Sunday, Oct. 28, the Lawrence Times and Traditions Committee sponsored a tour of all the spooky places on campus.It began at Memorial Union. Lawrence students excitedly gathered around archivist Julia Stringfellow as she recounted scary stories of Smith House, located where the Union currently stands.
According to Stringfellow, “It was a huge, lavish house that had a ballroom and a tower, and one night someone hung themselves from the top of the tower.”
Later, Smith House was used as a women’s dormitory and residents reported hearing footsteps and mysterious voices when no one was there.
Next, Stringfellow took us through the steam tunnels underneath the Union to Wriston Art Center, and from the kiosk beside Wriston into the old Carnegie library. If the ghost stories from the Union didn’t frighten the group, the steam tunnels did.
The tunnels were dark, dank and maze-like. At times we walked around a jungle of old pipes and forgotten janitorial supplies and then climbed up and down ancient spiraling staircases, finally ending up in a dark back corner of the Carnegie Library, (now known to current Lawrence students as the Career Center).
All along the way, I heard the nervous conversations of the group, as well as the declaration of, “I love this old crap!” by junior Hillary Cheever.
Next, Stringfellow lead the group into the tunnel under the chapel, through the backstage area of Stansbury and into Cloak Theatre.
Stringfellow recalled how Mary Stansbury was well loved by Lawrence students and spent much of her time on campus. When she died, the students mourned her loss greatly and with the construction of the Music/Drama Center, the theater was named in her honor.
Members of Lawrence Security have claimed that the ghost of Mary Stansbury can be seen floating on the stage and turning the lights on and off. Security speculated that she is checking to make sure everything is in proper working order.
Similarly, in Cloak Theatre, there have been several sightings of ghost women dancing in a circle.
Stringfellow said, “Cloak Theatre was built on the site where Lawrence held its May Day court. The ghostly figures people have seen in Cloak could be past Lawrentians dancing around the May Pole.”
Next, we were taken up into the attic of Ormsby Hall, where numerous people have heard strange noises.
According to Stringfellow, the women of Ormsby went up into the attic after hearing a strange male voice after visiting hours. Armed with umbrellas and hat pins, they chased the spirit out and it never returned.
The last stop on the tour was the long awaited journey up into the cupola of Main Hall. “I am way excited to go to the Nipple,” said senior Lindsay Semph.
The scariest part of the whole tour was, by far, the rickety ascent up the old staircase. Once inside though, there were breathtaking views of campus in every direction, as well as the thousands of carvings and signatures of Lawrence students who had visited the cupola dating back to the 1800s.
After scratching our names into the woodwork and ringing the bell a few times, the tour ended and we all returned to the Union to enjoy hot chocolate and hot cider in Riverview Lounge.