Shelly's Phantom Friends
Have you ever walked into a warm room and felt an unexplainable cold breeze? Heard a voice and couldn’t place where it was coming from? Sensed footsteps that didn’t belong to someone? If so, you may have been in the presence of a ghost, and believe it or not, these are said to be very common experiences here in Poughkeepsie. I’m sure most Marist students have heard about Shelly: the infamous ghost in Sheahan Hall who was shot by her ex-boyfriend in our dining hall in 1975, but she is not the only ghost among us. There have been an abundance of spooky sightings at Vassar College, Dutchess Community College, Christ Episcopal Church, and the Hudson River State Hospital. All of these tales are rumors, reported to various other news sources, but if you choose to believe in ghosts, the following stories are quite disturbing. These are the stories of our nearby ghosts… if you dare to keep reading.
Vassar College was established in 1861, leaving a great deal of time for ghost rumors to surface. According to Vassar newspapers, in the North Tower of the main dorm building on campus, a student committed suicide out the window of her room. It is believed that her parents paid tons of money for her room to be preserved as it was before she died, and the room remained locked and unentered for years. And yet, noises came from the room very frequently. If that was not enough, on the top floor of the Davison building a maid once died on duty. Some students who live in Davison reported to their school newspaper that when they leave that building, their rooms are sometimes tidier when they return.
There is also another ghost in the Pratt house, but this phantom doesn’t bother students or faculty--only their guests. According to the same Vassar article, “Individuals who have spent the night in Pratt House have claimed to have had all sorts of ghostly encounters, including hearing voices, being touched, and even being shaken awake.”
These are spooky stories for sure, however, the following is arguably the most fun. Apparently, Vassar has very assertive squirrels that frequent its campus. It is said that these squirrels are possessed by the spirits of alumni that couldn’t find jobs in their fields. What’s scarier to a college than an angry alumnus?
The next haunted location is Dutchess Community College. In 1950, the college’s current space was occupied by a tuberculosis treatment hospital. However, the disease was essentially cured in 1956 so the hospital shut down. One year later, the community college was opened. Bowne Hall was one of the original buildings from the hospital and is now used by the school/ Imagine taking a class knowing you’re in a room that previously served as a tuberculosis morgue…obviously people say this campus is haunted too! According to the Haunted House's website, students regularly report cold spots, odd shadows, orbs of light and disembodied voices.
Another local site with prospective hauntings is Christ Episcopal Church. According to The Groundhog website, there is a ghost in this church that looks eerily similar to Alice from the Brady Bunch. She sits in the last pew and is visible at random times. If anyone who cannot see her sits in those seats, she is known to flip the pages in their song book to make her presence known. The congregation has also claimed that the now-deceased Reverend, Alexander Cummings, sits in his old office at night and sometimes blows out candles or rings the bell during service.
Finally, there’s the infamous abandoned psychiatric hospital 15 minutes away from Marist called the Hudson River State Hospital. This establishment opened in 1871 and house a variety of the patients until it closed in 2003. The photos of this place are very freaky considering how old it is, the disrepair it has fallen into since its closure, and the lightning strike it faced in 2007. According to New York Haunted Houses website, passerbys have seen ghosts and heard screams. Those brave enough to enter alone at night have had orbs of light chase them off the premise.
So, what does all of this tell us? It seems clear that the colleges and local establishments surrounding our beautiful campus are haunted, and we have more than just Shelly to worry about. This makes Poughkeepsie a pretty eerie place to live, if you choose to believe these spooky tales.