Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Literary inspiration from the Sebago Lakes Region

Frye's Leap, Sebago Lake

(Vintage postcard in author's collection.)

Chapter 2 of Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region relates the tale of Frye's Leap (also known as the Images) on Sebago Lake. Although the Frye's Leap legend may be familiar to local residents, campers and summer visitors, most folks don't know that Frye may have been the inspiration for James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, a popular novel published in 1824 about the infamous attack on Fort William Henry (1757).

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ghosts of St. Joseph's College

I uncovered much more history than could be included in Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region. Here is a story that does not appear in the book:

St. Joseph’s College of Maine on Whites Bridge Road in Standish is the only college in the country to have “the monks” as its athletic nickname. One wouldn’t think that the monk would be an appropriate mascot for a competitive college athlete. However, the monk logo is pretty creepy, its blue bearded grim face peering menacingly out from under a brown hood. There are other creepy things on this lovely campus as well.
The college was founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, Roman Catholic nuns with a history of work in education. According to the college’s website, Saint Joseph's College of Maine is a liberal arts college for men and women of all faiths, located on 430 acres on the shore of Sebago on what was once a large estate owned by the Verrill family of Portland. When the young son of the landowner died, he was buried in the nearby chapel before the college itself was erected. His body eventually had to be moved, but the boy apparently stayed in the chapel where visitors reportedly can sometimes hear him laughing and playing.
Others have sighted another child, a small girl, near the pond. She reportedly drowned while playing near her little playhouse that her father had built for her near the pond.

The spirit of a nun has been sighted in Xavier Hall, which was once the Verrill family home. This grand building was built in 1925, in part from native fieldstone, and the back windows overlook Sebago Lake with a direct view of Mt. Washington, sixty miles away in New Hampshire.  Beautiful  Xavier Hall was once a residence hall for senior women and is now used as an administrative office building. When I visited in August, the gardens on the well tended grounds were in full bloom.