Student view:

Katy Meyers Emery: Apparitions and Archaeology

Oct. 31, 2014

Katy Meyers Emery is a graduate student studying mortuary archaeology at MSU. Katy is the author of the blog, Bones Don’t Lie. She worked with Lynne Goldstein, professor of anthropology, the director of the Campus Archaeology Program and adjunct curator of the MSU Museum, on this project and blog.

Beaumont at nightIt was a dark night on MSU’s campus—the stars and moon obscured by clouds. Between the trees and buildings of the grassy areas within West Circle Drive, lanterns pierced the shadows. Each lantern marked the location of an important story and an interpreter ready to tell the tale of lost buildings, found secrets and ghostly apparitions. Groups of students, faculty and children moved from lantern to lantern, learning about the secrets hidden beneath their feet, lost to time and memory.

At 7 p.m. on Oct. 23, more than 70 students, faculty and children gathered at Beaumont Tower for the first Apparitions and Archaeology tour. The tour was created and led by graduate fellows in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (directed by Lynne Goldstein and based in the Department of Anthropology) with help from the student MSU Paranormal Society.

Participants had the opportunity to travel to six locations and learn about the archaeological and spooky history of the university’s earliest buildings from the 19th century. Each participant received a spooky campus map, made by Katy Meyers Emery that told them about the archaeological work done in these locations to learn more about campus in the 1850s and the rumors of hauntings that abound this historic area.

Not many people know that the historic campus from the 19th century is still buried beneath the current university, or that we have archaeologists on campus actively conducting research.

Halloween is the perfect time to share the mysteries that lie underground, what archaeologists have found and how this has helped us to learn more about the first students and faculty at MSU. It’s not too surprising then that many of the ghost stories about campus are based in locations where historic buildings once stood. Halloween is the perfect occasion to learn what lurks in the shadows and within the soil on MSU’s campus.

If you want the full tour and one of the haunted maps, you will have to wait until Campus Archaeology runs the tour again next year. However, you can still walk the historic campus on your own—here are some of the archaeological and ghostly highlights of the tour:

1. Beaumont Tower

  • Archaeology: Built on the site of the first campus building, College Hall, which was erected in 1856 and collapsed in 1918
  • Apparitions: Ghosts of a man in a stovepipe hat, and a couple holding hands and dressed in 19th century clothes seen wandering around the tower at night

2. Sleepy Hollow

  • Archaeology: Prehistoric site that is over 3500 years old, and refuse from the 19th century campus found, including human hair. This area is technically part of Beal Gardens
  • Apparitions: Dense fog seems to remain in this area for long periods of time

3. Saints' Rest

  • Archaeology: Site of the College’s first dorm, Saints' Rest, which burned down around Christmas 1876. Archaeology has revealed the foundation and basement of the building and many artifacts
  • Apparitions: 19th century students seen wandering this area, looking for their dorms and lost belongings

4. 1900 Fountain

  • Archaeology: The fountain was a gift from the class of 1900 and marks location of the first road that connected the various buildings. There is a place for people to get water on one side, and for horses on the other
  • Apparitions: Ghostly figures seen walking along the old road, stopping at the fountain for a drink

5. Morrill Hall Memorial

  • Archaeology: New plaza marks the footprint of Morrill Hall, the first women's building, erected in 1900, demolished in 2013
  • Apparitions: Prior to demolition, ghostly professors and young women seen wandering the hallways; now they wander the walkways

6. Mary Mayo Hall

  • Archaeology: First faculty houses were located in this area from 1850s to 1920s; excavations revealed these homes
  • Apparitions: Mary Mayo is seen wandering the hallways and playing the piano, and the reported Red Room on the top floor remains a mystery

If you want to learn more about the archaeological and haunted history of MSU, contact the Campus Archaeology Program by email, or follow them on Twitter