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The Ghost of Ambrose Hall

Ambrose Hall is the first and oldest building on campus, erected in 1882. It has been an
iconic symbol of the St. Ambrose University campus for almost 150 years. However, as
is often the case with most buildings across the country that have aged, it is rumored to
be haunted. Stories about a ghost in Ambrose Hall have circulated for decades, more
specifically, the fourth floor, have been suspected to have paranormal activity. The first
documentation of the rumored “Ghost of Ambrose Hall,” was in 1974, where there was a
student newspaper article in The Buzz. The story explored the alleged spirit of a witch
haunting the fourth floor, but it turned out to be an art teacher pulling a prank on their

Fifteen years later, the next Buzz story, published in 1989, Rev. James P. Kelleher
revealed some alleged information about “The Ghost of Ambrose Hall,” saying, “A fated
student may awake in the middle of the night and sense a stranger in the room, then
discerning the black shape moving about soundlessly.” In 1990, someone from SAU
wrote a fictional story all about “The Ghost of Ambrose,” where several kids are on the
fourth floor of Ambrose Hall in the middle of the night, trying to play a prank, but end up
experiencing paranormal activity and overall have a terrifying time.
The most informative story to come out of the newspaper archives was when then SAU
student and Managing Editor of The Buzz, D. Berger, wrote an article on the legend in
1999, with emphasis on the different versions of the story which spawned the legend we

know today. When Berger was a freshman, John Schmits, a professor of art and
calligraphy, shared a lot of insight on a supposed spirit that lives in Ambrose Hall,
saying “People kept talking about seeing up there in the dimly lit hallways of night, an
especially tall, lanky, reddish-haired person in a cassock, who had dark-rimmed glasses,
and when they would approach him, he’d disappear.” There are many versions of this
supposed “mystery,” but in the same article, Berger claimed, “The strongest rumor,
according to Schmits, deals with a disgruntled seminarian who hung himself in the Irish
Village.” The Irish Village was referred to as the far end of the hall that housed the
seminarians. These claims definitely shed more light on “The Ghost of Ambrose Hall,”
but it still isn’t enough to prove if Ambrose Hall is actually haunted.

But in 2007, the countless questions surrounding the legend were finally going to be
answered, when IPART, The Iowa Paranormal Advanced Research Team conducted an
investigation on the building. Assistant Editor of the Buzz, Adam Hurlburt, was able to
get the scoop on the investigation, as they brought a load of professional equipment
such as “digital video cameras, digital voice recorders, electromagnetic field meters,
super sensitive parabolic microphones, and laptop computers.” The story reported the
investigation lasted four hours, and they were able to pick up a few subtle knocks on the
staircase, a cold spot, and what smelled like burning incense, but nothing truly
bone-chilling. However, the most significant evidence came when they reviewed the
results of the investigation, as they had captured “13 electronic voice phenomenas.”
The most unnerving of the EVPs is a recording of the disembodied, seemingly female,
voice that in an ascending cadence seems to say, “Jesus is dead.” This heart-stopping
EVP definitely gives rise to the speculation that “The Ghost of Ambrose” could be a woman.

IPART final verdict for the investigation is that Ambrose Hall had little-to-no
paranormal activity, or at the very least, enough hard evidence to fully support the
countless rumors that surround the centuries-old building, leaving the questions still
unanswered as to whether or not Ambrose Hall is actually haunted.

However, the story made this reporter curious enough to check out the rumors. The
building seems to be pretty quiet, and around the third and fourth floors of Ambrose
Hall, we asked people if they have ever experienced any paranormal activity in the
building. All the answers to that question were “no,” but the weirdest thing that faculty
has reported, have been multiple sittings of bats. However, multiple faculty members
were asked what their views on paranormal phenomena were. Gary Monnard, professor
of computer science, didn’t really have an answer, but did go into a conversation about
philosophy, and asked “What’s out there? Is a very open question,” Terri Switzer, a
professor in museum studies, said, “I generally believe that there are things in this world
that defy explanation.” Nicole Pizzini added “I believe in connections between living and
whatever is after the moment of death.” Regina Matheson said “maybe the bats are
disguising themselves as ghosts,” and Junyi Dong said something very similar, “Maybe
the ghosts are still sleeping.”

The question still remains, is Ambrose Hall actually haunted? Or are all these rumors
just elaborate ghost stories to thrill the generations upon generations of St. Ambrose
students? Maybe someday, somebody, who has an obsession with ghosts, will finally answer the questions that have been plaguing the fourth floor of Ambrose Hall for
decades now.

Emmett O’Brien is a staff writer for The Buzz.