Haunted Haas

The sun begins to fall silently behind the overlooking mountains surrounding Bloomsburg University.  Nightfall is rapidly approaching as gusts of chilly air blow at the faces of students, sending their hair in several different directions.  The students make way out of the academic quadrangle to return home by walking down past the Bakeless Center for the Humanities going toward Navy Hall through the rest of the campus.  Concentrating on nothing but the crisp autumn leaves crunching under their shoes; they pass the Haas Center of the Arts without even thinking about what is going on in the building during the day, or even the possibility of a spirit haunting the building after the doors are locked for the night.

The university was established as early as the mid 1800s.  Bloomsburg’s first academy dates back all the way to 1839.  It became a Literary Institute and State Normal School in 1869, and finally received accreditation as a university in 1983. Because of the university’s history, there are many stories about various haunted places within different buildings around the campus.  Stories which millions of students, enrolled in this institution, have heard by word of mouth and passed along to others, possibly interpreting the stories were possibly interpreted by others.

One haunting in particular has many students pondering its superstition.  As the story goes, during the 1970’s, a dance company went on a tour performing at different venues.  This dance company was said to practice black magic in order to perform successfully.   Performing in Bloomsburg’s Haas Center on tour, the group held a séance for Ned, a previous dancer for the company.  Once Ned’s spirit was lifted and the company completed their performance they left Ned behind.  Legend has it that this ghost still remains in Haas to this day.

This local ghost story tends to be most popular while Halloween is approaching. However, like all ghost stories, this particular legend has both its believers and disbelievers.

It is reported in an October 2000 issue of BU’s The Voice, Karen Anselm, a theatre professor, discussed her encounters with Ned.  She claimed she felt this eerie presence, like someone was accompanying her in a room when she was alone.  Anselm states in the article she has also heard someone’s cries while producing plays.  She believes Ned is haunting the Haas Center because certain items would go missing then reappear later on.

Bloomsburg University’s Theatre Director, Randall Presswood does not believe such haunting exists or any paranormal activity within the Haas or Mitrani Theatre whatsoever. According to Presswood, this story is nothing more than “pure poppy-cock!”

“I am here routinely at any and all given hours of the day/night.  I’ve even worked a number of times for three days/nights straight without leaving or sleeping.   I’ve spent uncounted nights working in Mitrani Hall with the lights off through the night and never once has there even been a minor occurrence that would lead me to believe that there was anything suspicious or superstitious in this building.”

Presswood justifies his beliefs which can be convincing to anyone that hears it.

“Until I started programming the artist series, dance at BU was practically unheard of. So why would a dancers ghost be roaming our halls.  And why a male dancer?  If this has gone on for as long as kids want to think it has, male dancers would have been far and few between — and certainly not visiting BU.”

Katerina Custis, a sophomore transfer student at Bloomsburg University, has not been attending Bloomsburg University for more than just a few months. She was, at the time, familiar with the stories about the haunting of the Haas Center.

“I don’t know what to believe about that kind of stuff,” says Custis when asked about her thoughts and beliefs about Ned haunting the Haas.

“I haven’t seen any activity and I have been here at least 10 times so far, but if there was one place in here that would be haunted, it would be the auditorium.  It’s darker.”

There is no verification to this day whether these haunted stories are just legends or if these have been passed around from student to student.  The Haas Center of the Art’s story of being haunted remains undefined.

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