Former College Trustee Haunts Building Named For Her

Emma, go home.

That's the message paranormal investigators hope to deliver next weekend to a ghost that many Slippery Rock University students and teachers say has been roaming the halls of the university's theater and the North Hall residential building.

They call her Emma, for Emma Guffey Miller, a prominent theater supporter and former Slippery Rock trustee, who died 39 years ago today.

"When I first got here, it was generally accepted that the place was haunted," said David Skeele, a professor of theater. A psychic who went through the theater building detected three presences, he said.

Over the years, Slippery Rock students have reported seeing a woman's figure in the theater or hearing pounding noises. The apparition is thought to be Miller because she loved the theater, and the building is named for her.

Armed with high-tech gadgets, a team of investigators will attempt to put Emma, or any others still lingering there, to rest.

"We hope that we can actually catch Emma as an apparition. Maybe communicate with her," said John Lewis, owner of Baelfire Paranormal Investigation in Titusville.

Miller was born in Guffey Station, Westmoreland County, on July 6, 1874. She was a six-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania. She died after suffering a heart attack on Feb. 23, 1970.

She was a long-time member and past president of the Slippery Rock Council of Trustees and was instrumental in securing state assistance for the construction of eight buildings between 1928 and 1939.

Lewis and his team will position nine infrared cameras and an array of digital and 35 mm cameras, as well as electromagnetic field meters and computers throughout the theater when they spend the night there Saturday.

They hope to learn why Emma is still hanging around.

"She might not know she's dead. There might be unfinished business," Lewis said. The team will help her "move on, if that's what she wants."

The specter of Emma is not the only spine-tingling aspect of the building. Superstition holds that an old baby doll has to be set on the stage for each production to ensure the show goes on as planned.

"If they don't set out a baby doll that they've had since the 1950s, the productions will be a disaster. But (Emma) appears to be a friendly spirit," Lewis said.

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