Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jersey City School Spirits

New Jersey State University Tower

New Jersey City University opened in 1929 as the New Jersey State Normal School at Jersey City. The school evolved into a Teachers College in 1935, Jersey City State College in 1958, and an accredited liberal arts institution in 1968. In 1998, it became a university. And no matter what name it's known by, the school has some spooky lore.

There are some typical tales. Vodra Hall, a dorm located in the middle of campus, is the alleged site of unexplained laughter and music (at least it has happy spooks). And the old Science Center, now replaced and used by Hudson County CC, has a legend that claims an elevator workman was electrocuted on the second floor, and ever since the elevator often stops there whether or not the button is pushed.

But the primo paranormal spot is a gothic tower and theatre that are part of the oldest building on campus, the equally gothic Hepburn Hall (the structures are so associated with the school that its teams are known as the Gothics), which opened in 1930.

Hepburn Hall, the only school building used during the first 25 years of NJCU's existence, houses administrative offices, classrooms and the Margaret Williams Theater.

Opened in 1931 as an addition to Hepburn, the theatre was originally designed as a combination auditorium and gym like you see in most high schools. In 1968 it was renovated for use solely as a theatre and named after long-time faculty member Margaret Williams. She must have been pleased; it's said she's never left the building.

The classroom closest to the theater (Room 220) and under the Tower is always cold. Students have reported odd sounds coming from the attic and backstage of the theatre. The actual theatre sometimes has a spotlight that turns on and tracks an unseen phantom performance; some claim to hear songs and music coming from an empty stage.

But the most popular lore is the sighting of Margaret William's ghost floating through the halls. She's been reported seen in various rooms and the theatre. It's said that at night, you can sometimes see Williams peering down at you from the Tower. She haunted the theatre area during life, and looks like she's still comfortable there in death.

If you want to check out NJCU a little more, its lore is part of the popular Weird New Jersey series by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman.


Fred Ebbrecht said...

The University tower is practically in my back yard, Ron. Cool stuff.


Ron Ieraci said...

Ever catch Margaret checking out the 'hood, Fred?