By Chelsea Collins & Sarah Pritchard, Staff Writers
Walking the halls from Merrill to Mallet, many people have speculated as to whether the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) is a haunted place.
Senior Karla Solis has had a few encounters with the paranormal here at UMF. Her Sophomore she was living in a quad in the basement of Dakin. The hauntings started with her roommate first. “My roommate had her headphones in during the night and she would hear people whispering over her music. When she would take her headphones out of her ears there would be nothing because we were asleep,” said Solis. This continued throughout the night and into the morning. “One morning she woke up and was getting ready and her name was yelled right next to her and she freaked out and woke us up, but there was no one in the room.” This was the first occurrence that took place in the room.
During the last spring break of Solis’ Sophomore year, she experienced her first paranormal encounter in the room. Both of Solis’ roommates went home for the break, but Solis’ friend Melanie was going to stay with her for a few days. Saturday night Solis and her friend were awoken to an alarm going off. “I yelled across the room at her and told her to turn it off, and she was like ‘It’s not mine’.” Solis then made her way into the other room to look for the mysterious alarm. She then began looking through her friend’s bag and found her friend’s alarm clock. “I found her [Melanie’s] alarm clock and I pulled it out and the numbers on the clock were going crazy. They were going in circles and the alarm wouldn’t stop, so I pulled out the cord and it wasn’t connected to anything. I asked Melanie if this had happened before and she said that the clock didn’t even have batteries in it,” said Solis.
The next day Melanie had to leave, so Solis was left alone for the remainder of the break. She began to feel as though she was being watched and it frightened her so much that she left the light on while she slept through the night. She felt comfort in thinking that her neighbor was still around, from hearing furniture moving and slamming against the wall. That night she decided that she couldn’t sleep with the lights on anymore, so she turned them off when she went to bed. “In the morning I woke up and it was really cloudy outside. The room looked really dark and I had been facing away from the wall so I turned and wrapped the blankets underneath me. I closed my eyes to go back to sleep and started to feel a tug near my knees, like something tugging on my blankets. I froze and kept my eyes closed. I felt the pull from underneath me and my clothes began to move with the blanket,” said Solis. She froze in fright and refrained from movement, keeping her eyes closed. “So I just stayed there and I told myself that it wasn’t happening, but the blanket kept being pulled and my clothes continued to move sideways with the blanket. The blanket pulled out from underneath me and finally it stopped.” After a few minutes, Solis got the courage to turn and face the room and found that, “all the blankets were rolled perfectly behind my back.” The next day Solis found out that her neighbor bringing his stuff back to his room. She asked him if he had been here all along, because she had heard all of the furniture moving, and he said that he had left on Friday and that he was just getting back. “I realize then that it wasn’t him who had been moving the furniture around,” said Solis.
Dakin isn’t the only residents hall that has been occupied by the paranormal. There has also been run-ins with spirits in Scott Hall. “I lived in Scott South on the third floor. One night I was woken up randomly in the night and I just laid my head down to go back to sleep and I could feel my bed push down at the top corner next to me, like someone was leaning on my bed on their elbows looking over me,” said Solis.
Junior Renee Clermont has also experienced the spirits of Scott Hall. This isn’t a new experience for Clermont; she has been clairvoyant since she was 5 years old. “The most prevelent spirit I have encountered in Scott is Jill.” Jill was a student at UMF a many years ago and passed away in her room in Scott South while she was asleep. She was a frequent visitor of Clermonts when she lived in Scott South. “ Jill would come into my room and sit by my bed and would wait for me to notice her there. She would move my stuff around all the time. She is pretty responsible for moving peoples things.”
Clermont has also experienced the paranormal in the notoriously haunted Nordica Auditorium in Merrill Hall. “I have been in Nordica at night and I could hear the organ playing randomly with no one there. I believe Lady Nordica is what is considered a residual haunting, which is when a spirit is intelligent enough to manifest and do things that it normally did in its past life, but it is not intelligent enough to leave the area that it has always known or do things it has never done,” said Clermont. In Lady Nordica’s case, she resides in Nordica Auditorium playing the piano and singing.
Woody Woodcock, a custodian in Merrill Hall, says that he has “heard things moving upstairs; like people walking up stairs in Nordica,” and he’s “heard voices.” One prevalent experience Woodcock had with Madame Nordica was when he “felt the hair on the back of my neck come up. She was standing right beside me,” said Woodcock. Quite often Woodcock will hear footsteps in the hall, but when he looks out the door, the footsteps stop. Woodcock feels confident that Madame Nordica means no harm, “she’s not mean, just don’t talk bad about her,” said Woodcock.
Dawn Nye, and art professor here at UMF told a story of a former co-worker Mike McFalls. One night, McFalls was in the basement of Merrill doing work. When he turned off the saw he heard the Falcony piano, worth an extremely large amount of money, in Nordica Auditorium being played very loudly. He was concerned about the roughness of it being played considering it is a very expensive piano. “He went upstairs to see who was playing, and when he got into Nordica there was no one there, but the piano was still playing,” said Nye. McFalls was frightened to the point in which he immediately jumped in his car and drove home.
Not every custodian in Merrill has experienced spirits, however. Jim Mc Entee, custodian of Merrill for a numerous amount of years says, “I haven’t witnessed anything; I haven’t felt anything.” Mc Entee continued to talk about the possibility of Madame Nordica to be haunting the auditorium. “I think it’s really easy for people to imagine or conjure up things,” said Mc Entee.
Bonnie Lander is one of the caretakers of the Nordica Homestead, along with her husband, located here in Farmington, ME. Lander went to see Annette Parline, a local medium to discuss with her about any spirits that are in the homestead. Parline told Lander that Lillian Nordica (Madame Nordica) “did not haunt the homestead or the auditorium [Nordica Auditorium in Merrill Hall]; that it was the first lady of the house who did.” The first lady of the homestead house was Amanda, Lillian’s mother. Parline told Lander that Lillian is “too busy on the other side” to come back and haunt.
Many people have their own opinions on whether UMF is haunted or not. It is up to the students of UMF to decide. This is a really old campus filled with years of history and many people continue to stay connected even after death.