USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘north carolina’
Legends
Narrative

Empire Hotel Marquee Ghost

The theater in my hometown is several hundred years old, from back when uh Salisbury, North Carolina used to be one of the centers of the state economy. There were a lot of famous actors that went there. Charlie Chaplin went there. Sarah Bernhardt went there, and other stage actors. And the legend has it that there was a passageway that went under the theater, under the street, to the hotel across the way where they would stay. It was called the Empire Hotel. And, um, I went down there one time. It’s sealed off.
Apparently there at one time was a secret passage. People have told me a lot of different things. It could have been an air conditioning shaft. But it was structurally unsound so it’s gone. But they say that the big stars went under there to the hotel. I’ve been in both places.
One time I was in the Empire Hotel. I was—I don’t know if I believe in ghosts or not! But I know I heard one. You’ll understand what I mean if you have too. I was on the third floor of this Empire Hotel after filming, it was Halloween night, I know that sounds really cheesy, buuuuut, I was looking around, just taking pictures for the heck of it, it was really dark, it’s abandoned now, so it’s completely empty, and I got the keys from the manager of the city. When from downstairs, the bottom of the staircase in the back came this like, “meaerrrrrrrrgh!” Like groaning sound. Ha, how are you gonna type that? Um it happened twice. I was with a friend and we both heard it, and we were both just like frozen in terror. And, um, then he was scared out of his mind and I was like let’s go downstairs and check this out. And we did. And we didn’t see anything there except this old, like, boiler, coal room.
But then we asked this sort of living-legend guy Clyde, who has no last name in our town, what that was and he told us it was a certain ghost whose name I don’t remember, who used to stand on his head on the marquee of the theater. Uh, that’s all I know about him.

This is a ghost story FOAF that I, for one, will be spreading. It is a ghost story based upon the town’s rich history. The ghost is apparently known to haunt the Empire Hotel. The hotel is actually infamous for its paranormal activity, as is the town of Salisbury, and the ghost Clyde tells my friend about it not the only ghost known to inhabit the Empire Hotel. Ghost stories are popular about the Empire, because it is an old place where a lot of history took place. Besides, old abandoned buildings are always disturbing—especially on Halloween night. The story gives importance to, and knowledge of the town’s rich history. While in America, especially, such creepy events are likely to be interpreted as ghosts, my friend and his pal might have interpreted the strange sound differently if they were from another culture. They also probably would not have suspected it was a ghost if they had heard the sound during the day, in a different building, and not on Halloween night.

general
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Legends

The Ghost of Lawrence Hall at Asheville School

 

The Ghost of Lawrence Hall

My boyfriend went to boarding school at The Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina. He was born in Boone, North Carolina and grew up there. He knows a few ghost stories that have been passed down over time at his school. The school has been around for over 100 years and has a romantic, isolated setting. He told me this story a few weeks ago:

JH: “When I was in high school, one of the older kids told me this story about the hallway that I lived in my senior year. So, back in the 20s, my high school, The Asheville School in North Carolina was an all boys school. One of the dormitories called Lawrence Hall had three floors of all boys with 24 rooms in each hallway. Now, at the end of each hallway was a faculty apartment where young faculty members and their families would live. Legend has it, that on the third floor, which was the top floor, there was a faculty apartment and in it lived a young biology teacher and her husband, who was a soccer coach. There was also an African American janitor that would clean all three halls day and night. He would get paid to clean the hallways and clean the bathrooms. The dormitory bathrooms are next to the faculty apartments. So, most of the time he would just clean during the day when he was supposed to. However, he started coming around at odd hours, especially when the biology teacher’s husband was away. The kids on the third floor started believing that the janitor was having an affair with the biology teacher, which was a big taboo back then and would have been preposterous.

So there was this attic in the roof that has been a part of the building forever and practically no one ever goes there. The attic stairs are right next to the faculty apartment. The janitor had been working on the third floor a lot and cleaning up the attic and what not. And one night, it was about 2 am, when some students swore that they heard crashing, sounds of a fight and then screaming. No one thought too much of it though and it blew over the next morning. Once it came to be the afternoon, people figured out that they had no idea where the janitor was. He just never showed up to work that day. Eventually, a person went up to the attic to see if he was in there. And he was. He was dead in the attic.  It looked like he was trying to stack something up on a shelf in the attic, and it had fallen down, smashed his head and broken his neck. But of course, the question always remains, is that actually what happened? Or did the biology teacher’s husband kill him and put him up there and set up the scene? It was never fully looked into and it was reported as an accident.

            So now it is believed that the ghost of the janitor haunts the place, especially the attic and the third floor. There were a lot of odd squeaking sounds, people complained that doors were closing and that there were sounds of the bathroom being cleaned very late at night. When they turned the third floor of Lawrence Hall into a girl’s hallway, it got a lot freakier. Especially, when girls are out between 2 and 4:30 in the morning, they just get really freaked out. They say that there is a lot of activity going on in the bathroom and that they are too scared to use the bathroom late at night. They say that if you are up around 4 am, you can sometimes hear the sound of someone knocking on the walls and on the doors of every room. Ten years before I got to Asheville School, this one girl was convinced that this older man who was a security guard, opened her door at 3:30 in the morning and watched her while she was sleeping. She was absolutely convinced that he was staring at her. Either she was dreaming or it was someone actually there. To this day no one knows. And that’s most of the story that I’ve heard.”

JH’s Interpertation:

“If the janitor really is haunting the building, I think it is because he was actually murdered and that it was not an accident.  Everyone just assumed that it was an accident and took the couple’s word for it rather than investigating and finding out what truly happened. Pertaining to the fact that it became a girl’s hallway, I think there is a lot of unrequited love on the janitor’s end and a feeling of not fitting in. If he did have this affair, he would be looking for a lover again. And, since he couldn’t find his original lady, he would go for the next best thing—one of the young girls who lives in the third floor of Lawrence Hall. So, in essence, he is still haunting the building to find either the same or a new true love again.”

My Interpretation of his story:

 This story falls into the legend category, because the events may or may not be true. I think there are a few reasons why the janitor ghost still haunts Lawrence Hall. First, I think that the ghost wants to avenge the man who killed him. But since the man is no longer living at Asheville School, he has decided to just act as a “poltergeist” to those who live happily on the third floor. He wants to show the living that he is still angry and upset about what unjustly happened to him. We have talked a lot about ghosts who come back to avenge the living or who have “unfinished business” on Earth and I think that this is one such example of a ghost coming back to Earth to finish business that he couldn’t complete before his death.

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