The historic Youngstown home has been rumored to be haunted for years.
YOUNGSTOWN -- From the outside, Wick House looks like any other restored historic home.
The charming brick facade is aged but with character. The leaded windows are numerous and sparkle in sunlight. The grounds are kept neat and free of debris. There's little in its appearance to give weight to the legend the building is a bona fide haunted house.
The Wick Mansion -- as it was once known -- was built in 1906 for Youngstown industrialist Col. George Dennick Wick and his wife, Mollie. It sits at the intersection of Wick Avenue and the eastbound U.S. 422 service road.
In 1912, the Wicks traveled aboard the ill-fated Titanic. Mollie was rescued; her husband went down with the ship. Mollie returned to her Youngstown mansion to live out her years as a widow.
Rumors of a haunting by Mollie's ghost first began when Youngstown State University purchased the building as a student housing facility in the 1980s. Students reported strange occurrences and a ghostly presence, particularly on the second and third floors. The university closed the building several years ago, and tales of mysterious goings-on persisted.
Today, the Wick House has new occupants, though they suspect some of the old ones -- Mollie, in particular -- might still be hanging around.
Last December, the Youngstown State University Center for Student Progress: Disability Services moved its operations to the lofty historic home. There, the group has ample room to provide basic educational needs to students with psychological, physical and learning disabilities.
Jain Savage, coordinator for Disability Services said the organization's new facilities are a blessing, as the group was previously housed in more cramped quarters.
"The center needed more space," Savage said. "We're so excited to be here in this area. It's so homey."
Before 1995, the CSP's services were handled by separate entities. Students in need of assistance were forced to "run all over campus" in search of the services. Since the formation of the CSP, which includes Disability Services, students with special needs are better "academically and socially integrated into campus and university life," Savage said.
The CSP serves about 6,000 students a year, and roughly 540 students are registered with Disability Services. Those students have access to a host of services, including trained student note-takers, quiet testing areas, sign-language interpreters and extended time for taking tests. The center recently acquired the means to convert school textbooks to Braille for one of its students.
"Every year brings something new," Savage said.
Disability Services is funded by YSU, which owns Wick House and provides the space to the organization as a service to the students. Savage hopes more students will take advantage of what the group has to offer.
As for those pesky rumors of a ghost, Savage and her colleagues at Wick House said they get a kick out of the students' old tales of mysterious lights and noises, though they admit they've had a few strange happenings of their own.
"The first time you go onto the third floor, there's this force.... It's just creepy," said CSP associate director Pat Shively. "Who knows? You buy into the stories."
Jonelle Beatrice, director for CSP, said during her first tour of the house, there was an "eerie" feel to some of the rooms and, in particular, a second-floor room that they believe belonged to Mollie. Beatrice declined to make the "spooky" room her office.
"Our first time through the house, we stepped into a room and something made a noise and Pat took off running," Beatrice said with a laugh.
The three women shared stories of unexplained noises, lights mysteriously turning themselves on and a picture frame that they found on the ground several feet from its original spot on a wall. The photo was turned right side up and with the broken glass inside, as though it had purposely been placed in the spot.
Regardless, "It's a great house," Shively said, referring to the cheerful interior and storied past.
Those who wish to learn more about Wick House and the programs offered by the CSP can attend an open house and reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the mansion. Refreshments will be served.