Historical ruins and Halloween combine for spooky ghost tour of Patapsco Female Institute


October 26, 1998|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FEW PLACES ARE spookier on Halloween than the ruins that sit atop Mount Misery in Ellicott City.

A large, imposing granite structure, the Patapsco Female Institute ruins are open to the sky. On Halloween, mists rise from the depths of the structure, and the air is filled with an eerie light.

In fact, when ghost hunters came to town last summer, they found evidence of ghosts at the site. Tales have been told about Annie, an apparition of a young girl dressed in white seen lingering in the ruins.

The ghostly possibilities of the ruins were unearthed by Lee Preston, an avid archaeologist and teacher of psychology at River Hill High School.

Preston has organized archaeological digs at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park during the past decade.

Four years ago, he initiated the first ghost tour.

Preston serves as vice president of the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute and president of the Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group.

In the Halloween season, he organizes the volunteers and students who portray the ghouls and ghosts that inhabit the ruins and tell macabre tales.

The dramatized scenes -- loosely based on the history of the school and using the ruins as a stage -- include "The Pit of Woes" and "The Chamber of Horrors."

This year, students from Preston's archaeology and psychology classes -- and from drama classes at River Hill and Centennial High Schools -- are developing "The Ghoulish Banquet," a new scenario.

Kathy Baer, an English teacher at Centennial who is serving on the planning committee, said "it's a picnic" putting the event together.

Centennial students participating include Liz Hannon, a freshman, who typed the script; Chris Harris, a junior, who says he has been "dancing for glee" at the prospect of getting dressed up and leading tours; and senior Samantha Goresh and her sister, Alex Goresh, a freshman, Baer said.

Pat Patterson, owner of PJ's restaurant, is this year's sponsor.

The tours begin at Mount Ida at 3691 Sarah's Lane in Ellicott City. Patrons are encouraged to wear costume. Comfortable shoes and flashlights are recommended.

The tours will be held from 6: 30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and last about 35 minutes. Groups leave from Mount Ida every 10 minutes. Admission is $3. Children older than 7 are welcome.

Information: 410-465-8500.

Stage manager

Samantha Goresh recently appeared as the stage manager in "Comings & Goings," a play produced by Centennial High School's drama department -- an improvisational comedy that featured more than 30 story lines.

Goresh called pairs of male and female actors to an area of the stage surrounded by risers to present their stories.

The play was "well-received and extremely funny," said its director, Centennial drama teacher Mo Dutterer.

The cast included Evan Casey, Ryan Fitzwater, Chris Harris, Lauren Koch, Brian McGuire, Rob Mentz, Jocie Paulis, Kevin Rhee, Alicia Sima, Melanie St. Ours, Leigh Tillman and Kelsey Tyree.

Mount Hebron's plays

Mount Hebron High School is preparing for its next stage production, "Twelve Angry Men." Actor Henry Fonda starred in the 1957 movie version.

The 12 angry men are jurors who must determine the fate of a 19-year-old boy accused of killing his father.

The audience will be seated on the stage, surrounding the actors on three sides.

In the play are seniors Andrew Cruttenden, John Bruns, Troy Kerr, Todd Anderson and Jeff Skarin; juniors Mark Rosenberg, Steve Shane, David Castro, Manny Herrmann, Chris Wojtal and Darryl Franklin; and sophomores Jonny Norman and Chris Schwartz.

The school's performances of "Steel Magnolias," with an all-female cast, sold out last month.

"Now the guys at Mount Hebron are in full swing," says director Tom Sankey.

Show dates are Nov. 11, 12, 13 and 14 at 7: 30 p.m.

Tickets are $6. Reservations are suggested.

Information: 410-313-2880.

Local musicians

Sixteen local residents will perform as members of the Columbia Orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday at the James Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia.

Paul Liu, Ethel Steiner, Annette Szawan, Sonja Hardman, Barbara Heazel and Dina Romang will play violin.

Dottie Wayne, Jenny Choe, Kathleen Anderson, Laura Mitchel, Harry Hurt, Elaine Newhall, Anne Ward, Doug Lee, Jeff Howard and Jeff Soulen play other instruments.

Sheng-Tsug Wang, a graduate of Centennial High School, will be featured as violinist in the Brahms Double Concerto.

The concert features the "Symphonie Fantastique" by Berlioz. The symphony concludes with "The Witches' Sabbath."

How we celebrate

By the time the concert ends, many of the Halloween celebrations in the area will be over, too.

Children will have walked down Main Street in Historic Ellicott City for an old-fashioned trick-or-treat sponsored by local merchants from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

According to Nancy Gibson, one of the owners of the Forget-Me-Not Factory, most merchants dress in costume for the event and give away candy. It's a tradition of at least 10 years, Gibson says.

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