Monday, July 24, 2017

HGB Ep. 213 - Manhattanville College

Moment in Oddity - Man in Black Ghost Warns of Austin Dam Break

In the town of Austin, Pennsylvania, the Bayless Pulp & Paper Mill built a dam in 1909 to help power their facility. The dam was built across the Freeman Run in a very shoddy manner. It should have been at least 30 feet thick, but to cut costs, the company made it only 20 feet thick. The dam quickly bowed under the weight of water. In 1910, a strange man in black started appearing at the railroad depot in Austin. He looked so strange that railroad workers took to calling him a ghost. He was very tall, dressed all in black and would appear and disappear mysteriously. He was said to crawl between cars and run over the tops of them. Soon the townspeople were all talking about the Austin ghost as well. Then on September 30, 1911, the Austin Dam broke, killing at least 78 people. The Honesdale Citizen wrote in an article that published on October 9, 1912, "About a year after the arrival of the ghost, the huge dam broke, with the awful result that will always be remembered by those who witnessed the horrible scenes. In their great misfortune, following the flood, the Austin people who fortunately escaped with nothing valuable but their lives, forgot about a little thing like a ghost; and the ghost must have been scared out by the dam talk or lost its life in the flood." Was the Man in Black truly a ghost and was he a portend of coming disaster like the Mothman and the Gray Man? Or was this just a sneaky transient hanging out in the railroad cars who was indeed killed in the great flood? We will never know, but one thing is for sure, his timing certainly was odd!

This Month in History - Modern Bikini Introduced to Public

In the month of July, on the 5th, in 1946, the modern day bikini was introduced by French engineer Louis Réard at Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Micheline Bernardini modeled the bikini, which got its name from the Bikini Atoll, where post-war testing on the atomic bomb occurred. Bikini- like garments had been worn by women in antiquity, but such swim wear was considered risque in the 1940s. French women loved the design, but much of the public and religious organizations found the outfit to be scandalous. The bikini finally gained some traction when contestants in the first Miss World beauty pageant wore them in 1951. Actress Brigitte Bardot wore one on the beach at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953 and based on the attention she received, more actresses took to being photographed in bikinis. It eventually caught on and is, of course, wildly popular today. French fashion historian Olivier Saillard remarked that the bikini became popular because of "the power of women, and not the power of fashion."

Manhattanville College (Suggested by listener Bailey Pollack)

Manhattanville College is a small liberal arts college in New York. The college began as a Catholic women's school, but through the years it not only moved from its original location, but moved to co-education. The land where it sits today in Purchase has European settlers arriving as far back as the 1600s. The main point of interest on the campus is the original castle-like mansion known as Reid Hall. The structure induces shudders and is home for legends and a really creepy picture of some children. There are tales of ghostly nuns, cold spots, weird music and truly terrifying presences on the campus. Join us and our listener Bailey Pollack as we explore the history and hauntings of Manhattanville College!

The history of the campus dates back to the 1600s when the Siwanoy Tribe lived here under Chief Shanarocke. He sold the patch of land to John Budd of Long Island who built a gristmill on the eastern end of the plot. No official claim was filed with the government, so in 1695 a Native American named Pathungo reclaimed the land. he later sold it to John Harrison with the caveat that he could still harvest the whitewood trees on the land for canoe building. The area was known as "Harrison's Purchase" after that time. Quakers settled the plot in 1724. Today, the hamlet is named Purchase and it is part of the town of Harrison. *Fun fact: The Pepsi headquarters in Purchase is on the former Blind Brook Polo Club and Amelia Earhart flew her plane from the polo grounds.*

Ben Holladay was a business tycoon who co-owned the Ophir Silver Mine in Virginia City, Nevada and had invested in the Pony Express and Overland Express Coaches. He decided to build his mansion in 1864 on the land of the future campus and he so loved the West that he had bison shipped in from Wyoming and elk from Colorado. Wild flowers and trees from the West were planted and the stream was stocked with trout. People took to calling the estate "Buffalo Park," although Holladay had named it Ophir Park. Holladay built a chapel on the grounds in the Norman Gothic style for his wife's family and that chapel still stands today in the Ohnell Environmental Park on campus. The year 1873 brought tragedy in two ways. Ann died and Holladay lost his fortune in the Silver Panic that year.

John Roach owned Ophir Park for a little over three years, but did nothing with it, so the owner of the New York Tribune, Whitelaw Reid, bought it in 1888. He and his wife Elisabeth filled the mansion with the latest advances in technology, which included a telephone and electric wiring. Frederick Law Olmsted was hired for the landscape design. A month before the Reids moved into the mansion, a fire completely gutted the home. They were undeterred and decided to build on a grander scale using stone quarried from the property. The mansion was finished in 1892 and renamed Ophir Hall. The reception hall was covered in yellow Numidian African and Georgian pink marbles. There was a beautiful stained glass window above the front staircase and furniture from the country estate of a member of the house of Napoleon III was shipped from France. Further inside the home came an English style design in both Elizabethan and Renaissance.

Whitelaw Reid was away from the estate for much of the time he owned it, working as an ambassador and also running as vice president of the United States. He died in 1912 before a new wing that was being built was completed. In 1931, Mrs. Reid died and the doors of Ophir Hall were closed. The estate was gorgeous and filled with wonderful things, so it was a very sad time for the property. Their son, Ogden, died in 1947 and much of the estate was placed on the market. The local board fought about what to do with the property, but they were positive that they would not allow it to be turned into a shopping center. Soon it would become home for Manhattanville College.

The Academy of the Sacred Heart was founded as a Catholic boarding school for girls in 1841. Its first home was a three-story house on Houston Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1847, the academy relocated to an area north of New York City, near the village of Manhattanville. In 1917,the academy was chartered as a college and it took on the name Manhattanville College because of the village there. Two hundred and fifty acres of the Reid estate were purchased by Manhattanville in July of 1949 and the college was relocated. In less than a year and a half, everything was transferred and new buildings were built. The campus has around thirteen buildings in total. There is the Benzinger Dining Hall, Kennedy Gym, Founders Dormitory, Brownson Hall/Music Building, the library, Spellman Hall, O'Byrne Chapel, Dammann and Tenney Dorms, faculty housing, Berman Center and the Reid Castle became the administrative building.

Benzinger Hall was under construction during the Korean War and so the use of steel in building was heavily restricted. The college had to go to another plan and they ended up using prestressed concrete girders, which had only been used to build pressure pipes and bridges before. This worked so well that prestressed concrete girders became commonplace in construction. In 1971, the college became co-educational. Right before that, the Reid mansion was named Reid Hall and by 1974, it was on the National Register of Historic Places. The college has thrived and graduated thousands of students. It also has a reputation for being haunted.

Lauren Ziarko is Manhattanville’s Archivist, and she says that most of the stories and legends are just that, a bunch of stories with no historical fact. She said, “Unfortunately there is no truth to them, there have been no mysterious crimes, murders, sightings, etc. in the castle history. It is just spooky rumors that students like to pass on.” That being said, a campus security officer named Rich Biscardi told the following story, "Several years ago when the Manhattanville Cheerleading team was practicing in the West room, after practice, the girls all went to grab their phones and watches and realized that all of their time pieces had frozen, like time literally stopped until they left the west room.”

A freshman was walking on campus late one night and was passing the old small chapel behind the college and claimed, “I heard weird country music. I was really curious so I ventured inside. There was a buzz sound and then the music went back to normal. There was no one in there.” There are reports that nuns haunt the cemetery where they are buried and one nun in particular haunts Spellamn Hall. “It was three in the morning when someone tried to barge into the room. It was a strong force trying to open the door,” a resident reported. She said it was terrifying and many people believe the nun was just making her nightly rounds to check on the children.

A freshman had a scary experience at the graveyard: “I was walking by the grave yard late at night when something in the bushes kept following me. I looked around and nothing was there. But it felt real and scary.” She tried to take several photos, but all of them came out blurry. Another student took a picture in the graveyard a few years ago and to his surprise a figure appeared in the background.

Is Manhattanville College haunted? That is for you to decide!

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