THE FRANK MANOR House tops the list of the Lewis & Clark campus crown jewels. The vivid blooms of hydrangeas, the intricate iron-detailed windows and the moss-covered storybook shingles provide moments of solace to many Pioneers on the gloomiest of winter walks to academic.
However, the cobblestone path leading up to this fairytale redbrick mansion felt unusually ominous as my paranormal team, consisting of my somewhat-willing roommate, a Dan Brown-loving campus safety officer and myself, approached the formerly familiar estate.
Every shadowy corner of the 35-room mansion crowded my peripherals. As my second paranormal investigation, I expected to face the house with shoulders squared. Instead, panicked bolts of vulnerability shot down my spine the moment the heavy wooden door shut behind us, locking us inside the immense darkness of the house.
Due to the lack of information on the alleged hauntings, my pre-investigation research consisted mostly of watching “Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural” and reading the free sample of “Ghost Hunting for Dummies” written by none other than “Ghost Adventures’” resident bad boy Zak Bagans.
The few stories I managed to find about the paranormal activity in the Frank Manor House ranged from a spectral woman in white gliding down the staircase to allegedly ill-willed bathrooms that leave some unwitting visitors feeling nauseous or dizzy. As a now-bonafide paranormal investigator, I decided to leave a microphone in one of these bathrooms to give the ghosts space to talk. And talk they did.
Something in Frank Manor House acknowledged our presence that night, both through the unnerving chill in my bones, and through our recording equipment, but I will come back to that later.
After talking about the hauntings on campus with several campus safety officers, students and faculty, it seems the general consensus on the validity of these tales tends to err on the side of skepticism. In the last issue of The Pioneer Log, I cast a similarly distrustful eye over the ghost stories surrounding the Corbett House. Despite this, I believe that the Frank Manor House is a genuine haunt.
The campus safety officer who accompanied my roommate and I assured us that he had never experienced any paranormal activity in the house. Several other officers I spoke to expressed similar sentiments. These were the stories I tried to recollect while goosebumps continued to run down my arms.
As we walked through the second floor, the campus safety officer observed that the doors he had closed during his walkthrough 30 minutes prior had somehow reopened. He promptly concluded that the custodial staff must have come through.
Although my adrenaline raced throughout our tour, it ultimately concluded without much excitement. As we stood outside the house once again, I brushed off my nerves as a side effect of watching too many horror movies. We thanked the campus safety officer, packed up our equipment and drove home.
Upon reviewing the audio I had recorded in the downstairs bathroom, in between two moments of stark silence I heard a feminine voice breathing heavily, then saying something I cannot make out. As I listen to this tape over and over, I can hear my voice reverb in the distance from the other side of the house. At that moment, we were on the second floor, far away from the recording device.
Assuredly, I cannot prove that the origin of that sound was paranormal. At best, my evidence is tenuous. However, this experience proved scary enough to make this fresh-faced paranormal investigator enter early retirement.
If you would like to hear this alleged ghost for yourself, listen to the newest episode of The PioPod out Oct. 30.