Ghostly Encounters: The marching cadets at Morrill Hall

To celebrate Halloween, the University Archives will be sharing some of the most well-known ghostly legends about our campus. Check back each week during October for new installments of these spooky tales!

This first week we want to tell you about Morrill Hall, the oldest academic building at the University of Maryland and the scene for several ghostly legends.  Outside of Morrill Hall – where part of the military drill ground used to be – members of the campus community have reported hearing the sound of marching feet.

Morrill Hall, 1935
Morrill Hall in 1935. Doesn’t it just look like the setting for a horror film?

Beginning in the 1860s, the college was run as a military school, following its designation as Maryland’s land grant institution by the state legislature.  Part of the Morrill Land Grant Act’s requirements was mandatory military training, so the students were organized into a corps of cadets and divided into several companies, each with its own commander.  When you look at 19th- and early 20th-century photographs of the campus in the University Archives, you can see that the parade ground used by the cadets close to Morrill Hall.  This drill field was also the place where punished cadets had to shoulder their rifles and march back and forth for hours to work off the demerits they received.

Cadets drilling outside Morrill Hall, c. 1914
Here are some cadets in 1914. Do you see Morrill Hall in the background? Just think, those same cadets might still be marching around campus . . .

As if the sound of marching feet wasn’t enough, sometimes the occupants of Morrill Hall smell smoke at odd times (perhaps a holdover from the Great Fire of 1912) or strange odors in the basement.  The building was originally called Science Hall when it was constructed, and some people believe that cadavers were dissected in the bowels of this Victorian structure. Pretty spooky, right?

Check back next week to read all about Miss Marie Mount and her ghostly piano playing!

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