Hollowstories: ghosts, spirits and the paranormal at SOU
Warning: This article contains mentions death and suicide which may be triggering to some readers.
The Southern Oregon University Paranormal Club lead a Spirit Walk, in which participants are shown around the most haunted areas of campus. According to popular myths, haunts include Cascade Hall, Cox Hall and Suzanne Homes– with Plunkett Hall is a center of paranormal activity on campus. Throughout the tour, we were lead through the campus’s legends.
The six of us were on the second level of Ivy Hall in the Cascade Dormitory Complex, cluttered around a foggy-glass window at the end of the hall. The lights were off and we used our phones for flashlights. The rooms have not been used for many years. The hall itself was last used for theater classes, while the new theater building was under construction. Before that, legend has it that it housed cadavers in the basement when the science building was being renovated.
In the bathroom, the toilets are rusty and trash litters the floor. Maddie Richards–our group’s guide–explained the significance of this end of the hall. When it was still used as a dorm, a student jumped from the window to their death.
“A lot of people reported feeling sad in this end of the hall,” Richards said. She explained that the first time she had visited this part of the hall she started shaking uncontrollably. “I couldn’t stop,” she said. “I was wearing warm clothes and it was winter, but it was warm in here. I was not cold, and when we stepped back outside, I was fine; I stopped shaking. I couldn’t explain it.”
Down the hall the knell of a fire alarm beeps with dead batteries punctured the stiff silence in the air. “God, that scared the jeebies out of me!” said Mayah Schwiebert, another person on the tour.
The next stop for the tour was Suzanne Homes. While under construction in the 1930s a little boy was playing in the foundation crater when it began to rain. The legend goes that the boy could not escape before the pit filled with water and he downed. SOU Paranormal Club website has a picture of the local paper article that confirms this story.
“A young boy, soaking wet, begging for a towel,” is often reported by students who live in the basement. Schwiebert explained meeting a girl living in ROTC, whose roommate had this very experience,
“She was in the shower, and she had reached out to get something and saw briefly reflecting in the mirror the boy… and then he was gone, and they said that when you’re walking in the basement-hallway where he died you’ll feel as if somebody’s walking right behind you–kind of following you.”
According to the legend, the first resident to live in one of the basement rooms of Suzanne Homes grew depressed and killed themself. After that, the room was not leased for a very long time. The next person who lived in that room grew depressed and committed suicide.
Places on campus only get spookier. On the second floor of Churchill Hall, Richards said “Some people in this area report feeling like they are being watched by shadow figures,” when suddenly the lights in the entire building shut off, plunging the tour group into darkness with only our phones and the green glow of the exit signs lighting our way out. Richards said of the experience, “This is my third year in this club. I have been on these tours multiple times. The lights have never gone out like that before.”
When they did, both Richards and I heard a mechanical clicking approaching closer and closer from down the hall. At first I attributed this sound to something mechanical, but Richards said the lights are controlled manually, and since us six were the only ones in the buildings, it was another unexplainable experience.
Originally, Plunkett, was not part of campus. It was built for a family over one-hundred forty years ago. The head of the household died before construction was completed, so it was bought by a doctor wanting to open a hospital. While the hospital was under construction in the spot that Stevenson Union currently stands on, Plunkett Hall took in many patients. After the hospital was constructed it became a family home and office.
“People report hearing on the main floor music coming from the parlor room and people chatting and the smell of rose perfume,” Richards described. “The club likes to attribute that to Olive, the wife of the hospital commissioner that used to live there, she loved to throw parties, her perfume smelled like roses, and often her house would be full of music and chatter.”
One of Richards’ personal experiences with Plunket Hall was on her first Spirit Walk. She was alone on the porch when she saw through a really tall figure and a really small figure inside, like a mother and a child.
“For a really long time they were just standing side by side in there, but then the taller figure bent down and kissed the shorter figure on the head, and they walked out of the doorway, and I couldn’t see them any longer,” Richards said.
She explained that later, she learned that the club has a photograph, nothing detailed, of a tall figure and a small figure standing side by side. Plunkett Hall houses darker spirits as well. “Do not swear when you are around this house,” Richards warned the tour group.
One of the stories Richards passed down is that many who enter the basement and attic feel like they are suffocating and smell smoke. After that experience, the club brought in somebody to ‘cleanse’ the basement, and office workers in Plunkett Hall said they felt like the building felt ‘lighter.’ The same night that Richards said she saw the two figures. She said she saw a black mass in the basement through the shelves walking alongside her.
Schwiebert made the comparison of the house to “heaven and hell.”