Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Ghost of Yeater Hall

The red brick walls of Laura J. Yeater Hall stand amongst the trees that surround its entrance. A single window pointing from its attic looks toward the center of campus.

Generations of college students at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg have whispered about a woman sometimes seen looking out from that window, a window inaccessible by the students who live there. Yeater Hall, they say, is haunted.

That’s what I was told more than 20 years ago when I was enrolled at the school – and students are still talking about it.

Yeater was built in 1940 and named after the former head of the college’s Latin and Greek department. While Yeater taught there, from 1901 to 1914, she pushed for women’s housing on campus. By 1940 she raised enough money to build the first the school’s first women’s dormitory.

Over the decades since Yeater’s death, many residents of the hall have reported mysterious footsteps, the sounds of moving furniture, blankets ripped off beds and strange lights. Maybe Yeater put so much of herself into the construction of the dormitory she couldn’t bear to leave.

I met director of residence and Greek life Alan Nordyke and custodial worker Carol Mullins at the entrance of Yeater Hall. It was late summer.

“It’s a very old myth that Laura Yeater, her ghost supposedly is here,” Nordyke said. “I’ve never heard any encounter that couldn’t be explained.”

Mullins, however, is more certain of the unexplained.

“Oh, there are ghosts,” she said. “The first three years (I worked here) I hadn’t experienced anything that would convince me that there were ghosts here. But there’ve been enough the past two years to convince me something’s here.”

Hard wood floors run through each room and windows look out on either a tree-lined path or a spacious courtyard. Banquets and dances were once held in the large rooms downstairs, and sororities lived on the upper floors.

But I wasn’t concerned with dances or sororities. I wanted to see the third floor where footsteps, scooting furniture and unexplained lights have been reported. A metal latch and padlock hold tight the entrance to the third floor. No one has lived there since Spring 2001.

“It’s closed because of electrical problems and the decline in occupancy,” Nordyke said as he open the lock with one of a very few keys on campus that open that door. “The only people who’d have access are employees. Students don’t have access.”

Some ceiling lights were on as we walked down a dusty hall lined with doors.

“I thought there were electric problems,” I said, pointing toward the lights.

“Some lights are left on,” Nordyke said.

On an abandoned floor with electrical problems?

Strange lights have been seen coming from the third floor of Yeater, such as lights in rooms 337 and 343 that occasionally come on after 10 p.m.

“The lights have been going on for 20 years,” Mullins said. “Nobody’s going to (play a joke) for 20 years.”

As we walked by room 337, I stopped and noticed the ceiling light was on.

“This shouldn’t be,” Nordyke said.

He switched the light off, blaming the light on maintenance workers, then we walked a few doors down to 343.

“The light comes on when no one is here,” Mullins said about room 343. “I had (another maintenance worker) lock the door and I duct taped the light switch. When I came back up the doors were still closed, but they were unlocked. When I went in, the duct tape was pried open to turn the light on.”

Finished, we turned to leave and, as we walked back by 337, we stopped. The light was on again.

We had been in full view of the only door into room 337, and no one had been in or out. I poked my head into the room – the light switch I had watched Nordyke turn off, was in the “on” position. No electrical problem could have caused that. Maybe Laura Yeater was just telling us she’s still around.

As we turned to leave the third floor, Mullins said, “Thank you, Laura,” as Nordyke padlocked the door shut again.

“There’s too many stories,” Mullins said. “Even though I love this building, sometimes it gives me the heebie jeebies.”

Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” is here. Order online at: tsup.truman.edu, www.amazon.com, or visit Jason’s Web site at www.jasonoffutt.com.

11 comments:

princess#1 said...

I think everyone should just leave the ghosts alone they ain't bothering ne 1 so what if their there? on well!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I lived on the third floor of Yeater Hall from August of 1982 to May of 1984 in the room right under the window on the front where the Laura sitings have been reported. I never had any evidence of Laura lurking around. But this is interesting.

Anonymous said...

My daughter lives on 2nd floor of Yeater and has experienced several things like her door opening and slamming shut, the shower running when her suite mate was not in it, closet doors opening, and heard furniture moving on 3rd floor at night.

Anonymous said...

I lived on 2nd floor Yeater for 2 years, and my friend from High School lived in the 3rd floor from 1983-1985. Neither of us remember any out of the ordinary. However the basement did give me the creeps when I would go down to do my laundry. At that time the African American Sororities had Chapter rooms in the basement, but no-one lived there. Those girls might have some interesting stories.

Anonymous said...

I lived on 2nd floor Yeater for 2 years, and my friend from High School lived in the 3rd floor from 1983-1985. Neither of us remember any thing out of the ordinary. However the basement did give me the creeps when I would go down to do my laundry. At that time the African American Sororities had Chapter rooms in the basement, but no-one lived there. Those girls might have some interesting stories.

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jcclss said...

I lived in room 369 for 2 years in 1969 and 1971 I never heard anything unusual. I am sorry to hear that the 3rd floor is no longer used. It sure was good exercise running up and down 3 flights of stairs everyday.

Jessica said...

I lived on the first & second floors from 2002-2006. I did experience some weird things while living on second.

Sicily Leigh said...

I lived on the first and second floors of Yeater from 2010-2011. Without a doubt there is something in Yeater Hall.

The second floor: (1) I had my sister and one of her friends in my room to spend the night. Her friend took the floor. She told us the next day that she had woken up in the middle of the night to hear footsteps and running water. She had thought it was my sister. When she looked towards the bathroom door (she had been looking at the door that led to the hallway) she didn't see anyone, yet the bathroom door that we had shut last night was open. (2) Its impossible to get back into your room from the hallway once its closed unless you didn't close your bathroom door (it's connected). The wood doors are just built that way. Yet one day the whole second floor woke up to find every door opened wide. (3) The girl in the room across from me had a whole set of issues in her bathroom. The bathroom curtains are the weird curtains that won't stick to the walls and the showers don't have a 'lip.' She had stepped in and flicked the light, it started to blink like it needs to be changed and when she looked at the shower the curtain was pulled back in a way like a person would pop their head out and say, "what are you doing?" (Like the top part is pulled back and the bottom part is held in place.) She immediately killed the light and left. Later when her boyfriend was over she went back into the bathroom and saw the same thing as well as the light problem. She fixed the curtain to keep it closed, turned off the light and told her boyfriend to go in there after 15 minutes. When he went in the light was normal and the curtain was pulled open.

The first floor: (1) I was standing in the middle of my room and i felt a warm hand and a squeeze. I got groped?

Everywhere: No boys should EVER be alone. Not only is it a rule that guests have to be escorted by the girls, every boy that goes in that building is hurt in someway. One of my guy friends spent the night and when he woke up, there were claw marks all over his back. Carol herself has told some stories that you would only believe if you listened to her yourself.

Basement: Come October the girls of Yeater throw the Yeater Tours. It's the only day out of the entire year that Yeater's doors are open to all. It starts out as a "haunted" basement then the people go up the stairs to see the 3rd floor themselves. I was one of the scarers. I was sitting on the couch (a window would be directly to your right) there was a useless vent above me and the window was shut. First night they showed me where I would be placed, fine. Scare night, not so much. The room I was in felt wrong. Like I went in and I just felt off. I brushed it off as nerves. It worked till I sat on the couch and felt a chill on my forearm in the form of a hand. Ice cold. Like I said the window was looked tight and the vent above me is useless. The building is so old, there isn't any a/c and the only way to keep the building warm is the furnace that once its on, its on till late spring and it definitely wasn't on.

Laura and George are definitely hanging around.

Lauren said...

I lived in Room 322 by myself from fall of 1999 thru spring of 2000. I also worked in the mail room/ front office from 3-6am in spring 2000. For most of my two semesters I had horrible re-occuring nightmares of men in black clokes attacking me in my sleep. I began sleeping with my tv on...(a habbit that lasted until just a few years ago) One of my closet doors would open on it's own and I could hear things moving around above me on the fourth floor... which was totally locked off at the top of the stairs. It is wierd to know that the third floor is now closed as well. The entire basement had a heavy "being watched" feel to it and I would take my laundry home on weekends so I wouldn't have to do it there. The first floor never creeped me out. Even when I was working in the office down there, in the office middle of the night, I was just glad not to be in my room.