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Underground LC: Tunnels and ghosts investigated

 

When I arrived at Facilities to interview Denise King, Assistant Director of Budget and Planning, about haunted places on campus, the first thing she did was hand me a little red flashlight.

“We’re going to need this,” King said.

I had heard a series of rumors flying around about tunnels below academic campus and a haunted house at the graduate school. Thanks to King, I got the chance to check them out myself and also discovered a few more “stranger things” on campus.

“The tunnels are mechanical tunnels. They’re filled with pipes that take steam to different buildings. All the plumbing and stuff go through the tunnels so if something needs to be repaired we don’t have to dig in the ground,” King said, as she led me down a wobbly yellow ladder to the Albany tunnel.

There are entrances in Olin, Albany, Miller, Watzek and Pamplin. A few students have even managed to get into the tunnels over the years, including a junior computer science and mathematics double major who requested anonymity.

“I got in through Olin and wandered all the way to Albany. I didn’t go too far; a lot of the other tunnels are super super cramped and I didn’t feel like crawling,” she said. “The knowledge of the tunnels are only passed down through the physics and math departments as far as I know.”

After the tunnels, King gave me a tour of the Corbett House on the graduate campus. The family that originally owned the building were more conservative so the building isn’t as ornate as the Frank Manor House. While the building is weathered, a lot of the original floors, wallpaper, and few pieces of furniture are still intact.

“The Corbetts lived here right around the early 1940s and then they divorced,” said King. “The Sisters of St. Francis were looking to start a church out here so the Corbetts sold the estate to the nuns. When the nuns lived here they did some refurbishing of it.”

Many students say the building is haunted simply because it’s falling apart and the school will not let anyone inside or put in money to repair it. Others remark that it’s haunted by the original family. The house suffers from water damage and the rooms were split up awkwardly into bedrooms when the nuns tried to transform the house into apartments. There are glowing neon exit signs in some of the bedrooms which seemed out of place and lots of rooms with the label “do not open this door.” King also said that the family only had one daughter who barely lived in the house. She was sent off to special schools because she had some sort of disability. Later on the parents divorced and moved out. The house definitely had a very eerie and depressing vibe.

The Corbett House isn’t the only place on campus that could be haunted. Amanda Giesler ’19 believes that her freshman dorm may have been as well.

“Spruce 126 is quite haunted,” Giesler said. “While living there my roommates and I experienced numerous signs of paranormal activity. These included doors opening and closing on their own, a terrible smell in the room, and appliances turning on at random moments. We think that the haunting stemmed from the creepy extra closet. It was in the space in the corner where the other closets met and there was a lot of random memorabilia inside of it. The upstairs neighbors have no closet there, simply a wooden panel.”

The Forest dorms definitely have a bit of a mystery. It’s rumored that there are hidden rooms somewhere in the basement of each dorm either referred to as the Japanese baths or the sauna. Mimi Hovila ’18 has friends that found them during her Freshman year.

“The entrance was inside the single-occupancy bathroom in the [Manzi] basement, and the very precise lock picking was done with a mangled Bon fork that they somehow wedged into the broken doorknob,” Hovila said. “The room was actually really small, maybe like four feet by ten feet, with dark wood paneling and two plastic fish on the walls. Not exactly a relaxing day spa, but trespassers can’t be choosers. The floor had small blue tile and the room was divided in half, with the far side lowered by about three feet. That was the actual bath part that you were supposed to sit in. It felt like it was only intended for one or two people, but we really weren’t sure. That was the strangest part about it, really, because it was so out of place and there wasn’t anyone there who knew why or how the baths were intended to be used. We ended up just kind of sitting there and chatting, hot tub style.”

The baths were once used by residents of the Forest dorms back in the ’80s according to Virginia Swenson ’19, who asked her high school teacher, an LC alum, about her time living in the Forest dorms. However, they are no longer accessible to students.

“I heard that the baths are permanently gone now, I think to accommodate Classzilla, or possibly because they were sick of hooligans sneaking in,” Hovila said. “I was also told that the baths connected to a series of underground tunnels at LC, but my insider info ends there.”

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