Rumors of hall hauntings hang in the air


To some, MSU residence halls are a home away from home, but others feel they’re treading on the territory of campus ghouls.

Perhaps the most notorious of ghost tales surrounds the spirit of Mary Mayo, who is said by many to haunt the dormitory and those living within it.

Many living on the East side of campus might not know about the eerie stories of the West Circle hall.

Other rumored on-campus hauntings:

Saint’s Rest – Located just east of the MSU Museum, this is the site of the university’s first dormitory, which burned down in December 1876. No one was harmed, but some say the ghosts of students can be seen searching the grounds for the belongings in their old dorm rooms.

Morrill Hall – Constructed from 1899-1901, this building is known for its ceilings crumbling above professors’ heads in their offices. It has been said to be the home of cockroaches and bats, and some say the ghosts of professors past visit their former offices, bringing parts of the structure down with them.

Auditorium/Fairchild Theatre – Although the building is transformed purposefully into a haunted house during Halloween weekend each year, it is said to be haunted year-round by a little boy wandering through the building’s seats, unable to enter the afterlife, stuck permanently in the middle. The boy’s haunting is said to be accompanied by echoing sounds throughout the night.

Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collection / The State News

Mayo Hall is the oldest residence hall on campus, built in 1931. The namesake, Mary Mayo herself, was a strong advocate for women’s rights in her time. She died in 1903 — some say it was murder, others say suicide. Although she in fact died of disease, the rumors only add to the spookiness of her ghostly reputation.

She might not be alive, but many believe she’s far from gone.

Aside from the tales of the piano in the lobby playing by itself, the eyes of the portrait of Mary Mayo hanging on the first floor watching students walking to their bedrooms and a woman’s figure being sighted in the West Lounge of the hall, there are two accounts — one from years ago, the other from days ago — that might lead one to believe the presence of the ghost.

A room on the fourth floor of Mayo Hall located above the hall’s fountain, referred to by some students as the “Red Room,” is hidden behind a locked door. What lies behind the door, most present-day residents don’t know.

Karli Nave, a current resident of Mayo Hall, lives two floors below the supposed satanic room.

“There’s a rumor that there used to be devil worshipping up there,” the psychology sophomore said.

Walking home from class a few days ago back to her dorm, Nave said she noticed something she had never seen before — a light was on in the fourth-floor room.

As she paused, squinting her eyes to get a better look, she peered into the window and saw a figure.

“I didn’t exactly stick around to watch,” she said. “I don’t want to make assumptions and say it was a person, but it had that shape.”

Shuddering, Nave hurried into her room, closed the door behind her and locked it tight — in the hopes of keeping the ghost of Mayo, or whatever it was that was visiting the fourth-floor room, out of sight.

The most intriguing of ghost tales I read was the account of MSU alumna Marissa Yardley and her run-ins with the ghost during her time living in Mayo Hall many years ago.

One night, Yardley and her roommate ventured to the laundry room in the basement, a place she had tried her best to stay away from as much as she possibly could. Finding the washers in the first laundry room full, Yardley was forced to embark on the pathway through the tunnel to the next laundry room.

Already spooked by the idea of a poorly lit, underground passage, the excursion was eerie. As soon as the pair reached the other side, they realized they had left the quarters upstairs. Refusing to leave the laundry alone, Yardley stayed in the basement while her roommate climbed the stairs to get their change.

Yardley stood alone in the tunnel. She heard a few noises, but stood in silence waiting for her friend.

Suddenly, the lights went out.

Yardley froze. As she watched the item propping open the door leading upstairs slide out of the door’s path, it dawned on her — the door would close and she would be left in absolute dark, possibly with the ghost of Mary Mayo.

Yardley screamed and bolted to the door, pulling it open and dashing up the stairs to find the rest of the hall in complete darkness. Moments later, she ran into her roommate and they held each other, promising never to do laundry at night again.

Year after year, eerie occurrences spook the residents of Mayo Hall.

So, if you’re up to it, grab a few friends, head to West Circle and see if you can be the first to catch the ghost of Mary Mayo.

But unlike Mayo, be sure you make it out alive.

Happy Halloween.

Kellie Rowe is a State News features reporter. She can be contacted at

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