The ghostly legend of Peterson Hall
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South Georgia State College has a rich legacy that dates back to the early 1900s, when it was known as the 11th District Agricultural and Mechanical school. Today, the college remains one of the most important and vibrant parts of the community. But did you know that Peterson Hall, one of three historic legacy buildings at the center of the 190 acre campus, is purported to be haunted? Over the years, many stories of the ghost of Peterson Hall have floated high among the hallowed halls on the land Benajah Peterson is said to have donated.
Historians say the land where Peterson Hall sits was once a swampy bog area. The cypress trees found on campus add credence to this. As legend has it, someone may have drowned in the shallow lake on the exact spot where the building sits. Could the ghost be someone searching for a lost loved one or maybe just a place to rest? Maybe this connection makes the ghost feel right at home.
You may be thinking this is just a strange coincidence from the past, but what about now? Do people still believe in the ghost of Peterson Hall? It is time for you to hear some of the ghostly tales yourself.
Unidentified footsteps were heard in the hall, when no one was there, and the elevator became extremely cold. This would not have been so odd, except for the fact there is no air vent in the elevator. A gentle touch was felt on the shoulder of a staff person while she sat alone in the auditorium. At another time, no one was sitting on the piano bench as a faculty member heard music coming from the grand piano he had just used to practice for graduation. Students leaving class have reported hearing someone behind them when no one was there or seeing the shadow of someone walk by, only to find no one in the hallway.
Eerily similar stories of strange encounters also have been reported… doors slamming and the sighting of a tall gray-haired man dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt, red vest and gray pants who responded with a simple, “yes” to an employee who commented on the chilly weather. She never heard his footsteps or a door close, and she never saw him again.
Another staff member, decorating the holiday Christmas tree, was startled by a security guard rattling her keys as she was locking up the building for the weekend. “Don’t worry,” said the guard. “It’s just me, locking all the doors. You are in here alone now. You can get out, you just won’t be able to get back in.” Each bid the other a good bye, but moments later, sounds of keys jangling, followed by tapping of what sounded like a dog’s nails on the tile floor emanated from white haired man being led by a dog on a leash. It was the dog’s tags she heard jangling. Exclaiming, “You scared me,” the man chuckled and replied, “Haven’t you heard? I’m Peterson’s ghost.” She quickly replied, “Yah, right!” He turned the corner and to her amazement, the sound of the dog’s tags and his pitter patter ceased. Thinking he had just stopped, she peered around the corner and saw nothing, as if he had just disappeared.
Strange things happen at all times during the day and evening. One night a teacher stopped to talk with a colleague in the Davis Hall lecture arena. This legacy building is adjacent to Peterson Hall. On this particular evening, his colleague had taught his lecture using the projector that needed a remote control. As they were talking, the colleague seemed preoccupied with finding the missing device. During the search, both men heard a thud on the table behind where the instructor had given his lecture. That table cleared of papers, was the first place each looked for the missing remote control, a search that took more than 20 minutes. What was the cause of that thud they both heard? To the men’s amazement, the remote control was now sitting in the middle of the table.
Neither gentleman could explain the incident so they chalked it up to being tired after a long teaching day. As they walked out of the building, both knew that something unusual and a bit creepy had happened in that classroom. Neither discussed it again, but in the future, each kept a close eye on the remote control and on everything else in that Davis Hall lecture arena.
Stories like these and others continue to surface. It has become such a phenomenon that students spend time quiet time in Peterson Hall after class trying to catch a glimpse of the famous ghost. Others are researching the Peterson Hall ghost and campus legends as part of a research project.
“Whoooose” to say whether each tale is true or a figment of one’s imagination,” said college president Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers. ”Whatever you believe, spooky ghost stories are a great part of the legend and history of SGSC. As the stories are told, so are little pieces of our culture and tradition that will be passed on for generations to come. It is up to you whether to believe them or not. Please share your own Peterson Hall ghost stories with us, or any other fond memory of SGSC you may have. We wish you a happy and safe Halloween and look forward to hearing from you.”