Ghost stories hover around HBLL, Maeser Building

James Seaver and Sean Lee prepare themselves for a night of ghost hunting in the Karl G. Maeser Building. The team filmed their experience and uploaded the video to YouTube. (Screenshot of YouTube video/James Seaver)

A ghost dog dwells within the dark cemented walls of level zero in the Harold B. Lee Library; a ghost is upset in the Harp Room; and ghosts are rising from their burial sites beneath the Maeser Building — or so the stories go.

Library employees walk up a long ramp placed over a set of stairs and down a corridor to find paw prints permanently embedded into the floor. No dog prints lead up to them or away from them, creating a mystery as to how the dog got there and whether it ever left.

Paw prints scar the floor of the HBLL basement. Explanations about the mysterious prints point to a ghost dog.
Paw prints scar the floor of the HBLL basement. Explanations about the mysterious prints point to a ghost dog. (Richard Layton)

Justin Stewart, the HBLL facilities manager, started telling stories of the ghost dog about 10 years ago while giving a tour of the library’s basement to a group of students.

“The concrete finishers had their dog here, and he ended up dying in the process of the building being built. Now he’s sometimes here — a ghost dog,” Stewart said, summarizing the story he tells.

Janitors and others have reported hearing strange noises or experiencing ghost-like occurrences in other parts of the library, even though the library employees say the tale is told just for fun, according to HBLL communications manager Richard Layton.

Justin Stewart explained his experience telling others about the ghost dog in the basement. The basement is a restricted section of the library and is off limits to students. (Amy Staker)
Justin Stewart explains his experience telling others about the ghost dog in the basement. The basement is a restricted section of the library. (Amy Staker)

HBLL librarian Myrna Layton said an old-looking chair randomly appeared in the HBLL’s Harp Room one day. People moved the chair from the room, but it kept reappearing. No one claimed to have moved it back into the room.

She also said others have reported strange incidences in the Primrose International Viola Archive.

“I’ve had students who told me stories that they saw a ghost, or they heard footsteps, or someone touched their hand while they were turning off the light,” Mryna Layton said about the Viola Room.

She thinks the stories might come from the imagination and said they all started after an employee fabricated a tale online.

The paranormal chair story can be found on ghost-hunting website Haunted Places, which lets site visitors vote whether the tales are true or false. The verdict for the Harp Room: 74 percent believed.

“Everyone swears no one was in there, and no one ever admits to moving the chair,” Richard Layton said.

James Seaver, a BYU senior studying psychology, conducted an investigation of the Harp Room ghost stories with his friend, UVU student Sean Lee, for a school project.

Seaver said he didn’t know whether there really were ghosts in the room at first, but he now thinks there are.

He set up a camera in the Harp Room, trying to catch the ghost. He was able to record for about an hour.

“You can just feel that you are not alone, even though it looks like you are,” Seaver said of his recording experience.

Seaver sat in the chair. He noted variations in the room’s temperature. He tried communicating with the ghost and recorded a strange growling sound.

“I think whatever spirit is there is definitely unhappy,” Seaver said.

Seaver also visited the Maeser Building with Lee, where they heard strange noises and saw shadows. They posted a video of their ghost-hunting excursion to YouTube.

The Maeser Building has a strange backstory, according to Seaver — a story about a cemetery.

The building was constructed on top of Temple Hill Cemetery, according to Provo Library records. Seaver said he read in a document called “Brief History of Provo City Cemetery” that 30 bodies may have remained under the building, though other accounts, such as Find A Grave, say all the bodies were moved before the Maeser Building was built.

Seaver said while doing his project he found LDS people were the most skeptical about ghosts, but he thinks ghosts are just spirits and the concept of ghosts matches with beliefs about a spirit world existing on earth. His theory is that there are two kinds of hauntings: an intelligent ghost or an emotional event being replayed.

“This might sound kind of weird, but I hope that people are more open-minded,” Seaver said.

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