The following article entitled ‘Spectral spectacles frequent Mont Alto Campus’ concerning the haunting of Wiestling Hall, was written by Joelle Boll and featured in the The Daily Collegian, 31 October 1994.
Not many myths or legends actually have a picture corresponding to the occurrences — especially tales of haunted houses. Not many stories are as accurate and hold as much truth as the supposed events, such as clanging pots and pans and flashlights going dead in a Mont Alto Campus building.
Colonel George Wiestling was a Civil War veteran who worked as an ironmaster in a house that became part of the Mont Alto Campus in 1929. Wiestling died in 1891 and was survived by his sisters.
His house, now called Wiestling Hall, has since been the site of strange happenings believed to be connected with the existence of Wiestling’s ghost.
Marjory Blubaugh, Mont Alto Campus archivist, has followed the stories and occurrences throughout the years.
“There have been a lot of things that have happened in Wiestling,” Blubaugh said.
Not only are there stories, but a photograph taken of the class of 1908 in front of Wiestling Hall has an opaque figure in the background that appears to be an apparition. Although no one has ever confirmed this figure as the Colonel thought to be haunting the campus, those who believe the story are convinced it’s his ghost.
“He didn’t have his name tag on the day he had his picture taken,” Blubaugh said jokingly.
Wiestling Hall served as the campus’ dining hall until 1968, when the current one was built. Blubaugh said food-service workers had talked of unusual occurrences in the building. One worker reported that a potato-peeler machine started running by itself, and pots and pans were heard banging together when no one was around, Blubaugh said.
A student, also working in the dining hall, went for help to move two tables. When he came back, one table was balancing on the edge of the other, Blubaugh said.
The front doors, though barred with a heavy board, have been known to do some banging of their own, followed by the sound of footsteps up the stairs — with no person in sight.
“We don’t know who or what it was, but everybody has tagged it as being Colonel Wiestling,” Blubaugh said.
Blubaugh only knew of stories about Wiestling Hall and another of a woman who was shot and then left to die in its attic in 1911.
Sarah Hurley Matheny worked in the campus dining hall. Her boyfriend, William Reed, showed up in May 1911 to get some papers from her that she did not have when he came.
“I didn’t go there to kill her. I went there to get some of my letters and pictures. We had some words, I pulled out my revolver and began firing to scare her,” said Reed in a 1911 newspaper article. He shot her outside Wiestling Hall and dragged her upstairs, she died in the attic. Reed was the last person hanged in Chambersburg.
Since then, students have dared to sneak into the attic at night with flashlights, only to have them not work. But as soon as they step out of the attic, the flashlights work, Blubaugh said.
Kristin Benz (senior-special education), who lived in Mont Alto Hall for two years, said her room was supposedly haunted by a previous resident’s ghost.
The story is of a girl who lived in that room may have electrocuted herself, and whenever her ghost comes back, there is a strong smoke smell.
“We were talking about ghost stories,” Benz said. Then she and some friends smelled smoke from the electrical socket.
It was real intense. It was real, real strong,” she said, describing the smell as being similar to burning wires.
She and her roommate had their resident assistant sleep on the floor that night for added protection. Benz, also a Lion Ambassador at Mont Alto, said the ambassadors are not allowed to say anything about the haunting stories to prospective students, but she still has more belief than disbelief.