By Mackenzie Dineen – Co-Arts Editor
At the ripe old age of 165 years old, Lasell is full of history. Although students live here part of the year, perhaps we have some permanent residents. With buildings that were constructed before what we know as Lasell today, is it possible for dorms and houses to be full of history and spirits alike?
Victorian housing at Lasell includes Briggs, Carpenter, Chandler, Cushing, Gardner, Haskell, Hoag, Karandon, Keever, Mott, Ordway, Pickard, Saunders and Spence. The majority of the buildings on campus and in the surrounding area were built after Lasell’s inception. Edward. D. Winslow owned the land between Studio and Vista Avenue, and in 1869 developed the area into Victorian buildings with the help of Edmund B. Haskell, according to the Auburndale Local Historic District Final Study Report. Other buildings including Woodland Hall and Ordway House were constructed in the 1950s, making them less likely to have ghostly tenants.
Those who lived in the homes surrounding campus could be responsible for hauntings near East/West quad. According to sophomore Melody Maltby, she and a roommate saw a silhouette of a man standing at the foot of her bed twice in the middle of the night in their room in Van Winkle. Although the two locked their door, “Something was always knocked over or obviously not where we put it,” said Maltby. “One time our full length mirror was laying on the opposite side of the room,” she added. In Rockwell, Emmy Shylocki saw a tall, dark figure standing near her roommate’s closet. Her roommate had a dream of the same figure that evening, and awoke with uneasy feelings about the room’s energy for the next week.
Kim Manteiga recounted a story that took place two years ago in East. While using a Ouija board, which are rumored to be banned on Lasell’s campus, they came in contact with a presence. “I asked her what her name was and she slowly spelled out SAMANTHA,” said Manteiga. “I asked her if she had passed away nearby. She responded ‘yes.’” Manteiga said that her instinct was to ask if it had hurt, the spirit answered ‘yes.’ “I felt so much emotional pain for her […] if it wasn’t real, why did I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness?” said Mantegia.
Gardner House, previously known as the Friedrich Johnson House, was built in 1883 by Friedrich Johnson. The study report implies Johnson lived in Case House before constructing what is now Gardner. Gardner was renamed after Elizabeth Jane Gardner, who graduated Lasell College in 1856 according to the Historic Newton website, and would become a famous American painter.
Olivia Case lived on the first floor of Gardner and was working at her desk when she felt someone grab her shirt and brush her skin. She assumed it was one of her two roommates. “[They were both] sitting perfectly still at their own desks on the other side of the room,” according to Case. Another incident occurred one day when she ventured into the basement. “I opened the door and it immediately shut. There’s no draft in that basement, so there’s no reason that it would close again,” she said.
Karandon House, built in 1893, is named in honor of Dr. Bragdon’s wife, Kate Ransom Bragdon, hence Ka-ran-don (informally known as K-House to Lasell residents), according to Lasell’s website. Senior Aliza Bogosian, resident of K-House said, “I don’t know if you can call them ghosts, but I feel like I’m intruding on someone else’s space and sometimes when I’m lying in bed it will subtly shake from side to side like it’s vibrating.” Bogosian also said she had been “having really vivid, lucid dreams” from which she woke up sobbing.
Her roommate senior Tessa Dinnie said, “I woke up in the middle of my nap and I turned over and I thought I saw Aliza on the floor reading. Much later, I woke up and there was no trace of Aliza coming in and leaving, sitting down, moving anything, everything was exactly the same.” Bogosian and Dinnie confirmed that Bogosian had been in the library and had not returned until much later that evening.
Senior J.R. Costello, who lives in K-House said, “I wound my broken clock to 12:34 and I woke up the next day to it being set to 3:30 and I didn’t change it and nobody else changed. My door was closed.”
On the corner of Washington Street and Woodland Road used to stand Woodland Park Hotel. King’s Handbook of Newton said the hotel was built between 1881 and 1882 by Mr. Haskell, Pulsifer, Andrews and Johnson. The climate was especially suited to “certain diseases of the throat and lungs,” according to King’s Handbook. The primary tenants of the hotel were Boston residents who required a gentle environment in the winter. According to the final study program, it was demolished in 1950. It is possible the houses of Lasell may not be the origin of the many spirits students claim to have experienced.