniform, he asked his roomie who had been with him in the room. No one else had been there.

-- Professor's Row: In the 1920s, a priest was called to a house on Professors' Row to exorcise a spirit that had caused two young, terrified, servant girls to flee, naked and screaming, into the night. Bet that caught the attention of the cadets!

-- Room 4714: 47th Division Barracks: In 1972, roomies saw a Civil War era ghost dressed in full-dress grey coat, and an Union Army cap, carrying a musket with a bayonet. The next night, the room’s temperature dropped and both cadets saw the shadow of a man’s torso floating between the floor and ceiling, accompanied by numbing cold. Upper class chain-of-command cadets stayed in the room to check out the tale, some seeing the ghost, some seeing a mist, some seeing nothing at all, but all feeling the chill, which was verified by thermometer readings. The Academy closed the room until the summer, and nothing has ever been reported since...has the spook gone or just become classified information?

-- Superintendent's Mansion: The manse is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Irish cook named Molly. She can often be found kneading bread in the basement kitchen. The spirit, known as "Miss Molly," is said to be the shadow of Brigadier General Sylvanus Thayer's maid of the early 1800s.

-- West Point Ghost: Cadets have seen a 5’3” tall soldier dressed full Jackson-era regimentals, including a musket and a shako, a high plumed military cap worn by US soldiers up until the end of the Civil War era on the grounds. Maybe Napoleon likes to visit.

Hey, enjoy your visit there; it's actually quite gently haunted for a place of its history. But if you see a cadet wearing a shako...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

St. Vincent's Abbot Wimmer and Guests

St. Vincent's Basilica from Wikipedia taken by ohnoitsjamie

St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, was founded by Bavarian Benedictine Brother Wimmer in 1846. It's famous for hosting the Steelers in August and spooks all year 'round.

Aurelia Hall:
Girls using a ouija board contacted a spirit named Henry. They asked him to give them a sign he was real. It took him a while, but when the girls went to bed that night, their floor length mirror flew off the door and shattered against the opposite wall. Not only did they get the scare of their life, but seven years bad luck, too. They apologized to Henry for rousing him, but just to make sure, they slept in friends' rooms for the next few evenings. However, some stories persist that Henry still shows up, as a glowing red face. Another girl found an empty leather bag in her room, and gave it to her mom. Her coat then disappeared. She and her roomie pulled out a ouija board (what ever happened to St Anthony?) and contacted a spirit called T.E. The specter wanted her bag back, and took the coat to hold as collateral until she did. They made the trade. Later, in that same room, (we'd be in an off-campus apartment by now) a blinding light shot out of the closet, and when it faded, an old man with a white beard was seen standing there. When the girls got out of bed, he disappeared, the voyeur! There's also been reports of strange noises and the sound of a basketball bouncing on the seventh floor – which is closed off to the students. The 7th floor is also where a student of the occult was found dead, so lots of bad juju there.

The Basilica: The cornerstone of the basilica was laid in 1892, and the consecration took place on August 24, 1905. The basilica was completely restored in 1996, as part of the 150th anniversary of the college. And it's a good thing, too - it still holds a lot of the past between its walls. It's said that you can feel people rushing by you in the basilica, even when it's empty, and can sometimes see the images of brothers long gone in prayer. Every year, security guards hear strange sounds coming from the basilica after midnight mass on Christmas Eve – kneelers going down, the smell of incense, and sounds of music and singing. They're just keepin' the faith.

Gerard Hall: There are reports of cold spots and disembodied footsteps.

Graveyard, Grounds, & Wandering Monks:
Images of the faces of the monks and nuns have been seen in the cemetery, along with an occasional funeral procession. There's a tree stump that's been carved into a wooden throne by the little boy whose grave is beside it; some students claim they've seen his tiny ghost sitting in it. In one part of the cemetery is a statue of Mary, who is said to cry tears of blood when someone in deep sorrow prays to her, in acknowledgment of their pain. In the middle of the graveyard is a Pieta statue of Mary holding Jesus after he has been taken down from the cross. It's claimed that if you sit on the bench in front of it long enough, she will raise her head and look at you. Also, it's regularly reported that entities spotted in the graveyard by security guards vanish without a trace.

Keck's Monk: A monastic novice named Paul Keck reported in the 1850's that he was visited by the spirit of a Benedictine monk that sought prayers for souls in purgatory. Abbot Wimmer at first backed his claims, but as the sighting worked its' way up the chain of command, all the way to the Vatican, Wimmer changed his tune. The visions were eventually deemed a hoax, and they raised considerable scandal within the church at the time. “Keckism” became a form of heresy. It didn't help Keck's cause when he was discovered to have been an actor before donning the robes.

St. Benedict Hall: Benny is haunted by a small girl, nicknamed Jenny, who has appeared in various rooms and likes to play games and tricks on the residents, "borrowing" their things and running through pods in the middle of the night. There are also handprints on the outside of windows.

St. Xavier's Convent: There's a tale of a monk who roams between St. Vincent's and St. Xavier's, a nearby convent. His cowl covers his face, which is invisible even you're looking directly at him. There are visions of brothers working in the kitchen. Shadowy nuns have been seen walking to mass.

Sauerkraut Tower: This landmark structure was built in 1893, designed by Brother Wolfgang Traxler to move 80,000 gallons of water daily through the campus as a gravity powered water tower. Not one to waste space, chief cook Brother Innocent stored barrels of pickled cabbage among it's pipes in the early 20th century, earning the 90' tall building its' nickname. In the 1930's local mines started to drain some of the water supply from the tower, and a monk had to climb the 10 flights of steps 3 times a day to check the water level. Thankfully for the Benedictine's lungs, St. Vincent tapped into the municipal water system in 1942. But it was too late for one nameless brother, who punched his ticket to St. Peter's gate when he got caught in the windmill arms atop the tower and hung himself. To this day, you can still hear the dedicated monk tread up the steps, carrying out his obligation to the college through eternity. And he must be afraid of the dark. Security has to frequently shut off the lights of the empty building, and some people have claimed to see his face looking out of the top window.

Abbot Boniface Wimmer: Abbot Boniface, the founder of the college, rises on the anniversary of his December 8th death and goes to the basilica to say mass for the souls of the departed. He passes through every red door in the crypt area where he's buried beneath the church to check on everyone and to find out how the school has progressed over the year. He's the most famous spirit at St. Vincent, and his sighting is jokingly referred to “freshman orientation” on campus.

And hey, there's supposed to more; we've heard that there are tales from the Grist Mill and other buildings that we haven't been able to run down. So if you have the paranormal poop on any of the stories we missed, give us a yell.