Central Catholic High School
By: Christopher Rogue Ostrowski
William H. Luden was the famous developer of the menthol cough drop and founder of the Luden’s company, which is also known for the original “5th Ave. Chocolate Bar”.
Luden launched a backroom candy business in 1879 in the rear of his father’s jewelry shop at 35 N. 5th St., Reading, Pennsylvania;
Luden built two mansions, one on 5th Street in Reading Pa., and one at1400 Hill Rd, Reading, PA. The latter called Bon-Air.
Luden sold the mansion to the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1939. It was turned into a Catholic High School. It welcomed its first students in 1940. An expansion the following year, roughly doubling its size, linked the mansion with its carriage house.
The doors may have closed on Central Catholic High School in 2011, the ghost stories that have spun out of the former Luden Mansion on Hill Road, may never stop operating.
The hauntings of the stately structure range from the natural deaths of Luden family members to a report of the suicide of one of William H. Luden’s sons.
Built over an old iron mine, the home he called Bon Air was a spectacular residence with a ballroom, bowling alley and a total of 33 rooms, including servants’ quarters on the third level. There were tunnels and nooks beneath the building.
Seated above what is now “City Park”, the mansion’s western side of the estate gave the Luden family a large view of the city.
And it is said that on that porch, one of William Luden’s sons hanged himself
The tales of death there have taken lives of their own. Stories of murders and mayhem have in numerous websites, in Urban Legends on the streets of Reading and in the stomping and shouting of upstart paranormal groups, which clumsily parade floor to floor.
Staffers have told stories of Temperature fluctuations, Papers being turned slowly on desks. “Things” that are walking around after hours. BUT, because of fear of repercussion, no one will allow a name or Title to be used. This hurts, of course, credibility
Christopher “Papa Coyote” Ostrowski
Demonology Department Head