In the spirit of the season I am republishing a number of my paranormal articles from my old column. Enjoy!
Originally published April 21, 2011
While ghost stories circulate around the University of Oklahoma’s campus, it is rather uncommon for a paranormal team to be offered an opportunity to investigate there, and by all accounts no one had ever investigated Ellison Hall. So when the Society of the Haunted was offered the chance to investigate there, the group’s theologian and occult specialist, Chris Borthick, remarked, “This is a very rare and unique opportunity.”
For decades, the rumored spirit of a boy who had been mortally wounded rollerskating down Elm Avenue during the Great Depression and now skated the halls of Ellison had made the ghost story rounds about the campus. Other sounds, such as people moving down the hallways, have been heard as well but are not as legendary, and staff have witnessed motion activated lights being turned on in hallways and bathrooms when no one else is around. Would Society of the Haunted be able to prove or disprove any of these claims?
Originally named Hygeia Hall after the Greek goddess of health and well-being, Ellison Hall opened in 1928 as OU’s infirmary. In the early 1930s it was renamed to honor Dr. Gayfree Ellison, the Director of Student Health from 1920 until his death in 1932. It was during this time that the fatal roller skating accident occurred, and the boy was brought into the infirmary in an attempt to be revived. He died on the operating table. In 1971 the building transitioned to the home of the University of Oklahoma Student Association, and now it serves in a variety of capacities including the Student Services Center, Native American Studies, African and African-American Studies, and the dean’s office and administrative staff.
Society of the Haunted had access to all hallways and conference rooms, the administrative office on the third floor, and the basement. Beginning with the basement and working their way up, they swept each level before deciding to concentrate their efforts on the third floor, which had held the operating rooms during the building’s infirmary days.
During the sweep, the team’s psychic, Vanessa Hogle, who enters a location not knowing a thing about it’s history and rumored hauntings, felt, “like I was in a crowded auditorium with multiple people yelling, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ It all made sense when I was told after the fact that the place we were investigating was once an infirmary.”
When it was revealed to Vanessa that the building had once served in this medical capacity, one of the audio recorders the team carried picked up an electronic voice phenomenon of a woman’s voice stating, “Sorry.” Electronic voice phenomena are believed to be the voices of spirits captured with electronic audio recording equipment.
Activity on the third floor picked up as the night went on. Case manger Cathy Nance reported, “Standing by room 305 I kept hearing knocking on the wall. We could not figure out where the knocking was coming from but it was between another investigator and I. The photographer also verified that he heard the noises as well. I also heard shuffling and something ran past me and bumped into the door. I felt cold air rush past me as I heard noises along the wall. I stayed as [parapsychologist Logan Corelli] went to see where it went. After he went through the door the knocking continued in the same location. I also heard shuffling of papers and chairs moving, and a light which had been off earlier came on at the other end of the hall on the third floor.”
Another light that mysterious turned on was in one of the second floor restrooms, possibly confirming one of the reported occurrences. While this was being investigated, the sounds of someone walking around the first floor and doors opening and closing filtered up to the open second floor lounge, but upon inspection by some of the university’s yearbook staff on hand to document the investigation and Andrew Shanor, Society of the Haunted’s videographer, not a soul was found.
Was the ghost of the rollerskating boy found that night? Thus far, the evidence gathered does not prove nor disprove the presence of the legendary skater. Spirits don’t act on cue, but an alternative suggestion about the skating sounds was offered by Vanessa: they could be the sounds of hospital bed wheels. Further investigation of the building may reveal more truth.