Seton Hill

Posted by junketseo in Ghosts of Gettysburg
Seton Hill - Photo

This picturesque university sits on over 200 wooded acres, perched atop a hill with a commanding view of the city of Greensburg in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. It is quiet and peaceful, a haven from the bustle of the secular world that toils far below, but there is a side of this university that exists in the shadows—and it is haunted by ghosts.

The school was founded in 1885 by the Sisters of Charity as a facility for women. It was named for Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774–1821), who founded the Sisters of Charity and who, after her death, was canonized as the United States’ first native-born saint. In the summer of 1882, Mother Aloysia Lowe, Mother Superior of the Pennsylvania Sisters of Charity, purchased the land in Greensburg, where Seton Hill University’s main hilltop campus now stands.

The education at this school included the Seton Hill Conservatory of Music and Seton Hill Conservatory of Art, both established in 1885. In 1914, the Sisters opened the doors to Seton Hill Junior College. Four years later, in 1918, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved Seton Hill’s charter for a four-year institution of higher learning, and Seton Hill College was born. Eventually, men were allowed to attend the university when it was integrated as a coed place of learning. However, the ghosts seem to have been attending since the school opened.


Haunted Buildings on Campus


One of the most haunted locals on campus is the Administration Building. It has been said that in the early 1900s, an elderly sister fell asleep in the basement of the Motherhouse, now used as the administration building.  A custodian saw her lying there and assumed she was dead. The sister was promptly given a Christian burial. However, as the legend goes, this poor old sister was not quite dead! When she woke up in a pine box, she beat on the lid of the casket until she finally passed away for real. It’s said that you can hear the spirit of the nun pounding away in the Administration building late at night, trying to escape her coffin.

This main administration building is also haunted by a poltergeist known to open filing cabinets and scatter papers throughout a particular office. Lights have been known to go off and on, chairs have been seen rolling across the floor, and footsteps have been heard walking calmly across the floors. So, too, are disembodied voices heard calling out names of those who work in this university office building.

Not only do the staff have to endure hauntings, but so do the students. Brownlee Residence Hall students have reported that a mysterious purple light is seen to emanate out of nowhere, appearing in the corner of a dorm room on the first floor. Also, it’s been reported that the shadow of a girl who had allegedly hung herself many years ago in her room can be seen on the wall across from the room where it supposedly happened.

The sleeping arrangements at Maura Hall seem just as haunted. This residence building dates back to 1908, and within its walls, the spirits of the old teaching nuns have been reported roaming its corridors, seen as ghostly apparitions wearing their full habit.

Even the main parking lot at Seton Hill is said to be haunted. There have been reports that the ephemeral ghost of a priest has been seen crossing the main lot during the evening hours.


The Haunted Cemetery


At the cemetery on the campus of Seton Hill, a woman reported witnessing a ghostly figure cross through the graveyard. The woman stopped her car to allow this “person” the right of way to cross the road in front of Brownlee Hall, but when the driver motioned the figure across, she disappeared into a fog. This purported female phantom could be the spirit of any of the cemetery’s interred, of whom 785 are sisters.

The graveyard was planned and laid out in 1889 when the Seton Hill Motherhouse was completed.  It’s the final resting place of the Seton Hill Sisters of Charity, the founders of the university, all the past presidents, and several other notable priests, laymen, and laywomen.  A little boy is one spook, playing with a ball and occasionally seen running like someone is chasing him, screaming all the while.

Another tale is of a woman who stops traffic on the road so she can cross (or hitch a ride), but when the driver brakes and looks for her, she has already disappeared into the fog. Also reported spotted in the college graveyard are the spirits of sisters gone and buried who once lived at Seton Hill, along with some EVPs.  One story regarding demonic grave circles can be discounted, though.  The original layout of the sisters’ burial plots was circular, but that proved to be too space-consuming and was replaced by the traditional rows of graves.

However, it is not the ghost of a religious woman that is most often reported in this graveyard. Indeed, the haunt in this cemetery most often reported by students is the recurring ghost of a little boy. He has often appeared, sometimes in full daylight, scampering among the headstones or playing hide and seek behind the trees. There is no child buried in this cemetery, but some claim it is the ghost of a child of a nun who kept her condition and subsequent birth a secret before sending the child away for adoption. If this is indeed the circumstances, is it possible the child may return to the place of his birth, seeking out his birthmother?

There is one other ghost who was reported wandering around this cemetery. It is the ghost of a tall and stately dressed man moving purposefully through the cemetery before disappearing as he nears the gate that surrounds the graveyard. The cemetery does have men buried in it. Three of the male burials of Monsignor William Granger Ryan, Rev. Daniel R. Sullivan, and Rev. J.A. Reeves were former presidents of Seton Hill College. Another reverend, Rev. N. Albanese, albeit he was not a president, was still very close to the sisters and was thus buried in Seton Hill’s cemetery. The only two laymen buried there were a carpenter and a watchman, both of whom lived on the property. It seems one of these men is the residual energies left over from a life focused so acutely on their beloved Seton Hill University.


Ghosts of Higher Education


At Seton Hill, even the dead attend classes. Embroidered into the very fabric of the university, the ghosts that haunt this campus are as much a part of college life as the historic buildings and contemplative gardens. This is a place where the past and present coincide. If you attend this school, just make sure your roommate isn’t a ghost who simply refuses to graduate to the afterlife!


For more on the ghosts of Gettysburg or to experience the area’s most haunted locations yourself, book a Gettysburg ghost tour with Civil War Ghosts tonight!