Henry Austin (1804-1891), a well-known architect of New Haven, designed Dwight Hall at 67 High Street. It was built in 1886 more for the City of New Haven than for Yale itself — his work for the Elm City includes its City Hall and the widely acclaimed gates of the Grove Street Cemetery. But his time in New Haven began at Yale, where he designed a brownstone-clad library known as the Old Library (originally built 1842-1846) that was converted into Dwight Hall in 1930. Austin’s was the first building on campus designed in the Gothic Revival tradition, marking a significant departure from the Old Brick Row of the 18th century, and thereby setting the principal direction of campus architecture to this day.
Dwight Hall is named Reverend Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), the eighth president of Yale. He was asked by a senior on March 23, 1814 about the possible existence of ghosts. Dwight responded, “It is within the power of God to make specters appear: there is no contradiction involved in it.”
Reverend Timothy Dwight would frequently recount the spooky story of a friend’s experience when he had been sixteen years of age. He and his friend saw an apprentice that worked with his father walking home one night in New Haven. He thought it would be funny to scare him, so they walked quietly behind him until he reached the green. His friend went to jump him from behind but went straight through him as if the man were a ghost. Scared, he looked around to find no one there, before running off he put rocks down where the incident took place. When he arrived home his mother told him the apprentice that worked with his father had passed that day. To his horror, he was buried where he had put the collection of rocks down on the green.
Chrystyne McGrath one of our tour guides was part of a healing group at Yale which met at Dwight Hall on Sunday’s 2002-2003.They witnessed an apparition who appeared to be a former minister at the Chapel located within the hall. He would float through the walls and just be curious to what they were doing. Her son, who was 4 years old at the time would follow him around the room, the apparition was very visible.