By Elena Spradlin
It might not be a murder house, asylum, coven, or freak show, but the Margaret Fort Trahern Art and Drama Complex is believed to host a supernatural resident frequently referred to as “Margaret.” By all accounts, her favorite areas of the building are the third floor, where the costume shop and makeup room are located, and the elevator. Whether Margaret is real or not, it doesn’t take much to get people talking about her.
“[I heard about Margaret] freshman year,” said Callie Mattox, a senior public relations relations and theatre tech major. “You walk in here and people start talking about it. Any little thing happens, and you automatically think, ‘Margaret’.”
Margaret Dancy Fort was born in Adams, Tenn. in 1902. She taught English at APSU and died in 1966. Her son, Joseph B. Trahern, Jr., was a lead donor in the Trahern project and named the building after his mother. There is a bit of a question as to why she’s here, however, if the ghost is in fact her, why would she choose to come back to this building? Why wouldn’t she be at the Trahern Mansion?
“I don’t know why she’s here or anything, I guess I never got the background on that,” said senior theatre performance major Nathan Brown. “I absolutely think that [there’s more than one ghost].”
Associate Professor of Dance, Marcus Hayes, has not had the same experience, saying that despite his office being in Trahern until recently, he never had any experiences with Margaret.
However, Hayes said he doesn’t think stories of Margaret might be played up for the sake of excitement, leading Brown to say, “No, there’s never enough hype about Margaret. I feel like people don’t talk about her enough,” Hayes said. “I love her. I feel like not enough people know about her. I think every theater has their own ghost, and so Margaret is ours, and she’s just a little piece of our family.”
And as any watcher of “Ghost Hunters”, “A Haunting”, or “Ghost Adventurers” knows, nothing gets ghosts more riled up than construction, and there has been talk of Trahern going under renovation soon.
“I have no idea [if the renovations will lead to more activity],” Hayes said. “The renovation may stir up some things, or it may put some things to rest.”
Margaret, it seems, is most active during productions, and with “Broadway on the Cumberland” and Halloween approaching, it could mean a double-whammy of her antics. The elevator in Trahern, for instance, is off bounds during shows for fear she’ll cause it to break down, making actors miss their cues. The sound system has also mysteriously begun to experience more static than usual. Costumes go missing and lights cut off.
The most irrefutable evidence, though?
“There’s a picture with a face in it,” Mattox said. “It’s a picture of the set for ‘King Lear’, and it’s a face that wasn’t there in real life, but you see the picture and there’s a face on the backdrop. All I know is that I didn’t believe in [the ghost of Margaret] when I first heard it, and now I definitely know there’s something.” TAS