Welcome to the haunted mansion

By Elizabeth Brachelli
August 31, 2006

Shane Evans

The ghosts of the Dorrance family, who once owned the mansion of Cabrini, have been haunting students for years and it is unknown whether they are still lurking on campus.

Over time, students have claimed sighting members of the deceased Dorrance family. The Dorrance family, which students have seen on campus, entered the Radnor area in 1920 looking for a vacation place in the summer. The property was sold to Dr. John Dorrance, the father of the family and also the owner of the Campbell Soup Company. Dorrance’s wife and his daughter resided with him in the mansion during the summers. Later, Dorrance’s heirs occupied the estate until 1945 when the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus purchased the mansion at an auction. Since the college began, there have been sightings of the ghosts leaving Cabrini to be one of the top haunted campuses.

Laura Goodfield, a sophomore and biotechnology major, said, “I think it’s a fable to make things exciting.”

One year ago, Brian Fairman, a junior English and communication major, started giving ghost tours unofficially. He was inspired by his advisor, Dr. Joseph Romano, a philosophy professor, who showed a video on the ghosts of Cabrini’s campus. Fairman also enjoyed ghost hunting at night with his friends.

Fairman said, “I’ve always had a huge fascination in the occult and supernatural. I believe in ghosts of course, but I’m usually very skeptical.”

Fairman explained he doesn’t believe in the ghost sightings until he views the ghosts himself. Although, Fairman said he has never had any encounters of the sightings on campus himself, he has heard of many.

Fairman said, “One night last year there was a ghost sighting in Woodcrest and the whole campus was talking about it 10 minutes after it happened.

Last year, several of the girls in the Woodcrest residence halls believed their rooms were haunted. The girls asked Father Michael Bielecki, the campus Chaplin, to bless their rooms. Bielecki said a prayer in the residence hall, asking for God’s protection. Also, Bielecki sprinkled holy water in the residence hall to provide an external blessing

Bielecki said, “It was not an exorcism. It was a blessing of the hall because students expressed their fears.”

Some of the common ghost sightings explained by students were of a young girl in a blue or white dress with long blond hair. The girl is believed to be Dorrance’s daughter. Stories have been passed down that the Dorrance’s daughter fell in love with the young stable boy. The boy used to work in Grace Hall which used to be the stables. Dorrance did not believe his daughter should be having relations with the stable boy since they were of a higher class and he did not allow her to see him. Dorrance’s daughter continued to have the affair and she is believed to have been pregnant by the stable boy. Later, the stable boy hung himself in Grace Hall. Also, the Dorrance’s daughter threw herself over the balcony in the mansion. Students say they see the young girl and she asks where her child is.

Few students also mentioned seeing Dorrance along different driveways on campus in a top hat with a long cape.

Fairman than described the best place to get a sense of the haunted campus is at the mansion.

Fairman explained that a coffin used to be in the basement of the mansion as well as an underground tunnel that ran around the campus. Up until last year, the coffin was removed because it was falling apart. Fairman also said that often times, the sight of the coffin scares students during the tour along with the sight of the basement.

Fairman said, “It’s really old down there, all really old pipes and vaults. Some people get freaked out, especially in the basement of the mansion.”

The Loquitur welcomes your comments and questions on this story. Please send your comments to Loquitur@googlegroups.com. The editors will review your comments each week and make corrections if warranted.

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Elizabeth Brachelli

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