Hauntwell Hall

By Holly Wagner

They say we don’t believe in ghost. And I said come to Hartwell and you will.

— Florence Miller

Hartwell Hall.

The hidden tales of Hartwell

There’s something in ghost stories that lurk in our minds and spark curiosity. We are often told of haunted graveyards, where souls wander, seeking revenge, or woods we are forbidden to go into once the moon rises. We never expect these types of stories to be within our reach. Well, students of Brockport, they are! One of these stories lies within one of our old academic buildings: Hartwell, also known as Hauntwell. As you enter the halls of Hartwell, you can tell this building has a history with its odd open spaces and chipped paint. While Alumni House was built in the 1860s and the earliest campus buildings, now gone, were constructed in 1835, Hartwell has been around since 1941.

Doorway inside of Hartwell Hall.

Perhaps due to the age of Hartwell, it has been a site of deaths as well as years of classes. A student drowning in a pool. A man died in the boiler room. And the death of Edward B. Rowley, which is perhaps the best known story. He died in 1888 in a cistern. His co-worker tried to save Rowley, but was were unable to find him in the dark waters.

When you came to this main hall up on the main floor , sometimes looking back at 190 (Room 190) and he would be standing in the door way, with his hands on his hips, just a looking.

— Florence Miller

These deaths in Hartwell are important because some rumors say these ghosts still haunt the halls of Hartwell. In 1993, Jennifer Valaitis interviewed Natale Glick and Florence Miller, two of Hartwell’s custodial staff. They fully believe that ghosts wander Hartwell. They noted sightings of a man who stands in the doorway of room 190, dressed in dark clothing. Which some believe is Edward Rowley himself, since he died in dark waters. Another thing they explain is that they have heard a woman’s voice. Most importantly, they explain an incident that happened. When Natale was working on a ladder one day, she lost her balance. As she fell, she felt as if someone set her down, and she landed with one arm on a dance bar. They felt that she could have had serious injuries, but she didn’t.

I do not believe in ghosts, but I am awfully afraid of them.I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’ve been running from them all my life.I don’t believe in ghosts, but I don’t want to see one

— Unknown

What is enough evidence to believe in ghosts, or to believe a building is haunted? Do you have to experience it yourself or is listening to someone else’s words good enough? Do you believe that Hartwell is haunted? Sometimes mysteries are better left unknown!


Ghost(s) of Hartwell, Interview with Jennifer Valaitis, Natale Glick, Florence Miller, 12 February

Tim Fenster, “Haunted Hartwell Sparks the interest of a TV series,” The Stylus, 22 February 2012

Casey Campbell, “Ghost Hunters Investigate Hartwell Hall,” The Stylus, 3 November 2004

Liz Rinaldo, “The History of Hartwell Ghost,” The Stylus, 7 May 2003

Val Dimino, “The Legends of Hartwell Hall Ghost,” The Port, 2 October 2017

Thanks to Dr. Bruce Leslie for clarifications.

1 comment

  1. Interesting story with good sources. The end of the first paragraph needs to be rewritten to clarify that it is the latest building on the site that was completed in 1941, whereas Alumni House was built around the 1860s. BTW – the first building on the site was completed in 1835, our founding date. It was the entire campus until after WWII.

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