As Gonzaga students we've all heard variations of one story or another involving the haunted Monaghan Music Mansion. An often-told one includes a young seminarian who hung himself in the attic. His spirit invaded the mansion, playing haunting music and creating impassable hallways with walls of cold air.
The mansion's mysteries have different sources, and underlying all these paranormal rumors lays a true ghost story....beginning in 1974.
In September 1974, Gonzaga music students approached Father Walter Leedale, an associate professor of music at the time with tales of strange footsteps. Leedale set out to prove that they were just imagining things, however upon sleeping in his office, he ended up convinced that the mansion was haunted. Strange things took place in the building.
In January 1975 he heard a flutist playing a melody. He searched the building and found it empty. Remembering the melody and playing on the piano one day he was approached by one of the building's housekeepers who said she had heard the same melody one night when she had been alone in the building. She followed the sound to the locked organ room, found the organ running, and yet the door was securely locked.
Leedale and a security guard once heard a growling coming from a locked door, when they opened it they found nothing there but a cello with all its strings broken and a block of wood with an axe in it. They deciphered that not even the wind could have made the growling noises.
On Feb. 24, Father Leedale, Daniel Brenner (the music department chairman) and two security guards felt a presence in the mansion that made Father Leedale's skin crawl, Brenner felt as if he couldn't move, and one of the security guards felt a strangling sensation.
The next day Father Leedale began a four day process of "blessing" the house. His "blessing" closely resembled the series of six prayers used over four days in a Roman Catholic exorcism. Regularly during these "blessings" the crucifix that Leedale wore around his neck would swing back and forth, sometimes so strongly that Leedale had to grasp the cross with one hand and the prayer book with the other.
Reportedly after the "blessing" the hostile presence left Monaghan Mansion. Perhaps the hostile presence did leave, but many students, faculty and employees have felt a presence since then.
"Some campus employees I work went into the mansion at night, now at least two of these people refuse to enter the mansion, even to this day they won't go in it," said an anonymous campus employee
The Pacific Northwest Inlander did an article in 1994 about the Monaghan Mansion, they included some historical research. What they came up with was a theory relating back to the Monaghan family themselves. James Monaghan, the homeowner and builder was a founding father of Spokane. Some Internet sources say he was brutally murdered in the mansion, however these sources are incorrect. James Monaghan is not the person to be looked to in the case of the spirit in the Music Mansion, but some valid theories mention James' son, John Robert Monaghan.
John Robert was a member of the first graduating class of Gonzaga. He later attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis and was stationed on the USS Philadelphia in 1899. While on a mission in Samoa, John Robert lost his life while trying to assist a wounded comrade. Both he and the wounded were beheaded by natives.
Monaghan's body was retrieved and a funeral was held in the mansion for him. Strangely though, the crosses placed about his casket were all turned upside down, a negative symbol in the Roman Catholic Church.
A strong theory suggests that John Robert was the spirit that so viciously haunted the Monaghan house, a young brave hero known as the "Hero of Samoa" who met an untimely death. However there are a few discrepancies.
John Robert was killed in 1899. If his body was sent immediately home for burial, he would have had the funeral in the house in 1899, however the house was not finished until 1901, making it improbable to have been the place of his funeral. John Robert's spirit had no reason to haunt a house it had never been in.
The John Robert theory is just one of many, some far fetched and some highly likely.
In 1994, Leedale told the Pacific Northwest Inlander, "Honest to God, I don't know what it was, but I can say that Christians believe there are evil forces in the world, and that we, as Christians, pray to God to protect us from them, or for the strength to deal with them. This is what I was doing at the music building."