After taking on Trollwood Park in the hunt for the paranormal. We next visited a historic, local campus building. Across the river, at Minnesota State University Moorhead, sits Weld Hall. Weld is the oldest building on campus and home to some of the spookiest stories the school has to offer… so we had to visit.
We decided to connect with Professor Kevin Zepper, an English professor of around 20 years at MSUM, and someone who has spent many years inside Weld Hall. We met inside Glasrud Auditorium where MSUM’s most haunted story was born, by a rumor of a death.
“When you come to campus, this building is the odd one out, it just is. By default, there’s something odd about this building, because it’s turn-of-the-century architecture, right? It looks like a little castle, right? I think there’s the expectation that because something is old, it has something else to it. I’m the same way, I see something old and I’m thinking, ‘Well, God, that place has stories to tell.’ And perhaps that’s where we have to start,” Zepper said. “When we look at something old, it starts to get a little bit of a patina to it, in terms of old things, like this building, we have to think, ‘Did something happen there? Did somebody get murdered? Did a bad thing happen there?’ Not to get too philosophical with you, but that’s the way I approached this building. There is almost the belief that we would want to have something happen here.”
There are multiple accounts of what might have happened inside the ancient walls of the auditorium. Some sources say someone fell from the scaffolding, ending in a tragic death. Similar to the scaffolding story, there was a rumor about the “secret staircase” being the spot of a life-ending fall. From the scaffolding or the stairwell tragedy, or from some other reminisce of energy, there have also been reports of bright “orbs” floating on and around the stage in the auditorium.
The two winding staircases on either side of the back of the stage, are steep, and mostly out of service today, but hold a lot of history. One is completely closed off, and the other is locked. Fortunately for us, we were able to call on one more to add to our team of amateur ghost hunters. Campus Security Officer Brodigan Morton not only let us through the doors but let us in on his experiences at MSUM.
Officer Brodigan Morton was a theater student and a lighting tech at MSUM, so he spent many hours in the auditorium, specifically on the scaffolding and working with the lighting. Those years, in addition to the seven he’s been with Public Safety, he has had his own fair share of unexplained experiences while doing building checks around Weld.
“[I would experience] the typical stuff. I’m working at two o’clock in the morning as the only person in the building, and then I hear doors close in the hallway and there’s nobody here and the lights are off. They’re motion and sound-activated and the lights are completely off,” he said. “[I would hear] doors closing and conversations from down the hall, nothing decipherable, but definitely the distant sound of voices. Out of curiosity, I’ve gone back to see if anybody scanned in with a key fob, and no, door logs. All the offices are locked and the lights are off.”
Professor Zepper, while not having experienced any of these exact encounters himself, believes that with such a long history, there is bound to be some truth behind the rumors that circulate the hall. As far as those rumors holding some paranormal grounding—he took this opportunity with our team to find out.
We first visited the stage itself. We saw the infamous scaffolding hanging from the ceiling. The chains above a reminder of the violent rumors of the auditorium, the weathered floor a reminder of the many who performed here before us, and even the thick red curtain a reminder of the dramatics of the whole area. The entire auditorium, if not the entire building, holds a sense of mystery that draws out curiosity, be it for ghosts or just history
On the right-hand side of the stage, in the back, there is a winding stairwell. Peering over the railing, it seems like the stairs go on forever, and looking up is like looking into the tallest tower in a castle. The ancient walls are covered with names, quotes and scribbles from the past 50 years. How they balanced themselves to reach up the brick walls on an already thin and tight staircase, we don’t know, but it adds to the mystery.
The other staircase, mirroring the one we walked through, was indefinitely closed off. A ledge, about waist to shoulder height, was built so the door could only be opened about two inches; enough for us to barely see the untouched landing, but not enough for any human to squeeze through. No one had a clear answer as to why the door was blocked off, but we ventured to the basement of Weld to see what was waiting at the other end.
We were greeted with an anticlimactic answer. The door at the bottom had been completely sealed over. Again, we’re left wondering, “why?”
The last thing we wanted to try before we came to our conclusion was to try to communicate with anything that might have been there with us. Positioning ourselves in the middle of the auditorium, we shut the lights off and Professor Zepper began explaining why we were there.
After a few minutes of just waiting, a few things happened:
- It took us a while to notice between the camera flash and Officer Morton’s flashlight, but there were light surges in the ceiling lights every so often. We caught the flashes a few times when we confirmed that it was not the camera flash or the flashlight.
- After we noticed the light surges, we heard a thudding from back behind the stage.
- The last thing we noticed, although it very well could have been brought on by our anticipation and adrenaline, was a series of chills and shivers as soon as we heard the noises from behind the curtain.
We asked Professor Zepper whether or not he believes in ghosts.
“That’s a really interesting question. I think that there are… How do I put this diplomatically? I think that there are a lot of times that people think there are ghosts, and that can be debunked. There are times that, in so many different shows, so many different sightings, so many different things, they say, ‘I don’t have an explanation for it.’ Well, if there’s no direct explanation for it, that it might be, it could very well be. I don’t think we have enough things to measure it properly. I’ve watched all of these [shows], and the things that are most profound to me are the things where they cannot explain it, they can’t debunk it. Is it something that we’ve yet to figure out that we can debunk? Or is it simply, there’s something here? Or if a place has all of this energy, whether it’s good or bad… Is there just enough of that to rub off, so to speak, to create these things? And then there’s the power of belief that’s really powerful, you can say whatever you want. So, I think the short answer is yes.”
After our two adventures in the search for the paranormal, our editorial team could confidently say there was something spooky going on at these places; but we weren’t sure we could confidently say whether it was truly ghosts or not. There was one more piece of the puzzle, we had to talk to some experts.