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Pemberton Hall Haunting


My Ghost Story took place at college just before Christmas Break back in 1982, at the oldest women's college dormitory in the Midwest, Pemberton Hall, on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

I was in my junior year and was dating the Resident Assistant on the 3rd floor of Pemberton Hall, a sophomore named Lori. She called me late one snowy night and asked me if she could get her typewriter back from me so she could finish a paper she had been putting off. I said yes, and that (being the gallant guy that I was) I'd bring it over to her at the dorm if she would prop-open the West Wing's back stairwell door just enough so I could get in that way. She agreed.

The snow was really flying and it was bitterly cold as I pulled open the door to the old entranceway, slipped-in and gently pulled the door closed so it wouldn't slam in the wind. My errand had to be top secret or I'd get myself and especially Lori into trouble with this late-night intrusion into the all-women dorm.

And so I trudged as silently as possible up the dimly-lit, echoey old stairwell, my boots dripping with melted snow as I thought to myself that these old buildings, with their high ceilings, weren't very efficient in their use of space since as I rounded the 2nd floor landing - the height of this 4 story dorm built back in the late 1800's was high enough to fit a 6 story dorm if it had the modern 8 foot ceilings instead of the 16 foot ceilings used here.

As I was about 8 steps from the 3rd floor landing's door - that was when I felt the eyes of someone looking at me from a few feet above, and when I flinchingly looked up - I glimpsed a blank pale face and blonde hair they pulled back over the railing of the first flight of stairs going from the 3rd floor landing up to the 4th floor. When I was 2 steps from the 3rd floor landing I looked again, and saw her fly up the stairs to the 4th floor without making a sound.

'Curses', I thought - that must have been the 4th floor Resident Assistant, and now I'm screwed for something as innocent and gallant as bringing a typewriter to Lori. I pulled open the fire-door to the 3rd floor and ducked into Lori's private room, the first door to the right.

She giggled as she ran up to me with a kiss, thanking me for coming in such bad weather, but I cut her off and told her what had just happened, "I've gotta dump this and run back down, because the 4th floor RA saw me and ran back up to probably call the campus police!" Lori's was completely stunned, "You're kidding me right? You know about Mary Hawkins, right?" I told her impatiently, "I don't know anything but that we're both screwed if I don't get out of here - she looked ticked-off!"

Now Lori's face went pale as she could see I was serious, and she began to tremble, "The forth floor has been closed and locked-up for 60 years - ever since the murder. The person you just saw was the ghost of Mary Hawkins." The terror in her face turned to tears as she said to me, "You've got to go back down the same stairs - - - now."

I could see that there was no choice - I could see that there was no point delaying the inevitable, and so I kissed her on the forehead, zipped-up my ski-jacket, pulled on my gloves, and slipped out of her room through the fire-door and into the back stairwell. I did look up the stairs toward the 4th floor once - briefly, and seeing no one - I began my cautious decent down the stairs. I went slowly & deliberately at first, trying hard not to let the panic inside me cause me to slip, trip, or stumble. But with each step I took, the overwhelming feeling of being watched became a much more oppressive awareness of being 'hovered-over' by the ghost that I had just seen.

By the time I was on the last flight I was hurling down the stairs 2 and 3 at a time - feeling almost 'shoved' by an oppressive presence (like the 'Black Blob' you mentioned) that sucked all the air out of the stairwell making any sound from my mouth impossible. I flew through the heavy old outside door and it slammed shut behind me with a deafening 'boom' that I was sure the whole dorm heard. I walked quickly away from the building, looking back briefly, and feeling like a character from a Don Knott's movie.

Since these were the days before the Internet - I had no way of knowing the history of Pemberton Hall. But now, if you Google 'Pemberton Hall', or 'Mary Hawkins', you'll find considerable material on the subject. Personally, my intuition tells me that the ghost I saw that night wasn't 'Mary Hawkins'. The ghost I saw was the nameless young co-ed who was murdered late one snowy night, as she softly played the piano on the 4th floor, 60 years earlier, by a custodian on work-release from a state mental hospital 10 miles from campus, who came up those same back stairs that I did, quietly like I did, but with much different motives

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, SavoryDave, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

kmbeitz (1 posts)
8 years ago (2015-09-24)
I live at Eastern Illinois University, and for my English class, am writing a paper on the hauntings. I wish I could speak with you to talk about the encounter as a reference.
SavoryDave (1 stories) (1 posts)
10 years ago (2013-06-29)
Thank you for your comments - sorry that I haven't responded, but I didn't even know there was a 'Comment Section'.

The official accounts of what happened to Mary Hawkins at Pemberton Hall are sketchy at best. It seems to be a case of bad record-keeping and the University's desire to keep the facts muted and the dorm open.

Just in case any of you who responded are still around - I'll answer your questions:

Moongrim: I have no idea who's ghost it was that I saw that night - only a feeling that they were 'sensing' whether I was there with 'bad intentions'. I wasn't - so I feel like she went back up the 4th floor.

Geetha50: It was a day or two before our 30 day Winter Break when this happened - so we didn't have a chance to talk much about it between Exams. But when we got back together after the Break she made me swear that I didn't 'make it up' that night, and when I said, "No Lori - it was real." She looked down and said, "I know... I just had to ask." She still lived there and was trying to 'deal with it' the best she could, but never experienced anything.

Taz890: There was no other way to secretly leave the dorm except for the back stairwell. You have to remember - these were the days when the Girls Dorm was off-limits to men after 9:pm, and my girlfriend was one of the RAs. I couldn't get caught or she might lose her position.

One last word... I tend to believe that Ghosts/Spirits show-up when you least expect it. Having a spiritual experience (outside of church) isn't something that most folks talk about. For me, it wasn't that I was afraid they wouldn't believe me. No, it was because seeing 'the other side' was a confirmation that there was more to this world and this life - and I had been given a glimpse.
Morticia1 (6 stories) (162 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-23)
Just had a looksie on the net myself after reading this. Strange thing is being an Aussie I had heard of Pem hall and its ghosts but never knew exactly what had occoured until now! 😊
taz890 (12 stories) (1380 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-23)
great post thanks for sharing 😊
And a interesting history to the place too sad but interesting. And have to agree with DARKNESS such a well written post keeps the reader interested and wondering what will happen next.
Just one question why did yoir friend say you had to leave the same way you came in straight away too?
DARKNESS (3 stories) (2022 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-22)
A well told account, sounded like it came straight out of a novel, well done! Would be great to hear more accounts from this place, will have a looksie on the net. If you have had any other experiences please submit them, it felt as if I was right there.😊

Thanks for sharing.

KimSouthO (27 stories) (1960 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-22)
Absolutely Faxcinating!
I had never read or heard th estory of Pemberton Hall. I did read articles on the internet after reading your story.

Thanks for Sharing!
God Bless!
cosmogal926 (9 stories) (1223 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-22)
Great story! I have to say I got a good giggle when you said you felt like a character from a Don Knotts movie. "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" LOL I love that movie. 😆

I think you are right about the ghost being the girl who was murdered on that snowy night. It makes sense with the weather conditions at the time you went to the dorm to deliver the typewriter. Sounds like this place has quite a history, and I am definitely going to be reading up on Pemberton Hall. 😊
geetha50 (15 stories) (986 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-22)
Really freaky story! Did you talked to your girlfriend about this later? Did she experience anything herself?
Argette (guest)
12 years ago (2011-11-21)
Legends and hauntings are such an important part of campus life, steeped as they are in tradition - and this one is fascinating! Thanks for lending a new dimension to it. It sounded familiar and I looked it up on some other sites after I read it.

You are an excellent story teller, Savory Dave!
Moongrim (2 stories) (871 posts)
12 years ago (2011-11-21)
According to this website:


Mary Hawkins/ the ghostie with the long blonde hair, isn't actually the murdered young lady, it was in fact the Resident Assistant she eventually managed to wake up by scratching on her door.

Which is rather strange when you think about it- a Janitor can beat up a young lady playing on a piano, rape her, and then run out- all without any one being the wiser.

Yet the unlucky victim can scratch at the R.A.'s door and wake her up.

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