How did a religious college turn into an urban legend nicknamed Hell House Altar? The story is a little foggy but let’s dive in and investigate.
In Patapsco Valley State Park, west of Maryland, lays the remains of St. Mary’s College. Once it was a thriving school, built in 1868, where young men were trained to take up the cloth. A student would need to spend six years there before becoming ordained as a priest. There was a congregation there that assisted the poor all the way up until 1950. In 1968 the lower house was destroyed in a fire and in 1972 the congregation officially shut down with only 10 students graduating.
It wasn’t the most successful college, but it gets an A+ for trying. With the facilities abandoned and destroyed, urban explorers and curious tourists started discovering the grounds. The main buildings had been torn down and all that was left standing was a single stone gazebo with a metal cross hanging from its ceiling, creating an eerie image in the woods.
The ruins quickly became that of legend - there were stories of satanic cults, ghosts and why the college really got shut down. In the 80’s there was a rumor that an insane priest slaughtered several female students, another rumor claimed a priest raped nuns until he was caught. When this devil was caught he managed to escape quickly and the nuns became possessed by demonic forces. They then murdered everyone in the college. Another rumor claims the nuns were actually found hung with a pentagram scratched into the ground below them using their blood.
Obviously none of these things happened. The college didn’t even have a nunnery. But it was satanic panic time and this abandoned college fed the imagination of those around it.
And so this stone gazebo stood, with its giant cross hanging, welcoming and putting fear into those that dared to visit it. In 1997 another mysterious fire cut through and destroyed even more of the property, leaving the grounds even more decrepit and dangerous. But yet Hell House managed to still stand proudly with its metal cross hanging from the dome marking the site of a very dead college.
You can still go visit these ruins though the cross is now gone, but the gazebo still stands. While we may never know what really happened there, whether it be simply the college running out of money and student interest, or why the gazebo has lasted the test of time, it is kind of fun to imagine what sort of horrors could’ve happened there.
I encourage to visit Hell House….but do so at your own risk….
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