Top Ten Haunted Places in Princeton

10) Theater Intime, Princeton University campus: It’s been a while since any members of the audience or staff has seen the ghost of Hamilton Murray, for whom the theater in which this company of student actors performs was named, but those who claim to have encountered the spirit say he used to appear stage left during performances. Princeton graduate Murray died, along with his sister, in a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean in 1873.

9) Nassau Inn: More than one guest at the Palmer Square hostelry has reported seeing a Revolutionary War type on one of the floors. He’s not angry, they say, but has a curious expression. Also seen from time to time, some say, is a woman going upstairs from the lobby to the second floor private meeting rooms.

8) Origins: This Palmer Square purveyor of soaps and cosmetics has been surprised on more than one occasion to detect the aroma of cigars — with no smokers in sight. But since the original Nassau Inn was located directly on the site from 1756 to 1930, some are convinced that the smell comes from ghosts of travelers who bought their tobacco in the hotel.

7) Thomas Clarke House: This historic house at the Princeton Battlefield served as a hospital during the American Revolution. Among those treated was Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, who died from multiple wounds suffered during the Battle of Princeton. In one of the upstairs bedrooms, perhaps where Mercer lay, custodians and one visitor have reported getting an unusual feeling around their necks. Whether that is related to the fact that Mercer’s cravat was taken while he was in the house is open to debate.

6) The Barracks: This stone house at 32 Edgehill Street built by Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton is thought to be Princeton’s oldest. During the Revolution, and possibly in the French and Indian War, it was used to house soldiers. That’s where the Hessian Ghost comes in. Legend has it that he appears in the fireplace every Christmas Eve. A Hessian soldier is said to have showed up there during the Battle of Princeton, and died in front of the fireplace from a chest wound.

5) Hulit’s Shoes at 142 Nassau Street: The female members of the staff at this Princeton institution swear to have seen a young girl in a white nightgown frolicking among the shelves when they go downstairs to the basement to pick out shoes for customers.

4) Princeton Cemetery: This renowned resting place of the famous and not-so-famous dates back to 1757. With so many notables buried in its plots—Grover Cleveland, Aaron Burr, and the parents of the Menendez Brothers, to name only a few—those who believe in the spirit world can’t help but be drawn to its tree-shaded grounds. More than one visitor has reported strange sensations at the cemetery. Maybe the university presidents, the signer of the Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War veterans and philanthropists put to rest there are restless.

3) Town Topics building: The original location of the weekly newspaper, at 4 Mercer Street, now Princeton University offices and housing, was built in 1878 and moved to make way for a war memorial in 1914. Priest’s Drug Store occupied the ground floor for many years. Mary Priest, the wife of the owner, lived upstairs until 1973 during a long illness. An old woman —not threatening— wearing a nightgown, has been seen in the upper window by more than one observer.

2) Rockefeller College Quad: On the Princeton University campus, the college known as “Rocky” is said to be built on what was once a cemetery for the FitzRandolph family. When Italian stonemasons began digging at the site, they found skeletons, which were buried in a wall of the archway to the quadrangle. Two students, a married couple, have said that their room atop the archway had a couch and a painting that would move, independently.

1) McCarter Theatre: Like almost every professional theatre, this historic stage on the Princeton campus has a “ghost light” on the stage, which stays lit when the theater is dark. While it serves safety concerns, a popular theatrical superstition is that every theater has a ghost, and the light allows spirits to perform onstage, thus appeasing them and keeping them from cursing the theater. Whether McCarter has a ghost has yet to be proven, but any of the thousands of performers who have graced its stage could be hanging around…

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