by India Amos, Abby Armato and Claire Oxford
Several ghost stories revolve around the First-Year Quad. Kevin Pan ’15 recalled his own mysterious encounters as a first year, saying, “I was laying in bed and my roommate was gone, and I heard this loud pounding on my door. It was probably around 1 a.m., and I heard footsteps running down the hall, so I was like, ‘OK, it’s probably just one of my friends.’” He continued, “Another night [my roommate and I] were just lying in bed and we heard the knocking again, so my roommate sprinted to the door to see who was there, and there was no one there. … It was probably at around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. again. But we could hear someone running down the hall and a door close, but no one was awake.”
The Bolton Theater is yet another space on campus where students have encountered strange happenings. Katherine Deal ’17 had a haunting experience one night when she and two friends were in the theater by themselves. “One time I was in the theater and, I kid you not, all of the lights turned off,” Deal said. “Which was weird because there’s a lot of switches for like. work lights and stage lights and all of those lights, and so it was completely dark. And then maybe around 35 seconds later, they all turned back on and nobody was there in the theater.” She said she’s heard many similar stories from other frequent users of the theater. Just recently, Sarah Jensen ’18 and a friend of hers were spooked while leaving Bolton at 10 p.m. “We went up to the door but before we touched it, something pushed in the bar, but didn’t open the door,” she said.
Anna Berger ’15 provided an unsettling account of a male figure who shook several of her suitemates awake on the second floor of Caples Residence Hall only to then disappear through the wall. Anna described finding one of her suitemates, Karina Cruz ’16, curled up in the common room, saying, “‘OK, something happened last night. I was dead-asleep and then there was this guy shaking me awake. Tapping me, poking me,’ she said. ‘I thought at first it was somebody who had just wandered into our suite and so I was about to scream at him to get out of our suite, and then he disappeared through the wall into Audrey’s [Davis ’15] room,’ who lived next door to her.”
The repeated hauntings of women in Caples are far from the extent of bizarre happenings in the dorm. In 1999, Campus Safety was on the front lines of an event that remains unexplained. “So what happens is it’s totally locked, it’s August, nobody’s in the building, and a very quick succession,” Professor of Humanities Tim Shutt said. “In the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors, the room in question and the ones above it, [Safety] gets a telephone call on the switchboard which consists of a shriek, click. Shriek, click. Shriek, click. Within two minutes, there [Safety] locked the building behind them, search it from head to toe, nothing. Also, interestingly enough, on all of those floors around them, the showers are on hot, so it’s steaming everywhere. They take an hour and a half search, and they leave. … They are not 100 yards from walking back, when [thre are] the three calls again. Same calls. They turn around and go back, showers are back on, not as much steam. … They never found anybody.” According to Campus Safety’s original incident report, toilets were being flushed and toilet paper had been strewn throughout the bathrooms. As the officers were leaving the building, they turned around to see the doors of the elevator open — with no one inside. The chilling conclusion of the report reads, “Writer and all other individuals involved are finding it very difficult to render a logical explanation for this occurrence.”
There is only one crypt in the College cemetery, and it belongs to the Lewis family. John N. Lewis, an engineer who lived in Mount Vernon and received an honorary Kenyon degree in 1876, purchased the plot for his family and himself. A Collegian article published in 1949 reported that individuals used the crypt as a distillery during Prohibition. Some of these old bottles can still be seen inside the crypt today.
Colonel Lorin Andrews, the sixth president of Kenyon, was also buried on campus. Immortalized as the first man to enlist in the Ohio Union army, Andrews contracted what was thought to be typhus. Before his premature death in 1861, he chose a gravesite where Storer Hall is now. When construction began for Storer in 1999, his grave was moved to the other side of Rosse Hall.
Reverend Marcus Tullius Cicero Wing was “the man who in many respects was more the real founder of Kenyon College than Bishop Chase himself,” according to former College archivist Thomas B. Greenslade. Wing was in charge of expanding and designing Old Kenyon after Chase left in 1831, and as a chief financial adviser to the College, helped save Kenyon from many financial crises as it grew in its early years.
“Remember Stranger as my grave you scan / Here’s but the mortal not the immortal man.” This epitaph can be found on the grave of Ansel Merriman, a Kenyon student who died of a fever in 1831. His niece Flora Sumner wrote in a letter that, due to the technological constraits of the time period of his death, news of her uncle’s passing “could not reach the family for weeks after his burial.”
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