A Halloween Story: University Theater Is Home to Paranormal Performances
With Halloween just two days off, so begins the last-minute scrambling for "what to be." The inspiration sometimes comes from within, but some may have to look to external sources for that costume that combines both spook and wit. Fortunately, Princeton has enough hallowed history to help those who are temporarily drawing a blank on Halloween. Our look to those haunted ivied halls of Princeton University will surely inspire.
Murray Hall, built in the years1878 and 1879, is one of those allegedly haunted buildings.
Situated off Cannon Green, behind Nassau Hall, and adjacent to the University Chapel, Murray Hall sits relatively quietly in this prominant part of campus. The hall was constructed as the headquarters of the Philadelphia Society with the intention of creating a social spot for Society members to meet and pray. The construction accommodated a growing number of evangelical Christian students on campus at that time.
A $20,000 donation from the estate of Hamilton Murray helped bring the project to fruition. Mr. Murray, a member of the Class of 1872, had lost his life the following year when his ship bound for France was lost at sea. Mr. Murray's earthly record ends there, but his fable lives on.
Adjacent to Murray Hall is Dodge Hall, which was built as a connecting, but separate hall named for C.H Dodge, class of 1897, around 1900. Coincidentally, Mr. Dodge also died very young.
Dodge Hall features a 51-foot spire on the northeast corner that is emblamatic of the Hall's religious use and it remains the headquarters of several religious student organizations and is the office of the Dean of the Chapel.
Murray Hall, however, has stripped itself of its ecclisiastical garb and is home to the Theater Intime, a collegiate performing arts company.
As the story goes, Mr. Murray was never quite able to let go of his college years. Over the years, there have been complaints of "paranormal" presences throughout the theater. It has also been reported that the portrait honoring Mr. Murray, hanging just outside the performance area, "glows" when the light is low.
As though to emphasize his apparent affinity for the arts, it has also been reported that a young man, clad in archaic, 19th century garb, sometimes attends performances at the Hall, but disappears quickly after being sighted. Hope this helps stir some of those creative juices for those procrastinating out there!
Many thanks to the library staff at the Historical Society of Princeton for their contribution in this, and other projects. Happy Halloween!