Monday, November 10, 2014

Something in the halls of science—Ruston, Louisiana

Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST)
Louisiana Tech University
711 South Vienna Street
Ruston, Louisiana

If a building can resemble a person, then the CREST Building—also called the Biomedical Engineering Building—resembles the old fashioned, white-clad nurses of old. The building, with its white brick and severe lines recalls the nurses of the Nurse Ratched variety: stiff, prim and starched. Author Jeanne Frois ascribes a more sinister appearance to the building’s windows, “its windows looks like hollow eye sockets holding an empty presence within.”

Perhaps it may be these are the nurses that are still patrolling the halls of this former hospital. The building dates to 1928 when it was built as the Ruston-Lincoln Sanitarium. At that time, the morgue was located on the first floor with the hospital’s surgical suite located on the fourth floor. In 1963, the facility was transformed into a nursing home and served that purpose until the 1970s when the building was turned over for use by Louisiana Tech. Under its lease from the Ruston Hospital Corporation, the building has been used to help improve the lives of the disabled.

While the academic faculty and students are working to improve the lives of the disabled now, it seems that the old nursing staff may continue to check up on their patients as well. In a 2007 article from the university’s newspaper The Tech Talk, one staff member in the building believes the spirit may be the former director of nurses when the building served as a nursing home. According to the article, this woman had an apartment on the fourth floor so that she could respond quickly if there was a problem. This particular staff member worked under this nursing director. She describes her as “never mean,” though she was “strict and firm; she was a stickler for every detail.” The staff member continues, “She had a good heart, though, the patients all loved her, and the doctors loved her because she kept the patients happy.”

Perhaps this devoted nursing director has maintained her devotion in the afterlife, though none of the reports of paranormal activity point to a specific spirit that may be haunting the building. The activity is varied and most commonly includes the sound of doors opening and closing. One staff member working in the building after hours heard the sounds of doors opening and closing all up and the down the hall on the fourth floor. Annoyed and curious, he checked all the doors on the hall to find them all closed and securely locked.
Electronic equipment also sometimes has odd issues within the old building. One student watched as a printing calculator began to print random numbers. A staff member put fresh batteries in a number of toys in preparation for young patients only to find the batteries drained the next day.

There are also issues with the elevator which regularly makes the journey from the first floor to the fourth floor without being called. In his recently published book, The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South, Randy Russell states that the ghost will often open the doors to anyone carrying doughnuts. It’s an absurd notion, but in the world of the paranormal, anything can happen.

Sources
Frois, Jeanne. Around Louisiana: Northern Louisiana.” Louisiana Life.
     September-October 2009.
History: Building.” Louisiana Tech University. Accessed 10 November 2014.
Jones, Davey. “Frightening encounters flourish in old Biomedical Engineering
     Building. The Tech Talk. 25 October 2007.
Russell, Randy. The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South.
     Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2014.

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