Friday, August 20, 2010

Marshall's Thundering Herd...Of Spooks

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Marshall University's Old Main

Marshall University is a public university in Huntington, West Virginia, with 13,435 students. It was founded in 1837 as Marshall Academy, back when Huntington was still part of Virginia, and named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. And yes, a school that old has to have some spooks on campus.

Alpha Chi Omega House: Alpha Chi Omega was founded in 1885 as a music sorority. It's house is located directly across from Corbly Hall on Fifth Avenue, and they share it with more than the sisterhood.

It's gently haunted by the ghost of little boy who died in a fire at the house. He's said to cause gusts of cool air (cold spots, as they're called in the paranormal biz), flickering basement lights that electricians have checked out and can't explain, and missing objects in the house. Hey, what would you expect from a pesky little brother fooling with his sisters?

Gullickson Hall: This is the classroom part of the Cam Henderson Center, the Thundering Herd's basketball arena. The women’s locker room is said to have a playful voyeur. Girls have had her hair pulled when no one was around and many feel the presence of someone watching them.

Harris Hall: Built in 1976, professors and students have heard children talking and walking through the building.

Hodges Hall: Ah, a tale of love gone bad. The most popular version of the HH tale is that a football player was dating several girls, telling each that she was his one and only. Well, the girls found out about each other, and one took it hard. She committed suicide by jumping out of the third story window. Legend has it that her soul lives on in the attic.

You won't find her there anymore, though. Hodges, built in 1937, was razed in 2007.

Jenkins Hall: Jenkins Hall was constructed in 1937 and named in honor of a Confederate calvary officer, General Albert Jenkins, who was a native of Cabell County. Until 1970 the building provided kindergarten through high school education and served as a lab for prospective teachers.

There have been reports of children laughing, and ghost hunter Tigger Conn caught a picture a few months ago of two young kids who were staring and laughing while looking out one of the windows in Jenkins.

Laidley Hall: This 1937 dorm provides upperclassman resident housing. The lore here is that every night at nine, coincidentally the start of dorm quiet hours, the fire alarm (or glass breaking, depends on who's talking) can be heard, joining noises like footsteps and banging radiators to raise a cacophony. Some say the spooks are raising a ruckus; others say an old building makes noise, quiet hours or not.

Memorial Student Center: The Memorial Student Center was completed in 1971. Its name commemorates the loss of the entire Marshall football team in the 1970 plane crash.

It hosts a ghost who walks down the stairs and goes out through the double doors of the front entrance in the student center.

Morrow Library: The James Morrow Library was once MU's main book center; it's the haunt of special collections like the Appalachian Research Center and scholarly academics now. The original bulding was erected in 1872-73, and it was dedicated as a library in 1931.

Morrow survived the 1937 flood (barely) but fell victim to digital technology and modern architecture, as its general stacks have been moved to the John Drinko Library, opened in 1998. But it still has its allure - and lore.

Its ghosts violate the first rule of libraries across the world - they won't be shushed. Students have heard loud arguments while no one was around, and seen books fall off the shelf for no apparent reason and no one around. A little quiet, please! Ghosts are supposed to be seen, not heard. And actually, they have been: white orbs have shown up on pictures taken by the building.

Old Main: The landmark Old Main, which now serves as the primary administrative building for the university, was built on land known as Maple Grove, once the home of the Mount Hebron Church. It's also served as an infirmary during World War II and a girls dormitory.

Old Main is actually a series of five buildings that have been joined together between the years 1868 and 1908 (the oldest dates back to 1830), ranks as the oldest structure on campus, and its spires have become the symbol of the university. It even looks spooky, with a gothic ambience, cobbled together in both Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The attic and the Yeager suites are said to be haunted by past spirits that have made Old Main their home after death, and eerie tales abound from each part of the old structure.

There have been several reports of basement spooks. One is of a man walking in and out of the girl's loo. Another is the shadow of an old handy man dressed in overalls who still dishes out directions and help, then disappears.

But its main claim to ghostly fame comes from the acting area of the old Auditorium. It starts with footsteps from the catwalks above the auditoriun, which can be plainly seen from the floor - but no one is on them.

It's most noted for its ghost of the stage. A large, well-dressed man has been seen sitting backstage during performances who quickly disappears when he attracts someone's eye.

The dapper shade is believed to be the ghost of a 1920's theater director who was wrongfully accused of embezzling money from the college and disappeared. Proof exonerating him wasn't found until the eighties, too late to do his his earthly incarnation any good, but his ethereal self could still enjoy the show.

One Room Schoolhouse: It was built in 1889, and is a museum now. During the 1937 flood some students were drowned and there are stories of kids singing and laughing inside the schoolhouse. They must have moved with the school; it was relocated in 1995.

Sigma Phi Epsilon House: The Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity House is located on Fifth Avenue. Its lore is that in the late 1960s or early 1970s, a woman named Gail and her twin sons died in a basement fire of the home. Reports of hearing sobbing and seeing blurred images are among things that are attributed to the ghosts. One brother said of Gail: "We don't mind having her here. We feel she takes care of the fraternity house." Hey, every frat needs its house mother.

Twin Towers East: The dorm was opened in 1969. In room 1218 of Twin Towers East, a student claims to have seen a young man sitting in his room, looking at him and his roommate. He pulled his blanket up over his head to make it go away, and it worked. When he looked again, the image had disappeared and the door was still locked. He later learned from friends that a student had committed suicide in that room; he assumed that's who his mysterious visitor was.

Hey, is it any wonder the school hosts Ghost Walks on campus?

(H&H took the tales posted here primarily from articles from the Marshall student newspaper, the Parthenon.)

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