By Sarah Frick, Staff Writer

Merrill Hall

Merrill Hall
(Photo by Joseph Arsenault)

    Hearing strange noises, feelings of being watched, chills up your spine: either you ate some really weird Chinese food, or it is Halloween season. As Oct. 31 approaches it seems that everyone is just looking for a good scare, some creepy encounter to remind him or her of the reason for the season. But what if these strange encounters are just everyday moments in the lives of UMF students? How do we know what’s real and what’s not?

   The most alleged haunting ground is Mallet Hall. Things are reportedly just “not right” on the third floor. There have been reports of rearranged objects, closets being emptied and their contents scattered on the dorm room floors, even when the door was locked. Then of course there is the basement; a naturally creepy addition to any building produces heightened feelings of discomfort in Mallet.

   If you decide to venture into Mallett’s basement, go against the advice of everyone and go right, it’s the creepiest. After weaving through a maze of stairs and hallways you will take two steps down into a cramped dank alcove. Upon leaving the alcove you will enter a residence hallway and finally reach an open sterile room. In the back right corner is an old staircase with a piece of caution tape running across it, just inviting ghost stories to be composed. This open room also has massive amounts of wiring and piping running across the ceiling.

   Believe it or not this wiring could be the cause of those “sketched out” feelings everyone reports. High amounts of wiring and electrical appliances can lead to increased levels of electromagnetic fields. Side effects of high EMFs include: paranoia, nausea, discomfort, and headaches. Could these side effects be the reason behind the belief of paranormal activity?

   The other rumor surrounding Mallet is the supposed blocked off room of a former dorm mother, who is believed to have died in the building. This “room” is not a room at all according to Residence Life director Brian Ufford who said, “I believe what people call the Dorm Mother’s room is actually a blocked off entrance to an old dumbwaiter style elevator.”

   The other campus hotspot for the paranormal is Nordica Auditorium in the oldest building on campus, Merrill Hall. In 2010 Maine Ghost Hunters conducted an investigation, their findings are posted on their website, www.maineghosthunters.org.

   During the investigation they came up with several interesting electronic voice phenomena or EVPs. In the paranormal world EVPs are believed to be voices of spirits often unable to be heard with an unaided ear. Among these were the sounds of a women singing “do-doo” as well as what sounds like a man humming a tune. The culprit is supposedly Lillian Norton, who later changed her last name to Nordica. Lillian, a former resident of Farmington and performer in the auditorium was an internationally recognized opera singer in the early 1900s, and the reason Nordica Auditorium is named as such.

   Nancy Porter, curator for Farmington Historical society, explained that the man could possibly be Nordica’s maternal grandfather a preacher in the area, “Camp Meeting John Allen was a very important part of the girls’ [Lillian and her 3 sisters] early life…they [the Norton sisters] learned to sing hymns and I suspect they learn to sing loudly.  They’d have to too keep up with him.  Supposedly he had a booming presence.”

   Not everyone is convinced of the spirits in Nordica. Senior Savanah Hagerthy spends much of her time in Merrill Hall as a music major, and has never witnessed any of the alleged activity. “I am a music major and I work for my band teacher and I spend late nights on the 3rd floor organizing music. Have I seen either [ghost or demons]? No.”

   As you go about your Halloween here on campus, remember to be skeptical, try to debunk any suspicions. Remember that most of these buildings are older, creakier and tend to have things that go bump in the night. If you are truly afraid or feel like something’s not right, do your laundry with a buddy, or follow the advice of experts and simply tell the spirits to go away. Hagarthy said that even if there are spirits she is not afraid, “Am I scared? No. Because I have authority over demons as we all do.”