What’s in a Name?

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Marie Mount, c. 1940-1950

On this day in 1967, the Board of Regents voted to rename Margaret Brent Hall at the eastern end of McKeldin Mall for Marie Mount, who came to campus in 1919 as the head of the Department of Home and Institution Management and served as the dean of the College of Home Economics from 1925 until her death in 1957, with “quiet dedication and unswerving loyalty,” as the Board noted at the time of her passing.  The building was constructed in 1940, and it was originally named Margaret Brent Hall after the colonial Marylander who was the first American woman to request  the right to vote.

UMD President Wilson Elkins noted in a tribute to Dean Mount that he was

“impressed by her quiet efficiency, her ability to carry out the duties assigned to the office of the Dean and, above all, her ability to inspire confidence. She had an abundance of common sense which was apparent to all who sough her judgment on important questions.”

The re-naming came at the request of a group of alumni from the college who felt strongly that Miss Mount’s legacy should be honored in a very visible way.

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Request for re-naming, 1966

At one time, Miss Mount supposedly lived in the building in a special dean’s apartment there.  She was much loved by her students, and University President Wilson Elkins declared in a 1957 memorial to the dean that “The character of Marie Mount will live forever.”

Dean Marie Mount does just that.  Night watchmen and building inhabitants in the late 1970s reported sensing other-worldly presences, doors opening and shutting on their own, toilets flushing when no one was there, and matches blowing out when all the doors and windows were closed.  Could these activities be Dean Mount reminding us of her everlasting presence? It’s said that on dark and stormy nights, as the wind blows through the building, and the rain pounds on the window panes, she can be heard vigorously playing a piano. Next big thunderstorm, Marie Mount Hall is the place to be!

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Marie Mount Hall

 

The Mystery of the Missing Frat House: Research Questions at UMD Archives

The University Archives at Hornbake Library is home to a wealth of information about the history of our school, campus, and the College Park area. One of the frequent tasks that we perform is researching questions that people have about the university. Some of the most commonly requested information has been gathered together on the University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium website, but there are also questions that aren’t so easily answered and require a bit of detective work on our part.

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One such question arrived in our inbox recently from an alumnus who wanted to know if we had any photos of his old frat house. He said he had graduated in 1955, and during his junior and senior years, he lived in the Alpha Chi Sigma house on campus, which he remembered as being an old farm house with a metal roof and a water pump on the front lawn. According to the gentleman, the house was demolished during the construction of Cole Field House. With this information in hand, I began my investigation to uncover what I could find about the AXE fraternity house.

Continue reading “The Mystery of the Missing Frat House: Research Questions at UMD Archives”

Mystery of the Stolen Silver

Memorial Chapel

Between the evening of June 19 and the morning of June 20, 1969, thieves stole into the Memorial Chapel on the University of Maryland campus. They made it past the new lock system and found their way into Room 13. Why this particular spot? Room 13 happened to be where the Chapel’s silver was housed, including the communion set donated to the Chapel by its architect, Henry Powell Hopkins.

The thieves got quite a haul from their break-in. They stole the Episcopal Foundation’s complete communion silver service. The thieves also grabbed a silver flagon that was part of the Hopkins set. Once they had taken what they wanted, the thieves disappeared into the night. No one was ever arrested for the robbery, and the silver was never recovered.

Unfortunately, this theft was not the first crime committed at the Memorial Chapel. Earlier that spring, in fact, the same piece from the Hopkins set had been taken. The flagon was stolen before classes let out in May, but was found in the grass on campus. The piece was then turned in to theDiamondback, and the newspaper staff returned it to the Chapel. Again, no one was ever charged with the theft.

Family members of Chapel architect Henry Powell Hopkins created two flagons as part of a silver communion set presented to the University of Maryland at the building’s dedication. The Hopkinses are well-known Baltimore silvermiths and still have a family business in the city today. The inscription on the remaining flagon reads, “Presented To The University of Maryland By Henry Powell Hopkins, Architect for This Chapel, October 5, 1952.” The flagons were estimated to be worth $548 each when they were given to the Memorial Chapel.

Although the silver from the June 1969 robbery was never recovered, the remaining communion service pieces are now housed in Hornbake Library as part of the University Archives’ holdings. These pieces are still used by the Chapel on special occasions. Below is the companion piece to the silver flagon stolen in the June 1969 robbery.

Chapel silver flagon

 

Two Turtles?

Did you know the University Archives’ collections actually contain two turtles? One, of course, is our beloved model for the original statue of Testudo. The other is a huge hawksbill turtle that was a gift to the University  from  J.L. Enyart, Captain and Commanding Officer of the Naval Medical School on April 19, 1952, before a lacrosse game between UMD and Navy.

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Captain Enyart presenting his turtle.

This turtle originally resided in the Gossett Football Team House, and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics transferred it to the Archives prior to one of the facility’s renovations.

Hawksbill Turtle-small

 

For a long time, the only clues the Archives staff had about the origins of the turtle were the small brass plate inside the turtle’s case noting Captain Enyart’s name and the date of his gift and the photograph above. Fortunately UMD journalism and iSchool alumnus Rob Garner was intrigued by this amazing specimen and volunteered to help us track down the story behind this 64-year-old gift.

Rob turned out to be quite the sleuth! He managed to find Capt. John Enyart’s son living in Florida several years ago, who told him:

“In the 1930s, the family happened to live in Guam.  Naturally, that area of the world has some strange wildlife in comparison to what we have around here.  Captain Enyart would collect the turtles’ shells, some of which could reach upwards of two or three feet in size.

Fast forward a few years to the 1950s.  The Enyarts live in the D.C. area, now that Capt. Enyart heads the Naval Medical School.  The Enyarts were evidently fans of the school; both father and son (according to John Jr.) did graduate course work here.  Knowing the school’s affinity for all things turtle, Enyart Sr. asked himself why he was keeping this turtle from Guam in his garage, where it took up space and didn’t do anybody any good.  So, some conversation took place between Enyart Sr. and the University, which resulted in the presentation at the lacrosse game (in 1952).”

The Archives loves a happy ending.  Thanks to Rob for tracking down the answer!!!

235 year-old gift to UMD

A very special piece of the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives turns 235 years old in 2016–the grandfather clock that stands outside the Maryland Room on the first floor of Hornbake Library.

Alma clock_crop 2Wyke and Green, clockmakers in Liverpool, England, constructed this beautiful timepiece in 1781. How it reached the United States is unknown. Charles Sink, horologist and owner of the Antique Clock & Watch Shop in Ellicott City, MD, cleaned and restored the inner workings of this piece in 2008. Retired UMD Libraries’ staff member Roy Alvarez covered the expenses for Sink’s work in honor of his parents, Hugh and Emilie Alvarez, and faithfully winds the clock each week. During your visits to Hornbake, you can hear the beautiful chimes when the clock strikes the hour.

Why would such an unusual and historic piece have a home in the library? The clock is a gift in memory of former Registrar Alma Preinkert, who was tragically murdered in her home on February 28, 1954, one of the university’s unsolved mysteries.

Alma Preinkert from 1954 yrbk_cropMiss Preinkert, a much-beloved campus figure, earned an M.A. degree from Maryland as served as assistant registrar and registrar for nearly 30 years. On that fateful night, a burglar broke into the Washington, DC, home Preinkert shared with her sister and began ransacking the bedrooms. The commotion awakened Miss Preinkert, and she attempted to stop the man, aided by her sister, Alvina, who also awoke during the struggle. The burglar stabbed Alma Preinkert 11 times before fleeing, and her sister was wounded as well. Alvina survived, but Alma’s wounds were fateful. Despite an intensive search for the burglar, during which police questioned 2,500 men and detained multiple suspects, and the offer of $1500 in reward money, the perpetrator was never captured, and this case remains a UMD unsolved mystery.

The University Archives has numerous newspaper clippings about Alma Preinkert’s murder and recently obtained a copy of the DC Police report and reward flyer to add to the file. Stop by the Archives and check it out, if you want to learn more about the case.

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Miss Preinkert’s death saddened many across the campus, and classes were cancelled so students could attend her funeral on March 3, the first one ever held in Memorial Chapel, which had  been dedicated only 15 months earlier. So many people wished to attend the service that the Chapel was filled to capacity, and the overflow of students, faculty, and staff stood outside in the rain to listen to the proceedings.

To memorialize Miss Preinkert, the Maryland Federation of Women’s Clubs and a group of her friends of donated the clock in 1958, four years after the Board of Regents renamed the Women’s Fieldhouse in her honor.

The next time you are in Hornbake, plan to arrive near the hour so you can hear the delicate chimes as the clock strikes and visit the unusual and historic memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABC’s of UMD: Letter X

X is for the X FILES!

X was a tough one! We could have talked about X-ray machines in the Health Center, xylophones in The Clarice or even the escapade involving the residents of Dorchester Hall and famous stripper Blaze Starr.

Instead we chose “The X Files.” The return of the sci-fi favorite to television for a six-episode mini-series led to the revelation that UMD biology professor Anne Simon has had a major role in the show’s success since its first season in 1993.

Dr. Simon has served as the show’s science adviser, making sure that all the scientific content of each episode is as plausible as it can possibly be, given the constraints of the story line. But how did she get such an exciting job?

Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy got the scoop from Dr. Simon over the summer. Turns out she has a personal connection with “X Files” writer and director Chris Carter through a friend and neighbor of her mother’s. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!! You can read McCoy’s entire story here.

This is the 24th post in our series on Terrapin Tales called ABC’s of UMD! Posts will come out twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, throughout the semester. If you want to learn more about campus history, check back weekly to see what we’ve picked to highlight, and you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

Do you have other ABC’s about campus? Let us know in the comments below!

Check back on Monday, November 23, for Letter Y!

Ghost Tour Finale!

In honor of Halloween, we saved the spookiest story for last. We hope you have enjoyed our paranormal accounts over the last four weeks.  Make sure to stop by some of them tonight!

We finish our ghost tour at the Rossborough Inn, one of the best UMD sites to experience unexplained paranormal occurrences.  The Rossborough, built between 1804 and 1812, was named for its builder John Ross, a tavern keeper and local landowner, and was one of the original college buildings.  Many travelers and stagecoaches used the inn as a way-station to break their journey between Baltimore and Washington, because it was situated on the main route between the two cities.  The building has also served as the headquarters for the Agricultural Experiment Station, housing for faculty and students, a faculty-staff club, and office space for University Relations staff.

Rossborough Inn, 1901

Although many members of the campus community have passed through its doors, the Inn’s most famous resident is a ghost named Miss Bettie. She is the specter of the woman who managed the Inn during the Civil War.  Her ghost, clad in a long yellow gown in the style of the period, has been sighted several times walking the halls of the Inn.  In 1981, Larry Donnelly, a dining services employee, spotted a female ghost in the Inn during renovations to the building.  Several weeks later, a waiter at the Inn saw the same woman, attired in a long yellow dress just as Donnelly had described.  Perhaps Miss Bettie is also responsible for other unexplained occurrences at the Inn such as a vase of flowers appearing on its own; doors opening and lights turning off on their own accord; footsteps sounding overhead when no one is there; and a strange face appearing in mirrors and windows.  Have you met Miss Bettie yet?

Undergraduate Admissions staff who work in the building today are convinced that Miss Bettie, and perhaps other spirits, inhabit the Inn, and now we have even more proof.  In May 2012, a team from Maryland Paranormal Research spent some late night hours in the Inn and gathered a number of recordings of otherworldly voices.  Check out the results of the investigation here! You might want to leave the lights on . . .

We wish you all a spooky Halloween!

Ghosts among the Greeks

Getting creeped out yet? If not, maybe our haunting tales this week from the homes of a number of our Greek chapters at UMD will do the trick.

Let’s start with the victim of a grisly murder.  Kappa Delta house is allegedly haunted by the spirit of Alma Preinkert.  Miss Preinkert was a beloved figure at the university and the founder of the Kappa Delta sorority.  She is also the namesake for Preinkert Field House on the south side of the campus.

Poor Alma Preinkert – she didn’t even see her death coming. We wonder if she even realizes what happened. She still seems to visit her sorority house often enough . . .
Poor Alma Preinkert – she didn’t even see her death coming. We wonder if she even realizes what happened. She still seems to visit her sorority house often enough . . .

Miss Preinkert served as campus registrar from 1919 until she met her untimely end in 1954.  One night she was at home in Washington, DC, asleep in her bed, when she awoke to find an intruder in her house.  She apparently tried to stop the man from ransacking her home, but the struggle led to bloodshed.  The intruder stabbed Miss Preinkert multiple times, and she eventually succumbed to her wounds.  Police were never able to find the murderer, so Miss Preinkert’s case is still unsolved.  Perhaps that’s why she visits the sisters of Kappa Delta so often.  Maybe she just wants someone to listen to her story.

But that’s not all.  The Kappa Delta house is full of spirit activity.  Sisters have also observed mysterious girls in white dresses dancing on the sundeck of the house during the summer months.  Are these ghosts former sorority sisters?  Or something older?

Maybe these May Day dancers are still dancing across the deck at the Kappa Delta house.
Maybe these May Day dancers are still dancing across the deck at the Kappa Delta house.
The sisters of Alpha Omicron Pi have ghosts of their own.  In their house there are tales of music playing without warning and computers operating on their own.  Racks of accessories have fallen over unaided, and at least one sister has seen a set of red eyes staring at her.  Could they have a poltergeist in the house?
But the sororities are not the only groups with ghostly frights.  The brothers living in Delta Tau Delta believe the ghost of a dead fraternity brother haunts their house.  The spectral student was killed in an automobile accident in 1955.  Shortly after the accident, the brothers witnessed furniture moving around in the house on its own accord.  Strangely enough, a cabinet belonging to the deceased was always warmer on the inside than the rest of the room.  The brothers have even reported seeing reflections of a person’s face on a blank television screen when no one else was around.  Is this ghoulish brother still living in the house?
We’re nearing the end of our month-long ghost tour of campus. Only a few more days to go! While you’re eagerly awaiting our last post (or hiding in your closet), take a look back at the ghosts from <week 1>, <week 2>, and <week 3>. BIG finale on Halloween!

Ghosts on the Mall

Here’s the third in our weekly October series of posts about ghosts at UMD.  We hope you had a chance to check out the McNamee Cemetery, last week’s spooky site.  Visit Terrapin Tales again throughout the rest of the month for more paranormal postings.

This week the spotlight shines on Marie Mount Hall, named for M. Marie Mount, who came to campus in 1919 as the head of the Department of Home and Institution Management and served as the dean of the College of Home Economics from 1927 until her death in 1957.  The building was constructed in 1940 and originally named Margaret Brent Hall after the colonial Marylander who was the first American woman to request  the right to vote. But in 1967, the Board of Regents voted to change the name to Marie Mount Hall.

This student draws a skeleton on the steps of Marie Mount Hall. Doesn’t that sound like an invitation for a haunting experience? We know we wouldn’t be caught dead there!
This student draws a skeleton on the steps of Marie Mount Hall. Doesn’t that sound like an invitation for a haunting experience? We know we wouldn’t be caught dead there!

At one time, Miss Mount supposedly lived in the building in a special dean’s apartment there.  She was much loved by her students, and University President Wilson Elkins declared in a 1957 memorial to the dean that “The character of Marie Mount will live forever.”

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Marie Mount, c. 1940-1950. Don’t you think she looks a bit . . . spectral?

Dean Marie Mount does just that.  Night watchmen and building inhabitants in the late 1970s reported sensing other-worldly presences, doors opening and shutting on their own, toilets flushing when no one was there, and matches blowing out when all the doors and windows were closed.  Could these activities be Dean Mount reminding us of her everlasting presence? It’s said that on dark and stormy nights, as the wind blows through the building, and the rain pounds on the window panes, she can be heard vigorously playing a piano. Next big thunderstorm, Marie Mount Hall is the place to be!

Scared yet? Just wait until you hear about the spirits floating around Fraternity Row and the Graham Cracker next Wednesday. We’re getting goosebumps just thinking about it!

DYK there is a cemetery on campus? Pretty creepy!

Are you following our spooky posts about campus ghosts?  Creeped out yet by the spectral spirits of Easton Hall, The Stamp, and Tawes?  Keep reading – the best is yet to come!

This week finds us at the McNamee Cemetery behind the Stadium Drive Garage.  Not many people know about this spot, which looks pretty innocuous to the innocent passerby. While there is no record or rumor of paranormal encounters occurring here, who knows what the McNamee family gets up to when there’s no one around?

We took a hike over to McNamee Cemetery earlier this year. It was so peaceful and sunny. This place couldn’t possibly be haunted, right?

The cemetery contains the remains of several members of the McNamee family, who sold this part of campus to the university in 1938.  We are pretty sure we know at least two of the people buried there.  One of the deceased was a child named Albert McNamee.  He was the son of Charles and Elizabeth McNamee. Albert was born in 1904 and unfortunately burned to death in a family barn at the age of four.  Martha Bryant McNamee is supposedly buried there as well.  Her date of death is unknown, but we know she died sometime before 1900.  Unfortunately since the graves are now covered, we don’t know who else might be buried there.

The university had the cemetery bricked over, supposedly to prevent anyone from disturbing the graves. But what about keeping whoever is buried in the graves from disturbing us?

Those of you who haven’t encountered restless spirits in Easton, Tawes, Stamp and the McNamee Cemetery might think you’re safe. Ha! Just wait until we tell you who’s lurking in our next haunted site! Check back on Wednesday, October 21, for our next UMD spooky story!