Saturday, August 14, 2010

Duquesne Demons

Old Main from Take A Virtual Hike

Duquesne was founded in 1878 as the Pittsburgh Catholic College and held classes above a bakery on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. In 1885, they moved into their current campus on Boyd's Hill, now known as the Bluff. In 1911, they became the Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost. And like many Catholic colleges, they could use a good exorcism.

* Fisher Hall: Formerly the Fisher Scientific building, Duquesne took over the century old structure in the early nineties. The building was extensively renovated, but, per agreement with Chester Fisher, the second floor, consisting primarily of a cafeteria and museum, was left largely unchanged.

But several mysterious happenings led the staff to believe the floor was haunted. Doors would shut on their own. Papers would be blown around in a windowless office. Sounds of screaming could be heard from the museum hallway.

Then one morning when the manager tried to turn on the lights, a cold breath was felt on her wrist and a disembodied voice said “Leave it off”. The spirit later relented, allowing the switch to be flicked on after several tries. A week later, priests from the University blessed the cafeteria and its' workers, and so far, that's turned the trick.

And upstairs, where the building is connected to the main campus by a walkway, an elderly man will hold the door open for the crossing students. When they turn to thank him, he's gone.

* Old Main Administration Building: The basement of the Old Main was a major transfer point in the Underground Railroad. Most escaped slaves there were well on their way to freedom; others were captured there. Door and lights operate on their own in the basement. The sound of voices can be heard through the building's vents, and sometimes the sounds of rattling chains can be heard echoing through the Old Main's halls.

Old Main was the first campus building on the bluff, built in 1885, and the five story red brick landmark was the highest point on the Pittsburgh skyline for years. But that date would place it past the Underground Railroad's halcyon days. Maybe it was built on the bones of an older structure or perhaps its prominence attracted the tortured souls that passed through Boyd's Hill on their way to freedom.

* St. Ann's Learning Center: The center is a freshman residence hall built in 1964. The spirit of a boy with a temper problem allegedly haunts room #409. He scatters objects and belongings all over. Boys just wanna have fun.

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