Spirits and ghosts: Supernatural forces at the 5Cs

Graphic by Meghan Joyce

The Claremont Colleges formed in 1925, and Pomona College’s roots trace all the way back to 1887. With a college history as rich and old as this one, there’s bound to be some restless spirits floating around.

Pomona, Scripps College, and Pitzer College have all had reported ghost sightings at their schools, which have been retold through Facebook groups, via word of mouth, and by Girl Scouts from Troop 1094 in the Village Ghost Walk.

According to the Claremont Courier, Bridges Auditorium is one site for ghostly activity.

“Walter,” a member of facilities who — when helping to brace rafters in the roofline, fell to his death — allegedly still walks the stage. Many staffers caught a glimpse of Walter as he supposedly visited members of the West Wing film production crew.

In another instance, the theatre staff had someone set up cameras throughout the known haunted spots and while using an EVP device (an apparatus designed to record ghost sounds) they asked, “Walter, where are you?”

What came back was a clear, very distinct whisper: “Right here.”

There’s also the ghost of Nila Seaver, the youngest of the Seaver children, who is said to walk the halls of the Department of Alumni Affairs in Pomona’s Seaver House, built in 1900.

“I have never seen her, but I am certain she’s here,” Pomona Director of Alumni Relations Nancy Treser-Osgood said to the Claremont Courier in 2014. Treser-Osgood also reported lights turning on and locks unlatching, as well as doors banging and filing cabinets being knocked over.

There are plenty of other Pomona ghost stories, such as Gwendolyn in Sumner Hall, and the ghostly sightings are also said to occur at Scripps.

As the first building on campus, Toll is speculated to have the most haunts. Stories say that the spirit of Eleanor Toll, the namesake of the dorm, roams the halls. Students have reported objects in their rooms being moved and workers report their names being called out by no one.

According to The Scripps Voice’s spread on Nov. 3, 2016, the Toll browsing room is arguably the most cursed place at Scripps. In 2014, a first-year was alone in the room when she felt the walls rattle. Additionally, it is rumored that the spirits of students lie within the chairs and carpets.

“We’re always saying that it’s a friendly ghost,” Vivar said. “Even though we hear things, it’s not anything malevolent. We’ve kind of just adopted the ghost.”

Opened in 1931, Denison Library is reportedly another one of the most haunted buildings at Scripps. Student attendants report hearing “pencils shaking against each other,” things moving, and sounds in the back room.

Citlalli Vivar SC ’21 said that everyone who works at Denison has a joke about the spirits in the library.

“We’re always saying that it’s a friendly ghost,” she said. “Even though we hear things, it’s not anything malevolent. We’ve kind of just adopted the ghost.”

At another Scripps residence hall, Dorsey Hall, students have reported hearing knocking in the browsing room, seeing the image of a ghostly young woman wandering the halls, and/or noticing objects being moved. According to Stephanie Nuñez SC ’19, workers have heard hysterical crying at the entrance hallway and soft sweet voices.

Students told TSL that some ghosts also haunt the new buildings at the 5Cs.

According to Meghan O’Kelley PZ ’22, her suite in Atherton Hall is “mildly haunted.”

Opened in early 2000s, Atherton Hall is one of the three halls that house Pitzer first-years. “We hear weird noises and my suitemate and I keep waking up with weird bruises and scratches that we don’t remember getting,” she wrote in an email to TSL.

Stories of ghostly happenings at the oldest building on Pitzer campus, the Grove House, abound. Moved to Pitzer in 1976, the Grove House is over 115 years old, and is rumored to host quite a few souls besides the caretaker, who is in charge of upkeep.

Caretakers have passed down stories about doors slamming and windows opening on windless nights. Now, whenever there’s strange occurrences, the caretakers “blame it on the spirits.”

Although TSL could not find any whisperings of spirits at Harvey Mudd College or Claremont McKenna College, Marie Christine CM ’17 said she wouldn’t be surprised to find ghosts occupying some of Mudd’s many unique buildings.

“If there was a ghost anywhere at Mudd, it’d be in the basements [of the academic buildings] or in any of the tunnels they built in the event of a nuclear attack,” she said.

Despite all this hearsay about hauntings, life at the Claremont Colleges is still a safe one — former Denison library attendant Judy Harvey Sahak SC ’64 told the Scripps Voice that to her knowledge: “None of the Scripps ghosts are malicious.”

So don’t be alarmed next time you hear a loud noise if you’re working in the Toll browsing room or see lights turn on when constructing the set for a theatre production in Big Bridges — it’s likely one of these spirits just wanting to say hello.

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