With October in full swing and Halloween quickly approaching, many APSU students may be more inclined than usual to hear things going “bump” in the night. Every school has its own legends and haunting tales, and APSU is no exception.
As a lover of ghost stories, this subject matter intrigued me, but I didn’t want to settle for mere hearsay. There are plenty of vague rumors floating around campus concerning where its ghosts reside, but which ones are true?
I began my search for APSU’s ghosts at one supposed hotbed of paranormal activity: the basement floor of the Felix G. Woodward Library, specifically in the Printing Services office.
“Once, I was opening up alone at about 7 a.m., and I could hear a voice across the office saying ‘hello,’” said David Johnson, a graphic designer at Printing Services. “But no one was there.”
Johnson said others in the office have reported various noises — including the same voice he heard — as far back as the 1990s.
Three years ago, well-known paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren went to the library while visiting campus for a lecture. As Warren approached the back of the library basement, she reported feeling strange, and could supposedly see hospital cots lined up.
After some research, it was discovered that this area of APSU’s campus served as a military hospital during the Civil War.
When asking people about possible campus hauntings, it seemed like almost everyone immediately suggested the Trahern Building, which houses the art and theatre/dance departments.
“There are plenty of unexplained noises and such around the theatre and light booth,” said theatre professor Anna Filippo.
The Trahern Building was originally named after the late Margaret Trahern, and Filippo is among the faculty members who think Margaret still wanders around the theatre to this day.
“Whenever anything strange occurs … we have a tendency to blame it on Margaret,” said theatre professor Sara Gotcher.
According to Gotcher, it’s common for people in the Trahern theatre to experience odd sounds, flashing lights and doors inexplicably opening and closing of their own accord after dark.
Possibly the most interesting APSU ghost story, though, took me to the Red Barn in the Memorial Health Building.
In the past half-century since it was built, the Red Barn has allegedly been home to some strange unexplained footsteps — or more specifically, hoofsteps. The story of APSU’s ghost mule dates back to the 1940s, when enrollment spiked following the end of World War II.
“[The veterans] had a vegetable garden, and in the garden they had a tractor, but they also had a mule,” said biology professor Edward Chester, who first heard the story of the ghost mule from the late biology department chair Haskell Phillips. When the mule finally died, it was buried in a field on campus. Within two to three years, though, plans were made to build a new gym on the same site. The mule’s grave now sits below the center court circle in the Red Barn gymnasium.
Next time you’re on campus after dark, listen closely. In one of these places, you may find you’re not quite as alone as you think.