Story / April Schoen
Photography / Aaron Eisenhauer
Are there secret tunnels running under campus? Does the ghost of a little girl haunt the old PIKE lodge? Was Rose Theatre built on the land of a fatal lovers’ quarrel?
Over time mysteries, myths and legends float around every college campus, some drip with such detail that they must be based in fact, right? Southeast has many tales passed from one class to the next to explain the unexplainable … or maybe just designed to scare freshmen.
Mary, a young wife, sits home alone while her husband, a French fur trader, stumbles his way back to her after yet another night of downtown debauchery. Knowing of his misdeeds, Mary loses her temper and in a fit of passion and rage, kills her husband and then herself. The home is said to have been located on the same land where the Rose Theatre was built in 1966. Mary’s mark still remains at the site as a blood stain, haunting Row R. When scrubbing the blood stain away did not work, it was covered up with layers of concrete, but still seeps through…or so the story goes.
The theatre has been host to many ghost hunters and tours over the years, and some also say Mary’s husband haunts his favorite seat, becoming very displeased with anyone who sits in it.
While Southeast’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity no longer inhabits the building on South Sprigg Street, the stories of its hauntings continue to permeate the community. The old building was formerly the Marquette schoolhouse, and it is rumored a young student named Jessica died there in the early 1900s. On a Friday afternoon, young Jessica left the other children in the play yard to jump rope inside. She made her way into the principal’s empty office only to break through weak floorboards and fall down the coal chute and into the boiler room. At the end of the day, the teacher walked through the school to close up for the weekend, but did not know Jessica was still left inside. According to Joel P. Rhodes’ book, Haunted Cape Girardeau: Where the River Turns a Thousand Chilling Tales, Jessica’s autopsy showed that she had soot in her lungs, proving she had been alive after the fall and had died of suffocation.
Over the years, many PIKE members reported strange occurrences involving swaying light fixtures, unnerving giggling and singing coming from the old boiler room. Many have also said they have witnessed a young girl jumping rope in the windows of the building as they pass by. The most unsettling story is one in which a young boy knocked on the PIKE Lodge door and asked members if he could play there when they were not around. The members told him it was too dangerous, but the boy said he had been there many times before to play with his friend, Jessica.
Cheney Hall is Southeast’s oldest dormitory and home to plenty of mysteries. The one tale shared most often is that of a female student who committed suicide in a third-floor bathtub. The story goes, facility staff tried to clean the blood from the tub, but nothing worked. Rather than replace the tub, it was quickly covered up with shelving, turning it into a storage area. The Cheney spirit does not have a name, and there is no record of her death, but residents have passed her story on for decades. Some claim she can be seen flittering past the windows in a white nightgown. Others describe eerie sounds coming from the victim’s room, 301.
The hall has been closed to residents since the 2014 academic year due to structural damage, and being fairly new to Southeast, I had never seen the inside of the building. On my way to visit, I expected the empty halls to hold plenty of the ‘creep-factor.’ Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Practically everything in the building is original: the ceramic tile floors, the solid wood doors, the windows. There is something exceedingly disconcerting about walking into a desolate structure like this one. Angela Meyer, director of facilities management, says despite what the legend says, there are no bathtubs in the building, but if they find one while remodeling, I will be the first to know.
Yes. There are tunnels under Southeast’s campus. This rumor from countless classes is confirmed, but access to the tunnels is strictly prohibited. To avoid breaching security, I was not allowed to see the tunnels or blueprints of where they run, and with good reason as the tunnels are extremely dangerous and only used for maintenance purposes. But the real mystery is, were they always used for maintenance? It is said that the tunnels under Southeast are part of a more widespread web of tunnels throughout Cape Girardeau that acted as refuge for those traveling the underground railroad. As Missouri was claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy, it is certainly possible that some of the tunnels in Cape were used to move slaves north, but the tunnels under today’s Academic Hall were made of concrete in 1904-05 after a fire destroyed the original Academic Hall in 1902. To safely substantiate this claim, our friends in Facilities Management were kind enough to share this photo, but warned they are off limits. So, take heed, alumni—no expeditions to locate them this Homecoming!
It’s easy to say a cemetery is haunted, but when we asked alumni for the most memorable myths about Southeast, we were inundated with mentions of the green glowing eyes on a headstone at Lorimier Cemetery. Many of the stories came from those who graduated during the 1970s and 80s, and it seems that as a tradition, upperclassmen brought freshmen to the cemetery to prove the phenomenon. Naysayers have chalked the green spots up to be reflections from headlights as cars drive by, but those who believe say the green eyes never move the way headlights would and the road is too far away for the lights to reach the headstone. I guess the only way to know is to visit and see for yourself.
October 19, 2016
October 19, 2016
October 19, 2016