Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gonzaga University’s rich history dates back to 1887.  Famous faces like Bing Crosby, John Stockton, and St. Ignatius of Loyola have become synonymous with this Jesuit college over the last 125 years.

Year after year, Spike the Bulldog stands loyally outside the McCarthy Athletic Center while the Zag men and women’s basketball teams fight for a ticket to the NCAA tournament.

As cheers for Gonzaga victory resonate throughout The Kennel, the sounds coming from Monaghan Mansion are eerily different.
James Monaghan

James Monaghan built the house in 1898, and it was later sold to the university in 1942. Soon after, students, staff and faculty began experiencing strange events.  Reports of footsteps in empty hallways and music coming from the building in the dead of night were common stories that became cemented in campus folklore. 

The paranormal activity in the mansion reached a peak during the 1960s and into the 1970s.  It’s not often that an exorcism is performed on a college campus, but in 1975, Father Walter Leedale and the chairman of Gonzaga’s music department, David Brenner, arranged an exorcism which lasted four days. 

Support among the Gonzaga community was high, and any presence residing there must have felt it.  Since then, the building has been generally quiet, with occasional reports of unusual activity.

The home James Monaghan built at the turn of the 20th century represents an early time in Gonzaga’s history, but has become a distinctive educational environment for the university’s music students and will remain part of Gonzaga’s campus culture.

Every community has a narrative – the people, the places, the events – that define its history and give its members materials to create shared meaning.  Ghost stories are easily dismissed, but whatever the explanation, the story of Monaghan Mansion has become part of the oral tradition of Gonzaga’s community.  Do you believe?