Many of Zags have heard the rumors of the Music Mansion being haunted, the tales of an exorcism that may or may not have occurred there and the stories of a ghost who haunts the building to this day.
It all began in 1900, according to the May 22 issue of The Chronicle, when construction for James Monaghan’s new mansion was announced. The Feb. 4 edition of The Chronicle in 1901 described the mansion as the “Finest on North Side” of Spokane.
According to an article published in The Spokesman Review on April 13, 1975, James Monaghan was a pioneer whose family lived in the mansion for many years until it was leased to Gonzaga as a music conservatory in November of 1938.
It wasn’t until 1975 that rumors of the Music Mansion being haunted had really begun to take hold, after multiple reports of mysterious happenings that had taken place at the mansion.
The Gonzaga Bulletin previously ran a story on the strange occurrences at the music mansion in its April 11 edition in 1975. The Bulletin article began with an editor’s note: “The music building has been the scene of unexplainable unusual incidents for the last six months.”
The article focused on three reported incidents at the music mansion – an organ heard playing at various times during the day and the night when no one was playing it, growling and rusting noises coming from the cellar, and a type of “force field” that made it impossible to pass through a hallway in the building.
At least 10 people reported hearing the organ music in the building, and a maid who investigated the room where the music was coming from revealed that no one was there, according to the 1975 Bulletin story.
Father Walter Leedale, a music professor at the time, heard the noises coming from a locked room in a cellar, and went to investigate what was causing them. Upon investigation, Leedale said there was no possibility of wind blowing into the room that would have caused these noises, said the Spokesman-Review article.
While rumors of an exorcism at the Music Mansion still circulate today, according to the articles from The Bulletin and The Spokesman-Review, no exorcism took place at the Music Mansion.
However, Leedale did perform prayers in some of the rooms of the music mansion and placed crucifixes in a few rooms as well.
“It was basically a simple house blessing, not unlike when a faithful Christian couple asks me to bless the bedroom of their newborn baby,” said Leedale, reported in the Spokesman Review article.
KHQ news also ran a video story on the mysterious occurrences at the music mansion in 1975, and the story reportedly used the word “exorcism” multiple times, to which the Bulletin article said, “The news story’s repetitive use of the word exorcism was incorrect and misleading.”
Leedale explained in the article how an exorcism can only be ordered by a bishop after a thorough investigation. He also said that an exorcism has to do with the possession of a person, and what they were dealing with at the music mansion was different.
As for the claims of a “force field” that Leedale and the head of the music department at the time, Daniel Brenner, encountered preventing passage through one of the hallways in the building, the 1975 Bulletin story said this was proved to be false when one of the people present for the KHQ video story had no trouble walking down the hallway in question.
The Spokesman-Review story also mentioned the experiences of Steve Armstrong, who was the student caretaker of the building at the time.
Armstrong said that an “alien force” still inhabited the house, despite the prayers Leedale performed. He also mentioned foul odors, switching on and off of circuit breakers with no explanation, noises that sounded like feet shuffling in the hallway and late-night piano playing.
The same article said not everyone agrees with Armstrong about the music building. Professors and many of the security guards were skeptical of this “alien force” in the building.
“Some GU faculty members are openly skeptical about the reported incidents,” said the Spokesman-Review article.
However, an unnamed person associated with the security department claimed, “I know what I saw, I know what I heard and I know what I felt, and you couldn’t pay me to go back in there again,” although the incident they were referring to was not explained further.
The Bulletin reported on the myth of the Music Mansion again in an edition published on Jan. 29, 1987. This article said that the rumor at the time was that a Jesuit had hung himself in the attic of the building, though no one knows when, and that his ghost still haunts the mansion today.
However, it was later explained in the article that the Jesuit who died by suicide died in his bedroom, which was not in the Music Mansion.
The 1987 Bulletin article also touches on the exorcism rumor.
“These so-called prayers of exorcism began rumors of an exorcism, such as the one in the movie “The Exorcist,” happening in the music building. Such a rite as the movie portrayed was not performed,” said the article.
This article also said that faculty were skeptical of the mansion being haunted, although the story said, “many students feel there is a university effort to suppress the truth of the building.”
Is the Music Mansion haunted today? That remains to be confirmed, but students have had strange experiences there recently.
Wealthy Vue, a senior communication studies and pre-law major with a minor in psychology has had a few experiences with the Music Mansion.
Vue said that when he was a sophomore in high school, he went into the mansion in broad daylight with some friends and heard piano music, but when they went to go check on the source, no one was there playing the piano.
During his sophomore year at GU, Vue said that he was going past the mansion with some friends when he heard a sound come from the mansion. He stopped for a second, and the sound disappeared, but Vue and his friend said they saw a little girl inside the mansion.
“It was kind of weird. She was really decayed and stuff, it was kind of weird to see it,” said Vue. “When you see something, you know you can’t unsee it, so it was just kind of like one of those moments.”
Rumors of a little girl haunting the mansion have been circulating recently, resembling what Vue described.
Kira Schwander, a junior applied math major who worked in the Music Mansion said she only had one strange experience there.
Schwander was walking past the mansion on her way back from a concert and saw that one of the lights was still on in the attic, so she went inside to go turn it off. Schwander said she felt a pressure in her chest when she went up to the attic.
“I walk outside and the light is still on in the attic,” Schwander said, after she had already turned off the light.
Schwander also noted that the music professors whose offices are in the building are comfortable staying in the mansion overnight if they have work to do, and the chair of the music department declined to comment when asked about strange happenings at the Music Mansion.
Kelli Maunder, a sophomore accounting major also recalled having an interesting experience at the Music Mansion. Maunder said she and a friend went into the Music Mansion on Halloween of last fall, and they too heard piano music.
Maunder said that while she and her friend heard the music, they tried to open a door by the staircase only to find it was locked. The music eventually stopped as they were exploring the mansion, and they went back to try the door again, but it was unlocked this time.
Maunder and her friend walked down the stairs and found a man playing the piano, although she was unsure if he was a student or not. She said he looked like he could have been a junior or senior, but her friend was unsure.
“I thought I saw his ID card, his keys sitting on the piano. Max thinks I lost it because he doesn’t remember,” Maunder said. “I definitely feel weird being in there, I can kinda see it being haunted.”