Elmhurst, Munster Township...Elmhurst
is a turn-of-the-20th-century mansion located between Ebensburg and Cresson off
Old Route 22. It is a breathtaking estate with a rich history including intrigue
and "haunting" tales. The country boasts of elegance and grandeur with the Tudor-style
mansion on more than 130 rolling acres of farm and forest land. From its 2,000-foot
elevation, the home has seven miles of views from the wide porches overlooking
a portion of the Allegheny Mountains. The residence, built to withstand another
hundred years, has an exterior of brick, timber, and masonry. Five medieval chimneys
tower above its roof line presenting a regal first impression, which is followed
through with over 20 rooms and more than 7,000 square feet of living space inside,
with tudor elements including eight unique functional fireplaces with carved mantles.
the home became nationally known when the original owner's son, Harry K. Thaw,
was involved in the most famous crime of passion of the century. Thaw was married
to Evelyn Nesbit, a beautiful "Gibson Girl" who's primary goal in life was to
marry a very rich man. Before their wedding, Nesbit told her husband-to-be about
a long affair she had had with New York's greatest architect, Stanford White,
designer of Madison Square Garden. White was described as a "fast-living genius
with a voracious appetite for beautiful young girls." Nesbit and White (who was
married at the time) began their affair in 1901 when she was just 16 and he was
48. Their relationship was defined by her naked antics on a red velvet swing in
White's Manhattan apartment for which a 1955 movie entitled The Girl in the
Red Velvet Swing starring Joan Collins and Farley Granger was made. Nesbit
told Shaw that White had gotten her drunk on champagne until she passed out, then
stole her virginity. She didn't realize that Thaw already held a grudge against
White for blackballing Thaw from entrance to some exclusive clubs in New York.
Shortly after finding out about the affair, Thaw beat Nesbit with a cowhide
whip until she was covered with welts. Six months later, she married him because,
"he was the only rich man offering her matrimony." On June 26, 1906, Thaw's jealousy
got the best of him and he killed White in Madison Square Garden's rooftop cabaret
theater. During his trial, he admitted doing it because, "he ruined my wife."
Thaw was not convicted of the murder by reason of insanity (which his own mother
corroborated during the trial when she said the entire clan was crazy). He spent
eight years in an asylum for the criminally insane. Upon his release, he filed
for divorce. A second marriage for Nesbit failed, and she attempted suicide twice.
She was to have said, "Stanny White was killed, but my fate was worse. I lived."
Nesbit died in 1967 at the age of 82. Thaw died in 1947 at age 76.
are numerous stories about the Thaw mansion being haunted by Nesbit's ghost. Some
reports say a beautiful young woman in a white gown walks the hallways from room
to room. Some say the house is shaken by noise so intense it seems as if the house
will split in two. Sometimes the lights go off and on and windows and doors open
on their own. One story actually told of some men traveling on Route 22 near the
entrance to the mansion when they saw a young woman in a white gown on the side
of the road, crying. She wanted to be taken home and told the men how to get to
Elmhurst. When they stopped the car near the residence, they found their passenger
had disappeared. The home has been a private residence since 1989, and prior to
that it served as a restaurant and riding stable that had been owned by Edwin
and Gaillee Hoover.
Post card from the collection
of William L. Martin.