Florida Legend: Hulley Tower at Stetson University

What follows is a mixture of several legends spread about Hulley Tower on the campus of Stetson University.  As part of an ongoing project, it is presented as a legend.  This is a departure from what we usually post because it lacks the commentary and first hand legend trip…that’s to come.  There is something compelling in stories told about the tower, and the deeper we look into them, the more we come to realize school myths are driven by more than what we can prove.  Lies, exaggerations, and the mixing up of facts are as common as cheating on a test or plagiarizing a final report.

 

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Listen to Episode 41…Suicide, Stetson, and DeLand’s Ghostly Folklore

Princesses get locked in towers; trapped away waiting for someone to rescue them from dragons and evil stepmothers and witches.  Knights in shining armor aren’t easy to come by, but fairy tales seem to find them, and they’re always ready to do battle and kiss and make the happy ending.

Maybe she’s thinking about that as she stands on the top of the tower counting the bells she has never had a chance to look at up close.  But her knight is not coming.  His horse has left the county and didn’t bother to look back as it made its way past the manicured lawn and into the road that slink its way through the Florida swamp.

IMG_6623She walked up the tower herself, with no evil anything forcing her up the steps.  She was a young woman, not yet twenty, and when her teacher had shown her the kind of attention her important but formal family never had, Suzanne Brown fell for him the way only a school girl can.  But he was a respected teacher even if he was one of the younger staff members.   When they met by the Hulley Tower for the first time and he held her hand, she awoke for the first time and leaned in when he began to move to kiss her.  In only weeks their hidden meetings had become such a part of their lives they had started making plans for the winter break.

They would meet by the tower to spend a few moments alone in the late hours when Stetson’s campus was asleep.  He would read her poems he wrote for her, and she would gently touch his arm as the words came out more like a song than a poem.  For the rest of the school year and through the hot summer months when she stayed on campus to work, the day was only the time in between their meetings.  It was more than the excitement of an older man or the gimmick of dating a student or the excitement of having to sneak around and avoid curious eyes.  It was love.  As the new school year began and the campus woke up again, whispers began about marriage.

Until, that is, the night a few upperclassmen returning from a late night party and spotted them by the tower.   Before lunch the campus was already buzzing about the scandal, and he wasn’t there to teach his English Lit 1 class that afternoon.  She was brought in later, an hour before the sun started to set.  They explained to her that even the Brown family’s standing and money wasn’t enough.  She would need to leave the school.

She returned to her room to pack her things.  She slipped several pieces of paper in her thin jacket and followed the security guard out the door, taking one last look at the room.  As they crossed the campus, the guard gave her a sorrowful look and told her she could walk the rest of the way herself.  He was sorry.  She tried to smile, but as he walked away she changed directions slightly and made her way to the last place she had seen the man she had wanted to marry.

Now she clutches the poems close to her as she lets one of feet hover off the top and hang in the air.

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In the moments before she hit the ground she could see a couple making their way across the lawn towards the tower with their dog.  Although she had been told the stories of Lincoln Hulley, the university’s first president,  when she had first arrived on campus, she had been too consumed with her thoughts to pay attention to the etched stone marking where his body was interred as she started up the stairs.  Of course, Eloise, his loving wife and the woman for whom the bells were named, was not buried yet because she was still alive.

 

But as Suzanne fell she became part of the history of the tower.  For the next eighty years people will see Lincoln and Eloise’s  spirits walking hand in hand near the tower bearing their names and housing their bodies.  In the early morning hours students will see strange lights or shadows, and many will see their full figures, smiling and still very much in love.  Suzanne’s ghost is a bit more elusive.  Her faithful leap is only seen on certain nights in the fall, when the semester is new and everything is still potential, even falling in love with the wrong man and living happily ever after.

 

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Listen to Episode 41…Suicide, Stetson, and DeLand’s Ghostly Folklore

 

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at:
www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

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Tripping on Legends Live…Lore v. Lies

Do you care if you’re lied to?

In the real world we avoid letting people in our lives who are dishonest and abuse our trust. We go to great lengths to make sure to protect ourselves and are careful with whom we let it. Then we hear a good ghost story, and it all drops away.

There is a difference between retelling an urban legend you think might be true and getting into a ghost story everyone knows to be fiction. The pressure to produce paranormal media has introduced a different kind of liar. The line between folklore and fiction is getting ever thinner, but you care?

So do you still care if you’re lied to?

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

You can listen to episode 43 where we discuss the Silver Springs
legends..

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Episode 43…The Silver Springs Brochure Forgot These Ghosts

 

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban
legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Tripping on Legends Live…Ghostly Evidence

Going live after their TOL Summer Trip 2018 has been completed, Tripping on Legends explores the nature and need for evidence in the paranormal world.
 
After a discussion of haunted stairway and the moving door they posted earlier, Christopher Balzano gets into why evidence may not be better than experience. The group gives the best evidence they ever say that they did not collect and offers their opinions on whether the evidence versus experience scale should swing the other way in the future.
 
 
 
You can follow the trip at #TOLSummer18 and #hauntedlove.
 
You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com. We would love to hear your views on what we talked about.
 
 
We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.
 
Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at:
 
 
 
 
 
Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Episode 42…The Trippers’ Haunted Agenda

 

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Episode 42…The Trippers’ Haunted Agenda

A few days before their big summer adventure, the Trippers get out the big board and set their agenda out.

After talking for a few about Christopher Balzano’s recent legend trip in the Myakka River State Park, he and Natalie Crist argue about the best way to go about tripping the locations picked out for their Summer18 trip.

They discuss the ghosts in Astor, DeLand, Silver Springs, and Oviedo. They also establish their first contest with the prize being a valued copy of Haunted Objects.

You can follow the trip at #TOLSummer18 and #hauntedlove.

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Listen to the episode…

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at:
www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Episode 41…Suicide, Stetson, and DeLand’s Ghostly Folklore

General Collection
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Listen to Episode Episode 41…Suicide, Stetson, and DeLand’s Ghostly Folklore

As the summer moves on the Haunted Love and Cursed Central Florida projects heat up. The next hot spot for Christopher Balzano and Natalie Crist to explore is the town of DeLand, Florida.

The Trippers, using some of the oral and written sources on hauntings in the area, explore several of the ghost stories from Stetson University and other locations in DeLand to try and piece together some places to visit on their upcoming Summer Trip.

They also explore and debate some of the stories from Dusty Smith’s Haunted DeLand and the Ghosts of West Volusa County.

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at:
www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Four Old Ouija Board Stories

Last week Tripping on Legends got the board back out.  It has been years since I had used one, and maybe a decade since I had seriously used one to try and communicate with the dead.  Natalie, on the other hand, had not used one at all.

Watch the video where we explain what’s been going on in Natalie’s house.

Before we sat down and tried to talk to whatever was making itself known in her house, I felt I needed to give her some basics on the board.  This sparked my memory of the experiences I had early one looking into the paranormal and some of the stories I had collected.  Thought it might be time to dust some of them off to share with people again.

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Watch some of the Ouija board session from that night

 

Kelly

I was never really close to Kelly. I actually only knew her in passing and I would never have spoken to her. She was the head cheerleader and three years older than I was. When she graduated from high school she came back and became the assistant cheerleading coach and I would see her in the gym during practice or on the campus talking to old teachers. She was, from afar, someone who enjoyed life and gave back to the community she had gotten from.

While using the board with some friends, I was asked by a spirit to be given permission to come into the room. When I did, it said it knew me from high school. I asked her name and the spirit asked me to open up my freshman yearbook to page 17. It was the seniors. The pointer spelled out Kelly’s name, and she was the fourth picture in the first row on the page. I thought maybe it was a spirit just looking over my shoulder picking out a name a random until I got back together with an old girlfriend. She had been a cheerleader and once she asked me if I knew whether her old cheerleading coach, Kelly, had died in a car accident.

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Listen to the Tripping on Legends episode about it…

Sarah’s Board

When people tell me stories of unusual things that have happened when they have used the Ouija board, I always ask the same question: Where did you get it? Most of the time the answer is a confused look up as they painfully search their past and then a shrug of the shoulders. I understand that. Ouija boards seem to be the last true artifact handed down from generation to generation. Anyone who has looked for on at their local store can tell you to look in the board game aisle of the toy store to find your new glow-in-the-dark board. You can find one at your local occult dealer, but the casual user won’t go to one except near Halloween. Instead, boards are found in the attic or basement of their parent’s or grandparent’s house. They are found where the boxes and dust of the house have collected, under a quilt, on top of old books, or next to the old game of Operation with the funny bone long lost.
We take them out and breathe life into them, sometimes asking the people who use to use the board about it, but more often not knowing the history.
Sarah know the history of her board, and the colorful path it took to her is as interesting as the events she witnessed with it. The board was made in the 1930’s. It belonged to her great aunt who lived on a farm with her brother and sister, Sarah’s aunt. There was a fire in the barn where she kept the board, but it was untouched although most of the other things in the barn where lost. When Sarah’s aunt left the farm she took the board with her, and years later it ended up with Sarah’s grandmother who didn’t use it. Sarah found it while cleaning her grandmother’s house and has used it since.
Sarah brought the board to a friend’s house who thought she lived in a haunted house. They talked to a while to “nice” spirits before something else spoke up. It spelled out, “DIE DIE DIE” and the temperature in the room dropped. They tried to move the plancette to Goodbye, but it wouldn’t move. The lights started to go on and off and furniture began to move. Sarah’s friend felt cold hands on her neck and began to scream. Sarah threw the board against the wall and everything stopped.
Sarah’s had other occurrences while using the board, usually harmless or amusing like the time they talked to Marie Antoinette who spelled out, “I want your head,” and then had a book fall on her friend’s neck, but the experience at her friend’s house has left her shaken. She has blessed the board, but is still hesitant to use it.

AZA

I’ve had some bad experiences with the board as well. Some have been discouraging and a waste of time, which I consider negative, but one was all out dangerous.

I had been dating a girl my freshman year of college who practiced Wicca, who I shall call Cindy. My roommates and I had wanted to use the board and asked her if she had any knowledge we didn’t. She promised to use some of what she knew to see if we could get anything stronger. I should start out by saying my dorm was the old Charlesgate Hotel, which is now apartments or condo or something. It is considered one of the most haunted buildings in Boston. I saw and experience several occurrences there, but this one was the most intense.

Cindy formed a circle using rope and invited each of us into it. As we entered she blessed us and had us repeat something I don’t remember. She also anointed us with a salt water solution she said it was for protection. When we were all in the circle she closed it and said another prayer. She then cleaned the board with more salt water, the whole time speaking softly under her breath.

We started to use the board and made contact with several spirits. Then a particularly strong spirit came on the board that I shall call Aza. I don’t remember the spirit’s real name or I might use it, although from what I heard I might chose a different name anyway. All I do remember was it had a lot of A’s, Z’s and B’s. After talking to us for a while, Aza told us she was a woman and that she was a witch from three hundred years ago. She surprised us by knowing a lot about us and some very personal things no one in the room would know about the others. She then said she wanted to channel.

Cindy was dead set against it and told us to get off the board and wash it. I was young and intrigued by it. I had never tried to channel a spirit before, and although I didn’t know the first thing about it, I was into doing something new. Cindy went through it step by step. All it really consisted on was deep breathing and opening myself up to Aza coming in. I was unsure what would happen to me, and Cindy didn’t know for sure. Aza might talk through me or just move my hands directly to the letters she wanted.

I started to feel a dull pain in my back and kept crouching over. I was getting really tired, and before I knew what happened, I was lying down. My hands began to rise off the floor, and when I tried to stop them I realized I no longer had control over my arms. I tried to sit up but couldn’t. I was paralyzed, but my hands kept moving. They started going for my neck, and my friends just watched, not knowing what was happening. As they tightened around my throat, my voice came back and I screamed for help. My friends had to pray my own hands from my throat. The whole time I could talk and tell them what was going on, but I couldn’t control my body. I fought against them, kicking and thrashing my arms to break their hold, and I was finally restrained because one of my friends was over two hundred and fifty pounds.

Cindy eventually started yelling at Aza to get out of me and saying prayers over me. Later she told me something about a spirit being able to take over a living person if they caused the physical death of that person, something that has been echoed by a few people I have talked to, but which other people tell me is not true. Cindy was finally able to get the spirit to leave by standing me up and propping me in front of a mirror. Aza, as it turn out, did not really want to be inside of a man.

A few months later a high school friend of mine who was there that night called me. He told me he remembered the full name of the spirit and had asked a friend of his who was into the occult and a practicing “wizard”. The man told him to never say the word out loud again. It seems we had made contact with a non-living spirit, something like a demon. He said that although it was probably not the demon herself, people who devoted their lives to her often took her name in ceremonies and that they were often practitioners of some pretty powerful black magic.

Read the story of Federal Government, another Charlesgate board story

Jay

A group of five of us had gone on an investigation that had proven somewhat successful. Although we had gotten no solid proof, there had been a history at the sight witnessed by one of us and I believe I made contact with something. Nevertheless, the lack of seeing a concrete apparition that night had left us a bit teased. We went back to Matt’s house and decided to use the board to try and get something.

It was pretty casual, and two people had fallen asleep by the time we got settled in. After a few spirits had talked to us, we got a man who claimed his name was Jay. Jay was very angry, and said he had been in the apartment for a few weeks because he liked watching Matt and his girlfriend. He was able to give a few details about things they had done over the past few days, and with each right answer, Matt’s jaw got closer to the floor. When talking about Matt and his girlfriend, Jay’s movements around the board were smooth and even. As soon as he started to talk about himself he got aggitated and moved quickly. He said he was going to stay and there was nothing we could do.

I had recently read in a book about an angry spirit that appeared to a woman who eventually brought in an investigator and a physic. In the story the physic had asked the spirit to ask for help from a friend or relative from the other side. He had said he was so mean in life he didn’t think anyone would help him. Someone eventually came and took him away. I was drawn to the story by a line the ghost said upon leaving; “She was the only one that could see me.”
I asked Jay to call to someone to help him. He said he didn’t like anyone and no one liked him. That was why he had killed himself. I asked about family and he got abusive to Matt, Jenna and I. I tried to calm him down and asked him to try at least. He told me someone was now with him. I asked him to reach out to that person, who he then said was his father.

Now, I try to be as skeptical as I can. If I allow my imagination to get the better of me, I can invent about anything. It is easy to say I just imposed a story I had read onto a situation. I can see that, but there was an added, uplifting aspect to the session. Jay never said good-bye. When I asked him to talk to his father, he said okay and the pointer stopped. I don’t just mean it stopped moving, it stopped in mid-spell. I was overwhelmed by a feeling that what had just happened was real, and I felt I had touched the spiritual side of my searches.

Revisiting Charlesgate

This was one of the first articles I wrote on Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads, even before it was called that.  Part of this appeared in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places and was “borrowed”  by several other books.  Charlesgate is where it all started for me, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Two things hit me upon reading the article.  The first is that I hope my writing has become better since this was first published around 2002.  Not sure I can say that’s true.  The other is that so much of what I was putting out there about the building and its history was based on things I was told and information passed down rather than researched.  I think that works sometimes.  Natalie Crist of Tripping on Legends was going through the story and asked me questions about the dates and times things had actually happened.  I had no answers for her.  I don’t think I need them.  So much of the legend of Charlesgate comes things that cannot be verified.
Before I left Boston, I took a haunted tour of the city that went by my old dorm.  The person giving the tour retold my stories back to me, not knowing I was the one who had experienced them or at least had written them down.  They were mixed and matched, with details added that had never happened.   The Federal Government story was its centerpiece and almost none of the details were right.
In that spirit, I offer you the unedited original story.

 

The old Charlesgate Hotel is one of the most haunted buildings in Boston. Over time the building has taken on legend status, making it difficult to separate the truth from the mystique that surrounds it. It was built in 1891, supposedly by the Mafia, although there has been no connection between the original contractor and architect and organized crime. From the outside you can’t see the eighth floor, where some of the illegal activity was supposed to have happened. There are several areas that are boarded up or filled in, revealing hidden rooms that were once used but that you cannot see unless you follow the slight cracks in the wall. One such room on the sixth floor was the sight of a suicide. Walking through the halls, checking out the rooms and then comparing it to the original blueprints (on file at the Boston Public Library) shows many inconsistencies and points to potential areas of hauntings.

After serving as a hotel it was sold and sold again until it eventually became a BU dorm. The lore began with the influx of students. BU sold the dorms and it became a tenement, serving some of the worst tenants in Kenmore. At that time, students began to move in as well, often charged far more than the other people living there, creating an interesting mix of college kids and sketchy “adults”. Emerson College bought the building in the 1980’s and renovated it back into dorms, placing its foot firmly in the square and extending its influence in the city.

100_0170Some of the legendary spirits that walked the halls are very old. In the basement there are the spirits of horses that died when there were stables there. There is a little girl that haunts the elevator where she died. Often people had seances and weird things would happen, and more than once magic and black magic had been practiced in the dorm rooms. But there were other strange things that went on. Often at night there was scampering in the ceilings, too small to be people, but too big to be rats. There would be voices and light problems. Some student would see a gurney roll by their room.

Suicide plays a major role in the mythology of the building, often being the root cause of things that cannot be explained. In the 1970’s there was an alarm clock in a room where a supposed suicide had occurred that would go off at 6:11 am although it was not set. Another time 3 girls moved into a room on the 6th floor. Although each of them wanted the big closet upon moving in, they all had unusual sensations when they approached it, deciding it was better to let someone else use the closet. Research discovered another suicide in that closet. Once a student woke up to see a spirit hovering over him. The ghost was also seen by the RA who ran in to see why the student was screaming.

cgate3It was a hotbed of activity, and if you used a Ouija board anywhere in it, you’d get results (See the Federal Government story).  One night we got an answer to some of the activity. We contacted a spirit that called itself Zena that would clearly write out answers to our questions and offered a detailed history of its existence. It was not a normal spirit because it had never lived, but was more of a spell that had been cast on doorways by one of the original builders to protect those inside. They saw everything and tried to help people and often communicated on the board as different people to make them do what they thought was right. They told me of a spell placed on me by someone that was later confirmed by two psychics who had no idea what I was going in for. It knew things only the people themselves would know, and made a believer out of more than one skeptic that would try the board.

After we left the dorms it was sold again, and one person who lives in the building says he never has had anything happen. I think back to a rule of Ouija boards though. If a spirit is on the board and it is not cleaned, and it is destroyed somehow, the spirit is said to escape. If there was something in those walls, I wonder what might have happened when they gutted the place out to make the condos.

100_0175Recently, while taking photographs for a new book coming out I evaluated some of the designs at Charlesgate. I had lived in the building for two years, but I had never noticed the faces, some obvious and other not so obvious, around the windows and in the rest of the metalwork. There were also scratches which appeared random, but upon zooming appeared to spell things out. Some of the expressions I found, hidden in the beauty, were “No Exit”, “Hell”, and “Gone”.