The Haunted Campus of Emory & Henry, Virginia

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From my files—Byars Building

Emory & Henry is a historical college in Emory, Virginia. It was founded in 1836 and is the oldest school in southwestern Virginia. The college is named after John Emory, a Methodist bishop and Patrick Henry a patriot and Virginia’s first governor. It is a Methodist faith based school with a small student population.

In April of 1861, the college had to shut its doors due to the War Between the States. Like many of the buildings in Virginia, the original Wiley Hall was turned into a hospital. (that building no longer stands and but there is a new Wiley Hall that stands in its place). The Battle of Saltville was partially fought on campus grounds. The school reopened after the war ended.

During World War II, E & H was one of the 131 schools that trained Naval Officers for their commission.

E & H has a lot of legends and ghost stories. My daughter was a four year student there and always had a new one to share.

Byars Building

Byars Building was at one time a courtroom. There is a story about a discussion that became quite heated and out of hand. One of the men got disgusted and left the room to get some air. He was leaning out a second story window when his opponent pushed him. He grabbed on to the hanging lamp outside the window but couldn’t hold on and fell to his death. This lamp can be seen swinging frequently even when there is no wind. My family was watching the lamp swing

when there was no breeze. A person stuck their head out of the offending window and we all jumped out of our shoes!

Katie told me that one evening she saw the lamp swinging without any force of wind, and thought she saw a man looking at her from the window. She cannot say that it was a ghost, but it spooked her.

Byars is supposedly one of the most haunted building on campus, the other being Wiley Hall. I have been grilling my daughter’s friends, trying to get them to tell me stories. Here is one I got:

Shane was assigned to create and stage a fight. He was having a hard time pinning his assigned partner down to get the job done. Being a graded project, Shane agreed to meet his classmate in the Greenroom, in the basement, at 2am. The Greenroom was a lounge/meeting area for the theater students. It had costume workshop and storage, bookshelves, and computers. Shane was alone, and waiting for the student who was in no hurry to show up and finish this project. He began drawing and planning out the scene to be at least somewhat ready for the rehearsal.

Shane began to hear odd banging and clanking noises. He looked out the door to make sure no one was in the hall. He determined he was alone so he went back to his drawings. It is an old building. They do tend to have odd noises, especially in a basement.

After a few more minutes, Shane started to hear a “low grumble”. He wasn’t sure what could be making that noise. The pipes? An animal stuck in the wall? Walking around the room, he traced it to the one of the bookshelves. He listened, trying to determine what could be making that sound. He started to pull out some books, and the sound became louder. It was no longer a grumble, but a growl. It became even louder and seemed to fill the room, and then it turned into a deep roar. Shane left the building.

He called his project partner and told him what happened. They decided to go back and try to determine what it was that made the noise. They couldn’t move the bookshelf and the noise was finished by that time, so they rehearsed.

They stopped rehearsal at one point because they heard the famous phantom piano music of the building. Deciding to check it out, they found a girl practicing. She left and the boys were alone again. Once back to the Greenroom, the piano starting playing again. They knew there was no one playing it that time.

Wiley Jackson Dormitory or MaWa (for Martha Washington)

This is an older, four story building that is the female dormitory. It resembles an old hospital or military barracks. The elevator is ancient, the rooms are tiny, and there were communal bathrooms. It was a creepy building with or without ghosts.

According to stories, there was a young woman that lived in this dorm who was stood up for a dance. In her despair, she hung herself from the middle shower in one of the bathrooms. Sometimes that shower head will spray water uncontrollably on its own. There has also been the sounds of high heels pacing the halls at night.

One of the rooms on the third floor has unusual electric issues. The television turns on to the Weather Channel, even when the television is not plugged in.

I have had two different stories of a girl hanging herself in the closet. One was on the fourth floor. Eileen and her roommate would hear scratching sounds coming from the closet.

The other story I read online about a room on the second floor. Items get pushed from the desk, the closet door opens on its own, the thermostat changes on its own, and choking sounds can be heard coming from the closet.

Wiley Hall

The building may not be original but there is horrible history on the spot where it sits. Not only was it the site of the hospital, but there were several people murdered there during the Civil War.

About 150 wounded Union soldiers were taken to the hospital after the Battle of Saltville. A few days later, three unknown men went in and shot and killed three African American men from the 5th United States Colored Calvary. The next day, Captain Champ Ferguson, a guerrilla Confederate soldier arrived looking for Lt E. C. Smith, a Union officer who supposedly did some unjust treatment to Fergusons family. Ferguson murdered Smith in the hospital.

Blood and bullet holes remained as a reminder. Students reported seeing the apparitions of soldier, items moving on their own, and the sounds of boots.

The new building has its own stories. “Freda” walks around, closes doors, and moves items. There have also been reports of a woman in white in and around the building.

The J. Stewart French Alumni House

This house was built in 1852 and is one of three buildings that are still set on their original foundations. From 1893 until 1964, it housed the College presidents. It was briefly student housing, and then an office building. In 1984, it became The Alumni House. The house is named for the 11th college president.

According to a story I was told by one of the students, an alum was spending the night. Something woke him up and he opened his eyes to a little girl, wearing 1800s era clothing, staring at him.

Fachilla House

This house no longer exists, but it was once student housing. Shane was the RA in charge of this house and two others, all housing football players. The house was named for the couple who previously owned it, both deceased.

Emory & Henry, being a small campus, centered in a small community, did not have enough residential housing, so many of the houses in the village of Emory also belonged to the college. This house was one of them. It was a three bedroom home, with kitchen, living room and a basement apartment.

Shane had to go back to school early for RA training. He was at the house by himself. He was told the head RA and the area coordinators were going to do a walk through, so he was at his computer, expecting them anytime. He started hearing noises coming from the kitchen, which sounded like the cabinets opening and shutting. He figured his expected company had arrived so he went to talk to them. He was shocked to walk into the kitchen and find no one there, and all the cabinets standing open. He was more than a little spooked, but he shut all the cabinets and left the room.

All through the week, when Shane was alone, he would hear the slamming of kitchen cabinets and walk in to find them all open. He shared this story with the librarian one day while doing some studying. The librarian laughed and told him that old Mr. Fachilla was a prankster and was just messing with Shane. He pulled pranks on people all the time when he was alive. For the two years Shane spent in the house, the cabinet game was played several times. No one else in the house experienced it though. It only seemed to happen when Shane was alone One night when he was extremely tired and frustrated, he heard the cabinets begin to slam. Shane called out and asked Mr. Fachilla to stop. He did. When Shane passed by the kitchen later, all the cabinets were shut.

He was never frightened by the incidents. He knew nothing was out to hurt him. There was one night, however, that was different and Shane was afraid. He had to come back to the house from break early again, so he was alone. It was a dark night with heavy rain storms. It wasn’t a comfortable night. “Everything seemed heavy”. As he was watching tv in his room, the cabinets started slamming. It was different that time. They were being slammed harder and it sounded like they were alternating from one side to the other, which was not usual. When Shane left his room to check it out, the door that leads to the kitchen slammed shut. He ran back to his room, shut the door and locked it. He didn’t even try to leave that night. Eventually the slamming stopped. Shane wasn’t sure if that was Mr. Fachilla that night or not. Or maybe he was protecting him from something. Shane just knew he was not supposed to be in any other part of the house that night.

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