|Ghostly Tales Offered on
|University assistant archivist Elizabeth McAllister
(left) and archivist Anne Turkos
offered a blend of history and folklore on their tours. (Newsline photo by Alan J. McCombs;
click for enlargement.)
Friday, Oct. 27, 2006; additional photos added Oct. 31; audio added Nov. 1
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Night watchmen in the University of
Maryland’s Marie Mount Hall claim that on dark and stormy nights, they can
hear someone playing the piano.
At night in Morrill Hall, people have reported hearing marching feet outside
And more than one person at the Tawes Fine Arts Building has heard
persistent footsteps echoing throughout the theatre when no one appears to
OK, the anecdotes aren’t exactly worthy of a Stephen King novel. But the
university, with its 150 years of history, has its fair share of skeletons.
Some say they creak and groan.
On one of the creepiest nights of the year, Friday the thirteenth, the
university launched what archivist Anne Turkos would like to see become a
new tradition: a tour of the campus' “haunted” locales. The tour groups
drew about 60 students and their families, she said.
The groups snaked across campus, starting in one of the
university’s oldest buildings, the
constructed between 1804 and 1812. At various points in its history the building
has served as a way station for stage coaches, a dormitory for faculty and
students and a reception hall.
According to folklore, the inn hosts several
spirits, Turkos said.
Larry Donnelly, a manager with the university’s dining halls for 30 years,
has contributed to that lore. He said he witnessed a ghost when he was working in the inn in the spring of
1981, while working on paperwork in
a third floor office.
“All of a sudden a cold,
cold breeze went right by my face, and I looked up and there was this faint
outline of a face, and then it disappeared,” said Donnelly, 67.
Donnelly later said he saw the ghost in a hallway. He describes her as a
“young lady” in her mid 20s or early 30s wearing an old yellow dress with a
Other people who have worked in the inn have reported doors closing on
their own, echoes of unexplained footsteps and vases appearing out of
nowhere, Turkos said.
“I’m going to tell you the truth; I don’t believe in a ghost,” said
Donnelly, who came to the university in 1968 after serving 11 years in the
Army in Vietnam. “I’m a Catholic. I do believe we’re going to go somewhere.
"But this, I can’t explain it.”
Anecdotes such as those are ones the archivist would like to investigate
further, said assistant archivist Elizabeth McAllister, who led her own tour
On the tours, the archivists' blend of folklore and history
seemed to satisfy the crowds.
Tour groups moved from the inn to Marie Mount Hall, constructed in 1940 and
later named after the former dean of home economics, who some say still
resides in the building.
“Maybe, just because she likes the building,
she decided to stay,” said McAllister, 26.
Turkos said some have claimed to see the eyes in Marie
Mount’s portrait, still hanging in the hall, track those who pass it.
have wondered if she’s playing the piano music they’ve heard at night. There
is no piano in the building.
Leave Marie Mount and trek up a hill to Morrill Hall. During the early days
of the university, the student body was divided into military companies and
required to train as soldiers, Turkos said.
Near the site of Morrill Hall lies the drill ground where students who
misbehaved had to march to work off their demerits, Turkos said. People who
have worked in the building late at night have reported hearing the sound of
marching feet around the building, she said.
The tours, which began at 10:30 p.m. and lasted until just
before midnight, were arguably less boo than history.
Gail and Natasha McGee, a mother and daughter team on a tour, found it
“I guess [it’s] more interesting than scary,” said
Natasha McGee, a 21-year-old criminology major.
Added Gail McGee, 47, a 1996 business school graduate: “I think that if you
have any kind of spirituality, then you do believe that people leave little
pieces of themselves behind in different places.
“I don’t know about marching and all that stuff, but I
do believe that you can still feel spirits of people around you,” she said.
The tour had its sadder moments.
In front of Cole Field House, the former home of the university's basketball
teams, tour groups learned of Len Bias.
|Washington Hall, home of former
university basketball player Len Bias. (Newsline photo by Alan J. McCombs;
click for enlargement.)
Turkos speaks on the lore surrounding Len Bias.
(12 seconds, RealPlayer file)
Bias, a former student and university men’s basketball player, overdosed on
cocaine in a dorm room in Washington Hall in June 1986, days after
being drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Dead for 20 years, Bias’ name lives on at the university.
Some students say
that isn’t the only thing that remains of the former basketball star.
“A number of students that have lived in that dorm room since Len’s death
report that they have heard the sound of a basketball bouncing in the middle of the night,
and they attribute that to that particular tragedy,” Turkos said.
2006 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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