On the bright, sunny morning of September 22, 1971, I walked up a hill from the parking lot to the new campus of Ramapo College. It had only three shiny glass buildings, one old mansion used for administrative offices, and one ghost!

It was rumored from the first day that the former owner of the property, Stephen Birch Jr., who passed away in 1970, still lived in the mansion (in spirit alone). Some say he was a very private person and gay, which doesn’t make him a bad person or a ghost, but we do know he was cultured and intelligent. I never heard anything more about the ghost of Stephen Birch in the four years I was there. In fact, I was a ghost at the college myself. I would just attend my classes and then disappear to go to my part time job that paid for school and books.

Recently I talked to an old friend who was a maintenance man at the college for 35 years. I had mentioned the rumor about Stephen’s ghost in an earlier conversation, and he told me a story.

“I was given a work order to fix a lock at the mansion. When I arrived, one of the admins walked me over to the York Room. She said it was strange, but she could not open the door, so the lock must be broken. The college needed to get the room ready for a meeting. I started to work on the lock when I could hear classical piano music being played softy from inside the room. But who was in the room and why hadn’t they opened the door? I called out to open the door, but the music continued to play. After about 45 minutes, I opened the door – but the lock and the door were not broken! The music immediately stopped and no one was there. I looked around behind the drapes and in a closet, but not a soul was in that room. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck go up, but I could not think about it too long since I had to move on to my next job. I had forgotten about it until you brought it up.”

So, who haunts the mansion: Stephen Birch, who passed in 1940, or his son? Does the culture of Ramapo College bring out the talents of the Birch family to the point that they want to join in the fun?

Trick or treat?

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