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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went to school there and worked at the mansion. Never saw or heard anything. Oh well!