Haunted Seminary Observations of an Abandoned Seminary
by Nickolaus Pacione (February 09, 2005)

This is about a haunted place in Glen Ellyn and the towns surrounding the place.

[Click] Nickolaus Pacione original post (repeated here)
The story:

Just something about the Maryknoll College that captured my imagination back in September of 1997. Though the place is not there anymore as I am writing this at the age of twenty-eight, but when I am writing of this place it would be if it was while it was still there for the reader to get an idea. Glen Ellyn, Illinois, was a town that had a history of the haunted because of this college, but no one really talked about it because of the Christian college is just the next town over in Wheaton. It was always a place that captured my imagination because of the ghost story that lived within the streets. I cannot put my finger on it then and could not put my finger on it now. Just the detail of the story is one that I will have to bring back from my memory, to when I was twenty-one at the time - a curious individual when it came to things of the supernatural.

I was intrigued by the story even when I first started writing horror, but did all my reading about the place after when I went in there in that September. The stories about the place were ones I overhead from various friends who used to go in there when I was in high school, but never gave it much though. I felt the place looking over the highway as it had this personality that I cannot go to describe in some detail, though I knew there was something about the place that just stood out to me for some odd reason. It had this mystique to the place, one that can be described for the backdrop if one was reading a gothic novel or a ghost story. When I was a teen I knew that deep down I would end up visiting the Maryknoll College or as the kids would call the place, the Scaryknoll.

The reason I prolonged my wanting to go into the place was because of having friends who were involved with Bible Study and prayed every day. The idea of ghosts and haunted places was not whispered around them because they would give this paranoia if I've been involved with the occult. It was part of the folklore and history around Glen Ellyn, this place was the holy grail of haunted houses in the area --- the history around the place created the intrigue. My wanting to go into the place grew more and more as I was being told all these stories about the dead priest being seen in the abandoned chapel. Each piece of the story was told from different points of view, but each one came together the evening of September 1997. My intrigue for the place grew after going to Cuba Road back around the weekend before Halloween in 1996. I didn't ask around near Wheaton College because I would of got a few cold looks, namely being they believed that the supernatural was only that of God and Satan.

"What could you tell me about the old college on the hill," was what I would say to a few who lived in the area. Not many gave me a response when I asked about the place, my interest peaked more when I entered College of Du Page about the place namely because the old seminary wasn't that far from the community college. When I started reading H.P. Lovecraft, it was when it really snowballed from there. I wanted something to write about, the college was it --- especially since this was one that found its way into an encyclopedia of haunted places in the United States, there were two in Du Page County alone within the Chicago area. This was the one I knew the most about more though at the same time I knew very little about the college itself. Even when I was involved with Intervarsity Fellowship at the community college, this place was on my consciousness. Somewhere within my dark and dwindling imagination this place was painting itself into my memory.

It was a hushed thing among the circles over there, to talk about the supernatural in the way I am going to write about it here. In the questions I would ask some of the members about their ideas of the supernatural, they would say there isn't a thing as ghosts when people are dead. Though I always had this belief in ghosts even when I was involved with the Assemblies of God, but there was always something that would be among the unknown. If I brought the question of the unexplained to some friends of mine who went to the college in Wheaton, they would try to explain it away. The whole idea of ghosts and haunted places never really captured their imagination, but in the places like a town as Glen Ellyn - they wouldn't realize that a ghost story lives in their backyard.

I went to the place a month prior to I actually went inside, it was mid-August. It was decorated with spray tagging and broken glass, the tagging had gang markings as well as cult tagging as well. Possible witchcraft happened in there but one wasn't able to tell at the time of the first visit. I found myself asking the question if the place spooked many building inspectors when they were rendering the place unsafe to go into. I could imagine the squatters going into the place in middle of the winter and possibly feeling the ghost of the priest brushing across their face. One of the reasons I was intrigued about the college was that reason, they said the most haunted place in the seminary was the chapel.

Though I took my time in making my next move about going into the seminary, wanted to wait until no one was watching because going into the place would have been criminal trespassing. I knew the story about the priest from various other kids who've gone into the place while I was younger but here I was. Standing before the haunted house of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I knew going into the place would give me some material to write about when I got older and here I am looking at a word processor actually thinking more about the place.

The seminary itself was quite big, and no one actually inhabited its doors since 1972 - about the time when they were starting to say that the place was haunted. Nervous about the idea of going into there, if anyone was to ask me that question now to tell the truth, I was scared shitless. A twenty-one year old kid going into this place, I did feel like a kid in a candy store knowing this was going to be inspiration for me later on. It was about mid-evening when I decided to go in, stashed my mountain bike somewhere off the grounds so I would not draw any attention to myself going in. The place I found myself entering at was a window of which the glass was absent, about the place where others before me entered. I was thinking some about the time in the Intervarsity Fellowship when I was at College of DuPage and what would they of said if I was to go inside of the abandoned college. They knew nothing about my curiosity towards haunted places, but if they did I would of got this sermon about how I was dwelling in the darkness.

One of the various reasons I kept this interest to myself, but it was no surprise to them I was reading supernatural horror books. Though it was something I didn't mention to them about what I researched for the subject matter, just happened that haunted places were some of the things that I researched.

"Why do you even have an interest in ghosts or other things of that nature?" might have been one of the questions I would be receiving. Then they would go into this speech about the only thing supernatural I should be believing in is the power of God and the written word of the Bible, but sometimes the supernatural doesn't always work that way. Though they would tell me to think on the pure or the lovely, I've heard that sermon more than once. Though it would work for some people, but the thing I kept thinking about was that old dark seminary which was abandoned long before I was born. Now here I am getting ready to climb into this place, everything within my imagination was going crazy at that moment. A dark place that had its history, and this place is one that loomed over Glen Ellyn since my youth. So in those moments going into the place I felt my heart going up into my throat because I wasn't sure what I was going to see in there.

I found myself extremely nervous at that point of time, when I went into the seminary it was just a short walk to the chapel. A disturbing walk into the place, which was decorated with dead pigeons, and doll parts, then on top of the doll parts were torn pages of old hymnals. Piece by piece I walked into the hallways and looked into torn down rooms, broken glass glistened in the twilight while I found myself feeling around on the walls because I could not see my hands in front of my face. I felt something or someone watching me from this darkness, but it was something I could not describe then and there.

Though it was about a good hour and a half when I was walking around within the abandoned seminary. I was picking up the doll parts trying to speculate what they were doing because the way it appeared in the darkness. It was something the imagination had a hard time registering because it was something that could have been written inside of one's nightmares. It becomes this dance of sanity and faith in which the supernatural was the playground, and living in a town around Wheaton, Illinois, this was something that became the most evident. Being one town was burying their eyes in scripture passages, while the other became inspiration for a gothic novel being written somewhere. When I was walking upon those floors of broken tile, it was something that became the details of nightmares as they were written in flesh.

"You must not be thinking about places like this," would be something an Intervarsity member told me at one time when I was looking around about books, which were written about ghosts. Though it wouldn't be until years after I've gone into the place that I would find the book I was talking about. The place was one that had this dark sanctity to this seminary; one that can only imagine what went on within its walls during the time when the school was active. The thought of someone feeling the ghostly hand brush across their face while they were asleep would have been quite eerie. I felt those students walking around in the halls and in my mind I was able to see them gathering in the dorms. Much as what I felt when I walked around the dorms in Saint Mary's College two years later, but nothing could even compare to that when I first entered the Maryknoll.

Each stage within the place my mind was gathering within an imagination that I knew I wasn't able to fathom, namely about the speculation about the priest who passed on in the place. Walking around one can really get a feel for how the students lived within the place and the question being, where was the place the most active in spectral activity? That answer happened to be the chapel - the place had this splendor to it that I cannot begin to imagine even in its broken form. From each place within the chapel I felt that it was cold throughout the place, almost if someone had their eyes watching me. It was a feeling that was not of this world, almost if someone was trying to tell me something from the other side. One thing I can describe of the place now was one that brought a sense of horror that could not be fathomed in any human detail.

Living between the two towns one cannot help but believe in the supernatural --- either if one believed in God or in ghosts, there was no way around it. As what it would be said, be it the devil or be it in him. The Maryknoll in Glen Ellyn is one place that can be debated about it being haunted until the end of time but this place was one that intrigued me more because it was in my backyard. It came together when I was standing in the chapel of the inside of this place, this thing looked like something out of a horror film --- though what they say things of fact are scarier than anything that could become imagined. It was hard to tell at the time if I felt the eyes of that ghostly priest in the place, but when I read about the place in the haunted encyclopedia I kind of knew that something, or someone was in there. Though it would be debated because I am right in the heart of the faith community.

Now that a few years have been distanced from Wheaton, I can safely write about the detail and the account as it happened. Though, I am going to remember this one greatly because it was my first ghost hunt alone. Though some might be reading this one saying I am making up the details of this one, but even then to the reader --- this will be a narrative left for debate. Among the older residents of Glen Ellyn they would not talk about this place, but the other end of the spectrum being the youth. The youth will be the one asking the questions, I told them about being in there and they were crowding me saying, "Tell us stories, what have you've seen in there."

This narrative will give that younger generation some insight of what the place that is now a park used to be. Even if one writes of this now, and someone from back in Wheaton reads this one - I could only imagine what they would be saying, or even from when I lived in Mason City, Iowa. The idea of the supernatural there wasn't of ghosts either, but I always had the idea that ghosts wander among the living especially if they died of reasons before their time. Even when they say of what their idea of the supernatural is, there will always be something different than what they know. In that; I would pen of my observations of the haunted, abandoned seminary.


Comment 01

Maryknoll Seminary has been knocked down. It was said that this Maryknoll Seminary is haunted by the ghost of a dead monk who hung himself in the bell tower. The monastery is huge, with hundreds of rooms and no electricity turned on as the place is boarded up and the bell tower sealed off. Reports of fresh blood "bleeding" from the exterior of the bell tower and strange noises are not uncommon, and the place is still used as a secret gathering place for various cults and possibly Satanists, as there are satanic markings and words from ancient languages on some walls. Unfortunately, this seminary has been torn down so it can no longer be seen. There are subdivisions and houses going up in that area now.

Comment 02

I and a group of my friends "visited" (read: dodged the police and crept into) the Maryknoll Seminary in the late 90s after it was condemned and let me tell you, it was easily one of the strangest, most intense experiences of my life. It's true, there's all kinds of pseudo? satanic graffiti and neo?nazi scrawlings on the walls? par for the course in an enormous, empty building. Not very surprising. What WAS surprising was the following: ? the altar rested in the center of the octagonal and it was HUGE: a massive green? stone monolith with Bible verses engraved on the side. It had some pigeon dung on it, but other than that, no graffiti. ? the kitchen, which was in the basement, still had most of its equipment (stoves: giant, bakery? sized mixer: pot racks) and it was all in great condition. I don't think many people made it that far into the building. As you descended deeper into the basement, you would discover it to be flooded. We attempted to cross one flooded area of the basement, but the water was so murky we were unable to determine how deep the water was and being underequiped for being submerged, we had to turn back. ? every so often, we would hear the screams of a man coming from various parts of the building but without any sighting, there's no way of knowing if he was homeless, deranged, or a ghost. Still frightening, though. ? we climbed all the way to the roof (keep in mind ? this place is enormous) and then climbed the bell?tower. No sign of "blood" oozing down the sides, or anything of the sort.

Comment 03

All in all, it was fantastic to be there. With so many rooms to explore, and danger seemingly around every corner, it made a great adventure. It was a shame to see it torn down: I wanted to go back.

Comment 04

I used to live around there when I was a kid. A bunch of my buddies and I went in there once. I had a couple film cameras one reg. 35mm and the other with infrared film with filter but didn't get anything out of the ordinary. But, when we all started to make our way up through the levels via a set of stairs right before we got to the top where a set of windowed doors were one slammed shut. My friends bolted but I stayed to see if some grounds keeper was trying to scare us, but no one was behind the glass of the door. That's when I bolted. Didn't get a chance to go back before they demolished it. I did see all that so called satanic graffiti but I just think it was goth kids trying to be witchy. I do remember the story was about some priest hanging himself there and some people were said to have had their faces gently touched by some unseen hand. Didn't get touched but the door slamming on its own did scare the sh*t out of us. I miss our Goonie adventures.

Comment 05

I used to live in Maryknoll right across from the seminary. I never wanted to walk by it I always got a creepy feeling. When they tore it down i started to get that creepy feeling in my house of someone following me. Some of my neighbors would get the same feeling. Also i had always been told the monk hung himself in the church not the bell tower. There is now a mini-golf course, baseball fields and tennis courts.

Comment 06

When I was in high school, from '94 to about '97, my friends and I spent many nights in the seminary. We combed every inch of that place, from it's flooded basement and creepy bomb shelter (we found barrels of crackers, matches and cigarettes, of all things) to it's dangerous but manageable bell tower and roof. I spent the 4th of July, one year, in the bell tower and saw fireworks for miles around. It was truly an amazing place for a bunch of young, bored kids to scare the crap out of the place, (it was vandalized beyond belief by the time we started going there) just explored and creeped ourselves inside of it; ran from the police once, got caught and kicked out once. I even went into the place by myself one afternoon to take pictures for a photography class. Even during the day, the place was extremely scary and ominous. I took many shots with a long exposure, hoping to catch an apparition.

Comment 07

I was a seminarian there, way back in 1962. Monk? Where the heck would a monk have come from? There were no monks in the seminary.

Comment 08

I used to work at this Maryknoll building when it was Lewis University college of law back in the late 70's through to the year 1982 I believe. It was a stately building well built and solid. It was kept very clean by the cleaning people every day and the floors were waxed often. I worked in the Deans office and then the library for a short time and then transferred to the admissions office. I remember the fine people I worked with and miss them now. I also relieved the switchboard operator in the front lobby, during some lunch times too. I was young back then about 22 years old and am 53 now. I did recall once going down to a sub basement with the security people to look at old pews they were going to auction off, and to my astonishment there were these huge gigantic dead spiders all over the floor that were frightening all curled up and hairy about 2 to 3 inched in length curled up! I remember this building having no central air as it was humid in the summer in the halls. I remember the sanctuary still having this lovely Jesus in the center and still had some blessed garments in drawers. My time there was nice and it is a shame that the building was abused by folks and ruined even though it was being torn down, just to think of folks spray painting it makes me so sad. Oh yes there were always ants in the building if you left food out, LOL. Love to all I worked with at the Law School. Blessings.

Comment 09

I got the pleasure of exploring this insanely creepy place back in the mid 90's. probobly about a year or 2 before it was torn down. i live in PA, but my brother went to Wheaton College. We got there around 10pm, parked a couple blocks away, and tried to keep to the shadows, so the rent-a-cops wouldn't bust us. i had to be about 15 at the time. we explored that place inside and out, but was way too big for us to get the "grand tour" As you walked into the main entrance the walls were covered with graffitti. everything was broken and thrown around. the paint was literaly peeling off every wall. i remember entering the "worship room" of some sort. it was a circular type room with latin words all around on the walls. and in the center was a giant pillar. we got down into the flooded basement and found huge metal doors that lead you from room to room. some of the doors were attatched to chain pulley systems that when opened and closed, big weights would move up and down on a wall. We took pictures upon pictures of the place and i believe my brother still has them in a cigar box. at one point we got to the top floor and found a way to the roof and bell tower, no oozing going on there, but we had to climb up through large pipes and a maze of metal. while doing this my brother was attacked by several birds, and almost fell a good 20 feet to the floor. as we got on top, there were hundreds of dead birds everywhere. that was a bit creepy, but later we dug around a bit and found documents of some sort of pesticide being put on the roof, so that explained it. after that we had enough and decided to venture back to Wheaton College, and i do have to say, that was an extremely exciting fun night in a "i almost crapped my pants" sort of way. I'll try a find the pics, and also that nite we mapped out the "worship room" with all the latin sayings...and other hallways and such, but the place got torn down before the mapping was anywhere near complete.

Comment 10

I actually did my first year of college in the place in 1964. While it was huge, it was certainly not creepy then and there was nothing "cult" about it. There were about 600 or more students, all college age, working on a liberal arts degree. It used to be a country club prior to its purchase by Maryknoll. There was still a 9 hole golf course on the grounds when I was there.

Comment 11

me and my friends also had a chance to explore this extremely creepy place in high school. we got so stoned before going in and my one friend was freaking out the whole time....group of pretty girls....we totally got busted after spending 20 min or so inside we cam out and the cops let us go. thank god..yea that was a crazy day.

Comment 12

I really dont know how this place started but I was there in the 90s and what a trip. My friend and I walked through out the main building. Many wierd things happened cold breeze, shadows, even white lights or objects. Nothing even compared until we went to the alter I can't really explain what happened but it was like I could not get out fast enough. What a blast. As far as you old students alot happens in time you just have to have an open mind.

Comment 13

I was at Maryknoll from 1958-1961. Fr. Fleckenstein was Dean of Discipline. Many of us both feared and loved the man at the same time. He later drowned, saving a friend. He died as he lived, serving others. I recall Fr. Malone as spiritual director, forget the name of the asst dean of discipline who was also in charge of Gregorian Chant and the LIBER USALIS. Wow- haven't used that word in 50 years. Father Eugene Kennedy and Paul D'Arcy with their superb counseling helped me survive those three years a thousand miles from home. The two left Maryknoll, married, and remain two of my best models for ministry. God bless all who selflessly served us during all the years of Maryknoll. Fond memories- some spent as person in charge of the darkroom where we developed many pics that i WISH I had saved. Fellow classman Chris Brickley entertained us with marvelous stories in the recreation room. Would love a reunion with New England guys. Bob Gallagher

Comment 14

I went there back in '00 before it was tore down. You could see it from 355. Besides the Old Elgin Mental Home, before it was torn down, this was the creepyist place i've been to. My brother was arrested by the G.E. PD in '98, for criminal trespass to property, after jumping the gate. Very scary place. When you go in, by the huge stair case, you could hear the bell tower ring, yet the bell was detatched from the bell tower. When they tore the place down and pumped the basement, they expected to find some bodies, instead just found a few dead animals.

Comment 15

If anyplace was haunted in this world, the Maryknoll Seminary was one of them for sure. I too explored the building in the 90's and went so much I knew the building like the back of my hand. I wasn't scared to go in there but the octangular confession room with the stalls and the latin writing made me feel multiple presences in there. like you could feel the sins confessed there. The chapel was also messed up and the room past the kitchen gave me a horrible bad vibe. there was always ice on the boiler room floor and it would be stifling hot in the summer. i found an open room with 15 suitcases lined up in a row kicked them around the room and came back the next day to find them in a perfect row again. there also was a gravestone in the outside courtyards that had jesus on it and written in Latin. Too heavy for me and friends to pick up but would be spotted at different spots all over the property. The priest who hung himself had a plaque in honor of him on a door near the woodshop. his name was "Bruno" and a friend took the plaque against our advice and is probably cursed to this day. the Glen ellyn police trained shepards in there to sniff out drugs. Some nights you could hear them bark and run around. Not a good night to go in there. rumor has it cultists cut a bunch of the dogs heads off in there and a cop said it was true probably to scare us from going in there. None the less satanists were supposed to hang out there and there was demonic writing all over the walls. It is a damn shame they demolished this place and the land there probably isn't fit for building on.

Comment 16

I live in maryknoll estates now. There is now a mini golf coarse in the place of the seminary. Although I was not around for when the seminary was there, I heard all the legends about the monk who hung himself in the tower... But I must say that there are some creepy stuff that happends at night. Even when I'm alone at home I feel like something is watching me but I'm sure that happens to everyone but I really haven't had any sort of paranormal activity. Like I said there are little things that scare me.

Comment 17

i was at Maryknoll from 1958 to 1962. Like Bob Gallagher I too have only great memories of my 4 years at Glen Ellyn. Fr Malone particularly remains in my memory. Vincent C.

Comment 18

I went to school at Maryknoll College the last year before it closed, when it opened up to non-seminarians. There wasn't anything scary there, just wonderful people. It was a real time of turmoil because of the Viet Nam war and the social changes at that time. The students and faculty were people who wanted to make the world a better place. They were savvy, smart articulate people, most with a sharp wit and good sense of humor. I wish we had stayed in better touch with the guys there. (My husband went to school there as well). Perhaps some of the nonsense stories and vandalism stem from the anti-Catholic atmosphere of Glen Ellyn. (A la KKK, a cross was burned on the lawn of the Catholic Church, Saint Petronella's when it was first built.) But probably just a rite of passage for adolescents to trespass onto a haunted site.