Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-stories
Date: Mon, 05 May 1997 07:11:39 GMT

As I've posted before, I have had numerous experiences with ghosts and other paranormal beings, both as an unwilling observer/participant and as one who sought out these "entities" for various reasons - primarily religious, answer-seeking, general curiosity or because I was asked (by someone corporeal) for help.

My first experience (with a clown doll) and second (with objects moving without my assistance) have been previously documented, and enough little things like this went on throughout my pre- and adolescent years that I developed an insatiable curiosity regarding all sorts of paranormal phenomenon. This fascination continued when I left home (which had three of the most intriguing ghosts I've yet dealt with) in Bend, Oregon (and this place was *weird*), and moved to Southern Oregon State College in Ashland.

As anyone who's attended SOSC can tell you, there are a number of buildings on campus which have a reputation for hauntings and/or "activity." I can relate a number of stories I heard (but haven't verified) if anyone is interested, but this posting is regarding one of the more frightening campus buildings, Chappel-Swedenbourg. Originally the main (read, the only) building for Southern Oregon Normal School in the late 1800s, it later became a girl's dormitory, then a general dormitory, eventually fell into disuse and was ultimately renovated and became a museum and the offices of both the Southern Oregon State College Alumni Association and Historical Association - a role in which it continues to this day.

Facts about odd occurrences - there have been at least four documented deaths in the building (the builder, two students and one headmistress/dormatory mother). Supposedly, there have been anywhere from three to eight undocumented deaths within the building.

At the time I initially attended SOSC (1985), I knew the facts and had heard rumors about goings-on (evening sightings, feelings of suicide, unexplained cold spots, etc.) in the building, but I didn't put much credence in the rumors. As I've mentioned, I've had numerous things happen to me, but I am a skeptic until I see (or at least have verified by a trustworthy source) otherwise.

One incident, denied by some of the primary participants, avowed as fact by others, was that, in the late seventies/early eighties, four professors determined that they would "prove" spirits didn't exist, and they would stay in the house overnight to so do. It was nearing winter, and they carried sleeping bags, flashlights, cameras, cassette recorders and thermoses of coffee with them -- as well, they brought along tarot cards, notepad and pen (for automatic writing), a set of I-Ching coins and a Ouija board. They laughed about giving the spirits every chance to communicate with them. Something happened that night, although none of the professors will admit to what it was; however, two tendered their resignations within two weeks, one still taught at the college while I was there and one had retired. What is known is the security report from that night.

The professors had called security from one of the professors' houses at approximately one-thirty am. They had left the building, with all of their possessions inside, and the door was standing open and unlocked. They would not be back until the morning, and the security guard was not to go inside, but was to lock the building and keep everyone out until they returned in the morning to pick up their belongings. When the guard arrived at the house (neartwo am), the stepped onto the front porch, reached for the doorknob and closed the door with his left hand. With his right, he removed the ring of keys from his belt, locked the door and returned the keys to his belt. At that point he tried to remove his hand from the door and was unable to do so. He began to get concerned (and not a little frightened, I would expect), when he felt brushes of cold air *from* the door moving outward, and the latch rattled under his hand. At this point he was yelling and tugging on his left arm with his right hand, but it felt to him like his hand was glued to the door knob. When his hand released (after about five minutes of this), he was "thrown" approximately fifteen feet, clearing the steps and landing in some shrubs near the building. He returned to the guard station, called for backup, and refused to return to Chappel-Swedenbourg that night.

Due to a series of occurrences (both from the purported hauntings and from vandalism), for a long while it was absolutely forbidden to go onto the porch of Chappel-Swedenbourg or attempt to enter the building after sundown. For about six months after the incident with the professors, it was supposedly an offense punishable by expulsion to be seen on the stoop of Chappel-Swedenbourg after dark. There was no official curfew for the building, but all business was to be completed and everyone out by sundown. Naturally, a number of students were both foolhardy and curious, and a series of clandestine expeditions were mounted to determine what would happen if they were to "request" the "spirits" to appear. At the time, I had a job working in a restaurant downtown (about a twenty-minute walk), and didn't get back to my dorm room until around one in the morning each day. This wasn't too much of a hardship, as my first classes weren't until 10am. I had heard of the results of these visits (mostly standing on the porch proclaiming doubt in the existence of spirits, with nothing happening to change that belief), and there were enough people frightened (once the front door opened while two people were on the porch, once an inside curtain "fluttered" as though someone had moved it aside and at one point a worker in the building brought some friends in who claimed to be psychic and they ran out screaming, insisting that security come lock the building up - much like the previous instance with the professors) that the questions about the building continued.

One evening, mid-November 1986, I was returning from the restaurant at about twelve-thirty and decided I'd look into the windows. By now, it was not an expulsionary offense to be seen on the stoop, but it was still frowned upon. Funny enough, I wasn't looking for confirmation, but I'd never looked inside before, and I thought I'd do so now, as the moon was bright enough for me to clearly see the inside.

I felt somehow watched, almost menacingly, when I stepped onto the porch, but I attributed it to the stories I'd heard and the potential of nighttime patrol. I did get the feeling that I should not touch the doorknob at all - I felt almost sick at the thought that I might brush up against it. I decided that, due to the steadily increasing "warning signals" I'd come to trust, it would be far better for me to come back in the daylight and look around, but, since I was here, I decided to take one peek into the window, then leave. I looked in the window and saw what I thought was a mannikin hurtling toward the window, arms outstretched above its head. I leapt off the porch and did not stop running until I'd reached my dorm room. I activated every ward I had, invoked Jesus, the saints and called on Hecate and did everything I could think of to both calm down and protect myself. Finally, about six in the morning (when the false dawn began to hit), I was able to calm down enough to go to sleep, but I kept dreaming of that . . . thing. Finally, seven-thirty, I got out of bed and went for breakfast. I spoke with a number of people about their experiences with Chappel- Swedenbourg, and found out that moving mannikins and moving doors/curtains are some of the most common sights, and that my feelings were not that uncommon either. One student admitted that he had tried the knob once, and that there was a distinct "click," and the knob began to turn. At that point, he ran from the house as well.

Well, that was my first experience with Chappel- Swedenbourg, and one of my experiences on Southern Oregon State campus.

If anyone's interested, I'll give some more information both about my experiences and what I've heard about the college, and what's been going on since graduation.

Well, I hope that wasn't too long for everyone. As soon as I get around to it, I'll fill you in on some of the more entertaining ghosts of the campus -- specifically in Stevenson Union and Churchill hall.

Damnant quod non intelligunt. - They condemn what they do not understand.

J. Northwood