Thursday, October 22, 2020

Haunted Carbondale Faner Hall


Faner Hall, named after SIUC Professor of English Robert Faner, who died in the 1960s, stands like a wall on the SIUC  grounds as if it divided the old part of campus from the new.  Dedicated in 1975, a campus legend says it was designed so as to frustrate any student protestors who attempted to take over the building as the administration could quickly seal off individual sections. A classic example of the Brutalist style of architecture popular at the time, the building houses many of the departments comprising SIUC’s core curriculum-anthropology, philosophy, English, criminal justice and economics among others, and if the stories are true, at least one ghost.

According to those who have reporting seeing, the ghost appears as a female student in her early twenties, with shoulder length brown hair, wearing a striped sweater (not the Freddy Kruger type), jeans and carrying a book bag. According to the story explaining her presence In what is after all a building of relatively recent construction, she fell, slipped or jumped from an upper floor of Faner onto the concrete plaza below. Of course, given the style of Faner’s construction, it would be very hard for anyone to fall from an upper floor of the building and a search of news records unsurprisingly turned up no reference to any such death. Still the stories persist and were fairly common on campus during the 1990s

Encounters with the girl generally took place during the evening and most often involved custodial staff cleaning up after most students and faculty had department for the day but enough students were in the building for evening classes that seeing one more did not seem out of place, at least at first. The most common stories involved a custodian sweeping in the hall, the girl walks past, the custodian turns around and the girl is gone.  Another common story involved the cleaner sweeping the hallway, again the girl walks past, this time in the same direction. The girl turns a corner, the janitor follows a few seconds later and the girl has vanished. Granted, anyone who has ventured into Faner knows how easy it is to get lost in there,  but it is not bad enough that someone can vanish in less than 5 seconds.

The best story of the Faner ghost involves one of the women’s bathrooms. A custodian was in  it cleaning, when a young woman walked in and, ignoring the cleaner, entered one of the stalls and closed the door behind her. The woman went ahead with her work and finished cleaning, except for that one stall. Some fifteen minutes had passed and the custodian realized the girl had not emerged. Wondering if there was a problem, she walked over to the stall and asked “Excuse me, are you OK?”  No response. She knocked on the door. The door slowly swung open , revealing the empty stall.

It appeared the Faner ghost might have departed the building, as no new stories about her cropped up for several years. Then on one of last year’s Haunted Carbondale tours, one of the participants said she had worked as a staff member for one of the departments in the building and had, as part of her job, worked late a number of evenings in the building.  On several occasions, she heard a knock on the office door and opened it to find no-one there. At least twice, she opened the door to see a young woman walking away, not responding when she called after her. Maybe the Faner ghost does still walk the halls of the building after all.

A student was killed during the construction of Faner Hall when a load of construction materials fell on him, but since the DE story reports he was a fraternity member, it is doubtful he returned as a girl carrying a backpack.

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