Henry, the Ghost of Shryock Auditorium

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Shryock Auditorium is located on the Old Campus of Southern Illinois University. The auditorium was constructed in 1917. This historic building features strong Roman architectural influences in Neoclassicism. The auditorium was dedicated to the university’s fifth president, Henry William Shryock, who served the university from 1913 to 1935. Henry Shryock died suddenly one day in his office inside Shryock Auditorium just prior to a convocation event. Ever since his death there have been reports of supernatural activity in the auditorium.

Many people believe Shryock Auditorium is haunted by the spirit of Henry Shryock. Staff members and students have reported items that go mysteriously missing, doors that open and close on their own volition and unexplainable footsteps. Like many old time auditoriums and theatres, Shryock Auditorium has a “ghost light.” The ghost light is nick-named “Henry” and is usually located at stage centre. The light is continuously lit. At times, workers in the building turn the light off only to have it suddenly turn back on. Sometimes the light turns off by itself.

A majestic Reuter pipe organ is located on the north balcony. This organ was built by the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas. It has fifty stops with fifty-eight ranks of pipes, totalling more than 3,000 pipes. There have been reports of a “Phantom of the Opera” entity near the pipe organ as well as occasionally on stage.

The Little Egypt Ghost Society was invited to conduct a “ghost hunter” program at Shryock Auditorium for the local Girl Scouts by Castle Perilous Games owner Scott Thorne for Halloween. The group was granted exclusive access to the auditorium for this special event. There was a large turnout of Girl Scouts and their parents. After being seated in the auditorium, staff locked the doors so that we would not be disturbed. We conducted a “show and tell” of our ghost hunting equipment and had a question and answer session.

During the program we used the “Ghost Meter” and K-2 EMF meters in an attempt to make contact with any spirits that might be present. Suddenly we heard a very loud “BANG” from a door slamming shut somewhere off to stage left. We looked out into the audience and noticed that everyone was accounted for and sitting in their seats. There was no one lurking anywhere in the shadows. Kale and I went to investigate. Every door we came to, we tried to slam shut to reproduce the loud bang.

Every door that we tried had a damper on it preventing any sudden slamming of the doors. We noticed that all doors leading to the outside were securely locked. We obtained the door keys from a staff member and unlocked a door off stage left that exited to the front sidewalk. When we opened this door we were able to make it slam shut with a loud BANG. However, we noticed that door was barricaded from the outside to prevent anyone from using it. Was this door slammed shut by the spirit of Henry Shryock leaving the building because he did not approve of such nonsense as Girl Scout ghost hunters?

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