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Do Ghost Really Exist at UAlbany?

I Head to UAlbany's Most Haunted Places To See if They Do.

Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2012 14:06


I was a bit skeptical at first when I first poked my nose into a chapter of Renee Mallet's book, "Ghosts of NY's Capital District." After reading about five places on the University at Albany's campus that were reportedly haunted, I had to investigate further.

The Humanities Building, the Performing Arts Center, Pierce Hall and Mohican Hall all were said to be haunted.

I had been in most of these places and have never felt any paranormal presence, but my curiosity drew me in.

I wanted to see if Malett's claims were true.

I decided to go on my own ghost adventure in search of the unknown at UAlbany. I began my journey at the Humanities Building.

The building was deathly silent. The tiniest sound echoed through the hallways. I sat down on a chair in the hallway across from the Asian Studies faculty room on the second floor.

I heard a strange, distant noise and got up to follow it. Chairs were screeching on the floor upstairs. I braced myself and rushed to the third floor to see if there was anyone up there, but all was quiet once again and no one in sight.

After spending a few minutes wandering around without any other paranormal evidence, I gave up on what I thought was a fruitless expedition and headed towards the first floor exit to leave for home.

That's when I spotted a janitor sweeping.

Donald Wunsch has been a janitor for over 30 years. In a last-ditch attempt, I asked him if there was indeed a ghost roaming the building.

"Of course there is," he said. "There are noises, footsteps and no one's there, and doors slamming. Most of it happens after 10:30 p.m."

I looked at the time. It was 10:45 p.m.

Wunsch said that a few of the janitors used to see a nun walking around. He also said that a professor died there in the 1990's.

UAlbany Historian Geoffrey Williams could not confirm whether or not this was true.

"The most haunted floor is the second floor," he said. "There's a janitor up there that you should talk to. Her name is Maria."

I sped to the second floor looking for Maria. I could feel something watching me.

I found her as she was cleaning rooms in the English Department. She was an older woman, perhaps in her fifties, and she had short grey hair. She was startled when I approached her.

I introduced myself, and she calmed down, the shock of being approached by anything other then her mop wearing off.

She had a story to tell, and was waiting for someone to hear it.

Maria constantly hears loud noises, she said,  as if heavy items were being dropped on the floor in certain rooms. But when she checks, nothing seemed to be out of place.

One night three years ago, she was walking by the English Department office around midnight when she heard a door slam.

She wasn't sure if it was room 235 or 233, but she was certain it was one of them.

"It was something not possible," she said. "I'm not a very scared person, but this I really heard."

She said that since then, she tries to finish cleaning the English Department before midnight.

When I told her about the screeching chair noises on the third floor that I had heard earlier, a strange look crept onto her face.

She is the only one who cleans that floor, but she hadn't been up there yet.

Goose bumps covered every inch of my body. Later as I left the building, I felt as if I had indeed found a ghost.

I wasn't sure that I would find another ghost but if there was one, it would be at the historic Pierce Hall that across the dorms of the College of Saint Rose.

It first opened in 1935 and served as a women's college dorm building, designed for future educators.

It was beautiful in its infant years but as the decades flew by not much has changed in the building at all.

The university lacked the funds to replenish the hall and it still looks like it did 75 years ago sans some brilliance and luster.

Not even the tiny gold plated mailboxes or creaky wooden floors have been replaced.

Melvin Philip, a biology major at UAlbany who lives on the third floor of Pierce Hall gave me a tour of his dorm.

Melvin found it strange how some rooms and windows were boarded up. He took me to an outside area to show me a large abandoned room with two antique looking chandeliers and a stage in the back. Could this have once been a ballroom?

At night, from his third floor room, he can hear a closed window on the first floor shake violently over and over again. The window is far too heavy to be affected so greatly by something like the wind.

The next ghost I searched for has a name.

Andi Lyons.

A male electrical janitor that died in the Performing Arts Center in the 1930's.

He's been dead for 80 years but it took not time at all to find him.

According to the book, it says that the janitor died while doing some lighting work on stage, but as I asked janitors about the ghosts, it became clear that the ghost was still hanging around.

I found Andi in room 326 of the PAC.

Andi was a female and she was alive and well. She is a professor, director of the design and technology program and resident lighting designer for the Theater Department and has been a part of UAlbany since 1982. She was amazed to read her name in the book.

"Well I am AndI Lyons and I am living and am not a ghost," she chuckled. "Obviously, the book doesn't have factual information. Though an actual electrician did die here something years ago, it is not me."

Andi said years ago, an electrician who used to do lighting work for the theater had died by an electrical shortage. She said that many performers feel like there is someone watching over them every time they practice on stage.

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