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Who Ya’ Gonna Call: Roanoke Ghostbusters

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Staff Writer

Many of us have heard the tales of the haunted houses on the Roanoke College campus, but what can you believe?

RC’s own Tom Carter, Associate Professor of English, has taken a special interest to the tales and has recently taught an INQ class about the paranormal: INQ 110 “Ghosts and Human Perceptions.”

There have been accounts of an eerie presence in Chalmers and some of the Greek Housing on EC, but what truly intrigued Carter were the tales of the recently acquired campus property; the Monterey House.

Carter said the story he heard from a member of the board of trustees was that she was staying in a bedroom in Monterey, which is used by the campus as a guest house, when she saw a figure of a female gesturing, as if casting a net

The history of the house is as bizarre as the ghoulish tales. The house was built in 1853 for the Huff family, and later inhabited by the Chapman family, both of which were prominent in the Salem area at that time. The Chapman family had a son, Thomas, who was a graduate of RC. He was captured and executed by Union troops during the Civil War.

“The first major death associated with [Monterey] house was also associated with Roanoke College,” Carter said.

As part of the INQ “Ghosts and Humans Perception” class, the students stay a night in either Monterey or Miller. The students were equipped with flashlights, voice recorders, and dowsing rods.

Carter described the dowsing rods as L-shaped metal rods that use the dowser’s subconscious to detect electro-magnetic forces.

Angie Foreman ’14 participated in the overnight study. She said the first part of the night was rather ordinary. Then after midnight students started to notice signs of activity; the students began to detect signs of the paranormal. Many students detected activity in the house near the one of the bedrooms of the previous owner.

Angie had her own experience walking the house.

“I had my hair tucked behind my ear and I felt something flick my ear,” said Foreman. “The same thing happened to another girl in the same spot.”

Foreman says that her experience in the house has not increased her belief in the paranormal but the information learned in the class has given her a different perspective on the topic.

The Administration building also has a ghostly history for those who are intrigued by the supernatural. During the Civil War, a skirmish broke out near Hanging Rock and RC’s Admissions building was used as a local infirmary. Carter said there have been tales of confederate students being seen around the Administration Building.

Other buildings have notorious connections with spirits and mysterious pasts.  Roanoke College founder and president, David F. Bittle, passed away in Miller Hall. The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on EC was originally an orphanage and later acquired by the college.

“Rumor has it that one of the orphans still lives there in the house,” said Dane Crunk ’12 a brother of the fraternity.