Now that it is November, the spookiest time of the year is officially over. The month of October is left behind along with all the fun horror that came with it. However, a tradition called Haunted Lawrence allowed students to carry fright in their hearts year round by exploring some of the scarier parts of our university’s past.
Haunted Lawrence was founded 10 years ago and takes interested students on a historical tour of Lawrence University with a paranormal twist. Archivists from the Seeley G. Mudd Library go through the university’s history to find the best stories of the strange and the unusual to kick-start Halloween weekend.
This year Haunted Lawrence took place on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., was a little different from past years. Instead of a walking tour around campus, it was a seated storytelling event held in the Milwaukee-Downer room of the Seeley G. Mudd Library. Surrounded by books almost as old as the stories discussed at the event, 30 students gathered around archivist Erin Dix as she recounted various tales of different paranormal events that have taken place at Lawrence University. Main Hall, Ormsby Hall, the library, the Memorial Chapel, Stansbury Theatre and International House were some of the buildings discussed.
Dix had pictures prepared of the buildings and the people involved in the hauntings and presented them to us as she went through each story. While the pictures enhanced the stories, there was one prop that stood out among the rest. Dix surprised the crowd by pulling out a mold of Lawrence’s deceased seventh president Samuel Plantz’s face. The mask was made post mortem and is known as a “death mask.” She put it away, after considering that its intended purpose was not to scare college kids, but to be used as a reference when constructing a statue of Plantz.
Scott Breyer and Kevin Goggins, members of Lawrence’s security staff, attended as special guests. They shared their personal experiences at Lawrence “after dark.” While Breyer described various occasions where he felt presences around campus, Goggins seemed more skeptical. “There are people who hear things,” he said in response to the claim that there are spirits in the Chapel. However, they both had their fair share of stories to share.
Breyer recounted a tale regarding his midnight lock in. In his story, all the lights would remain on after he locked International House every night. He would do a thorough check every time, and never found the culprit. He once formed a team to make sure that no one could hide while they did their final check. However, after concluding that there was no one was there, the lights flickered back on as soon as they left. The phenomenon was never explained.
Throughout the session, students were on the edge of their seats, latching onto every word. When asked about their experiences, many students would pipe up about all the Lawrence ghost stories they knew. These stories would range from silverware flying off shelves to scratching on doors. Sophomore Alyssa Ayen described her only paranormal experience at Lawrence, “One night this year, I was in Plantz…and I woke up in the middle of the night and went to the restroom and I walked by a particular door and it started shaking and then stopped. I thought maybe it was the wind, but it was a weird phenomenon for me. It was kind of out of the ordinary.”
After the event was over, students discussed their experience. There was an overwhelmingly positive response. Freshman Allegra Taylor said, “I think it was really cool to hear a bunch of different people’s stories. It was spooky.” Freshman Chloe Braynen agreed with the sentiment, “It was captivating, honestly. I loved all the stories and didn’t know that so many of the houses had different experiences [with the paranormal].”
Because the university is so old, there are a lot of legends and stories circulating, combining Lawrence history with the paranormal. Taylor attended for this very reason. “I am interested in the history of Lawrence,” said she. “It’s such an old institution that there are so many things that have happened that we don’t know about. I think I’m going to go back to my dorm and read about ghost stories.”