Haunted Queen’s Court: Forgotten human remains, a lingering entity monitored by a ghostly priest, mysteriously vanishing objects, strange sounds, and more abound at Fordham University’s most haunted dorm.
Here’s a deep dive into ghost stories from Queen’s Court, looking at both the reported stories as well as the connections between tales of weirdness.
• A second, forgotten burial ground on Fordham’s Campus
• My own paranormal experience
• The entity that supposedly is trapped at the end of the hall of a dorm
• A ghostly priest who banishes and traps a strange entity
• Poltergeist activity
Got a Fordham haunting to report? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product.
Note: For this version of the script, I tried to censor students’ names. Everyone I mention by name was quoted and named on the record in publicly accessible articles, but many of the articles exist in PDF form in the university’s archives and are not indexed by search engines. I don’t want to screw up the SEO on anyone’s name, so if you want to see full names, check out the sources below or listen to the episode.
- Last episode, I talked about the history of one wing of one dorm of Fordham, so you know, I’m really making good progress on getting through my look at the history and hauntings of this campus.
- You’ll prob get more out of this episode if you listened to the previous one, which is more about the university’s history, but I think you’re fine listening to just this one if you prefer to get right into the ghost stories
- So anyway, I’m talking about the dorm Queen’s Court, which is made up of three halls. The oldest, St. John’s Hall, which I talked about last week
- I saved one tidbit of history from St. John’s Hall that I wanted to share this week.
- So, Fordham University famously has a cemetery dating on campus from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and I’m going to talk about that in depth in another episode. However, what most people don’t know, and what I certainly didn’t know, is that there’s another known burial ground at Fordham’s campus.
- Though actually, when I went back and did more research, I found that it was mentioned in the 1891 book A History of St. John’s College, Fordham, NY, but I must have skimmed over it when reading it in the past, bc the part in that book about Fordham prior to the seminary being founded is a little boring to me.
- So, initially I stumbled across the story of this burial ground in a 2019 book called The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories by Cheri Farnsworth (2019):
- “During construction of St. John’s Hall, a private burial ground was discovered on farmland that had belonged to the Corsa family and is now occupied by the university. Andrew Corsa, for whom Corsa Avenue was named, was the same age as freshman and sophomore university students when he volunteered to guide George Washington, the Comte de Rochambeau, and the allied U.S.-France Army of five thousand troops to survey British defenses around Manhattan just prior to the Grand Reconnaissance on July 21, 1781. The circular garden behind St. John’s Hall marks the Corsa family’s burial grounds.”
- I had never heard of the Corsa family burial ground, and was shocked to find this information. So I pulled out one of my favorite reference books, The Graveyard Shift: A Family Historian’s Guide to New York City Cemeteries by Carolee Inskeep (2000), and sure enough, there was an entry on the Corsa Family Burial Ground.
- There’s very little information about the cemetery, and I think that Cheri Farnsworth got her information from The Graveyard Shift, because it’s pretty much the same. The only additional info that I found in The Graveyard Shift was that the cemetery was discovered in the 1840s when they were building St. John’s Hall. We know that the burial ground was used prior to the 1840s, but that’s it.
- I tried to find more information about the Corsa family, but didn’t see a ton on Ancestry.com. I did find Andrew Corsa’s information on wikitree.com; he died in 1852, so wouldn’t have been buried in the family burial ground. He was buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Yonkers, but his parents may have been buried at the family burial ground, as well as his grandfather and other family members from the generations before him. Interestingly, Andrew Corsa’s father, Isaac, was apparently a loyalist who had to relocate to Nova Scotia after the Revolutionary War, but it sounds like at some point before his death, he likely returned to NY. It’s just interesting to me that the father was a loyalist and his son volunteered to help George Washington’s forces.
- Here’s what the 1891 book A History of St. John’s College, Fordham, NY says:
- “Another tradition of revolutionary days, but one which lacks the color of probability, is that concerning the skeletons which were discovered in a mound at the rear of the old seminary. They were immediately pronounced the bones of soldiers who had fallen in some of the numerous skirmishes that took place in that vicinity during the revolutionary war. But there is nothing to confirm that belief; on the contrary, all the evidence in the case tends to contradict any such opinion. The skeletons were buried at regular intervals and in regular order, which would hardly be the case with those dying on a battlefield; there were no tokens, in the way of brass buttons, buckles, sabres and the like, such as would, in all probability, be found in the graves of soldiers; and finally, at the time the bones were discovered, a Mr. Corsa, who lived in the neighborhood, stated, it is said, that the place had been used in former years as a burying-ground.”
- The additional two wings of Queen’s Court, Bishop’s Hall and Robert’s Hall were built about 100 years later, in 1940. Then it was called Our Lady’s Court, and then they changed it to Queen’s Court, which is what it’s still called today
- According to the book Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003 by Thomas J. Shelley (2016), there’s an interesting story about how the university got the funding for Bishop’s and Robert’s Halls: Robert Gannon, the university president, was at a dinner party and he really charmed this rich lady who was hosting the party. As he was leaving, she gave him a check for $160,000. And then later she gave him another $50,000. For reference, $210,000 in 1940 is $4.1 million today.
- So yeah, how “charming” must Gannon have been, or how rich was this lady, that it made since to give him the equivalent of $3.1 million as he’s walking out the door and then another million? A very charming man. There’re lots of stories in the book about how charming Gannon was. It’s just wild.
- I’d always wondered why Queens Court is called QC, and I’m SURE it’s a reference to Mary, but I’m sure it was also a reference to this lady, kinda like how John Hughes named stuff after himself.
- Anyway, the other notable thing about the other two wing’s construction was that they were built from stones from what the book called the “old Lenox Library,” so I looked up the Lenox library, which was a fancy private library that ended up becoming one of the first branches of the NYPL. It was in the UES, and stood where the Frick museum is now, at 5th ave and 70th street. It was torn down in 1912, and then Henry Clay Frick built his mansion in that location. That leads me to so many logistical questions about how the stone ended up being used at Fordham, but the internet has been no help at answering my many questions. But I guess they repurposed the stone? And I guess the stone was a perfect match. I wonder if the fancy rich lady had anything to do with hooking them up with the stone?
- So that’s the kind of odd story behind the expansion of Queen’s Court. Let’s get to the ghosts.
- A 2017 article in The Observer, the newspaper of Fordham’s Manhattan campus, Lincoln Center, has some great firsthand accounts of Fordham ghosts. I just want to pause to applaud the writer, Zoe S—–, for doing actual reporting and interviewing people with ghostly experiences, instead of doing what I and everyone else on the internet does, and what I’m doing, which is just regurgitating stories printed elsewhere.
- So anyway, the article recounts a story from John A—–, class of 89, who lived in St. John’s Hall, in Queens court. This story is from the late 80s. A—–‘s friend, Paul C—–, was at his desk, doing homework. I’ll read from A—–‘s account: ” His desk was against the wall, but he could look to the left out his window and see the courtyard. It was around 10:30-11:00 p.m. He looked out the window and saw this guy in a cape walking toward the statue in the center of the court. He had a candle extinguisher. He was walking toward the statue as if to extinguish the light.”
- However, the light was electric, so that was just weird. C—–went to the window and watched. Ten minutes later, his roommate walked in. C—– was really freaked out, and basically just kept saying “no legs” while pointing out the window. Eventually, he was calm enough to say that when he looked out the window, he saw that the figure he saw had no legs. To quote A—-: “He floated to the middle of the court, then floated out of the courtyard. Bizarre.”
- Could this be the groundskeeper ghost, or someone else?
- In the October 31, 1999 issue of The Ram, there are stories about possible poltergeist activity in Queens Court.
- Thought first I wanted to talk about the definition of poltergeist activity. When I use the term, I mean a mischievous ghost or spirit that makes noises, moves things around, and generally causes annoying but mainly harmless household disruption.
- however, some paranormal investigators say that a poltergeist needs to have a certain person, usually a young person going through puberty, especially a young girl, who the activity is sort of associate with and spurred on by. but that’s not the definition I’m using here
- The article is called Boo! Are you Frightened Yet? You should be, and describes a student named Andy S—– class of ’99, who looked at a Beatles album cover right before going to bed, and when he woke up, the alum that had been hanging on his wall, was gone.
- They ascertained that no one could have entered their room, because the door was still locked, they looked all over, couldn’t find it, and gave up. He was puzzled, though, so when he heard a story about someone else’s experience in Queens Court of a picture flying across the room, he kept looking for the album. Three weeks later, he found it behind a dresser on the adjacent wall, somewhere where he was sure that it couldn’t have fallen on its own.
- He told The Ram: “I was so scared that I had trouble sleeping for three weeks,” and, sure that this was the work of a ghost, he started asking around for more stories of hauntings.
- He collected a number of stories, and presented the three most credible ones at his Knight Court (explain what Knight Court is).
- The three events he told at his Knight Court all happened on the second floor of Robert’s Hall, a wing of Queens Court (for reference, I lived on Robert’s third, and I did have one paranormal experience there, which I’ll talk about when I do the episode on my experiences.)
- Alison M—– was blow drying her hair when she thought she heard the phone ring. She turned off the blowdryer and looked at the phone, which was where it always was, on her roommate’s fridge. She kept blow drying her hair, and it didn’t ring again. Then, she looked up when her roommate Carin R—- came back from the bathroom, and Alison saw that the phone was no longer on the fridge: it was on her desk. She asked her roommate if she’s moved the phone, but she hadn’t. They were both freaked out by that. The article does not say whether the phone was still plugged in, or how close the fridge and desk were, which were my two questions when reading that.
- Their neighbor, Vickie V—-, had an experience a few days after moving into the dorm. She was talking to her roommate, who was cutting pictures out of magazines using scissors. The roommate put down the scissors for a moment, and then when she went to pick them up, they were gone. They looked for it for 15 mins, and even took the sheets of the bed, but couldn’t find them. Then, they looked at the desk, and the scissors were sitting there on a neat stack of papers. Weirdly, the desk had been cluttered and covered with messy papers before. They were really freaked out, so knocked on their neighbor’s door at 1 am. (Unclear if the neighbor was Alison M—– and Carin R—–, or not.) One of the girls called her mom (I assume also at 1 am, lol), and her mom said that as long as they had faith in Christ, the spirit couldn’t harm them. Later on, though, V—– was skeptical, and said: “Maybe we can do things unconsciously and then we try to attribute them to outside causes.”
- Down the hall, still on Roberts 2nd, Susan H—– and Sara H—- had an incident where they locked their door, turned off their stereo, and went to sleep. Sometime during the night, the stereo turned itself back on, and started playing a “strange CD” which hadn’t been in their stereo at all the previous day. (Not sure what strange CD meant, but I guess that’s just a flourish? It seems to be a CD they owned.) The CD they’d played right before going to bed was back in its case on the rack.
- S—– also told other, more minor stories that had happened. To read from the article: ” Residents blamed ghosts for unlocked doors, switched-off fans and missing jewelry that later resurfaced in odd places. Students also reported footsteps and strange noises coming from St. John’s Hall which was closed for renovation.”
- I don’t know what was being renovated in St. John’s Hall at the time, but I do know that according to an article in The Ram from September 4, 1983, there was a ceiling collapse in John’s that forced an evacuation, so it seems like it was falling apart for a while.
- St. John’s Hall is the oldest wing of Queens Court, and it was the original wing, before the other two were added on. It’s actually the oldest dorm on campus.
- So those incidents had happened in 95. In 96, S—– returned to Queens Court to talk at “Fright Court,” which is a Halloween event that the dorm does. There, he collected one new story, from Megan and Susan M—–, class of 2000, who said they’d lost a magazine while moving into their room on John’s 2nd. They couldn’t find it, went to dinner, and when they returned, it was sitting in the middle of their floor.
- S—– said: “My theory is if there were a ghost, it came as if an introduction to say, ‘Beware of me. You are not alone.”
- Perhaps the most famous Queens Court haunting is one that’s retold in the book Haunted Halls: ghostlore of American college campuses by Elizabeth Tucker (2007), and the story also appears in The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories by Cheri Farnsworth (2019).
- During summer 2003, before students had moved in, five Ras and one residence hall director moved into Queens Court early to prep for students’ arrival. They had to fill out condition reports for rooms and get them prepped for the new students to move in. But a strange thing was happening on the first floor of Roberts. In one particular room, the mattresses kept ending up propped upright against the walls, even though the RA for the hall kept laying them back down every time he passed.
- He thought that someone was probably pranking him, so he would lock the door every time he put the mattresses back down to make sure no one could get in. But it didn’t do any good.
- One night, around 2:30, someone knocked on the RA’s door. He opened the door, and saw that his visitor was a priest.
- According to the Fordham library website, the priest said this to the RA:
- “Someone must have been praying pretty loudly if they got me up at this hour. Sorry about that, it normally stays at the other end of the hall, but it must have gotten out. Don’t worry, I took care of it.”
- The library continues the story, saying:
- “For the rest of the summer the mattresses stayed in their proper places. The RA later tried to seek out the Jesuit but when he described the elderly man who visited him in the night, he was told that the only Jesuit bearing that description had died 10 years earlier.”
- Before I continue the story, I just want to pause on what I think is a really important part of the story. When the Jesuit says “It normally stays at the other end of the hall, but it must have gotten out,” what the heck is he talking about. Is there one room that is just understood to be haunted? Does the entity usually haunt the bathroom, at the end of the hall? Or another part of Queen’s Court? The priest didn’t say, “don’t worry, it’s gone back to the spirit realm,” or something. He implies that the entity’s home is within Queen’s Court. Not especially comforting.
- I found some additional information about this story that I hadn’t seen elsewhere on a website called belitionlee.blogspot.com. I don’t totally know where this information came from, but it has my favorite thing, which is specific details. It claims to be an update/correct as of 2004, clarifying that it happened on the first floor of Roberts. And I’ll just read the rest from the blog:
- “But there’s more to the events that happened…in early November 2003, when the hall was full of 20-some residents, all of the lighting- main AND emergency, suddenly went out one night. The lights were out- inexplicably- for almost the entire day. By the time night fell, the floor was pitch black. During the day, the fire alarm lights flashed several times but only in the Robert’s first hallway- nowhere else in the building. The creepiest part was that night, when the two residents who live in “the room” that had the problem with mattress flipping earlier in the summer got locked in. The second roommate had come in and didn’t even shut the door all the way- suddenly it was shut and locked, and they couldn’t open it up. No one could get the door open. Finally, locksmiths had to be brought in- in the middle of the night, keep in mind- to climb in through the windows, and literally take the door apart, until it suddenly fell off its hinges.”
- So now we come to the experience I had at Queen’s Court. It isn’t the most dramatic story, but it’s certainly a puzzler.
- When I was a freshman, I lived on the third floor of Robert’s Hall. Though Queens Court has a really fancy, Hogwarts-looking study hall on the first floor of Bishops, I didn’t like to study there at night after I had already showered, because I was young and vain and didn’t like to encounter people in my pajamas, and with my hair wet, and not wearing makeup.
- I also couldn’t really study in my room, because my roommate went to bed really early and was a light sleeper.
- So in those situations, when I needed to study late in the evening after I’d showered, I would sit in the stairwell, in between the third floor (which was the top floor) and the roof. This was an interior stairwell, positioned between Robert’s and Bishop’s halls, and it led up to the door to the roof, which was an alarmed emergency exit. It’s worth noting here that alarmed doors are very heavy, because you don’t want to risk a gust of wind opening it and waking up the whole building with the alarm, etc.
- If I’m remembering the geography of these stairs correctly, through the mists of time, there was a landing in the middle of the stairs, and I’d sit halfway between the landing and the third floor. I wanted to be high enough away that people walking by wouldn’t try to talk to me (and ideally, they wouldn’t see me at all, because it’s kind of weird to study in a stairwell.) But I couldn’t go up too high, because there wasn’t a light at the top of the stairs, by the roof, so the higher up you went, the more shrouded in darkness you were. And if I was too high, then I couldn’t see to read.
- One week, there was a weird thing where the alarms had briefly stopped working.
- And it was a big deal, because people were able to go up onto the roof and take pictures and stuff, so a lot of people were going up there. I didn’t, because I’m an extremely risk-averse person, and I regret that for sure.
- Fordham University is an extremely strict environment, and I remember the administration was not happy that people were going up on the roof, so they fixed the alarms really fast. I can’t remember exactly how long it took them, but maybe a couple days?
- On the day that this experience happened, someone had tried going back up onto the roof, and had set off the alarms, so it was confirmed that the roof was once again off limits. I remember being super bummed about that, because I had just about got up the courage to go up there.
- So that evening, I was sitting on the stairs, studying, and above me, I hear the door slam. It was really loud, because it was a heavy, alarmed door. I couldn’t see the door from where I was sitting, but I set down my book, went up the rest of the stairs, and saw that the door was very firmly closed. I kind of shrugged, was like, whatever, and went back down.
- But then I heard it slam again. I went back up, checked it, and of course it was closed and no one was there. I also didn’t hear anyone up on the roof, like walking around or talking or anything.
- Even if there was someone up on the roof, there was no reason for them to open and shut a door, unless they were going in or out, because it risked setting off the alarm. And no one could have gone in and out via that stairwell without passing by me. There was I believe one other stairwell with roof access, on the other side of the building, so someone could have gone out using that, but, again, there’s no reason why someone would have opened and then slammed the door above me shut without walking through it, especially because slamming a door risked alerting someone to the fact that you’re up there, trespassing. Also, I knew the doors had been alarmed again, someone had checked that day, so how could the door open without setting off the alarm?
- It happened a few more times, with the door above me distinctly slamming, and me checking and seeing that everything looked normal. I thought of sitting on the landing so I could watch the door out of the corner of my eye, but it was way too dark up there, and I wouldn’t have been able to read in the dim light. After a while, I remember just being creeped out, finishing up what I was doing, and going to bed.
- I don’t remember studying in that stairwell that often after that (I think it was fairly early in the school year and I switched to mostly studying elsewhere once I found somewhere I preferred), but I never had anything else like that happen in the stairwell.
- So what do I think happened? To me, it sounds in line with some of the poltergeist-type activity that other people have witnessed at Queens Court. I’m inclined to think I experienced something paranormal, but as with all things paranormal, there’s not really a way for me to prove it.
- Do I think the door was really slamming, or do I think it was just a noise that sounded like the door slamming? I don’t know, it’s too long ago now for me to remember if there had been a draft or not before I heard each slam. And I was really trying to concentrate on studying, rather than studying the circumstances of this phenomena.
- NOTE: I know that I made some additional connections about my experience in the final episode audio, but haven’t had time to add that to the transcript.
Sources consulted RE: Haunted Queen’s Court
- A history of St. John’s College, Fordham, N.Y by Thomas Gaffney Taaffe (1891)
- Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003 by Thomas J. Shelley (2016)
- Fordham: A History and Memoir, Revised Edition by Raymond A. Schroth (2009)
- Haunted Halls: ghostlore of American college campuses by Elizabeth Tucker (2007)
- The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories by Cheri Farnsworth (2019)
- The Graveyard Shift: A Family Historian’s Guide to New York City Cemeteries by Carolee Inskeep (2000)
- Ghosthunting New York City by L’Aura Hladik (2011)
Don’t miss past episodes:
- Ghosts of Queen’s Court: Part 1 (Haunted Fordham University)
- New York City Potter’s Fields
- Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York (Part 1)
- Archbishop John Hughes, aka Dagger John: Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York (Part 2)
- Haunted Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC
- Haunted St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery