Spooky Southern Utah University
It’s 11pm on a Saturday night in October when a crowd gathers in front of Old Main on the Southern Utah University campus. There’s a table set up with hot chocolate and cider, while music plays from the speakers set up in front of Old Main as the crowd starts to get ready for tonight’s event. Normally, campus would be very quiet at this time of night but this isn’t just any Saturday night. Tonight, the gathered crowd will end up divided into groups lead by people carrying lanterns as they walk around campus getting a tour of a different side of Southern Utah University, this is a tour of the haunted areas of campus.
The event put together by the Southern Utah University Alumni Association allows students and alumni alike to learn some of the lore of the university founded in 1897. The now divided crowd is ushered from Old Main to the grassy area just in front of Old Main to hear one of the campus’s professors talk about his ghostly experience with Old Main, after wards the crowd follows the lantern carrier to the library to hear two stories told by one of the other professors on campus. The crowd is then makes its way to the area between the Adams Theater and the Auditorium to hear about the ghostly experiences that have occurred in both spaces and just before midnight, the crowd is brought back to Old Main to hear the story of Virgina Loomis and is left to see if they can spot her spirit wandering the halls of Old Main from outside the building.
From Old Main and the Library to the Auditorium and the Adams Memorial Theater, if you believe the stories, SUU is full of ghosts. Starting with Old Main, one of the ghosts is said to belong to a high school student from the 1930’s practicing her favorite song, Deep Purple, for a recital on the third-floor piano. It’s said that one day she was found dead half way through practicing Deep Purple at the piano. People say they can hear music coming from the top floor of the building.
Virgina Loomis is also said to have haunted Old Main since it was built in 1898. According to lore, she was murdered by her boyfriend in a quarry just outside of Cedar City. Her body was discovered draped over a boulder, which was covered in her blood. That boulder was then made into some of the bricks used in the construction of Old Main. Her boyfriend returned to Cedar City as a janitor and was allegedly lighting the old coal furnace in Old Main’s basement when something caused the furnace door to slam shut on his arm causing him to be killed in the fire that burned Old Main to the ground in 1948.
The library is said to be haunted by Dr. John Laurence Seymour. Seymour was a composer and playwright before he spent 16 years as a librarian at SUU. At the time, the library was in, what is now, the Electronic Learning Center. Once the new library was built on campus, Seymour moved with all the books.
The Auditorium and Adams Memorial Theater is said to be haunted by the Ballerina and the Top Hat Man. Theater students are said to need to ask permission or announce themselves after hours so the Top Hat Man does not become upset and can watch the Ballerina in peace.
My time at SUU, both as a student and as a part of the tour, didn’t include experiencing anything paranormal but that’s not always the point. The atmosphere created by the storytelling and having a shared experience with the community and with friends is the part that will always be memorable and inspiring to me.