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The ghosts of UNH

When UNH alumnus Adam Cook realized the woman next to him was crying, he didn’t know how to react, so he just kept quiet.

Cook had no idea why she was so distraught, he only knew what he had heard a moment before: a female voice over the radio in front of them saying something along the lines of “Help me.”

“That was my sister’s best friend,” the woman next to Cook said. “That was absolutely her voice.”

As if that wasn’t spine-numbingly scary enough, the woman informed Cook that her sister’s best friend had passed away a little while before that encounter.  

As a self-labeled “skeptical believer” of the paranormal, Cook proceeded to believe the woman with caution. Though he could not accurately label this female’s voice, he could identify the fact that someone, or something for that matter, had spoken through the sound waves of the UNH Paranormal Club’s spirit box that sat in front of him and the 20 other people huddled together inside Thompson Hall (T-Hall) on a late September night in 2012.  

According to Cook, all of the skeptics in attendance left with a new perspective on hauntings, and all of the believers left with newfound confidence in their beliefs.

Cook is not the only person who has reported a haunting at UNH. There have been rumors of ghosts all over campus, including, but certainly not limited to, Stoke Hall, Smith Hall, Hood House, Hetzel Hall, Wolff House, T-Hall and even Adams Towers.

According to Dimond Library’s Assistant University Archivist Mylinda Woodward, though there may be stories, there really is no evidence to validate them.

“Over the years, students from some of the other dorms, [fraternities] and sororities came in to research possible hauntings of their buildings,” Woodward said. “But nothing [has] ever substantiated.”

However, former members of UNH’s now extinct Paranormal Club would have to respectfully disagree.  

Established in 2011 by student Marja Ruderman, the Paranormal Club was dedicated to investigating hauntings both on and off the UNH campus. Though no longer around, the experiences of previous members and evidence posted on their old website may just be enough to prove that UNH does have some paranormal residents.  

However, their evidence only covers a few of the many allegedly haunted buildings.

“T-Hall is haunted,” Cook said. “[And] Smith Hall, they say there’s a woman in a white dress that walks around Smith Hall.”

Cook supported his claims with evidence from the Paranormal Club’s website, and stories of their harrowing work.

According to Cook, while investigating T-Hall in 2012, the Paranormal Club encountered some spooky happenings, including hearing voices respond to their questions and inexplicable footsteps in the empty building.

“I heard the footsteps, everyone in the room heard the footsteps that night,” Cook said. “It was like stomping upstairs.”
    According to Cook, there was no possible way that anyone else was in the building, marking the footsteps as proof that a ghostly entity was haunting the building.

The researchers also claimed to have heard clear answers to questions they were asking the entities over a spirit box radio, and through flashlight communication, a method that involves using a battery powered flashlight to communicate by telling the entity to turn the power on or off in association to a yes or no question.

According to Cook, the voice over the spirit box was actually a young woman who had hanged herself in T-Hall years ago. When asked if the building used to be a nunnery, the entity replied with a clear “yes.”

However, Woodward claimed that there is no such history of these events.

“Thompson Hall was built for the college as the main building in 1893,” Woodward said. “The location selected for it was the highest point in what was once Ben Thompson’s farm. It was never a nunnery or an infirmary and no one has ever killed themselves there.”

According to the records kept in Dimond Library’s archives, the T-Hall haunting may be a little far fetched, though the Paranormal Club has kept recorded proof of these encounters on their website.

Though T-Hall seems to be the site with the hardest evidence, Woodward said she thinks the most plausible haunting is that of Smith Hall.

According to an article published by UNH Magazine in 2008, Smith Hall was originally created to be the women’s dorm on the UNH campus in 1895 after females were permitted to attend the university. After the building burned down in 1897, Hamilton Smith Jr. left money in his will to fund a restoration of the women’s dorm in 1900.

“They say a young woman named Mary hanged herself in a room on the fourth floor sometime in the 1920s,” Woodward said. “However, there is no proof of that…[but] there have long been stories about strange things happening in Smith Hall.”

These happenings include the tall tale of a woman in a dress roaming the halls and inexplicable footsteps coming from the attic.

Another allegedly haunted building is the Wolff House, which houses UNH’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP). According to the Paranormal Club’s website, an entity resides in the attic crawlspace and likes to hang out in the therapy room to check on patients. The club has three specific recordings of a voice answering questions to back up this claim.

According to the club’s website, the entity was brought from an Ouija board into the building when the house was still residential, and has stayed in the attic ever since.

A small informal survey conducted for this article revealed that these are only the beginning of allegedly haunted residences on campus. Some common rumors also include Hood House, Hetzel Hall, Adams Towers and Nesmith, though there is no hard evidence to support these claims.

However, the most common responses were Stoke Hall and Hetzel Hall.

“The hard thing about these buildings…[is that] unless that building is completely empty and no one is there to tamper with evidence, it’s hard to say [if they’re haunted],” Cook said. “Could it be haunted? Could people have these crazy feelings or see crazy things? I’m sure.”

According to Cook, UNH hauntings, though not completely proven, should continue to be investigated in order to learn more about the rich history of the school.

“History repeats itself,” Cook said. “A haunting is just history re-living itself.”

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