As we await All Hallows’ Eve, the night dead souls are rumored to lurk the earth to mingle with witches and mortals alike, let us take a look at the spooky spirits said to roam the University of La Verne campus.
With 128 years of history it’s only expected that spooky ghost sightings would start showing up at some point. The earliest stories centered around Founders Hall and Dailey Theatre.
Founders Hall has been the site of at least two deaths on campus. History professor Gladdys Muir died after a fall down the steep steps on the east side of the building in 1967. Then, in 1978, audio-visual coordinator David Glasa died by suicide in his office in room 14 on the first floor of Founders, which is now the NMR Lab.
In a Campus Times article from October 1981, editor-in-chief Phillip Barnett touched on some spooky stories told to him by former professors and students alike.
Barnett centered on Founders Hall as he relayed a story told to him by former Professor of Biology Robert Neher.
Neher said that one night he had gone up to the attic to store some files when he came across a trap door that eventually led him through a set of corners and hallways.
As he rounded a corner, he came across a hangman’s noose hanging at eye level. As he turned another corner, dozens of glass bottles were strung from the ceiling. Barnett said that neither Neher nor anyone else could explain where these items came from, or why they were there in the first place.
Dailey Theatre is said to by haunted by the ghost of Jim Henderson, as student who was murdered in the Mojave Desert shortly after building the theater’s gazebo from scratch.
According to Barnett, pounding noises could be heard in the gazebo while students were practicing on stage.
Jane Duran, senior communication through art major, has heard stories of Henderson’s ghost numerous times throughout her four years on campus.
“A couple years back, a student was high up on a ladder when he lost his balance and almost fell,” Duran said. “But he said he felt a force push him back to stand onto the ladder; he was OK. I heard it was Jim’s ghost.”
She mentioned that random things in the theater tend to get lost, and when they reappear it is because of Jim’s ghost.
“Also, when the leak happened in the theater our whole class had to go to the animal house around 9 at night. Right in the middle of class, the water faucet turned on full blast and the whole class was creeped out. No one was in the kitchen area by the sink. My teacher had to go and shut it off.”
The animal facility can be found in the Mainiero Building, which is attached to the west side of Founders Hall. In the first floor hallway where the two buildings meet, by LaFetra Lecture Hall, is room 14, Glasa’s former office.
Arman Agahi, senior history major, said he witnessed an apparition in LaFetra in 2018 when Jim Brooks, director of the Campus Center, was providing instruction on how to use the hall’s technology to six of the building leads.
While they were being trained, Agahi said that he and two other leads, Erick Miramontes and Bella Fernandez, felt the air turn cold in the room. They all simultaneously turned to look toward the chairs in the auditorium. Agahi said they all saw a white, ghostly apparition move swiftly and dissipate into thin air.
“We all turned and saw something get up from a chair in the auditorium, move to the right and then dissipate,” Agahi said. “I usually don’t believe in spirits, neither did any of the others who experienced it. But the only reason why I believe I may have seen anything at all was because all three of us, Bella, Erick and myself, all saw the same thing, felt the same thing and turned at the same time.”
Spooky experiences throughout Mainiero and Founders Hall are not only familiar to Agahi and Duran, but to former student Jonathan Pham as well.
Pham, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology last semester, said his encounter happened during finals week of his freshman year when he lived in Brandt Hall.
With the library open 24 hours during dead week, he and his friends were leaving one night around 3 a.m. and chose to cross through the path by Founders and Mainiero.
As he and his friends made their way, they noticed the door to Mainiero was unlocked and opened. He and his friends had to use the restroom, and as they stopped in they heard a loud noise that made them each turn their heads in the direction of the stall doors.
“We looked over and the stall door opened out, and at that point we all looked at each other super confused,” Pham said. “Then all of a sudden it slammed shut. We were all just straight confused, we even looked in the stall because we thought someone was messing with us.”
Unfortunately for Pham and his friends, looking in the stall provided no solution. He said they looked around and saw no one, so they ran out of the bathroom into the hallway where Founders and Mainiero meet.
“We were even more freaked out because the lights in Founders were turned off,” Pham said. “We ran to Brandt and then upstairs to our rooms, and we were really confused, asking if that even really happened.”
Another ghost encountered on campus is “Grandma Hanawalt,” said to be the first ever resident of the Hanawalt House, whose spirit has been spotted around the house.
Malissa Hernandez, department coordinator for communications, may not have seen the ghost of Grandma Hanawalt herself, but she did experience something she described as very strange, and pretty spooky, when she worked in the Hanawalt House years ago for the office of alumni relations.
Upon entering the Hanawalt House, a bell will chime like a doorbell every time the front door is opened to alert those within the house that someone has entered. This chime can even be heard today.
Hernandez described the system as simple with only one choice of chime, and that the only way for the chime to go off is if the system were plugged into an outlet.
Her office was the first of two on the right-hand side of the stairs on the second floor with her desk facing the stairwell.
One night, Hernandez and her boss Beth Elmore, senior director of alumni relations at the time, were working late preparing for Homecoming weekend.
Elmore was out running errands while Hernandez was working alone in her office.
Hernandez heard the front door open, but she did not hear the usual chime. Rather, she said she heard what sounded like a Christmas song. Within the same moment Elmore came up the stairs and looked at Hernandez, asking if she had heard the same thing.
“We tried testing it to see if maybe there was something more to it than we realized, so we go over to the box that you have to have plugged in and it wasn’t even plugged in,” Hernandez said. “Afterward, Beth asked if I was going to be OK being alone in the house and I said I was fine, I didn’t feel fear, it was more just, ‘oh my gosh.’ You hear ghost stories and you don’t think that they’re true but when it happens to you it’s like ‘oh my gosh, OK, they’re real.’”
Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.