Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Haunted Taylor Hall, Part I

Old buildings seem ripe for paranormal investigation, and several of the structures on the campus of Western State Colorado University in Gunnison have legends and stories to support that hunch. Some structures even have recurring sightings and unexplained activity that sustain the ghostly traditions of this 114-year-old institution right up to the present.

Taylor Hall in 1911
Take the original Taylor Hall, built in 1911 as a preparatory college for teachers, a so-called Normal School.

But the goings-on in this facility can be anything but normal, to talk to alums, current students, faculty, and facilities staff.

Savage Library's West Wing
Western State has recurring reports of hauntings in at least four campus buildings. Generations of students continue to report sightings on the third floor of Roubidoux Hall of the ghost of a man who died of smoke inhalation in the 1970s. Some students say they’ve seen his apparition at their bedside at night.

Nearby Ute Hall harbors accounts of a shadow figure in the basement known to pass through the wall of an off-limits storage and boiler room, harmless if a bit unnerving to those who’ve witnessed the apparition.

Staff and students have reported additional paranormal activity in Savage Library inside the oldest and original building, now called the West Wing, designed by Denver architect Temple Buell as a WPA project during the Depression Era.

Taylor's North, Central, & South Halls in 1937
By the time the original Taylor Hall had become North Hall (so delineated because of the chronological additions of South Hall and the connecting Central Hall), campus residents had noted  accumulating paranormal happenings aplenty -- full-bodied apparitions on the second floor of North Hall, ghostly voices and moving objects in South Hall, and shadow people playing havoc with the lighting inside the auditorium in Central Hall.

We had to find out for ourselves what all the paranormal fuss was about.

With so much ground to cover for even a preliminary investigation, we called in the full complement of our six-member team, consisting of the two of us (Kym-n-Mark), plus Chris, Elizabyth, Douglas, and Doug. Hey, it gave us more more boots on the ground -- not to mention more eyes to cover everyone's back.

West Wing Interior
First stop, Savage Library's West Wing. We visited during the building's rare closed hours, assisted by a longtime librarian who pointed us to alleged hot spots. With his help, we debunked a  number of reports, determining reported tapping sounds were caused by the expansion and contraction of heat flow in the building's vast array of ventilation shafts, which produced sounds that sounded like wall rapping at intermittent intervals. We also determined unexpected toilet bowl flushes in the bathrooms were triggered by quirky motion sensors.

Undaunted, we recorded EMF readings. (For readers who haven't followed our earlier accounts, EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, and ghosts are said to draw on this energy to manifest their presence.)  Not surprisingly, we recorded EMF spikes near all the mechanicals and electrical hardware equipping even this oldest portion of the library, but natural causes explained all our readings.

Our audio-only digital recordings produced no EVP. (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena, or disembodied voices captured by electronic means). Nor did our flashlight and ghost box sessions produce results in the building. Despite staff reports to the contrary, we found nothing amiss or remotely paranormal during our investigation.

Then again, sometimes ghosts just don't come out to play!

A late-night tech saw a full-bodied
apparition at the end of this hall.
We moved our investigation to Taylor Hall during closed hours for that building as well. We decided to start on the second-floor where a late-night-working tech saw a full-bodied apparition standing in the North Hall main corridor, a figure that had disappeared moments later. (During an earlier interview, she confessed she's refused to work in the building alone late at night ever since.)

We set up our equipment, started recording baseline EMF readings, and conducted both audio-only and ghost box sessions, including an invitation to communicate with us using our flashlight. (Click here if you're unfamiliar with ghost box tech and want to learn more.)

Although we captured no audio-only EVP during this session, we had much better luck with the ghost box and, concurrent with the EVP, recorded corresponding spikes in EMF readings at this location.

Ghost Box EVP captured in the North Hall corridor

Many investigators classify hauntings as either residual and intelligent. Residual hauntings play out scenes or verbal exchanges that seem oblivious to the presence of witnesses. Intelligent hauntings include communication that recognizes and interacts with the presence of others. The excerpt from our investigation included above falls into the second category.

We expected a male voice from the ghost box because most apparition-sighting witnesses report seeing a male ghost, but the ghost box first captured two women's voices followed by a man's. The immediate greetings we captured during the session let us know we were welcome, nonetheless. And all electronically vocal entities seemed talkative and receptive to our efforts to communicate with them. 

We've yet to track down any meaningful correlations to the names "Em" (Emily?), "Coffey" (a last name?), and "Anne," but we were pleased to confirm recognition of two of our attending team members, a confirmation that our unseen hosts were aware of the team's presence at that time.

One response was a plea for help, which dismays us a bit. Often we don't fully understand all the responses we captured. Maybe we can do more during a subsequent follow-up investigation.

But the current investigation wasn't over. We had hot spots to check out in the Central Hall auditorium and one South Hall office, where a faculty member had experienced possible poltergeist activity only a few days earlier.

Click here to continue on to Part 2.

* * *
We're still having as much fun documenting current and ongoing investigations as we did conducting the investigations over the past year and a half for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of that book for either armchair musings or else as a guide for your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can buy the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!