Editor’s note: At the 1957 memorial service for M. Marie Mount, former dean of the now defunct College of Home Economics, then-university President Wilson Elkins declared: “The character of Marie Mount will live forever.”
Staff writers Talia Richman and Ellie Silverman went to Marie Mount Hall to investigate the paranormal rumors surrounding the building and conduct what may be The Diamondback’s first Ouija board interview. Here, we present their experiences.
We were wandering the labyrinthine floors of Marie Mount Hall at about 8 p.m. Wednesday when we heard the delicate tinkling of copper striking linoleum.
A penny landed heads up in front of our feet. It was dated 1967 — the year the Board of Regents named the hall after Marie Mount.
Was the ghost of Marie Mount communicating with us?
In the city of College Park, Ouija boards are hard to come by. But thanks to a wikiHow article, we made our own out of notebook paper. The top left corner of the board bore a sun and the word “yes.” The top right corner: a moon and “no.” The bottom corners were labeled with “hello” and “goodbye” and the alphabet was inscribed in the middle.
The feeling in our fingertips was magnetic as the metal ring zoomed around our makeshift Ouija board. Every few seconds, we accused each other of pushing it.
Question after question, the ghost seemed to be guiding us to a “yes” or “no” response.
Bad news: She doesn’t think the Terrapins football team will beat Clemson tomorrow.
Adam Paley, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences, was studying in the building and agreed to take part in our attempt to interview the former dean.
At one point, when Paley and Silverman were operating the Ouija board, Paley asked Mount if he should leave to continue his homework. The metal ring glided around the paper, landing on “goodbye.”
"My fingers could not get off the ring. My whole body moved with it — it was like I was attached to it," Paley said. "There's too much in the world that we don't understand, and I don't think it's right to dismiss the possibility of something supernatural just because you can't exactly collect data on it."
But we still were not convinced. We asked Elizabeth Beckley, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences, to try and contact the ghost with us.
“I was on the fence about ghosts before,” Beckley said. “It was kind of like when you’re a kid and you’re walking across the street and your parent takes your hand and guides you.”
In 1977, professor William Nelson gave an interview as part of the Folklore Project, now housed in the University Archives. He told the story of a policeman who used to take his smoke breaks in Marie Mount Hall.
According to Nelson’s account, the officer tried to light a match but it kept blowing out, despite the fact that double doors kept wind from infiltrating the building. After four attempts, he made a run for it — and as he recalled, the doors opened for him on his way out.
Anne Turkos, a university archivist, said Marie Mount Hall is only one of many places on the campus believed to be haunted by Terps of the past. Each year, the archives puts together a list of the spots and a summary of the reported paranormal occurrences.
The Rossborough Inn, built in the early 1800s, used to be a way station for travelers on the road between Washington and Baltimore. Today, it houses the Undergraduate Admissions office — and supposedly a ghost named Miss Bettie.
Witnesses, including a few Dining Services employees who used to work in the building, report seeing her wearing a long yellow dress, Turkos said.
“In my mind, [Rossborough Inn] is probably the most haunted place on campus,” Turkos said. “[Miss Bettie] usually comes out when there is some sort of renovation in the building because she’s being disturbed.”
A Maryland Paranormal Research team based in Anne Arundel explored the Rossborough Inn in May 2012. In the records and photographs they took, the investigators said they heard unusual sounds and believed Miss Bettie was communicating. Their findings can be found on their YouTube channel, “marylandparanormaltv.”
“I get a little nervous every time I walk by it because it’s just such an old, historic building,” said Melia Stuppy, a senior marketing and supply chain management major. “It’s scary to look in at night because you worry someone is going to be looking back out.”
The strange shivers Stuppy feels when passing by the Rossborough Inn have also been sensed near Morrill Hall. Turkos said students have described the smell of smoke outside Morrill — almost 101 years after the Great Fire of 1912.
Cadets used to march off their demerits in front of Morrill Hall when the college was designated a military school in the 1860s. Turkos said reports of the smoky aroma are often accompanied by the sounds of marching feet in the area.
And then there’s Hornbake Library, where Turkos herself said she has come in contact with spirits from other side.
One weeknight, at about 9 p.m., after everyone else had gone home, Turkos heard the click-clack of high heels against linoleum. “We know the Hornbake ghost is a woman, but we’re not sure who she is,” Turkos said. “She’s been spotted a few times just wearing a basic business suit. I’ve never seen her, but I’ve heard her. I wasn’t really scared — it just was unsettling.”
Turkos said she called out, “Hello, hello, is anyone there?” but did not receive an answer.
Perhaps she should have used a Ouija board.