STILLWATER — Anyone who walks through Old Central at Oklahoma State University is bound to hear a few creaks and groans.
In any building upward of 100 years old, that's to be expected.
But some say something more than age is behind the strange noises in the building.
“There definitely seems to be some type of activity there,” said Tanya McCoy, a paranormal investigator.
McCoy is the founder of D.U.S.T. Paranormal, a Yukon-based ghost investigation team. The team toured the 118-year-old OSU landmark recently.
Old Central, a red brick building on the south end of OSU's campus, was the first building at the university, then called Oklahoma A&M College. Today, it houses the university's Honors College. In 2009, the university launched a two-year, $8 million renovation project to bring the building up to code. Before that, it had been used as a higher education museum since the 1970s.
Jamie McGuckin, a member of the paranormal group, said there had been stories on campus about people hearing unexplained noises, like footsteps, in the building. Staffers at the Daily O'Collegian, OSU's student newspaper, asked the group to investigate.
The group took readings in the building using temperature guns, motion sensors and video cameras. When they began to review the evidence they'd collected, McGuckin said, they noticed a few details that led them to believe something out of the ordinary might be in the building.
When McGuckin reviewed a video of team member John Tapley sitting at a desk that belonged to the first U.S. district attorney in the Oklahoma Territory, he noticed what he called a “light anomaly” — an orb of light — passing in front of Tapley's face. Although the orb wasn't visible to the naked eye, Tapley's eyes seemed to follow it on video, McGuckin said.
In another video taken in the building's basement, a shadow appears to walk in front of a row of chairs, McGuckin said.
Old Central is no stranger to ghost stories and other campus lore. The night watchman's room is said to be haunted by the specter of a guard who hung himself from the rafters. There's no record of the suicide, but it remains a popular story.
A team of ghost investigators from Oklahoma City explored the building in 2005 and found an unexplained cold spot in one classroom and reported hearing faint whispering in the hallways.
Kchris Griffin, a Daily O'Collegian reporter who arranged last week's investigation, accompanied the team on their tour of Old Central. Griffin said he noticed strange things during the tour.
Temperatures in the building fluctuated without explanation, he said, and his video camera shut off without warning with half its battery life remaining.
“I was pretty spooked,” he said.
Colleges often carry rich treasuries of campus traditions and legend, including ghost stories. OSU is no different, said Bonnie Cain-Wood, a spokeswoman for the university's Edmon Low Library.
The library is home to so many stories that staffers began cataloging the tales over the past few years, she said. In one story, library visitors report seeing a red-haired woman who disappears moments later.
The stories tend to vary from one year to the next, she said. One year, they may take place in the basement, and the next year, students tell of the same story taking place on the second floor.
She's never heard of anyone who's actually seen a ghost, she said — everyone seems to hear the story secondhand.
“Everyone knows someone who has a ghost story about the library,” she said.