Have you ever noticed the strange creaks, light noises and footsteps beneath the floor of the laundry room down in the basement? Have you ever heard laughters of little girls echoing by the tennis court? Have you ever been creeped out by the flickering lights on the third floor of Founders? ’Tis the time of year, ghost hunters, to watch out for the haunting spirits floating around the campus! Every now and then we hear stories of odd supernatural encounters on this campus or spooky lore of lost phantoms wandering in the dark shadows at night. Out of curiosity, I embarked on a brief investigation of various allegedly haunted spots on the Island and assembled this amateur report of places that you should probably watch out for as you wander on the night of the Halloween.
Founder Third Floor
The third floor of Founders Hall is undoubtedly the creepiest place on the Island for its yellow-lighted, shadowy hallway, its eerie atmosphere and, of course, the numerous stories that indicate the presence of haunting spirits up there at night. According to an anonymous source, “without the lights on, one cannot see from one side of the hallway to the other” on the third floor after 9:00pm. Kevin Henderson, a beloved history teacher whose office used to be on the third floor of Founders, recalled that he sometimes heard “noises” and “didn’t usually go up there at night because it felt weird; it felt wrong; it felt something was there.” Echoing Mr. Henderson’s experience, Bob Howe ’80, the Athletic Director at Loomis Chaffee who grew up on Island as a fac brat, also recalled that back in the days when piano lessons were held on the third floor, people on the second floor could hear “music being played on the third floor” at night “while no one’s there.” Even creepier, there are stories of cleaning staffs, after shutting the lights in Founders, seeing the lights turn on again when they walk back to their occupations. As a former dormitory and one of the oldest establishments at Loomis, the third floor is certainly a possible “hang out” areas of returning ghosts.
It is no longer a secret that a very well-developed tunnel system, originally intended for steam pipes and electric wires, runs under dorms and buildings at Loomis. Although very few people actually had the fortune to go down there, many people wonder if these dark, secr et crawl-ways beneath the floor could perhaps be haunted. Rumors abound of an all-consuming fog and mysterious injuries.With that note, if you were to look for a secret hiding place on campus, the tunnels are probably not the safest place to be.
Gwendolyn Hall / the Old Health Center
The tale about haunted the old health center, the Gwendolyn Hall, is perhaps the best developed story amongst all. Rumors had said that the spirit of the kind and caring Mrs. Gwendolyn Batchelder, the first wife of Mr. Batchelder,would come in white and deliver water for students in the middle of the night. One of the second-person witnesses is Mr. Neil Chaudhary ’05, an alumnus of Loomis and a science teacher whose friend had been given water in the middle of the night by a nurse, allegedly by the haunting spirit of Mrs. Batchelder. According to Mr. Chaudhary, while his friend was staying overnight at the health center, a nurse brought her water very soon after she woke up feeling parched and thirsty. Oddly enough, when his friend thanked the nurse on duty the next morning for bringing her water, the nurse said she did not check his friends’ room that night. In addition to the strange experience of Mr. Chaudhary’s friend, Ms. Sally Knight, an English teacher who had lived on the third floor of the old health center, also recalled some oddity of the building at night. “Absolutely, I heard all kinds of noises at times when I shouldn’t have been hearing noises. But I always figured that those noises might have come from the radiators, or from the nurses on duty who were checking the kids in different rooms,” she recounted.
Third Floor of the Dining Hall
Wait, there is a third floor at the dining hall? Obviously there is, and it is a very eerie. According to Mr. Howe and Sam Pelgrift’s video, the third floor of the dining hall used to be apartments of cooks and staff working at Loomis and was known as a place of nefarious behaviors and danger. Although no one has claimed to have any supernatural experience there, the crumbling walls, the remains of the abolished bathroom exude an aura of darkness.
During the day, the NEO is always invigorated by the bustling noises of actors and techies on stage, but it also has a darker side. According to Kirsten Mossberg ’16, a prominent veteran in the NEO, there are strange names painted and written on the walls of a dark, gloomy place under the basement of the stage, as if the marks would guide the ghosts back to the NEO. She also recalled that sometimes there are weird smell and sound, particularly “creaking voice” in the green room. “There is an entire set of furniture in the NEO, and I would guess that it is a very ideal place for a ghost to live,” ponders Kirsten.
Leaving one’s name on the wall of the Cupola and admiring the campus high above there is often on the to-do list of Loomis students during their time here, as the Copula certainly offers an incredible view of the Island. However, according to some legends of the Cupola, if one stands in front of Founders and look up, one could see a little girl (claimed to be one of the deceased children of the Loomis family) standing behind the window.
Well, then, do spirits really exist? Mr. Scott MacClintic offered me his opinion. “As a scientist, I have no good evidence to make me believe that the ghost ever had existed at Loomis. However, as a human being, I would like to believe that a person’s spirit does exist and would manifest itself in taking care of others.” Echoing Mr. MacClintic’s views, Mr. Chaudhary chuckled that although there is not concrete evidence to prove the existence of ghosts, he would be “very, very excited to have [his] own experience with spirits.” I would agree with them, but after hearing so many similar creepy tales, I am not so sure if there really wasn’t some supernatural forces behind the oddity of the stories. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts—do you?