Author’s note: In From the Shadows 54 (October 2007), 88 (July 2008) and 106 (last week), I brought you three of the better-known haunted buildings at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. Here I explore another Northwest ghost story that isn’t as well known … but just as spooky.
Deep concrete and brick stairwells lead into the basement of Wells Hall. This thick structure, built as a library in 1939, is almost soundless as you walk its halls, tricking students and faculty in the building after hours into thinking they are there alone – they never are.
Mold built up over 70 years drifts through the air of this structure that houses the departments of Mass Communication, Speech Communication and Foreign Language, and – in the basement home of Student Publications – the ghost of Amos Wong.
Wong seems to be somehow attached to the old library.
Dominic Genetti, a reporter for the student newspaper The Northwest Missourian, sat in the newsroom when he saw Amos in 2008.
“I turned and looked out the corner of my eye and I could have sworn I saw somebody in a button-down blue shirt,” he said. “Not a royal blue, just blue. And I couldn’t really get the body type out of it, but it was definitely a person I saw walk by in jeans.”
When Genetti looked, expecting someone to turn the corner toward him, no one did.
“I walked into the hallway and there’s no one in the basement,” he said. “There were times in the Convergence Lab that the light above me will flicker. There will be a reflection in the Mac computer that looked like someone walked behind me. And I looked behind me and no one was there.”
The Convergence Lab is special; before digital cameras, it was the darkroom.
Amos Wong, a photographer for the school yearbook, The Tower, died in a 1991 car accident as he traveled to California to visit his parents. Assistant Professor Laura Widmer, student publication adviser, said Wong joined the yearbook staff because of his passion for photography.
“He was just on staff for a year,” Widmer said. “He was an international student that enjoyed photography and joined the yearbook staff. He was a go-lucky kind of guy. Wouldn’t hurt anyone. Just a little mischievousness in his eye.”
But soon after his death, student publication staffers began to notice something strange in the basement.
A student who had worked on staff with Wong told Widmer, “‘You know, Amos is back in the darkroom,’” Widmer said. “I’m not sure he ever saw Amos, but there are things like music going on and lights going on. Just strange occurrences. Photographers would say there was someone in the darkroom with them. It just felt like someone.”
Scott Jenson, Northwest graduate and newspaper adviser for Platteview High School, in Springfield, Neb., worked with Wong on the yearbook staff and said Wong’s personality might have kept him around.
“Once he broke out of his shell he was one of the guys,” Jenson said. “We spent many evenings in the darkroom so there was always jokes and pranks going on. I will agree with Laura that he was a great kid and mischievous.”
But current students don’t see Wong that way. Tower editor-in-chief Katie Pierce gets “creeped out” in the Wells Hall basement, and Genetti is uncomfortable alone in the bowels of the building.
“There are times where you just get that feeling you don’t want to go to the other end of the basement,” Genetti said. “There are times I just don’t want to go down there.”
At certain times of day, sunlight shines though the door and brightens Amos’s photo on an award in his honor, a reminder to all that Amos is still around.
“I don’t want to walk through the dark,” Genetti said. “I just get that feeling. I just don’t want to do it when you know the history of that stuff down there.”
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 email@example.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.