Jersey City is an old municipality with a rich and fascinating history. There are fascinating ghost yarns associated with some of the buildings in Jersey City. To get our minds into the proper “spirit” of the season, I would like to present some interesting local Halloween stories. St. Joseph’s Church on Pavonia Avenue is the first stop on this supernatural tour.
Since the early part of the 20th century, people have reported seeing a pair of strange, oval “eyes” in the church’s bell tower. These “Eyes of St. Joseph” appear during the evening hours at irregular intervals. They usually have a florescent, yellowish glow to them. However, they have occasionally been observed with “red streaks.” No one knows what these “eyes” are. The priests have sprinkled flour in the belfry, hoping that the footprints of a prankster would be discovered. However, no footprints have ever been found. Some claim that phosphorous gases cause the “eyes.” Others prefer a more paranormal explanation: Ghosts. According to one tale, a former sexton supposedly uttered the words “I’m going to the tower with the others” right before he died.
The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park has its share of ghost stories. The most infamous of those tales is the Lady in White. As creepy as the name is, the tale gets eerier — passersby and employees of the park have reported seeing a woman with long white hair and wearing white walking through the terminal. Security guards have tried to stop the woman or approach her, but most people who get close enough only catch her walk through the walls of the abandoned terminal.
Hepburn Hall, New Jersey City University, is said to house the ghost of Margaret Williams. Allegedly, unexplainable noises are heard in the Margaret Williams Auditorium. Some have claimed that the ghost of Margaret Williams can be seen on certain nights walking along the top of the tower. Of course, the campus security could have fabricated this story to keep curious students from climbing to the top of the tower.
The first Jersey City “ghost story” that I heard had to do with a “haunting” at St. Boniface Church on First Street during the late 1960s. Purportedly, a malevolent entity wreaked havoc inside the church by shredding the clerical vestments and angrily tossing sacramental items in the ready room. Naturally, when we heard the story, it caused quite a commotion throughout the neighborhood. Looking back on it, I suspect that the pastor told this “ghost story” to keep us from going into the church at night. Needless to say, it worked!
Dickinson High School, The Beacon Apartments, and the Margaret Hague Hospital are allegedly haunted. There are other buildings and private residences throughout Hudson County that supposedly entertain “spectral visitors.” Why not find out more about some of these local legends and folk tales surrounding Jersey City and Hudson County? Who knows what peculiar items of interest you may find!
May you have a healthy, safe, and enjoyable Halloween!
John Di Genio