This coming weekend is Halloween, and Wagner College has a long tradition of spooky (though suspicious!) stories about ghostly apparitions at various sites around its 105-acre campus.
For starters, enjoy a short 2014 video tour of haunted locations on campus, shot by Megan Irving ’16 and produced by Dillon Quinn ’17:
‘St. Augustine’s Monastery’ — Across Campus Road from Wagner College’s main campus is the former site of the Augustinian Academy, a Catholic boys’ high school open from 1926 to 1969. For 15 years it was reused as a retreat center, but it closed its doors for good in 1984. Like many vacant buildings, it became a magnet for kids, who rummaged around its steadily decaying structure, making it a landmark for “haunting” enthusiasts. Wagner College purchased the building in 1993 to prevent commercial developers from building on the site. The dangerously disintegrating building was demolished in 2006.
Music Building — In June 1949, the college bought the Ward Estate across Howard Avenue from Main Hall, adding 18 acres to the Grymes Hill campus. The property gave us more parking space and a new sports field (now called Hameline Field) — but the crown jewel of the West Campus was a lovely old mansion built in 1867 as the home of banker and former Civil War colonel William Greene Ward. He called it “Oneata” — a Seminole word, according to a family friend, meaning “kissed by the dawn” — but Wagner students knew it simply as the Music Building, home of the college choir. It had great beauty and character — but it was also expensive to heat and maintain. Around 1983, Wagner closed it down, moving the music department into North Hall (now called Reynolds House). Petty vandalism steadily ate away at the Ward house, but it was a pair of fires — a smaller one in 1989, and a much larger blaze in 1992 — that really doomed the old Music Building. Sometime in late 1992 or early 1993, Oneata was demolished. Like many interesting old buildings, Oneata was a ghost-story generator, as you can see from the front-page story published in the Halloween 1984 edition of the Wagnerian.
Cunard Hall — The oldest building on the Wagner College campus is the Italianate villa known as Cunard Hall. Built in 1852, it was the home of Mary Cunard and her husband, shipping scion Edward Cunard. After their deaths, the property was used as a summer resort colony called Bellevue. A story in the Halloween 2002 issue of the Wagnerian includes a brief, oft-repeated tale of the supposed haunting of Cunard Hall by someone who allegedly committed suicide in 1890 by jumping from a second-story window. No documentary support for this supposed suicide is known, and the idea that someone would try to kill themselves by jumping out a second-story window is a little hard to believe — but the story has persisted, nonetheless.