All Images Courtesy of Franklin & Marshall College Library
Constructed in 1856, Diagnothian Hall was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg and sick troops from Camp Johnston.
Decades ago, a music professor was working late in his office. Alone in the building, he was listening to a recording of a Souza duet called “Red Cross Nurse,” a tune about a nurse healing soldiers in World War I. As the song hummed through his stereo, he began hearing moaning, rattling sounds and what he perceived as a person in excruciating pain coming from the other side of his office wall. Rushing to find the source of the noise, he found, to his surprise, that the building was still empty. About three or four years later, the same professor was again working late in his office, listening to the piece “Haunted Landscape,” a song about the Gettysburg battlefield and the sense of a “lingering presence” there. Again, ominous noises of a person in pain rang through the empty building. Other people who have worked in Diagnothian have also reported hearing doors slam when alone in the building.
Diagnothian Hall circa 1889.
In September of 1936, workmen discovered a truck full of dismembered, decapitated skeletons buried in the ground on the Hartman Green side of Dietz. However, upon further investigation, the Biology department admitted that the corpses could be cadavers from their Anatomy division that were not disposed of properly, though offering no explanation for the missing heads.
Dietz Hall circa 1924.
In 1950, 21-year-old Marion Baker was working as a stenographer in Stager Hall. In the winter of that year, Marion took a bus downtown to the local post office when she ran into F&M student Edward Gibbs. Gibbs was a married senior who lived with his wife in East Hall, where Rochelle College House is now located. He was a business major, a member of the football team, and a brother of Sigma Pi Fraternity. Similarly to other male students of the time, Gibbs was a war veteran, having served in Italy during WWII. Running into Marion, he offered her a ride back to campus before taking her to a secluded spot south of campus, where he strangled and bludgeoned her to death. Gibbs eventually walked into President Distler’s office and confessed, explaining that he murdered Marion because of “impulse.” In 1951, Gibbs was executed in the electric chair.
Stager Hall circa 1955.
Built in 1853, Old Main is situated on the grounds of what is referred to as Lancaster’s old “gallows hill.” As the highest point in Lancaster, it is reported that the grounds of Old Main used to be the spot where convicted felons were executed. In October of 1990, the F&M Gazzet reported that the bell of Old Main rings randomly in the middle of the night.
Old Main circa 1860.
Huegel Alumni House
John Ahlum Schaeffer graduated from F&M in 1904. A member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Schaeffer returned to F&M’s campus as president of the school in the 1930s and oversaw the construction of Fackenthal Library and Keiper Library Arts. The Schaeffer family lived in Huegel, as the building boarded the college’s presidents until 1966. In April of 1941, Schaeffer tragically died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep. In the years following, guests of the college who stayed at the house complained of uncomfortable sensations when trying to fall asleep at night.
Huegel Alumni House circa 1930.
In 1950, students often saw Dr. Harvey Bassler on the third floor of Shad Library organizing his extensive collection of Pennsylvania-Dutch culture books. Bassler had premonitions that he would die in a car crash. Three days prior to his death, he wrote a letter to his farm’s caretaker, telling him where to find the money he owed him in case he were to pass on. On March 14th, 1950, Bassler died on Lincoln Highway on the way to Lancaster after being struck head-on by an oil truck.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, library-goers would report elevators operating without anyone inside and books randomly thrown around in rooms throughout the building. Some even reported seeing a “little old man” wandering the hallways.
Shadek-Fackethal Library circa 1960.
Built in 1929 as the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house, the Wolsen House has since been turned into the Admission building but has not gotten rid of past spirits. Legend has it that a young man died in the building years ago, either from falling down the stairs or drowning. People have reported doors slamming in the house in the middle of the night when no one is there. A woman working alone in the basement even claimed that she heard a loud bang on the stairs as she was walking down them. Two women, furthermore, were working late one night when they saw a man in front of them before he disappeared behind a wall.
Sophomore Anna Chiaradonna is the Campus Life Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.