Hang around campus long enough, and you will undoubtedly hear a spooky story—ranging from ghost sightings and weird noises to missing tombstones and unearthed bones. Every fall, Rev. Tony Szakaly, C.S.C., director of Campus Ministry, takes students and alumni on the popular Secret, Sacred Spaces Tour and tries to explain the perennial myths, tales, legends and lore that are passed down from class to class. Are Holy Cross priests really buried in crypts in the Sem? Let’s find out.

Mysterious Mansion

Stonehill is situated on land that is part of the Wampanoag Tribe’s homeland and was also the site of homesteads dating back to the Colonial Era. However, many of the ghost stories that have been passed on involve the Ames family as well as College history. Stone House Hill House—now Donahue Hall—was built in 1905 by Frederick Lothrop Ames as a home for his growing family. Today, the 50-room mansion houses offices for the President, Admission, Marketing and the General Counsel. A few spine-tingling tales involving Donahue are often told, including one of an unexplained presence in a first-floor sun porch. “An electrician doing wiring work reported that he felt a tap on his shoulder,“ says Fr. Tony. “But when he looked behind him, there was no one else in the room.”

Fr. Tony shares a story of an electrician who felt a mysterious tap on his shoulder while working in one of Donahue Hall's sun porches. 

A photo of Mary Callender Ames, daughter of Frederick Lothrop Ames, taken around 1914 hangs in a Donahue sun porch.  

Another Ames family photo displayed in Donahue is of Frederick Lothrop Ames Jr. with his wife, Maurice, in front of his plane, circa 1930.

The Legend of the Blue Mist

The Ames Pond is probably the site that claims the most stories of haunting on campus. For years, people have retold what has been dubbed The Legend of the Blue Mist. The story goes that young pilot Freddy Ames—the son of Frederick Lothrop Ames—crashed his plane into the pond. Some say that a mysterious blue light, appearing in the mist above the pond, is that of Freddy’s ghost struggling to get out of the cockpit. Furthermore, according to an article in The Summit from November 7, 2002, an alum from the Class of 1965 recalls waking a little after midnight in his O’Hara Hall room and seeing a blurry figure wearing an old-fashioned pilot’s uniform. Was it Freddy? While Freddy did sadly die in a plane crash, it was in Randolph, not in Easton.

The Legend of the Blue Mist involves the pond on campus. 

Pool Closed

Alumni Hall was originally the athletic facility for the Ames family that housed an indoor clay tennis court—the first in the state of Massachusetts—as well as a marble swimming pool. “There are all kinds of rumors ‘floating’ around that the reason the pool closed was because Sally Blair Ames—granddaughter of Frederick Lothrop Ames—drowned in the pool,“ says Fr. Tony. This, however, is inaccurate. Sally died in 1963 in New York City. The real reason the pool closed was so the College could build women’s bathroom facilities when the campus became coed, in 1952.

Alumni Hall was originally the athletic facility for the Ames family. 

Some think the pool on campus closed because Sally Blair Ames drowned there. This claim, however, is not true. 

Nightly Noises

The setting for a truly creepy story often has two elements—outside and after dark—and tales told at Stonehill are no exception. Students who visit King Philip’s Caves, known as “the caves” on campus, have said that they hear spooky noises there at night. “Are they ghosts or just students having fun? You decide,” says Fr. Tony. The caves are also known for another mystery. In the 1950s, faculty conducted an archeological dig in the location and discovered that Native Americans had encamped there for hundreds of years. During the dig, they unearthed several artifacts. However, since the College Archives hadn’t yet been established, there is no record of where the artifacts are located.

Students report hearing odd noises at King Philip's Caves on campus. 

Missing Tombstones

The Holy Cross Retreat Center, just outside of campus, is built on the farm where Frederick Lothrop Ames once kept his prized Guernsey cattle. Frederick loved his cattle, especially the bulls. “When one died, he buried it and put a huge bronze tombstone over the grave,” explains Fr. Tony. But the tombstones cannot be found. “One of the great enduring mysteries of Stonehill is what became of those tombstones.” During irrigation work in the area last year, a bull bone was discovered—which is now in the College Archives. Of course, if you come to the spot at night, the tale goes, you may see a bull looking for his tombstone.

The Holy Cross Retreat Center is built on the farm where Frederick Lothrop Ames kept his prized Guernsey cattle. 

During irrigation work last year, a bull bone was discovered that is now part of the College archives. 

Tales of the Crypt

Holy Cross Center opened in 1959 as a Holy Cross fathers seminary. Eventually, it became a residence hall affectionately known by generations of students as “the Sem. “ From St. Joseph’s Chapel within the building, Fr. Tony shares a number of myths that circulate throughout the halls. One popular tale is that Holy Cross priests are buried in crypts found deep within the building. “This is absolutely not true,“ explains Fr. Tony. “Holy Cross priests are buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery on campus—a truly wonderful and quiet place.” However, with all the nooks and crannies in the building, it is easy to understand why so many eerie stories abound. In fact, each year around Halloween, the residence hall is transformed into The Haunted Sem, where visitors can take a spooky tour led by students dressed as ghastly tour guides.

From St. Joseph's Chapel in the Sem, Fr. Tony shares many of the ghost stories, myths and tales that circulate throughout the halls.