Monday, June 20, 2011

University of Montevallo, Alabama (Newsbyte)

Main Residence Hall, King House,
King House Cemetery and Reynolds
University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama

Librarians certainly know their stuff. Having worked in a university library in college, I know this very well. If you have a question, see the reference library. This is why I’m delighted to see this article from Alabama’s Shelby County Reporter about the ghosts of the University of Montevallo.

I briefly covered the campus’ King House in an entry last year. It pleases me to see this article but the fact that the information is from one of the university’s reference librarians means that it’s well researched. This particular librarian having been asked about the ghosts many times decided to lead a campus tour and provide the correct information behind the legends.

King House, 1993. Photo by Jet Lowe for the Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.

The King House predates the university having been built by Edmund King in 1823. The legend associated with this house and the nearby family cemetery concerns King’s spirit who is said to wander with a lantern and a shovel. The house is used by the university for housing special guests.

The university opened as the Alabama Girls’ Industrial School in 1896. Julia Tutwiler an outspoken advocate for prison reform and women’s education is credited as dreaming of the institution and working to create it along with the University of West Alabama in Livingston. The west wing Main Residence Hall was the first building constructed for the Girls’ School in 1897. During the construction, classes were held in Reynolds Hall which had been constructed in 1851 for the Montevallo Male Institute.

Main Residence Hall, 1993. Photo by Jet Lowe for the Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.

On the evening of February 4, 1908, Sophomore Condie Cunningham and her roommate were attempting to melt chocolate for fudge in a chafing dish. They missed one curfew bell and when the second bell rang at 10 PM, they tried to put away the dish. Alcohol from the burner spilled and ignited Cunningham’s dress. Startled, she ran and the flames burned her severely. She died two days later. According to the librarian, this information was gleaned from the minutes of a board of trustees meeting. This lines up with the legend.

Not long after Cunningham’s death, residents began to report the screams of cries of a young woman. The grains of the wood on the girl’s former dorm room began to show a screaming face and the door was replaced. The door still resides in storage and does bear some likeness to a screaming face. The door can be viewed here.

Reynolds Hall, 1934. Photo by W. N. Manning for the Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.

The article mentions only the hauntings of the King House, cemetery and the Main Residence Hall. Alan Brown’s Alabama Ghostlore website does mention the haunting of Reynolds Hall. According to the article by Dr. Frank McCoy, Captain Henry Clay Reynolds (McCoy lists his rank as Colonel, though the school history on the Encyclopedia of Alabama says Captain), who served as the university’s first president, supervised the building during the Civil War. Reynolds Hall was used as a Confederate hospital and when Reynolds abandoned his post to participate in a nearby battle, Union troops massacred the wounded Confederates in the building. As a result, his spirit has not left.

Arneson, Rosemary S. “University of Montevallo.”
     Encyclopedia of Alabama. 4 November 2008.
Boatwright, Christine. “The ghosts that haunt Montevallo.”
     Shelby County Reporter. 13 June 2011.
     of Montevallo website. Accessed 20 June 2011.
McCoy, Frank. “Main Residence Hall.” Alabama Ghostlore.
     Accessed 20 June 2011.
McCoy, Frank. “Reynolds Hall.” Alabama Ghostlore. Accessed
     20 June 2011.
McCoy, Frank. “The King House.” Alabama Ghostlore.
     Accessed 20 June 2011.
Synnott, Marcia G. “Julia S. Tutwiler.” Encyclopedia of
     Alabama. 14 March 2007.


  1. A screaming face in the wood--that is an amazing haunting story. Your blog is featured on Hug-A-Blogger today and tomorrow. Oh, and you might enjoy the 3-part series that started today on my blog showcasing my childhood summer home along the Chesapeake and the hauntings in that area.

  2. Very cool post. I love how the haunting is in a pedestrian-looking building. Nothing from the outside screams "Haunted."

  3. I have many friends that go to Montevallo. This doesn't even begin to cover the creepy sightings that go on here. My personal favorite is "Trummy" who chooses his favorite play on College Night by swinging the favorite's banner during the last dress rehearsal.

  4. For the record, the third picture is of Reynolds Hall, not King House