Special Feature of the Day: Each year for Halloween at my husband's school, Lenoir-Rhyne University, there is "campus ghost tour" during which the guides share local folklore, campus legends, and creepy stories. Thanks to the generosity of the good people at Lenoir-Rhyne, I now have all of those spooky tales to share with you. I have taken pictures around the campus to illustrate the stories, so that I may lead you through the tour virtually.
Without further ado, I would like to invite you to join me for a virtual "campus ghost tour" of Lenoir-Rhyne.
Ghost Tour Introduction: Most of the buildings on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus have acquired a ghost, gremlin, spirit, or legend that has lingered from year to year. Some of the legends have been exaggerated or miscommunicated through the years. The ghosts and spirits that you’ll learn about now are as official, as documented, as close to recollection as possible. Most of the ghosts that you'll read about have been witnessed either by security officers, students, alumni, or others who visit the university. The older spirits, say from 1979 or before, have been included in the oral history of Lenoir-Rhyne College, Traces, which is available by special permission from the archives in the university library. Throughout the years, several articles in the college paper have accounted for the ghosts in our buildings, and the local newspapers have even run stories about them.
1. Morgan Hall- This is a ghost that is perhaps the closest to the student body. It is the spirit of David Moose. David, captain of the L-R football team, class officer, and one of the most popular members of the student body was tragically murdered at an off-campus function on March 20, 1985. David loved L-R and his family was - and still is - very involved in the life of the university. David was from Albermarle, N.C., but his love of the university keeps his spirit on campus. From time to time, a student may notice a cold chill on 3rd Long, or hear the door to the showers open a shower start, and look to find no one there. In the early 1990s, one of David's notebooks appeared on 3rd Long, placed just outside his old room: room 325. It also seems that his spirit is with us more during the fall, during football season, than the rest of the year. Recently, a young visitor to the Shuford Gym complex told of coming out into the hallway and seeing a person in a football uniform standing at the other end. although the visitor did not remember the number on the uniform. The player disappeared through the locked door of the football dressing room. Could it have been David?
2. The Mystery Of The Stadium Banner – For the 1983 football season, a 20’ X 20’ banner was hung from the highest part of Shuford Gym, some fifty or more feet above the ground. The banner was made of the heaviest canvas, which made it impossible for one person to secure or remove it. When it was hung from the top of the building, more than eight large men had to assist. It was hung just before the first home football game of the season and remained in place for three home games. The banner ropes were checked weekly, and the access to the roof involved a series of unmarked doors and the use of two separate outside ladders. On the Friday before the fourth home game the banner was checked by college staff, and readied for the next afternoon’s game. It was still in place at the close of the second shift of security, or 11:15 pm. Between 11:16 pm and 6:45am the banner and all of its ropes disappeared. The ladders were locked away in a room that was not accessible to anyone but a certain few staff persons and those certain few did not have access to the door that led to the first roof. The ropes were not cut - they were untied - and even the buckles that were used in the securing process were gone, as if they had never been there. There was a search of all campus areas, fraternity houses, and even a few off-campus apartments. Nothing ever showed up.
3. The Cromer Center – Jerry Shaw, Residence Director and Director Of Student Activities, died after a long battle with cancer in December 1989. Jerry was a very popular and charismatic member of the campus community and the first black member of the L-R football team. When Jerry passed away, there was a large memorial service on the campus in December 1989. More than 1,000 members of the L-R community, alumni, and family came to be a part of the service. That afternoon, as Jerry’s secretary returned to the office for the first time after the memorial, she noticed the usual messages that every administrator gets on his/her door when he/she is away from their office. As she sorted through these messages, she came across one that stopped her in her work. It was a message from the switchboard operator about a phone call that came in that morning. It was addressed to the Student Activities Office. The message was "Arrived safe, everything is fine. Jerry." None of the L-R switchboard operators remember taking such a call.
4. Schaeffer Hall – For many years Mauney and Schaeffer Hall housed women. Since these are the oldest residence areas on campus, there are still many alumni who remember the old days. Some of the residents of Mauney and Schaeffer stayed at the college and worked on for several years. Others, like Mrs. Ona Peery, returned to the campus as Head Residents, the house mothers of old. Mrs. Peery, the Head Resident of the brand new Price Village complex in 1973, passed away of natural causes in 1975 in her apartment at Price. This was the same year that the decision to house men in Mauney Hall was made, something Mrs. Peery and most of the Head Residents at that time opposed because of tradition. Starting in 1976, reports of a rocking chair rocking, humming in the hall – especially second floor Schaeffer – and that room 206 Schaeffer was extremely cold all the time started to come to the staff’s attention. In 1978, a student walking in from the breezeway encountered a matronly, transparent spirit checking the doors of the second floor. When the spirit turned and noticed the student, the student reported that she gave a stern look, placed her hands on her hips, and vanished. When the student described the spirit to the staff, the description most certainly fit that of Mrs. Peery, who lived in room 206 when she was a student at the College, and whose favorite piece of furniture while she was a Head Resident was a rocking chair. Reports of sounds and drastic temperature changes on second floor continue to this day.
5. The Vision At The Tree – On the main quad of the campus, you can see a pine tree that was planted as a gift by the students of 1916. For years it has grown and flourished. Several alumni and students have given an account of a garden party that appears early on spring mornings just below the tree. The party usually contains 8-10 young ladies in dress reflective of the early twentieth century. They are talking, and sipping small cups, apparently enjoying the surroundings. As the sun rises, or if one were to get close to the tree, the vision disappears.
6. The Rhyne Building And The Bell – Old Main was the central campus building for many of the early years of Lenoir-Rhyne College. It housed classrooms and offices, a dining hall, library, and most of the other necessary operations of the school. Old Main had a large tower at its center in which there was a school bell almost three feet in diameter. In 1920, the bell mysteriously disappeared from the tower. The President of the college stopped classes and conducted a full-scale investigation of the disappearance. For more than two weeks the campus was shrouded in the mysterious event. Then six seniors confessed to the President that they had taken the bell from the tower and buried it as a prank. The President, not seeing any humor in this prank, summarily expelled all six. When Old Main was destroyed by fire in 1927, the bell was one of the few salvaged items. When the new Rhyne Building was constructed, a plan was made to incorporate the bell in the design, so that it would never be subject to another prank. After much discussion, the bell was reshaped and coated in copper and brass and placed at the left corner of the main entrance.
7. The Library – Rudisill Library offers perhaps the most real ghost experience ever at L-R. There are two phenomena that have occurred in and around the library. The first occurred in July 1976, as security was making rounds on the campus. At about 9:00pm, security made the usually rounds through the library, checking doors and turning off all the lights. This was more difficult a process than it appeared, as the light switches were scattered throughout the building, not on one main panel. After checking all the doors, windows and turning off all the lights - something that had been done every night for many nights - security left by the front doors, and drove the security vehicle up the front of the Cromer Center, the next stop of rounds. Parking directly in front of the center, the officer had a good view of most of the central campus; he got out of the vehicle, locked the doors, and began to walk to the Center. Then a strange feeling came over him and he turned around and looked across campus. There was the library, a building that was secured and dark just 3-4 minutes before, with every light on! The officer stood there watching for a long time, and in a few minutes the relief officer came on duty. He came up to the front of the Center and asked what the lights were doing on in the library. The first officer told him that if he wanted to find out, could go on and go in, but he was not going back inside. On the report the next day, the relief officer stated that all lights were turned on: closets, hall, stairs, room lights. All of the lights were on, which meant than many individual switches had to have been turned on, not just one switchboard.
8. The Little Child – In 1980, while walking around the campus, strolling his one-year-old daughter, an employee of L-R came to the library. As he came down the sidewalk behind the library, he noticed some people looking over at the library as they walked. Turning the corner at the college sign, he caught a glimpse of a small child running and crying close to the library, just skirting the bushes. Continuing to walk the sidewalk, he turned up toward the library. The child, looking back occasionally, was visibly crying as it ran. He also noticed the child’s clothes, which were torn and shredded. Walking faster, approaching the main doors of the library’s old entrance, he saw the child run around the corner of the library and out of sight. He now walked as fast as he could with his daughter in arms and rounded the corner. He stopped. There was the child, 25 feet away with the saddest look ever seen on a human being, one that cuts right through him. Taking a few steps, he asked what was wrong. The child just ran around the corner, as he followed. As he turned the corner, the child was gone!
Students and members of the community who use the library have reported a child’s cries coming from various parts of the library. Also, students report books being knocked from shelves when no one is near them. Lights flicker and doors open with no one around. The library was destroyed by fire in 1927, but there was no record of anybody perishing in the fire. No one knows who or what the vision is.
9. The Yoder Building – The Yoder Building stood where the Belk Centrum building now stands. It was an imposing structure, three stories tall, with a sharp angled roof. There were no bathrooms in the Yoder Building, just classes. For years it had housed the Business Department classrooms and other work areas, including the Art Department studios. One night as a security officer was crossing the campus on rounds, he looked up toward the Yoder Building. There on the edge of the roof was a man dressed like a painter or laborer, just sitting on the roof. Security walked over to the building and called up to him. There was no answer. After several attempts to talk with this person, the guard entered the Yoder Building and started climbing the stairs, thinking he’d go up to the roof access and see what was going on. About halfway to the third floor he stopped as he realized that the Yoder Building had no access to the roof: no door, no panel, no ladder, no way to get to the roof from the inside. He went back outside and looked up: the figure was gone. As he walked around the building and stood farther away, there was nothing, no clue of who this person was or why he was on the roof. The other guard on duty did come rushing up to the first, and asked him, "Who was that guy up on the roof?"
10. Highland Hall – This is the only specter that has been aggressive with anyone on campus. The experience here has been encountered by several staff and faculty members over the last twenty years. Working the graveyard shift, a security guard went into Highland Hall to check the doors and lights. First floor was offices and classrooms: no problems. Second floor was student offices and faculty offices: no problem. Third floor was used, at that time, for storage of college property: lamps, bookcases, bed frames, mattresses, etc. As he approached the door to the hall, he noticed all the lights were out, which is unusual for that floor. So, he turned to the switch panel, turned on the main hall lights, and walked on down the hall. Ten steps down the hall, the lights went out again. Turning on a flashlight, he turned around and went back to the switchboard. He again flipped the switch. Nothing happened. He tried this several times: still nothing. So he turned to go back down the hall, and the door to the switch panel slammed shut. He walked down the hall just a few feet farther than the first time, and encountered a lamp pushed toward him. Then a drawer came flying out of a room not far from him and the bed frames started to shake, then still more lamps and a chair. The guard quickly turned to go out the hall door, but on the first try the door would not open: more noise from behind him on the hall, a second push, leaning on the door, and it finally gave way. The next morning, the maintenance staff called security to report vandalism to third floor Highland Hall: lamps broken, mattresses ripped open, and wooden furniture smashed. That particular guard never went up to the third floor after dark, alone, again.
Another staff member recounts the story about coming out of her office in Highland Hall, starting down the hallway, and looking up to see a man standing just feet from her, dressed in just pants: no shirt, no shoes. As she approached and attempted to talk with him, the vision turned and entered a room. When she got to that room there was no one there. Other staff members who have offices in the building have reported howls and moans, doors slamming, and banging on the walls.
11. P.E. Monroe Auditorium – For many years, students and faculty have reported strange lights appearing in the auditorium. Lights, like that of a small table lamp, moving throughout the auditorium and its offices and hallways. One day the lights stopped and there were no more reports. For a couple of years, no reports were made of the lights. Then they started again, just as suddenly as they had stopped. When they started again, a member of the faculty stayed in the building for several nights trying to observe the lights firsthand. The professor did witness the light - emerging from the portrait of Dr. Monroe and roaming the entire auditorium for most of the night. It was the next morning, as the faculty member examined the place where the light started and ended that he and others discovered that the portrait light above the picture of Dr. Monroe was missing. The light was replaced and the same surveillance was conducted the next night. Nothing. No sightings. The light was removed and the sure enough the mysterious lamp lights reappeared. Because of that discovery, every night the auditorium faculty check to make sure that the portrait of Dr. Monroe is lit with the accent light, so that Dr. Monroe can rest. And if that light over the portrait ever goes out, we will know, because Dr. Monroe will roam the auditorium until it is fixed.
Another report from the auditorium relates the sighting of a large shadow floating through the office area and auditorium lobby, as well as the spinning of the Astrosoma, as if its being intentionally spun one way, then stopped and spun the other.
12. The Mauney Music Building – Students over the years report a great deal of spirit activity in the Music Building. One student reported an unauthorized person playing the large practice organ in the building. When the report was responded to by security, the organ was in operating mode, but there was no one in the room. Another student reports that while practicing in the building, she heard a large group of people moving up and down the hallway. When she opened the door to see what all the commotion was about, there was dead silence and not a soul in sight.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these legends and tales of the Lenoir-Rhyne campus!
Today's Spooky Text of the Day: Today's wonderfully eerie story is "The Singular Death of Morton" by Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951).
Then, suddenly, as they had turned to go, after much vain shouting and knocking at the door, a face appeared for an instant at a window, the shutter of which was half open. His friend saw it first, and called aloud. The face nodded in reply, and presently a young girl came round the corner of the house, apparently by a back door, and stood staring at them both from a little distance.
And from that very instant, so far as he could remember, these queer feelings had entered his heart-fear, distrust, misgiving. The thought of it now, as he lay in bed in the darkness, made his hair rise. There was something about that girl that struck cold into the soul. Yet she was a mere slip of a thing, very pretty, seductive even, with a certain serpent-like fascination about her eyes and movements; and although she only replied to their questions as to refreshment with a smile, uttering no single word, she managed to convey the impression that she was a managing little person who might make herself very disagreeable if she chose. In spite of her undeniable charm there was about her an atmosphere of something sinister. He himself did most of the questioning, but it was his older friend who had the benefit of her smile. Her eyes hardly ever left his face, and once she had slipped quite close to him and touched his arm.
The strange part of it now seemed to him that he could not remember in the least how she was dressed, or what was the colouring of her eyes and hair. It was almost as though he had felt, rather than seen, her presence.
Read the complete story here.