||The ghosts of Centre
RELEASED: Oct. 30, 2003
DANVILLE, KYHave you ever heard a bump in the night and wondered what it was? Felt as if you were being watched? Experienced something mysterious or unexplainable?
Many Centre students, alumni, faculty and staff have described such experiences. Since the school was established on its present location nearly 200 years ago, it's to be expected that many buildings on campus have a spirit or two walking the halls, opening and shutting doors and switching lights on and off.
A few of these stories have been compiled for your enjoyment. So turn off the lights: It's time for some scary Centre tales.
Built in 1892, "Breck" was at one time the dormitory for students of the Danville Theological Seminary. It's listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
However, it's more famously known around campus for the mischievous apparition that stalks the halls. Wayne King, facilities management director, recounts a strange event that occurred several years ago.
"Breck Hall is notorious for being haunted. In 1973 or '74, we had some boys come in and complain that they'd awakened in the middle of the night and their door was open, lights were on, windows were open and the radio was on. We just figured someone had keys, so we went up and changed the locks to their room.
"The next night, the same thing happened. We went back, changed the locks and put a slide bolt on that they could lock from the inside so that someone, even if they had a key, couldn't get in.
"It happened again the next night. After that we moved the boys out of that room and closed that room for the rest of the year."
This isn't the only mysterious event that has occurred in Breck Hall. King reported that while working one summer in the building he heard what sounded like a person upstairs shutting doors. He checked and found nothing. He continued working only to be interrupted again by slamming doors upstairs. This time he checked every room and closet in the building and found nothing. Making sure all the doors were locked, he returned to his work on the first floor. When King stepped out onto the first floor, he was startled by what sounded like "all the doors slamming and there were people running down the hall."
King headed for the door. It was locked! Unable to exit through the door he ran back to the room where he'd been working earlier. He escaped through the window. (Taking the window screen with him.)
Others tell that they've seen the Breck ghost, or at least his face appearing as a black smudge on the wall in a room where he likes to hang out.
Want to catch a game?
The Sutcliffe Athletic/Recreation facility has been the site for many Centre wins and losses. Some say contests can be heard even after the games have concluded and the players have left the playing floors and fields. It seems some past players can't bear the thought of eternity without a little b-ball. Several workers claim that they've heard people playing basketball and racquetball on the courts only to find the courts empty except for a ball rolling across the floor.
Centre Shoppes bookstore has been the site of two funeral homes, Preston-Pruitt and the Thurmond Funeral Homes, and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house before opening as the bookstore in April of 1992. That same year, bookstore employee Dottie Kirkland and two student-workers were in the coffee shop when three blenders started functioning on their own. They pressed all the buttons but had to unplug the machines before they would stop.
Kirkland has also arrived in the morning to find heavy books strewn across the room. She would pick them up, but the next morning the same books would be out again.
Several other custodians and employees have reported misplaced books and strange noises. Could this be the spirit left behind from the funeral home days or a past fraternity boy playing pranks?
Now children, don't play on the staircase
Late one Friday night, an employee was working on the second floor of the Breeze House. She was the only one in the building (or so she thought) when she heard loud footsteps coming up the stairs. She waited for the individual to come around the corner and speak to her but he/she (it?) never came. So she walked around the entire building looking for the owner of the mysterious footsteps. She found no one.
She sat back at her desk and continued working. Moments later, she heard the steps again. This time the steps were descending the stairs. She ran around the corner to see the individual. She saw no one.
After that, she decided she'd done enough work and left the building for the night.
She reported her encounter to the Department of Public Safety. They told her that similar instances had been reported in the past. DPS told her that many years ago when the Breeze House was an apartment, the women who lived on the second floor could hear children playing on the staircase; she would go look and there would be no one there.
These are just a few of the encounters Centre employees and students have had over the years. Real or imagined? Hard to say, but it's interesting to speculate as the leaves fall, the moon shines, and October comes to an end.
Centre sophomore Rachel Johnson contributed to this story.
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