Wilkes campus abound with ghostly lore

Christine Lee, Life Editor

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From shadowy specters to balls of light, Wilkes is alive with ghostly activity. From residence halls to academic buildings, there has been a fair share of ghost sightings and other paranormal phenomenon for years on campus.

Dr. Bill Lewis ’80, vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch, leads a ghost tour of downtownWilkes-Barrearound Halloween. His tour includes several buildings on campus, which are listed below.

Kirby Hall

Kirby is one of the best-known buildings on campus reported to be haunted. Prior to being purchased by the Kirbys, the second floor was a billiard room, where legend suggests that a player named Poker Pan was killed in the building. Lewis says there have been reports of shadows walking up and down the stairs and a stained glass window fogging up and other phenomenon.

“Doors have also opened and closed in there,” Lewis says.

Weckesser Hall

According to the fall 2009 edition of “Wilkes” magazine, a lady in red was spotted by a former employee in the building. She thought the lady was a real person until she turned her back and turned back to find that she had vanished.

There have also been reports of lights moving around coming from the first floor. Lewis says this may have something to do with Wilkes’ first president, Dr. Eugene Farley.

“During his later years as Chancellor, Dr. Farley was unable to move around and would have to hoist himself to get up the stairs, so (the light) might be Dr. Farley going up to his meetings,” Lewis says.

Roth Hall

Lewis says that girls that have lived there in the past would complain on Sunday morning about singing and couldn’t figure out who it was. Lewis also tells a particularly chilling experience one girl had.

“While drying her hair in her room alone, she felt someone repeatedly tap her on the back,” Lewis says.

Sturdevant Hall

The most well-known haunted residence hall, there have been reports of vacuums and computer printers turning on and a cold room. Director of Residence Life Elizabeth Swantek says one RA had the fright of her life in the hall in 2006.

“A female RA was in the building during a low occupancy period. She said she woke up to go to the bathroom and all the doors were ajar,” Swantek says. “She called Public Safety to see if anyone was in there and they said no. It happened a couple of times to her on the third floor.”

Junior accounting and business administration major John Sweeney is one of the current RA’s in Sturdevant and has had his share of ghostly activity in the building.

“I’ve smelled cigars a couple times this year and there have been times where we’ve heard furniture moving around in rooms that aren’t occupied,” Sweeney says. “Sometimes lights will just turn off for no reason.”

Conyngham Hall

Lewis says two Public Safety officers were locking up the building one night when they heard a woman laughing upstairs. When they went to look for her, they couldn’t find her. Even now, work-study students still get brushes with the paranormal.

“A couple work-study students in there have gone through on the third floor shutting off lights and they’ll go down to the second floor to shut off lights and get ready to leave and find the lights on the third floor have come back on,” Sweeney says.

Although the idea of ghosts in academic buildings and residence halls might be frightening, they are popular around Halloween. Ghost tours of campus, some student-led, are common occurrence. The Luzerne County Historical Society will lead a tour on Nov. 4-5.

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