Paranormal Accounts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

As the time of year quickly approaches when curiosity of the paranormal and mystifying is at its peak and supernatural folk tales are rehashed and reborn with greater frequency, the UTC community looks to its own share of ghostly enigmas.

Author Documents Local Ghosts

Some of these ghost tales have recently gained more fame as their stories have been depicted in a popular book about local hauntings that even includes some revenant residents apparently on campus.

Georgiana Kotarski of Dunlap, Tenn., is the author of "Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Valley." Kotarski spoke at UTC last March about her findings, which, during the search for unexplained phenomena around the Chattanooga area, led her to discover and document several possible hauntings around campus.

Horrors of Hooper Hall

The most prominent of the hauntings on campus is that of Hooper Hall. Sandy Cole of the center for career education knows about the Hooper haunting all too well.

Cole and her husband at the time, Bob Mills, stayed overnight in Hooper Hall back in the early 80s during a snow storm because Mills had to get the campus ready for the following morning. Just after 11 p.m., Cole said, they began to hear footsteps and doors slamming, but after investigating, the pair did not find anyone there.

According to Cole, later that night at about 3 a.m. something else happened.

"The dean's office was downstairs because we had a dean of admissions at the time," she said. "His secretary had a cuckoo clock and that thing started going off. At the time I didn't think anything about it. The next morning I was talking to her about the cuckoo clock and she said, 'That doesn't work.'"

Cole said Mills later talked to campus security about the incident. They said they did not like to go into the building after dark because crazy things happen there all the time.

Kotarski reported in her book that custodians have also witnessed weird happenings, such as elevators ascending to the top floor for no reason and strange drops in temperature in the upper stairwell.

For further investigation, Chuck Cantrell, assistant vice chancellor of university relations, gave a psychic a piece of paper with "615 McCallie Ave." written on it. Cantrell said the psychic told him a man named John had committed suicide in a room in the building that was filled with chemicals. After looking through some old newspapers, Cantrell discovered that indeed on January 7, 1924, a groundskeeper named John Hockings had gassed himself in a chemical store room in Hooper Hall, which at that time was the science building.

Patten Chapel Paranormal

Right next door to Hooper Hall, Patten Chapel has its own fair share of ghostly lore.

According to research Kotarski has conducted for her next book, some people have heard organ music coming from the chapel in the middle of the night. She also said some have heard doors slamming and footsteps just like in Hooper Hall, so maybe it is the same ghost.

"Others have seen a woman in white in or just outside the chapel, sometimes in the bright of day," Kotarski said.

Development Building Disturbances

The development building used to be the University president's home when UTC had presidents.

According to faculty, there are many stories circulating that after his death, a former president, Dr. Prescott, continued to inhabit the building.

They said machines turn off for no apparent reason. Cantrell said there are incidents where things such as scissors or keys have gone missing. Every time something weird happens, faculty stated that they say jokingly, "There's Dr. Prescott again."

Brock Hall Haunts

Brock Hall sits on the site of an old jail and right next to where the old math building once stood. The old math building used to be a medical school where there was a black market for body parts, and before that it was the execution yard for the jail, according to Kotarski. She said several ghosts were believed to haunt the math building before it was torn down, and there have been reports of women's screams echoing through Brock Hall.

Lore Leery

Chris Nikitas, an Oak Ridge, Tenn., senior, said he has never heard anything about hauntings on campus and is skeptical.

"I'm one of those 'I'll believe it when I see it' people," he said.

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