The Rapidian

Haunted Holmdene Manor and the history of Aquinas College

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Please join the Grand Rapids Historical Society for a delightful and entertaining free presentation, "Haunted Holmdene Manor and the History of Aquinas College," at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum!
Holmdene Manor on the campus of Aquinas College

Holmdene Manor on the campus of Aquinas College

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Sit back and enjoy a ghostly night learning about Aquinas College's "haunted" Holmdene Manor, the college's 125-year history, and other supposedly haunted places in Grand Rapids.

The 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 presentation promises to be an entertaining evening about persistent tales regarding old Grand Rapids homes, ghosts, apparitions, doors that suddenly slam shut,and lights that work on their own -- spooky stories that persist but have not been substantiated.

Gary Eberle is an English professor at Aquinas College

Gary Eberle is an English professor at Aquinas College

With Halloween fast approaching, what better time to spend an evening learning about spooky haunted places in Grand Rapids -- or at least the stories that helped earn them that reputation? 

A presentation woven with stories about ghosts, apparitions, phantom elevator riders, and lights that work on their own, are in store for you when Gary Eberle, an Aquinas College English professor and author, discusses Aquinas College's Holmdene Manor, a building reputed by students, housekeepers and security staff to be haunted. Eberle will also touch on the college's rich 125-year history, and how he came to write a book on haunted houses in Grand Rapids.

Sponsored by the Grand Rapids Historical Society, Eberle will begin his presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl St. NW.  The event is free and open to the public.

Holmdene Manor was built in 1908 by Edward Lowe and his wife, Susan Blodgett Lowe, as a residence for their family. Little expense was spared during the design and construction of the magnificent red-brick Tutor-style mansion that boasted 22 rooms. The Lowes were wealthy and socially prominent -- enough so that President Theodore Roosevelt stayed overnight in their home when he visited Grand Rapids in 1911.

Eberle will elaborate on the influence Mrs. Lowe had in the design of Holmdene Manor and on the beautiful gardens laid out in 1925 by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a landscape designer who only hired women assistants.

The three-story building now serves as an administrative and faculty office building for Aquinas College.

The event includes a showing of a short DVD on Holmdene Manor, along with a presentation on the history of Aquinas College. Founded in 1836 by women -- the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids -- for women, the college is named after St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican scholar and teacher. At first only women were admitted in the college. In 1931, Aquinas became the first Catholic college in the nation to become co-educational by opening its door to men as well.

Finally, Eberle will recap how he came to write the now out-of-print book Haunted Houses of Grand Rapids in 1982.

To learn more about the ghosts, please join us for this unusual and delightful presentation!




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