Have you ever stayed up way past your bedtime to watch a scary movie? Then, when it’s over, you find yourself jumping at your own reflection, tip-toeing around the room, and noticing every floorboard creak and noise in your house. When you turn off the lights to go to bed, your adrenaline kicks in and you race to the bed as fast as possible, yanking the covers up over your head.
With Halloween around the corner, it’s easy to be extra jumpy from all the scary movies, spooks, and ghouls floating around. If you’re in for a fright don’t put in another movie; get some first-hand scary experiences by visiting some of SUU’s resident ghosts. If you’re too chicken to seek them out during Halloween don’t worry; they haunt SUU’s campus all year long.
Virginia Loomis is SUU’s most famous ghost. She has haunted Old Main since it was built in 1898. The legend tells that she was murdered by her boyfriend in a quarry just east of Cedar City. The killer, Steven Farr, fled town and was never found. Virginia’s body was discovered draped over a large boulder, which was covered in her blood. Coincidentally, that same boulder was made into some of the bricks that built Old Main, causing her spirit to be forever tied to the building.
Dr. Jeorde Speare, professor of parapsychology at the University of Utah, was hired by university officials in 1948 after poltergeist activity in Old Main terrified the community. His research diary states that the enraged Virginia was finally able to exact revenge when Steven Farr returned to Cedar City as a janitor. On his first day of work he was allegedly lighting the old coal furnace in Old Main’s basement when something caused the furnace door to slam shut on his arm. He burned to death, unable to wrench free, becoming the human torch that burned Old Main to the ground in 1948. Some witnesses claimed to have seen Virginia laughing in the flames as her murderer received his punishment. Dr. Speare found a human skeleton in the burnt remains.
Old Main was rebuilt, but Virginia continues to haunt the building. One of the bricks tainted with Virginia’s blood is kept in the special collections section of the library. If you ask about the brick, the librarians are more than willing to show it to you.
Old Main & Deep Purple
According to a newspaper article from 1983, Old Main’s second ghost belongs to a high school student from the 1930s who would practice her favorite song, Deep Purple, on the third-floor piano. One fateful day she was discovered dead, midway through the song, still sitting on the piano bench.
After her mysterious death, many people claimed they heard music coming from the top floor of the building. It continued even after Old Main was rebuilt. The music was always the same song: Deep Purple. Perhaps frustrated she passed away before her recital, she remains on campus and continues to practice for the performance that will never come.
SUU’s third resident ghost, Dr. John Laurence Seymour, resides in his very own office in the special collections section of the library. He was a famous American composer and playwright who spent the last 16 years of his life as a librarian at SUU. When he passed away in 1986, many people believed he didn’t want to leave the campus and students he cared about so much. So, Dr. Seymour stayed.
Alicia Brown shared her experience with this ghost.
“I was in special collections by myself one evening when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something dark floating off the ground,” said Brown “It passed through the room where I was and went around the corner, fading away. It was as if I could only see the bottom half of his figure. I thought to myself ‘ok, it’s time to go home’.”
Auditorium and Adams Memorial Theatre Ghosts
The last two well-known campus ghosts haunt the tunnel that connects the old outdoor Adam’s Memorial Theater to its dressing rooms under the auditorium theatre. Rumors have circulated around campus that there is a man and his child, or several children, who whistle and recite lines from plays. Perhaps they were actors who once performed in the theatre and, after passing away, returned to the stage.
Todd Prince, a member of Southern Utah Paranormal, investigated several of the campus buildings, including Old Main. He and his team may have found evidence to support the many claims of paranormal sightings. However, he reassures the lingering energies aren’t here to harm.
“Most ghosts or energies aren’t evil,” said Prince. “They are just confused over how they died or why they are still lingering amongst the living.”
Many people believe the paranormal don’t exist, but is merely a figment of our imagination. However, next time you walk by Old Main, the Gerald R. Sherratt Library, or the Adams Memorial Theater after dark, you might not want to go alone. Old buildings have a way of revealing secrets to those who are looking for them.
Check out SUU's Snapchat video exploring the haunted areas of campus.