Content Warning: This article contains content regarding suicide.
In Oct. 2020, the Community Living team of Wesley Hall hosted a “haunted campus tour,” leading 80 students in small groups across campus while narrating an assortment of ghost stories and legends.
Written by previous Community Assistant Allysa Frazier 22’ and edited by Manager of Housing and Operations AJ Mattson, the script took students to the Stockwell Memorial Library, where it said that the men’s and women’s restrooms on the second floor had been switched.
According to the script, “The bathroom on the second floor was the home of this spirit, supposedly of a woman who committed suicide sometime in the 1920s.”
Mattson said that when he was a student, he had heard of the legend.
“Before all the renovations in the library, those bathrooms have not been renovated,” Mattson said. “The legend was that they swapped the bathrooms after a female student had committed suicide in it, or something like that.”
The legend cites the unconventional coloring of the bathroom stalls as evidence of the switch. The haunted campus tour script states: “The men’s bathroom stalls are painted pink while the women’s (are) green. This is because – so the rumor says – that the ladies were so frightened to use their own bathroom, staffers switched the men’s and women’s facilities around.”
In the very next sentence, the script calls this legend, in all caps, “very false.”
Stockwell Memorial Library, even with its unrenovated bathrooms, was built in 1938 – meaning the tragedy would have had to occur in a building that didn’t yet exist.
In addition to this, Jill Marie Mason, director of the library and head of library systems and technology, says there has never been a death of any kind in the library.
“I have no knowledge of anyone ever dying or committing suicide or anything in either of these buildings,” Mason said, referring to the joint Stockwell-Mudd Libraries.
Mattson agreed that he didn’t believe there had been a death in the bathroom, saying the script was pretty “sensationalized.” However, he said he didn’t discount the experiences it chronicled.
“I don’t think anything in there is truly made up on the script. It’s things that everybody felt they did experience,” Mattson said.
Though this legend is well-known, it was not the only paranormal question raised about the library – nor the only ghost story to chill the halls of Albion College.
The Apparitions of Stockwell
The legend of the 1920s suicide is not the only ghost story to haunt the second-floor bathrooms of Stockwell. Mason said that the library invited paranormal researchers on Oct. 26, 2016, from the group “Parahaunt” to come to the library and do an investigation. One member of the group, Scott Haddis, brought equipment and a sensitivity to the supernatural to the event. By the time he was finished, Stockwell had gained two more ghost sightings.
In what is now the second floor of the Cutler Center for Student Success, Mason said Haddis saw an apparition of a girl.
“He said that he saw a young girl in there, with long braids,” Mason said. “It sounded like a description of Wednesday Addams, to be honest.”
In the second-floor men’s restroom, Mason said Haddis turned off the lights and saw a figure in the dark, sitting on the raised platform at the back of the room.
“He said he saw a college-aged student,” Mason said. “He was wearing a sweater vest and he had a beard – and he looked hippie-ish.”
Though the researcher was able to sense activity during his visit, Mason said that these were just the researcher’s personal visions.
“I don’t want to discredit their work, but there wasn’t any definitive evidence of a ghost in Stockwell Memorial Library or Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center,” Mason said.
Record of “Parahaunt” has also mysteriously disappeared – and though traces of their existence remain in search results, no websites concerning their existence remain.
Beyond the paranormal investigations done by invited groups, some stories have arisen from the experiences of students – outside of the bathrooms. Marilyn Crandell Schleg Archivist, Special Collections Librarian and FURSCA Director Elizabeth Palmer mentioned a story told to her by a student working in the archives.
“Her friend is pretty sensitive to things, and she was saying that she saw this man in an orange outfit in Stockwell,” Palmer said.
The origins of the long tables placed throughout the Stockwell and Mudd libraries, adorned with curved, wave-like markings on the edges, have some connection to this account.
“I’ve always heard that those were made in the prison in Jackson,” Palmer said. “So that kind of does line up.”
Unexplained Sounds in Wesley Hall
In addition to the variety of spirits sighted in the library, other buildings on campus bear their fair share of unexplained occurrences.
The writer of the haunted campus tour script and previous Community Assistant in Wesley Hall, Allysa Frazier ‘22 included her experience in the narration.
The script states that “Allysa repeatedly had her TV shut off or the channel change while watching TV,” with no explanation. No other electronic device on the same power strip would be affected, and the TV only did this in Wesley Hall – never at home.
Mattson added that Wesley Hall has long been said to echo with strange sounds, like heavy footsteps, slamming doors and dresser drawers in the middle of the night.
“I was a Wesley Hall Area Coordinator for a couple of years,” Mattson said. “I would hear drawers slam in the room above me.”
Mattson added that he heard these sounds during his stay there in the summer – when no students lived in the dorms – and that he didn’t have an explanation.
“You just let it go,” Mattson said.
Rumors of Hauntings in Robinson Hall
Another stop on the haunted campus tour recounted the legends surrounding the fourth floor of Robinson Hall, which according to a Pleiad article published on Oct. 10, 1992, was haunted as a result of “‘Psycho’ experiments.”
The article states that during spring break one year in the early 1980s, some students remained at the college to participate in an experiment being conducted by the psychology department, which once resided on the fourth floor.
The article states that “The volunteers were locked in a sensory deprivation room and left there for the rest of vacation. No one knows what evil went on during those three days. All that is known is that when the researchers returned and unlocked the door to the deprivation room, they found the students – dead.”
After this event, the article states that an unexplained warm cup of coffee was found on the fourth floor by a campus security officer, and some doors couldn’t be unlocked.
Palmer said that the legend, as it is written in the article, is likely untrue.
“That would be a national news story if that actually happened,” Palmer said. “So I’m a little skeptical, but I don’t know.”
This article was published in a Halloween issue, and an editor’s note states that it “should be read in the spirit of Halloween legends, not as traditional news articles.”
Though Mattson added that facilities staff he had spoken to about supernatural occurrences on campus had said they thought the building was haunted.
“They didn’t give me many details, but they were adamant,” Mattson said.
Riverside Cemetery: Voices in the Sheldon Mausoleum
Off-campus, the City of Albion has its own ghost stories, one of which resides in the Riverside Cemetery. Resting there, in the Sheldon Mausoleum, is James W. Sheldon, who according to his obituary published in the Albion Recorder, died in 1894.
Local History Archivist of the Albion District Library and Albion native Nathaniel Arndts ‘14 said that Sheldon was a prominent figure in the community – though not always a positive one.
“He was a big banker in town,” Arndts said. He then quoted from Sheldon’s section from “Riverside Cemetery – A Selection of Historic Internments,” which stated “‘His untimely foreclosures ruined a number of prominent area families.’”
According to the excerpt, his wife Mary married Henry Ismon, another prominent figure in the community. Mary had the mausoleum built after Sheldon’s death in 1894.
“The story goes that if you visit the mausoleum you will hear voices,” Arndts said. “And from what the story says, it is actually the voice of James Sheldon, trying to collect rent from Henry Ismon.”
Arndts said that he could not confirm that there was any bad blood between the two men, but that the legend is a reflection of Sheldon’s prerogative in life.
“I guess he just wanted everyone to pay their dues, even after death,” Arndts said.
115 Elm St.: A Figure at the Bottom of the Stairs
In an article written by Jill Hinde in the Albion Recorder published on Oct. 29, 2009, another historic building in Albion is said to have been the site of a ghost sighting by Eric Petro, who had lived in the house on 115 Elm St. for several years.
According to the article, Petro was walking down the stairs when he saw a man with dark hair, facial hair and clothing.
“The man stood quietly by the front door, looking up to where Petro was descending the stairs,” the article states.
The article also states that after forgetting the incident, a year later Petro found a familiar face while researching the history of his house in the Albion District Library’s history room. He found a picture taken in 1910 of Henry R. Wochholz, who had died in the house in 1938.
Associate Director of the Career and Internship Center and descendent of Henry Wochholz, Dawn Hernandez wrote in an email on Oct. 12 that the current owners of the house haven’t had any ghost sightings since the article was published.
“Henry’s father and my great-great-grandfather were brothers,” Hernandez wrote in the email. “In fact Professor Laura Brade, I believe, and her husband live there now with their children. I ran into her a while back and she said they haven’t seen anything ghost-related.”
Other Whispers and Warnings:
These accounts across Albion’s campus and the City of Albion are not the only ghost stories told this time of year. Bobbitt Hall, Seaton Hall and Goodrich Chapel come with stories attached, and likely many more have been home to the ghosts of legend – though finding their truth is another matter.
All stories fall on a spectrum, somewhere between fact and fiction. The only way to confirm where they land is to go out and dig up the answers for yourself.
Editor’s Note – 4 p.m. Friday Oct. 13: Clarifications were made to facts about the Sheldon family history and the Riverside Cemetery. 2:11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18: An erroneous, duplicate paragraph of the Sheldon Mausoleum photo caption was cut. The original publication of this article was at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 13.