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Ghostly Rumor in Kearney Hall Vanishes into Thin Air

October 31, 2015

There’s no doubt about it. The fourth floor of Kearney Hall, the oldest building on St. John Fisher College’s campus, can seem a little spooky at night. So, it’s no surprise that rumors the space is haunted have popped up among Fisher lore.

Kearney Hall with lightning striking down

How the rumor originated, or what ghostly spirit might haunt those halls, though, aren’t quite as easy to understand.

Resident scholar Timothy Madigan (literally a resident, his office is Kearney 430), said he’s heard whispers of ghosts over the course of his nearly 20 years at Fisher. But, ghost whispers, not so much.

“I’ve heard the rumor that this floor is haunted, but I’m actually a skeptic,” he said, recalling a moment of bravery, when two or three years ago, he tempted fate by working on a project late into the evening. And, it wasn’t just any night—it was Halloween, an event Madigan says underscores the philosophical idea that the dead are always among us. Despite a perfect scenario for ghostly encounters, no apparitions or specters appeared.

“I am pretty sure I was the only person on this floor, and probably in the building,” he said. “And, I didn't experience anything supernatural. If there was a ghost, I probably scared it away.”

Throughout Fisher's history, the fourth floor has served as living quarters for priests from the Congregation of St. Basil (known as “Basilians”), student residence halls, and a library.

Tish Ciaccio ’83 lived on the fourth floor as a junior and sophomore, when the space served as a dormitory for female students. Over the two years she spent there, she never once saw or heard a ghost. It wasn’t until she returned to campus as an employee in 2014 that she heard the rumor. The same goes for Maherly Schaeffer ’98, advancement communications specialist for the College, who said no one mentioned a Kearney Hall haunting during her undergraduate years.

“Maybe five or six years ago, I heard about it from Ron Ange, a Fire & Safety Officer, who said that people start talking about the ghost on the fourth floor,” said Schaeffer, who has worked at the College for nearly 20 years. “But during all of his patrols, he never saw a thing.”

Madigan also brings up an important question no one can seem to answer. If the halls are haunted, just who is doing the haunting?

“As far as I can see, it would be the ghost of an old Basillian,” he said. “And why be afraid of them? They are a kindly group.”

Almost every campus has these legends, says Madigan, a classic horror film aficionado who holds a doctoral degree in philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a doctorate of Madness from Monster Bash University. He suspects that rumors began during the time the library was housed in Kearney.

“Libraries can feel spooky,” said Schaeffer. “They’re so quiet. And, the fourth floor is pretty quiet. I suppose if there was a ghost anywhere on campus, it would be the fourth floor of Kearney.”

Just how did the rumor get started? That’s perhaps the greatest the mystery of all.