NIAGARA FALLS, NY- Almost every student knows what every building on campus today is called: Gally, Vini’s, Dunleavy. But how much do they know about the campus years ago? Walking up the trail alongside the Whirlpool lies the remains of Niagara University’s past.
Niagara is no stranger to ghosts. Clet Hall is famously haunted after a fire in the hall in 1864 killed student Thomas Hopkins. Last seen pleading for help from a window, he has been seen in the hall today opening doors and turning lights on and off, according to hauntedplaces.org.
However, not many students know about the buildings off campus that once were part of the school. In the mid 1850s, the DeVeaux College for Orphans and Destitute Children was opened by Judge Samuel DeVeaux. DeVeaux College was a military school for boys between the ages eight and twelve. DeVeaux died suddenly in 1852, leaving a portion of his estate to the Episcopal Diocese and Niagara Falls to establish the college in his name. NU purchased the property in 1972.
The buildings that formerly held the orphan boys were then used for dorms. NU stopped using the property in 1983 and although it was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, most of the buildings were demolished by 1994. What remains of the college is now owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, who renamed the property De Veaux Woods.
The buildings that are still standing are the barn and Schoellkopf Hall. Seeing the structures up close, one cannot help but get an uneasy feeling. The barn is blocked off by a fence, and a sign that says it’s closed to the public can be seen. The roof is collapsed, and none of its interior can be seen from the ground. Schoellkopf Hall is a gothic, castle-like structure, with all doors and windows boarded up shut. The hall also has a sign on it indicating that it is now a fallout shelter, deemed one of the safer buildings one can be in during a nuclear explosion.
As expected, there are rumors in the community that the area is haunted. According to paranomalghostsociety.org, there are many unmarked graves and burial sites on the property and the woods surrounding the college. The woods surrounding it are also one of the oldest unaltered old growth forests in the Falls area, according to niagaraheritage.org.
There is no official statement as to why NU stopped using the property for dorms, but the truth is out there somewhere.