When most mortals think of haunted places, those places generally tend to be abandoned or in an altogether sorry state of repair.
However, there are countless stories of the souls of the departed inhabiting a place still maintained and occupied by the living.
Some may find this surprising, but the University of La Verne campus and its numerous structures provide the setting for many such stories.
Founders Hall, Dailey Theatre, Hanawalt House, the International Student Center and the Studebaker-Hanawalt Residence Hall are all reputed to play host to visitors from beyond the grave.
Senior Melissa Stahly has heard a number of stories regarding paranormal occurrences and was part of one herself just last year.
During rehearsal and production of the opera “The Medium,” a piece about, oddly enough, communicating with the spirits of the deceased, the lighting system in Founders Auditorium occasionally seemed to take on a life of its own.
Stahly even noticed how the lights misbehaved on a rather consistent basis when she was performing one of her songs.
Fellow senior Becky Campana was in charge of the lights for the production.
On one occasion, Campana became so impatient with the lights that she unplugged the whole system…only to have the lights continue their eerie and inexplicable malfunctions.
So much for the mechanical explanation.
The anomaly became such a frequent occurrence that the people involved in “The Medium” could not help giving the phenomenon a name: Gladdys.
Stahly explained that the theater folks chose the name Gladdys in reference to Gladdys Muir, a beloved ULV faculty member who fell down the exterior stairs on the east side of Founders Hall in 1967 and died as a result of her injuries.
Lest you assume these bizarre happenings are exclusive to Founders Hall, there are many stories set at various other locations across the campus.
Over the years, there have been a number of reports of people working inside the Hanawalt House seeing some sort of apparition.
Most who know the story, including Janie Stahly, Melissa’s mother, have concluded that it is the ghost of “Grandma Hanawalt,” a member of one of the University’s founding families.
Speaking of the Hanawalt clan, another structure bearing its name, the Studebaker-Hanawalt all-female residence hall, is also reputed to be inhabited by beings from the Other Side.
Legend has it that a student hanged herself in her room, and some subsequent occupants of the room have claimed they have heard banging noises on the walls and ceiling.
Alumna Lynsey Best, who claimed she lived in the haunted room during the fall semester of her senior year, said that she often heard other strange noises accompanying the banging. “I hear someone breathing really loud or snoring; I go out and no one is there and it’s not coming from my neighbors,” she told the Campus Times at the time.
Residents swear that these noises are not being made by their neighbors or their imaginations, but were in fact the sounds of the young woman choking herself to death.
Yet perhaps the most chilling tale out of the halls of ULV is that of the ghost of President Morgan’s first secretary, Evelyn.
Evelyn, who had no known relatives, was a truly “old school” secretary, and she was very attached to and protective of Morgan and his family.
Sadly, one day, while in the president’s office, Evelyn suffered an aneurysm and collapsed.
She was rushed to the hospital, but died shortly thereafter.
A short time later, Diana Towles, who was and still is one of Morgan’s secretaries, felt the strong presence of someone (or something) in the room with her, even when she knew she was alone.
Towles would also hear strange noises, including the distinct sound of a pencil being tapped on a desk. “The sound of paper rustling could have been rats or the air conditioning,” she said. “But a pencil tapping, that’s different!”
The reader may be scoffing now, but the story goes on.
One night, while working in the office, Towles could swear that there was another person in the room, watching her but the person was unable to be seen.
The next morning, Towles spoke to Morgan about the previous night’s events.
Morgan responded by saying that he had had a dream the very same night.
In his dream, Morgan was in his office and Evelyn walked in. When he asked what she was doing there, Evelyn said she had come to check up on him.
Morgan then told Evelyn that she did not have to look after him anymore, and that Diana was doing a fine job.
After President Morgan had his dream, Evelyn’s presence immediately became much less frequent and much less noticeable.
About one year later, the president’s office was moved from the second floor of Founders Hall to its present location on the first floor.
The moral of these stories? Well, if you simply must take something away from these tales, leave with these words of wisdom:
The next time your mind tells you that you are alone in Founders, Stu-Han or anywhere else on campus, do not be surprised if your instincts suddenly start telling you otherwise.
Tom Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.