This week the Sewanee Writing House hosted its second annual ghost stories cemetery tour, on Sunday, October 30, 2022. Although the tour had to be moved inside the Writing House due to weather conditions, it was still an exciting experience. They included pumpkin decorating and themed treats that really added to the ambiance of the evening. The spooky walk started with us meeting our tour guide, “Vincent Vonhelstein,” who bravely led us through the Writing House as ghosts popped out of various locations.
Mary Bullard (C ’23) was one of the organizers of the event. She said that for this year’s tour the Writing House wanted to “focus more on local ghost stories from around Sewanee.” There were some fan favorites, like the Johnson ghost, and then some more obscure references like the witch of Shakerag Hollow. Each ghost read a poem about their time on Earth and how they will continue to roam campus for an eternity.
The creativity behind these ghost stories was impressive. All of the writers embraced the Halloween spirit to invent these creepy poems. My personal favorite was a 19th century mirror ghost who died during a ball. She still haunts the dorms of Tuckaway Hall, staring into all the reflective surfaces she can find.
“I was scared, but it was really funny,” a fellow tour goer, Stevie Mac (C’25), said. “It was a really good experience and the poems were great.”
The tradition started as a collaboration between the Writing House and The Mountain Goat Journal last year. The theme was historical eras and it featured ghosts from the Vicorian era and even a communist ghost! The event was a huge success and after receiving lots of positive feedback, the Writing House decided to expand on the event. Bullard explained that they, “wanted to make the event even bigger this year, which is why we rented out the social lodge and had halloween activities going on in addition to the tours.”
Although the outdoor graveyard portion of the tour had to be canceled and moved inside the Writing House, in some ways it added to the experience. The “Ghosts” got really creative with their surroundings, using parts of the house to make it a really interactive experience. As the ghost of Johnson Hall read us her poem we could hear the sound of footsteps on the stairs behind us.
At the end of the night everyone had an opportunity to grab a script to take home that contained all the poems. I loved this opportunity to reread and really appreciate the poems, plus it was a fun souvenir to remember the night. Overall, it was a great experience that really showcased the talents of the Writing House while getting everyone in the mood to celebrate Halloween.