Footsteps can be heard backstage in Diebold Center, lights flicker and faces float in the audience. Tales of witches haunt the basement of Reeder Hall. And elevators stop at floor five of Lawrence Towers. These ominous anomalies can be found in the buildings of Edinboro University.
Rose, Reeder, Towers and Diebold all have their own elaborate and gruesome legends associated with them.
Reeder, the university administration building built in 1908, was vacant for a period of time during the ’70s and ’80s.
The story goes that a witch’s coven held their meetings in the basement for years and the lights go out for no reason today. There is also a cold breeze at night when “no windows are even open.”
According to an Internet-housed and inspired legend, a professor, who ran the drama department, reportedly haunts the Diebold Center. The center was originally built over 100 years ago. It is said that her ghost has meddled with speaker volume, footsteps can be heard in the stage area and her face is known to have been seen in the audience during performances. She is also known as possibly being the famed black cat that roams the campus.
The Lawrence Towers are known for having a music major, who resided on the fifth floor, haunting the building. It is said she can still be heard singing and the elevator stops at floor five first, no matter what floor the person is trying to reach.
And it seems the entire, surrounding area has a pretty haunting past. To investigate this past, we spoke with the reverend Robin Swope, known as the “Paranormal Pastor” and author of the book “Eerie Erie.” He would talk about the many haunted places in Erie, which are mentioned in his book, from myths to real life haunts.
Swope spoke about Axe Murder Hollow in Fairview, the Bigfoot of Edinboro, Plymouth Tavern, Union Station, and some houses around East Avenue, from Buffalo Road to 29th Street, all places you can visit if you’re brave enough.
The Axe Murder Hollow legend goes that a farmer who had butchered his family lives in the woods near Weis Library in Fairview. “The story is a typical urban legend that is the same at many places across the U.S. and the same as the ‘Hook legend,’” Swope said.
The story goes, a mad farmer killed his wife and her lover. Soon after, a young couple went to the spot and upon leaving the area, they found a bloody hook on their car handle.
“There are no recorded murders there, but it was a place for dumping murder victims and a place where people would commit suicide, probably because of its once remote location,” Swope said.
Union Station in Erie is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl whose father accidentally pushed her down the stairs, killing her. Plymouth Tavern also has a history of paranormal activity [which The Erie Times News wrote about in around 2000].
Swope’s church, St. Paul’s in Erie, has had some activity and was on the TV show “Ghost Lab.” They had an encounter with a “specter of a pastor in a black robe with a red stole who appeared this past Dec. 26 during a youth overnighter.”
Swope also mentioned that Downtown Erie has a lot of paranormal activity.
“My theory is that Erie used to be a major place where the Erie Indians [located near Buffalo, but whose range extended from New York to Ohio and south to Pittsburgh] buried their dead.”
“Stories from early Erie settlers tell of Indian burial mounds all over and these mounds were plowed over by early farmers and now have residential homes built on top of them,” Swope said.
“East Avenue, from Buffalo Road to 29th Street, was a large burial area and in the late 1800s children used to rob the graves and take souvenirs of skulls or bones home and were subsequently haunted. Many homes in the area have active hauntings.”
Edinboro has its very own Bigfoot legend, as well. “Eric Altman, of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society, often remarks that Edinboro had the most disturbing Bigfoot encounters he has ever experienced,” Swope said.
“A family was stalked by a creature who would charge at them in the woods near their home and yell all hours of the night and day. Upon investigating, his team found piles of animal bones, broken tree limbs that were not natural and what looked like a nest.”
He also mentioned the legends of the “Ghost Bride of 19th Street,” the “Mercyhurst Ghost Nun,” the “Presque Isle UFO landing,” the “Ghost Bride of the Erie Cemetery” and the Lake Erie “Storm Hag” demonic siren of Great Lakes.
Heidi Longstreet, local paranormal researcher, talked about some spots around Erie as well. “When they built the Erie Cemetery, they moved the bodies of other cemeteries to the Erie cemetery because Erie was expanding and getting bigger, so they needed the room.”
She mentioned Waterford is a historical town and described the whole town as “pretty much haunted.” Both Longstreet and Swope spoke about Scott’s Mausoleum and Brown’s Mausoleum in the Erie Cemetery; Brown’s Mausoleum is sometimes known as the “Vampire Crypt.”
“People talk about the witches circle and the Browns Mausoleum [vampire crypt]. It’s not haunted, I think some people think it is haunted because it looks spooky. A place could be very haunted and it looks just fine. It could be modern looking; it doesn’t have to be scary looking,” Longstreet said.
The Scott’s mausoleum, which was owned by the Strong Family, has its own story. In 1912, the crypt was broken into and the body inside went missing. Strong had the Perkins Detective Agency investigate because they couldn’t figure out who it was. They kept getting notes with ransoms–- saying “you’re not going to get the body back until you pay us this amount of money.”
“Strong, of course, was intelligent and thought something was up, so he hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency. It turned out it was the Perkins Detective Agency all along. They had masterminded it and knew the Strongs and that they had money, so they broke into the crypt, hid the body and tried to get the money out of him,” Longstreet said.
Swope also talked about the Witches Circle, the Vampire Crypt and Scott’s Mausoleum. “The Witches Circle is a group of graves on the eastern border of the Erie Cemetery that is in a circular formation. They appear to have been burnt and date to the mid 1800s.”
There are a few stories associated with the Witches Circle, but “if you examine the headstones, they are all young males and the circular pattern is because they were buried around a now dead and rotted tree. The blackened gravestones are from the pollution from old Erie’s Industrial district and acid from the pollution has turned the headstone’s black. The same weathering is on the Vampire Crypt,” Swope said.
The Erie Cemetery may not be haunted, but it seems there are other places that have been haunted by tragedy, horror or betrayal and one never really knows how close they are to the paranormal.
You can find more in depth information on Swope’s work on his blog, theparanormalpastor.blogspot. com or on his Facebook page, Paranormal Pastor.
Anna Ashcraft is The Arts Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org