Saturday, March 15, 2014


Students Recount Strange Experiences in Clara Thompson Hall

Written by David Burton
October 1987

Everyone loves a good ghost story, but what happens if you happen to be living that story?

Several Drury students claim to have had unusual encounters in Clara Thompson Hall, leading some people to speculate that the ghost of Clara Thompson roams the halls of her building nightly.

However, some present music students as well as alumni, suggest that these "ghost stories" are only a passing fad.

Senior, Steve Siebert, remembers one unusual experience he had last year when practicing with Robin Holmes Fowlkes, a Drury alum. Steve was playing the piano and Robin was singing.

"Robin and I were taping our performance," said Siebert. "When we played it back, we could hear tapping on the tape, like someone tapping a pencil. The strange thing was that it was tapping in time to the music and didn't start until the music began and then ended as soon as the music stopped. Neither one of us had been tapping."

Siebert mentioned that it could have been a tape defect, but still he is unable to completely erase the feelings Clara Thompson Hall gives him.

"I always feel uncomfortable or creepy in there practicing," said Siebert. "I always feel like someone is around. It's very weird. It's very cold."

Robin Holmes Fowlkes, who is now living in Fort Worth, Kansas, related some things from her own experiences.

"I always felt like it was a nice ghost," said Holmes. "In a way I always felt as if I was making it happy when I sang."

According to Fowlkes, the ghost is a music lover and shows itself only to those people who truly love music.
However, not everyone who works and studies in Clara Thompson has had close encounters of the ghostly kind.

Dr. Julian, a 1981 graduate of Drury who now instructs in instrumental music, admits that she is not personally acquainted with "Clara."

"I never heard of a ghost being in here the whole time I was attending Drury," admitted Dr. Julian.

Even Darlien Dill, the secretary for the music department, has not experienced the ghost.

"I have heard students talk about it," said Dill, "but in the 18 years I've been here, I haven't ever had contact with "her." As a matter of fact, I don't remember hearing that much about it until the last couple of years."

John Johns, the custodian in the Mabee Center, acted surprised when asked about a ghost in the building.
"I've never heard of there being a ghost," confessed Johns, "but we have bats in the attic."

Junior, Amy McCann works in the music department and is also a talented musician.

"I've never heard or experienced anything unusual," said Amy. "I do, however, remember hurrying through an upstairs closet once one evening because I felt like someone was watching me."

Gail Sheridan, a 1984 graduate of the Drury music department, admitted that she had never personally experienced the ghost but had heard several stories.

"My understanding was that it was the spirit of a former music student at Drury," said Sheridan. "I can't say that I ever saw it, but I sure heard an awful lot of strange noises when I would practice over there at night."

Sheridan said that she remembers several students during her years at Drury talking about hearing pianos playing late at night when no one else was in the building.

"That place always gave me the creeps," said Sheridan. "It always felt cold. Just cold and dead."

Interestingly, most ghost experts will tell you that people who come in contact with ghosts always describe them as cold. In addition, buildings in which ghosts reside are typically described as cold.

On one occasion, Sheridan admits that she mistook a slurring trombone player for the moans of the ghost.

"I looked around until I located the moaning. I found a student practicing slurs on his trombone in one of the practice rooms. That was the moaning I had heard," said Sheridan, "still, it is fun to think about there being a real ghost over there."

Seniors Trisha Wiggins and Vicki Spourle believe there is a ghost in Clara Thompson.

"The whole place scares me," said Vicki. "I have always been too afraid to go over there at night by myself."

"It is an awful cold place," added Wiggins. "I don't like to be over there, but I don't feel like it is evil. I almost always feel like someone is behind me or watching me though."

Both Vicki and Trisha related a similar experience, at separate times, about the lights in Clara Thompson.

Apparently, both students have been in Clara Thompson at night when the lights were on. After security comes in and secures the building, the lights are usually turned off. Both Vicki and Trisha recall two separate times when they asked security to leave the lights on, only to discover them turned off a short while later.

"I talked to the security man once," said Wiggins. "I asked him to leave the lights on and he did. I went back to practicing in one of those small rooms, and when I came out later, all of the lights were turned off. That was after security had secured the building.

"That was also the last time I stayed there by myself," Wiggins added with a smile.

Bob Tillery, a senior music major, admits hearing creaking sounds in Clara Thompson late at night, but he feels that these noises are nothing more than settling noises.

"I have a good feeling about that place," said Tillery. "I am not scared to go in there even though I do always feel like there is someone behind me, watching me."

David Peebles, a 1982 graduate of Drury College who now lives in Springfield, admits that in his four years as a music student he never heard anything about a ghost.

"I don't know of any stories, and I never experienced anything unusual," said Peebles. "I guess I could make some stories up though if you really need them."

Despite the fact that several students have experienced "unusual" occurrences in Thompson Hall, the majority of people seem to be skeptical. Maybe that is the way "Clara" would want it.

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