Wednesday, August 30, 2017

HGB Ep. 219 - Arcadia University

Moment in Oddity - Skeletal Body Paint Rituals
(Suggested by: Michael Rogers)

Chimbu Province is located in the Highlands Region of Papua, New Guinea. The area is 7,800 feet above sea level and is home to the Chimbu tribe, which numbers around 60,000 members. The tribe was unknown to the world until 1934. What makes them unique is their tradition of skeletal body paint. Centuries ago, the tribe began painting their bodies with black and white paint so that they would appear to be living and moving skeletons and this was done to scare their enemies. Today, the tribe no longer needs to scare enemies, but they continue the tradition with a festival they call "Sing Sing," which is a Pidgin word meaning music party. The festival is conducted to bring together all the tribal groups to celebrate the rituals and traditions of their cultures. Around 60to 100 tribes take part in the skeleton dance. Both men, women and children all participate and  paint their bodies. The dances consist of fluid movements and aggressive gestures that imitate attacking or defending oneself. The skeletal body paint is really cool, but it also certainly is odd!

This Month in History - PT-109 Rammed Nearly Killing Future President John F. Kennedy

In the month of August, on the 1st, in 1943, American patrol torpedo boat, number 109, was rammed by a Japanese Destroyer, Amaqiri, and split in half killing two crew members, but leaving eleven alive, one of whom is future president John F. Kennedy.Those eleven crew members clung to debris for five hours before they found a coral island upon which to rest. Kennedy volunteered to swim back out to sea and flag down an American vessel. He was unable to find a ship and finally returned to the island, suffering greatly from his chronic back condition. He fell ill, so everyone waited until he was better to swim to a larger island, which turned out to be Cross Island. Two natives opn the island agreed to take a message that Kennedy had carved into a coconut shell. It read, “Nauru Is. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need small boat.” The men were rescued and Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for gallantry in action. The coconut eventually ended up in the Oval Office when he became President.

Arcadia University (Suggested by Christopher Klimovitz)
Just outside of Philadelphia, in a town called Glenside, sits a small private university that is home to a castle. This is the second campus that we have featured with a castle-like structure and this one is also haunted. Grey Towers was once home to the William Harrison Family and many of them seem to still be here after death. The university that now sits on that former property is Arcadia University and it has a history dating back to the mid-1800s. Our listener Chris Klimovitz is an alumni of Arcadia University and he joins us to share his experiences at the university and the stories of haunting legends and experiences connected to the school.

Glenside, Pennsylvania is a city just outside of northern Philadelphia. It sits within three townships with most of it being in Cheltenham Township. William Penn, for whom Pennsylvania is named, deeded out land grants for parts of Philadelphia and what would become Cheltenham to fifteen Englishmen. Two of them, Tobias Leech and Richard Wall, would become instrumental in the founding of the township in 1682. Wall's home is the oldest historic building still standing in the township. Humphrey Morrey was another early resident and he served as Philadelphia's mayor from 1691 to 1701. His son Richard would inherit his property and he would become one of the first Americans to free his slaves and distribute land to them. The area these former slaves settled in would first be named Guineatown since most were from Guinea. It later became Edge Hill and today is part of Glenside. One of the National Historic Landmarks in Cheltenham Township and Glenside is Grey Towers, which is part of the Arcadia University campus.

Arcadia University started out as many universities do, with a different name and at a different location. The school was established near the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers in a town named Beaver. The town had originally been founded as Fort McIntosh, which was built during the American Revolutionary War and named for General McIntosh. The town of Beaver wanted to have a school of higher learning and established a place for that in 1853 as Beaver Female Seminary. The school attained collegiate status in 1872 under the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named Beaver College. From 1872 to 1907, it allowed enrollment to men. The college moved in 1925 to the larger city of Jenkintown and switched affiliation to the Presbyterian Church. Enrollment skyrocketed with the move and the school actually had to put limits on enrollment.

After three years, it was decided by the trustees that they needed to buy more property and when the Grey Towers estate came up for sale, they bought the spacious grounds and buildings. The college would operate both campuses until the mid-1960s when everything was consolidated at the Grey Towers property. In 1973, men were allowed to enroll at the college again. In July of 2001, the college received university status and changed its name to Arcadia University. Today, the campus sits on 72 acres and has around 4,000 students enrolled. The university is known for its study abroad programs. Susan Savage, the former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a graduate of Arcadia as is actress Anna Smith whom you may know from the shows, "The West Wing" and "Nurse Jackie."

The Grey Towers Castle is the most prominent feature of the campus. Rosedale Hall stood here originally until 1893, when a fire gutted the home. At the time, William Welsh Harrison was living at Rosedale Hall. He had purchased the estate in 1881 when he was just 31-years-old. He had made his fortune as co-owner of the Franklin Sugar Refinery. After buying the property, Harrison enlarged the main house, improved the stables and added a gatehouse. He contracted architect Horace Trumbauer to help with the renovations. It was a good thing that the stables were improved because the family had to flee to them when the fire broke out in 1893. Harrison asked Trumbauer to come back and build the family a new home. Trumbauer let his imagination go and he decided to model the new estate after Alnwick Castle, the medieval seat of the Dukes of Northumberland in England.

Greystone was quarried and transported from nearby Chestnut Hill and Indiana limestone was used for exterior trim on the doors, windows and other elements. The interior features 44 rooms lined with hand-carved wood. Two Caen stone mantles were inspired by the Renaissance mantle in the royal Château de Blois. There is a central escutcheon that bears the coat-of-arms of Harrison's father. The decor that the Harrison's used for their estate matched the design of Grey Towers dating to the French Renaissance through the age of Louis XV. Interior elements that matched the style were walls lined with inset book cabinets, plaster frieze molding featuring cupids and garlands, walnut columns framing wood paneling on the walls and strapwork ceilings inspired by Fontainebleau, which was Napoleon's favorite French royal palace. Before 1952, there was also a circular conservatory on the south terrace that featured glass doors.

There was a Breakfast Room that had a narrow band of tapestry woven with scenes of a hunt and a ceiling of painted canvas panels between the ceiling beams. Like a typical castle, the Grey Towers features a Great Hall and this is where the mantles and fireplaces are located. Next to the Great Hall is the Billiard Room, which is paneled in oak, and next to that is the Mirror Room featuring a domed and gilded ceiling. The Ballroom was a package deal made in France and shipped to Glenside where it was installed. The ceiling has a scene that represents the four seasons as women and the zodiac cuts a path through the sky. The area between the ceiling and the walls has a vine motif featuring cupids, long-necked birds, and female figures.

The Ballroom leads into the Rose Room with decor from the later years of Louis XV’s reign. The Music Room had a ceiling painted in a Renaissance style and tapestries decorated the walls above the wainscoting. There was a fireplace in here that featured a tapestry of Euterpe, the Greek Muse of Music. William Baumgarten and Company Inc. of New York City crafted all of the tapestries and paintings in Grey Towers and this work was most likely completed in 1898. When the castle was finished, it was one of the largest homes in America at the time. Harrison died in 1927 and the family decided to sell the property. Beaver College purchased it for $712,500. In October 1985, Grey Towers Castle was declared a National Historic Landmark. The third floor houses dorms for freshmen and lectures are held in the Rose and Mirror Rooms. The rest of the castle has administrative offices and conference rooms. It also is home to a couple of ghosts, as is the rest of the campus.

Many hauntings have a background in strife, unhappiness or other negative emotions. The Harrison's marriage was an unhappy one. The couple were so estranged from each other that when the Castle was designed, they each had their own separate wing, so they would have little contact with each other. Mr. Harrison kept his bed warm with other women, one of whom was a maid that he secreted to him via secret passageways within the Castle. There was a circular room painted white in the Castle. One day, the maid found herself trapped in the room by Mrs. Harrison and she was holding a large butcher knife. Legend claims that the maid ended up dead and her blood was on the walls. Those walls would not come clean. So the walls were repainted white, but the red of the blood would eventually bleed through. The walls would not stop bleeding and so the room was painted red and renamed the Red Room.

The children are said to haunt their former nursery and people claim to see them reflected in the mirrors running about. A disembodied sound of a rocking chair is heard and some believe it is Mrs. Harrison rocking in that chair. The staircase is connected to a horrible story that has led to a haunting by one of the daughter's friends. This friend had come to visit one day. She was wearing a scarf and as she ran down the stiarcase, the scarf hooked onto the bannister and pulled her back, flipped her over the bannister and she was hanged by her scarf. When students are running down the stairs, they claim to feel something they can't see pushing back against them as if trying to slow them down. Many believe it is the spirit of this girl trying to prevent them from suffering the same fate.

An addition to this story is about a cover-up. The girl's mother obviously came looking for her when she did not return home. Harrison told the woman that the girls were playing in the fields and that he would join her to go fetch the girls. Harrison came home alone later and it is thought that he killed the mother. The athletic fields were built on these former fields and students claim to see the full-bodied apparition of a woman in a flowing dress crossing the field as though she is searching for her daughter. 
The Mirror Room on the first floor obviously houses several mirrors and it is a ballroom where dances are hosted. Legend claims that if you see one of the Harrison family members reflected back at you in a mirror it means you will marry the person with whom you are dancing. There is other activity that is unexplained. A pounding on the floor has been linked to Mr. Harrison who used to do that to tell the maids he needed them to bring him more whiskey.

The Communication and Art classes are held in Murphy Hall. This is where the stables had once been and students claim to hear the sounds of horses, especially at night. A young stable boy is thought to have died in the stables from an accident because his ghost has been seen on many occasions. He is around ten years old and appears at the end of hallways. When students ask him where his parents are, he disappears.

Chris shared many of the legends and haunting experiences that people have had on the campus. Do the spirits of the former residents and their employees still reside at the campus in the afterlife? Is Arcadia University haunted? That is for you to decide!

1 comment:

  1. The King Cemetery is right in the middle of campus. The King family is buried there along with Confederate soldiers. It is thought that a young male member of the King family was killed in an accidental shooting and is buried in the cemetery.  Mclimen Alma