Ghost Lurks at the University of Denver

Gothic arches, long, narrow hallways and massive furniture-the perfect scary scenery for a classic ghost story.

The Mary Reed Building whose red brick tower soars above DU's campus, is a famous site for such creepy tales. Many believe that the ghost of Mary Reed wanders the hallways of the building, which is named for her.

A transparent figure is occasionally seen reading in the dark in a high-back leather chair in the DuPont Room. Others complain of sudden cold drafts in otherwise warm rooms, doors that are stuck then mysteriously open, or fresh light bulbs that abruptly burn out.

Ghosts.org tells the spooky story of a student who worked in the building. One night he entered the DuPont room and switched on the light, an elderly woman in an old-fashioned dress stood up from her reading chair and said hello. He turned and ran, leaving the light on. But as he drove away from the building, he noticed through the windows that the light had been turned off.

Another account tells of a custodian who was suddenly pushed from behind when locking up the building. When she turned around, no one was there. She then began to walk away, and was pushed again by the invisible force.

Other eerie legends include books flying off shelves in the DuPont Room and a chair in the basement archives that often feels warm, as if someone had been sitting in it.

DU's Web site says, "Doors, light bulbs and elevators are said to act on their own accord, and the ghostly figure of a woman is sometimes spotted on a staircase."

Some say the spirit is Mary Reed, while others believe it is her daughter, Margery Reed, a 1919 DU alumna who died in 1925 at age 31 of an illness contracted in Peru. The DuPont Room ghost is thought to be Marcella Miller DuPont, daughter of wealthy Colorado pioneers. In 1966 DuPont made a donation to the university for a study room in the library, and in 1967 the DuPont Room was dedicated in honor of her parents.

Unfortunately, DU students will not be able to confirm these creepy tales for many months, as the DuPont Room is currently being renovated and is off limits at all times.

Glenna Leff works in the Payroll Office in room 107A of Mary Reed. She has heard many ghost stories about the building over the years.

"'In the DuPont Room there is a definite cold area," she said. She has never felt this herself, but she said many of her coworkers have.

She also said she heard stories of people who were inexplicably pushed down the stairs from behind. When the victims turned around to see their attacker, they realized they were alone.

Leff believes the DuPont Room remodel could appease the spirit. "If she likes the remodel, everything will be cool," she said.

Alfredo Abad, director of custodial services, said some of his employees refuse to work alone in Mary Reed. He said stories of the building's ghosts are passed from employee to employee each year.

According to Abad, most spooky complaints are of strangle rattling noises around the building after dark.

Although he has not seen anything bizarre personally, he admits it "gets a little scary for people to work there."

One year ago, custodial services decided that all cleaning in Mary Reed would be completed before 10p.m., by which time the building is usually empty. The deadline has helped calm some employees' nerves, as most odd incidents occur when cleaning alone.

The University of Denver Magazine Summer 2006 issue recounts the relationship between the Reed family and the university.

Mary Reed was born in 1875 and later became a women's rights activist and philanthropist in Denver. Wife of wealthy Colorado Springs businessman Verner Reed, she donated $100,000 for the construction of Margery Reed Hall in memory of her daughter. The building was completed in 1929, and shortly thereafter she contributed an additional $350,000 to construct the Mary Reed Building, which would become the university's new library. Reed died in 1945.

The Mary Reed Building is located southwest of University Hall and was completed in 1931. It served as the university's second library and today houses administrative offices and Penrose Library storage.

According to the DU Web site, the building has been named one of Colorado's most haunted places.


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