Caroline Connick | Associate Editor

Throughout Halloween night, Salve students flooded into Wakehurst Student Center to be taken on a tour of campus quite different from the ones they may have taken when deciding to come here for college. This tour took students to Wakehurst, Ochre Court, McAuley, The Breakers, William Watts-Sherman House, and Antone where tour guides told students the stories of each building and their original residents; some of whom still reside in their buildings in the afterlife.

Our tour guide, a professional medium, started our tour outside Wakehurst. There, she explained that the original family who owned the mansion included a man who greatly enjoyed horseback riding and a woman who loved her home with all her heart and wasn’t fond of the Salve students living across the street in Ochre Court at the time when she was alive. The man, she said, was the shadow in equestrian clothing that students often see on the third floor and can sometimes be seen from outside the mansion passing by the windows at night. The woman, our guide said, also still occupies the mansion and longs for students who use the building today to really respect her home. Our tour guide then took out a particularly interesting tool, which was a pair of L-shaped metal rods that the tour guide said can also be used to communicate with ghosts. The guide would hold the rods with the short side of the “L” in her hands and the long side facing away from her. The theory was that the rods would move on their own through the force of energy being emitted by the ghosts. When a ghost wanted to say no, the rods would move apart and when a ghost wanted to say yes, they crossed over one another. While we were still at Wakehurst, our guide asked the female ghost if she would be willing to come and meet us outside and the rods moved apart.

We then moved on to Ochre Court where our tour guide told us how the mansion was used as a summer home for its original owners who lived in New York City. Each summer, the owners of Ochre Court and the famous Vanderbilt family who owned the Breakers would compete to see who could throw the biggest, most extravagant parties. According to the tour guide, the patriarch of the family who originally owned Ochre Court is still often noticed inside the mansion. Students who work in that building will sometimes smell the scent of someone smoking tobacco inside the mansion, which the owner used to do all the time when he was alive. Ochre Court has a much more tragic story to it as well. Our tour guide told us that when classes, the library, the cafeteria, the dorms, and the nuns’ quarters were all inside Ochre Court in Salve’s earliest days, one student struggling with her parents’ divorce jumped to her death off one of the second-story balconies. It is said that she is still sometimes seen on that balcony wearing a white nightgown.

Our next stop was McAuley, which was originally owned by one of the Vanderbilt granddaughters. During that time, the mansion housed all of the servants including one particular family of Irish indentured servants. One day, the parents decided to go for a rowboat ride off the shore of First Beach and leave their young son with a nanny. The son, who was very unaccustomed to being left without his parents, saw his parents boating outside a second story window, tried to reach for them outside the window, and fell to his death according to our tour guide.

After that, we stood outside the gates of the Breakers. Our tour guide told us of a sort of curse that the Vanderbilt family had upon them in which some of the children died while some others were disinherited for public behavior that reflected badly on the family. People come from all over the world to visit this mansion, and sometimes tourists will notice people in the building who appear to be wearing period costumes. These people, our tour guide said, are not in fact actors hired to roam about the mansion in costume, but they are apparitions of the real original inhabitants.

Then, we headed to Watts-Sherman where we learned that at one point the dorm was used as a nursing home, and, to the current residents’ horror, the wheelchair ramp outside of the men’s area of the dorm had been used as a body chute. Our tour guide calmly explained that when residents of the nursing home expired, they needed to be taken out of the building where the other residents wouldn’t see them and become upset. She also addressed some rumors about current residents of the present-day dormitory hearing a young boy giggling and bouncing a rubber ball at night and someone moving furniture on the third floor. She couldn’t yet pinpoint who the boy might have been, as she said that there were no records of a young boy living in the building at any time in its history.

Our last stop was Antone where we actually got to interact with the resident ghost. According to our tour guide, Antone is haunted by an Irish stable worker who used to work there. Unlike the female ghost of Wakehurst, the ghost of Antone is very friendly with Salve students and is reportedly seen often in the old classrooms which used to be stables. Our tour guide said that when she and her partner originally investigated the building, they encountered the ghost, who actually asked them to go out for drinks with him! I’ve been attending Salve for about two and a half years and have never seen any apparitions myself, but my experience at this building where many of my classes are was very interesting. The tour guide again took out her rods and allowed us to ask the ghost questions. One student asked him if he recognized us, and the rods crossed, meaning “yes.” Excited, I asked, “Does he recognize me, Caroline Connick?” and the rods crossed again. “Can you point to her?” our tour guide asked the ghost. The rods then slowly turned to point at me.

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