Thursday, February 14, 2008

Franklin & Marshall's Haunted Halls

old main f&m
Old Main from Franklin and Marshall College

Sticking with our spooky school motif, today we'll visit Lancaster County. Franklin College in Lancaster was founded by Ben Franklin and some others in 1787. Forty years later, Marshall College was established in Mercersburg by Supreme Court Justice John Jay Marshall. They merged in 1853 and kept the Lancaster site. It broke ties with the Reformed Church at the end of WW2 and F&M became a secular liberal arts school. In 1969, it took the final plunge and became coeducational. Fittingly, its' first classroom was a former brewery. Ben insisted. And a stiff one may be called for if you ever come across one of F&M's many campus ghosties. Here's some of its' haunted houses:

Barshinger Center For the Performing Arts:
Built in 1926 as Hensel Hall, the college venue for performing arts, it's said that if you're on stage at night and the house lights are out, you can see two glowing orbs floating slowly back and forth in the rear of the auditorium.

Bonchek College House: Also known as South Benjamin Franklin Hall, this dorm is reportedly haunted by the spirit of a student that committed suicide in her room in the 1970s after losing it while trying to keep up with her studies. It's said that during the fall final exam period that you can hear her scream. Her apparition then takes to the halls, carrying a physics book, no less, and it's been alleged that fresh blood will puddle in her old room.

Diagnothian Hall: Built in 1856, Diagonthian is now used by the Registrar's Office and has an upstairs lecture hall. It was used as a Civil War hospital, as many college buildings in the area were, especially with its' proximity to Gettysburg. The hospital days seem to be the key to its' haunts. People have heard doors slamming and other phenomena such as a feeling of presence when working alone, but period music seems to trigger one spirit. A professor in his office one night played "Red Cross Nurse" on his stereo, and heard the moans and the rattling of a person in intense pain coming from the lobby on the other side of the wall - the former site of the hospital ward. Years later, he had the same result when playing "Haunted Landscape." I wonder how much moaning there'd be if the prof played some rap music?

Distler House:
Distler was built in 1891 as a gym, and its' noisy spooks seem to be remnants of those days. The spirits make themselves known by sound rather than sight. Students on the upper floors hear sounds they liken to squirrels running in circles - right where the indoor track used to be. Other students in the TV room - the Old Gym is the student union & personnel offices now - report hearing sounds of rough housing and physical activity. The TV room is where the school held its' wrestling matches before the Biesecker Gym was built. The sounds are usually heard late during the night, between 11:30PM-1:30AM, and are heard repeatedly during the evening.

Old Main: Old Main was built in 1853 to accomodate the Franklin & Marshall merger. It was built over the old gallows hill, where Lancaster criminals were hung, but the ghost here resides in the bell tower. The bell will sometimes ring of its' own accord in the middle of the night.

Shadek-Fackenthal Library:
The library was built in 1937, and has the usual phenomena of elevators stopping at the wrong floors and books being dumped from the shelves. But the library's best known spooky bookworm is reported to be Dr. Harvey Bassler, who died in 1950. He's been sighted many times in his third floor corner, a "little old man" stooped over his love, the Pennsylvania Dutch collection. He's considered a benevolent, protective spirit. His sightings have gone way down since library renovations of the early 1980s, but continued phenomena in his corner of the library makes the old timers believe that Harvey's ghost is still there.

Wohlsen House:
Now the admissions office, Wohlsen was built in 1929 as the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house. The legend is that one of the Lambda Chi's fell down the cellar steps and killed himself. You can reportedly hear doors slamming, lights going off, and a loud bang on the stairs as the spook relives his fatal fall. His ghost has been spotted in the basement. The folks call the spirit Bob. When the poltergeist pranks such as shutting off the lights get to be too much for the people in the building, they just yell out "Knock it off, Bob," and everything returns to normal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to stay at the Whoisen House