by Malcolm Langner, Contributing Writer
Mallett Hall, a residence hall on campus.
(Photo courtesy of Sam Shirley)
Despite the terrors that came with 2020, nothing comes close to some of the spooky UMF stories which resurface during Halloween. Rumors swirl around buildings on campus, most are about Mallett Hall, Merrill Hall and Purington Hall. This Halloween is bound to bring back hidden memories and spirits which reside in them.
UMF was founded in 1864 as the state’s first public institution of higher education. With such a long history comes many stories—some good, some bad. One of the most common stories comes from the Nordica Auditorium in Merrill Hall. Here, there have always been whispers about Madame Nordica—a famous opera singer from Farmington in the late 1800s—haunting the hall.
Bob Samson, a part-time UMF police officer, can advocate for these hauntings. “One night I was conducting a foot patrol at about three in the morning. I had a person who was interested in police work shadowing me on my rounds. We were on the first floor of Merrill Hall when we heard a loud scream or screech. It sounded like a crow cawing, but louder,” Samson said. “I assumed someone had snuck into the building so I had that person stand in the hallway so he could see both exits. I went to the top floor and worked my way to the basement checking every room, every closet, every nook.”
Samson continued by saying, “The person I left in the hallway said no one left via either exit. I checked both exits and both sets of doors were locked and secured.”
Not everyone may believe in the supernatural, yet there is no doubt that something spooky took place that night in Merrill Hall.
Merrill Hall isn’t the only sketchy hall on campus. Mallett Hall is notorious for unexplainable phenomena, spooking students every year. Rumor has it that a woman died in the elevator of Mallett. Others say she killed herself. These rumors have led to many interesting nights in Mallett.
Kaci Bates, a sophomore at UMF, has a story of her own. “According to my roommate, I was sleeping one night and I shot up very suddenly. Apparently, I started singing the Happy Birthday song in a low, eerie whisper,” Bates said. “When I got to the verse ‘Happy Birthday dear *blank*’ I gasped and fell back asleep.” Now, maybe the hauntings of Mallett don’t have anything to do with this, but don’t be surprised if your roommate gets possessed for a few seconds if you live in Mallett.
This last story comes from Stone. Unlike the other halls Stone does not have an historical past, but nonetheless there are some blood curdling stories.
Ileah Arcand, a sophomore at UMF, was a resident in the basement of Stone her freshman year when she and her roommate pulled an all-nighter. “At about 3 a.m., we heard a horrible scream coming from the kitchen/laundry room down the hall,” Arcand said, getting chills about the memory. “Of course, we went to check to see if everything was okay. As we investigated we came to realize that there was nobody around.”
Unfortunately for Arcand, this wasn’t her only disturbance. “Another time, I went to the vending machine in the laundry room (the same room as the scream). As I walked in I noticed a group of people in the kitchen from the corner of my eye. When I turned to see who it was there was nobody there. I ran straight back to my room,” said Arcand. She also mentioned that she would constantly hear doors being slammed in the middle of the night, while there were only four others living on the floor.
These are just a few stories spread throughout the history of UMF. Whether these are ghosts or simple coincidences, they remain intriguing. “I think a lot of people experience things that have no explanation, like that screeching I heard. I have no idea what it was, but I know I heard it,” Samson said.
With Halloween coming up, it wouldn’t be shocking to hear a few more ominous, chilling tales during the spooky season.
By Madison Lecowitch Contributing Writer
Purington custodian Tim Burnell enjoys the relationships he forms with students on campus (Photo by Madison Lecowitch)
Every morning at 7 a.m. Tim Burnell, the custodian of Purington Hall, begins his tasks for the day by dusting, vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms. On snowy winter days, you can find him outside shoveling sidewalks and throwing sand on the ground, making sure nobody falls. Burnell loves cleaning, but to him, the best part of his job is the relationships that he has built with students.
Burnell, age 57, has worked as the custodian of Purington Hall for eight years. Prior to his years working as a custodian, Burnell spent many years working on another passion of his.
“After high school I went to vocational school for welding, and I was a welder for 28 years,” Burnell said. “I worked in the shipyards, construction sites and I spent almost 24 years in the paper mill as a pipefitter.”
Burnell’s switch from welding to custodial work was due to wanting more time with his family: “I [left] the paper mill mostly because my son was young, and it seemed to be the right thing to do,” said Burnell, “When I worked in the paper mill, I had to work a lot of long hours and you never knew when you were coming home, and that was very hard on the family.”
Burnell finds the best part of his job to be the students that he builds relationships with: “There’s no question that the most enjoyable part of the job is meeting the students” said Burnell, but “being able to be here for the students and getting to know them,” is also important to him.
Josh Beckett, a senior and C.A. in Purington, has known Burnell for many years. “This is my third year living in Purington Hall,” said Beckett, “Tim is always available helping residents with whatever they need.”
Jocea Jordan, a freshman living in Purington, remembers when she met Burnell on move-in day: “He was walking around the halls checking if anyone needed help with moving stuff,” Jordan said, “even though I live six hours from home, I was comforted in the fact that I knew someone would be there to help me out if I ever needed anything.”
Burnell loves his job, but sometimes being the custodian of Purington can become a little redundant. “[During] the summers I will say, definitely when the students leave, the fun goes away,” said Burnell, “we have a lot of projects going on, and it’s almost like your constantly cleaning and cleaning and doing that process over and over again.”
Burnell always gets excited when the first day of the new school year arrives. “Freshman move-in day is about as good as it gets,” said Burnell, “it’s just enjoyable to see the new students coming in and helping them get set up in their rooms, and meeting their parents. When everybody moves back in August, it’s like everything starts to come back to life again.”
Burnell has always strived to be the best in anything he does, and it shows in his work at UMF. “When I’m here, my office door is open, and I’m not gonna hide in my office. I totally enjoy helping the students, it’s what drives me,” Burnell said, “being competitive, I want to have the cleanest building on campus, that’s my goal.”
Burnell is proud of his work in Purington Hall, and hopes to be here for at least another eight years. “The cliche is you find something you like, you’ll never work a day in your life. You know I always kind of chuckled at that, but it’s very true because I enjoy being here and doing what I do,” said Burnell, “it’s really not work to me here.”
By Olivia White Contributing Writer
Purington Hall has stepped up its game since last year in its quest for a strong supportive community. Samantha Kane, current sophomore and resident, said, “Purington really embraces the idea of community that UMF tries to build in its residence halls.”
Kayla Falco, Residence Hall Director for both Mallett and Purington, said that there are many “residents that plan impromptu gatherings in the hall, from potlucks, to big games of Werewolf, to Super Bowl parties.” Abbi Libby, returning resident and sophomore, agreed with Falco, saying that “people are more involved and actually show up to programs.”
Falco also said that there are “different residents this year from last year, with different interests. Because of this, each CA will have different approaches to community building, which is true of all CAs. What worked last year might not work this year, and vice versa.”
Kane has lived in two other residence halls during her time at UMF, “and even though all CAs attempted to build a community, it is very different in Purington,” she said. “There are always people in the lounge doing homework or watching TV or playing a game and everyone is always very welcoming if you want to join. Everyone knows everyone and even though that makes it hard, living so close is nice because you always have someone to turn to.”
Jasmine Corkins, the current treasurer for Purington’s Campus Residence Council, said that “Purington’s community [is] really wholesome and good natured. Everyone gets along and can just talk without having to force it. I love being able to say hi to anyone, with or without knowing them super well. It’s a real sense of family in the hall.”
Falco praised a series of events that took place in the fall semester called “Back to School,” crediting its popularity with improved community life. Purington CAs held a themed program every day for a week at the beginning of the fall semester. They each ran a program a day, and did a program together on the 5th day. During this week-long event, CAs and residents traveled back in time throughout the week, participating in events relating to high school moving all the way back to preschool.
The CAs in Purington Hall have expressed their commitment to creating a supportive community in many ways. Kane believes that out of all of the events held in Purington Hall, the residents were brought together most by the “Diversity Glitter Jars,” a program put on by CA Josh Beckett, UMF psychology major.