'Spirited' Tales of Centre County Jan 20, 2020 16:06:12 GMT -5
Post by JoannaB on Jan 20, 2020 16:06:12 GMT -5
'Spirited' Tales of Centre County
Centre County has probably produced more governors, professional football players and scientists than any other county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But, the county also has a rather lengthy list of phantoms.
Cobbled together from parts of Huntingdon, Lycoming, Mifflin and Northumberland counties in the 1800s, Centre County came of age during the Victorian era – an age steeped in the table-rapping hysteria of spiritualism and some of those eerie stories are still around. In fact, a quick look at the towns, villages and a rather haunted college campus, reveals a long list of spooky mansions, spirit-infested fields and demon-haunted dorms. Following are a few of them:
Bride of Doom. When you think of haunted houses what comes to mind? Big? Old? Elegance that hints of past glories? If this is your definition of a haunted house, then Bellefonte is the place for you. Many of the Victorian mansions of Centre County’s seat not only look haunted, according to reports, they actually are haunted. Lovingly restored, some of these homes remain private residences, but a few have been turned into bed and breakfast inns and museums. And some of the guests and visitors to these locations leave with much more than a few good memories and souvenirs.
The Hastings Mansion (above), once owned by Pennsylvania Gov. Daniel Hastings, is supposed to be one of those places inhabited by ghosts. There have been reports of strange sounds, mysterious lights and objects moved by unseen hands. But talked phantom talked about the most is the spirit of a young woman who died in the home – when it was the Red Lion Inn – on her wedding night. She appears in her wedding gown and doesn’t seem to be particularly malicious, however, she’s a harbinger of doom and everyone who sees her loses a loved one shortly thereafter.
Harry Scary. When the Noll family moved into the soaring Victorian home on Linn Street, the resident spirit didn’t exactly put out the welcome mat. Nancy Noll and her husband operate the old home as The Queen B&B and according to Mrs. Noll, one night shortly after the family moved in, a bookcase unexpectedly came crashing down in the bedroom. But eventually, the spectral suspect became just another member of the family. The ghost, whom everyone now calls “Harry,” still makes his presence known, however, he has been fairly quiet recently.
Egg Hill Church (above) stands in a pleasant enough section of the ever-pleasant Potter Township, but the rumors surrounding this little wooden chapel are anything but pleasant. While the place of worship may be haunted, the stories explaining the haunting are farfetched. One version claims the church was the site of a brutal mass murder by the minister, who was either possessed by the devil or simply insane, when he poisoned his parishioners. In other versions, he shoots them. Ever since the tragedy, or so it is said, spirits of the dead congregants have been seen in and around the church. The problem with these stories is that local historians insist nothing of the kind ever happened. This fact, however, hasn’t kept ghost hunters and thrill-seekers from visiting the church to see if the can see, feel or hear something otherworldly.
Penn State. Each Halloween, while football fans eye the Coaches’ Poll, Penn State’s University Park campus easily attains top haunted campus rankings in most paranormal polls. Why? Well, for starters, there’s a grave on campus. According to folklorists, the grave of Penn State’s seventh president, George Atherton, which lies just outside Schwab Auditorium, is the epicenter of paranormal incidents. Atherton is one ghost – of around three that are collectively referred to as “Schwaboo” – haunting the auditorium. Across the street, the apparition of Frances Atherton, wife of the president, is said to gaze forlornly out the second-floor window of Old Botany, keeping an ever-vigilant eye on her husband’s final resting place.
Nearby, the spirit of a murdered student is said to wander the maze-like bookshelves of Pattee Library. According to a persistent rumor, back in the 1970s, or early 80s, when movies such as The Exorcist and Poltergeist were blockbusters, a resident was chased from a room because of supernatural activity.
Phantom of the Rowland. Built in 1917, the Rowland Theater, the crown jewel of Philipsburg’s cultural life, has attracted its share of celebrity visitors. Tom Mix, cowboy movie and vaudeville legend, performed in the theater, and Erik Estrada, who went on to star in the 1970s hit television series CHiPs, visited the theater. But if the stories are true, there are those who remained long after the applause and fanfare faded. Several visitors, theater volunteers and paranormal teams insist the old theater is haunted. One of the entities appears as a large black mass, or shadow, slowly skulking about the theater and across the stage. Others have claimed to hear disembodied voices and other inexplicable noises.
Scotia Barrens. Finally, if you’re looking for ghost towns in Centre County, the Scotia Barrens, an aptly-named region just outside State College, is a ghost town brimming with spirits of the dead. Once home to a busy iron ore-mining operation, rumors of murders and lynchings now haunt the site and the most infamous apparition is that of a murderer hanged for his evil deed.
Sources: Matt Swayne, The Centre County Gazette, October 31, 2019; Morganne Mallon, "Haunts of Penn State," PennLive, December 9, 2015; and "Along the Way: Haunted Hastings Mansion," The Pennsylvania Rambler, October 10, 2018.