Para-Emerson: Haunted happenings on campus

by Beacon Staff • October 27, 2011

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divstrongAlexandra Fileccia, Beacon Correspondent/strong/div

divFlash back to Emerson, fall of 1985./div

divLaura Giuliano, a junior at the time, was asleep in her room on the fifth floor of the Fensgate Dorm at 536 Beacon Street, before there was such a thing as the Little Building or Piano Row. She awoke to the strong scent of rose perfume, so overpowering it was almost sickening. As soon as she turned on the light, the smell disappeared. Giuliano said she did not wear perfume or anything that was rose scented, and there were no windows open./div

div“I mentioned it to my resident assistant and her face froze,” Giuliano said, “Then she said she had heard rumors of that happening a few years earlier and that supposedly a girl going to Emerson jumped out of the window in my room and committed suicide.”/div

divLater that year, as she was going downstairs to catch a bus after leaving the Emerson library, Giuliano said she was pushed forward and stumbled  down a few stairs. When she turned around, no one was there.

“When I got on the bus, the driver said it looked like someone pushed me, but he didn’t see anyone,” Giuliano said./div

divIt was these two chilling experiences at Emerson that made Giuliano interested in joining a paranormal investigation group./div

divGiuliano, who graduated in 1986, is now the tech manager at Para-Boston Investigators. She is in charge of setting up infrared cameras and other special equipment on investigations with the rest of the ghost-hunting crew./div

divPara-Boston Investigators, founded by Scott Trainito and Sal Pigantone in 2007, takes calls from people who are experiencing what they believe to be paranormal activity./div

divAs Bostonians shop for masks and stock up on sugary treats, Halloween drives business beyond costume stores and sweet shops. Ghost tours flourish and haunted houses provide controlled scares to those willing to pay for an accelerated heart rate and the promise of high-pitched squeals of terror. But the prospect of a specter in one’s home has a certain appeal./div

div“This is our busiest time of the year. We have done mainly residential homes and just finished an old theater in Boston,” Trainito said./div

divAn investigation proceeds in a similar fashion to that of the television show Ghost Hunters: the crew surveys the property, takes various readings, and films the location. Giuliano said the show is an accurate portrayal of equipment use and the evidence gathering process. However, ghostly exploration shows usually tend to exaggerate their findings and outcomes purely for entertainment purposes, Giuliano said./div

divAll Para-Boston services are free of charge. The research process begins with the client filling out a questionnaire, which can be downloaded from Para-Boston.org, so the team can fully assess the situation and determine if it is supernatural. The questionnaire asks about the property and foundation, as well as the owner’s well-being and account of the suspected activity./div

divAfter the form is reviewed, the inspectors set up a walk-through, or location visit, and interview the owner of the activity hot spot. All cellphones must be turned off so as not to interfere with any equipment and pets are requested to be kept in a separate room. The team sets up their equipment and waits in silence for half an hour to gain a reading of the building’s normal noises. Once the team has the recordings they need, they evaluate the evidence to either back up the occult activity or disprove it./div

divdl id=attachment_3813872 class=wp-caption aligncenter style=width: 314px;dt class=wp-caption-dta href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/LAURA_DORM.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813872 title=LAURA_DORM src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/LAURA_DORM.jpg alt= width=304 height=450 //a/dtdd class=wp-caption-ddGiuliano in her 1980s dorm room, where she says she experienced paranormal activity. Photo Courtesy of Laura Giuliano/dd/dl/div

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[caption id=attachment_3813873 align=aligncenter width=500 caption=Giuliano in her 1980s dorm room, where she says she experienced paranormal activity. Photo Courtesy of Lauren Giuliano]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/EMERSON-ID.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813873 title=EMERSON-ID src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/EMERSON-ID.jpg alt= width=500 height=315 //a[/caption]

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divEvidence can include Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs) — voices caught on audiotape that cannot always be heard by the human ear, such as hair-raising whispers and ghoulish noises. Because EVPs are sensitive, it is crucial that there is no talking during the recordings. Certain appliances and bad wiring can cause high Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), Giuliano said, which may give someone an intense feeling of fear and even a physical sickness. This false evidence can be used to rule out hauntings./div

divPara-Boston conducts investigations anywhere it is warranted. They have taken cases in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and across New England. They have had many in Boston./div

divPara-Boston Investigators have contacted the Cutler Majestic Theatre, widely said to be one of the most haunted places in Boston, in hopes of performing an analysis, Giuliano said. Unfortunately for wraith-hunting thespians, the theater would not grant the crew permission to explore the building, even after they offered to sign off on any liability papers./div

divWith all of the tales surrounding the Majestic, the local ghost hunters are curious to see if they can validate any of the stories. Legend has it that a former mayor of Boston died during a performance. People claim to have seen the spirit of the mayor sitting in his last seat. Other apparitions include a couple and their daughter who supposedly haunt the upper balcony. The Majestic isn’t the only Emerson location with alleged sinister secrets./div

div“I have heard a few stories about the Little Building [being haunted],” Giuliano said.

It is rumored that while the Little Building was built, the daughter of a construction worker came to visit her father at work. She was chasing a red ball down the hallway and fell into an open, unfinished elevator shaft and died./div

divFreshman visual and media arts major Andrew Schlebecker said he heard stories of “Shaft Girl.” Apparently, her shadowy figure appears at night and walks down the dorm hallways. Shlebecker joked that “Shaft Girl” may be responsible for the early morning fire alarms that go off in the dorm.

This ghastly girl shares Little Building fright duties with another: a dark dentist figure said to roam the fifth floor./div

div“The dentist appears to RAs specifically,” Schlebecker said. “They will wake up in the middle of the night to see a figure with a tray full of [dental] tools in front of them.”/div

divSchlebecker said he heard that at the end of the year when RAs are packing their things to leave, they unplug everything the night before only to wake up and find their lights plugged in and turned on with scratches on their arms, presumably caused by the demonic dentist./div

divStudents continue the oratory tradition of the college by spreading these stories, but as of now, there is no proof to any these tales. The Little Building, built in 1917, was originally used as office space and apartments before the college bought it and converted it to a residence hall. It was purchased to replace the infamous Charlesgate dorms where, it is said, students contacted the “other side” using Ouija boards. The specters of 80 Boylston St. aren’t as fanciful as those from the Charlesgate dorms, where phantom flappers were frequent heebie-jeebie givers./div

divRumor also has it that the 13th floor of Piano Row is host to eerie noises and inexplicably flickering lights. While the building was being constructed in 2006, two workers, Robert Beane and Romildo DaSilva, died when scaffolding collapsed. A passing motorist, Michael Ty, was killed in the accident. Their spirits are said to haunt the floor./div

div“No one really knows for certain what ghosts are, why they manifest, how they manifest or much else,” Giuliano said. “So all we can do is continue to investigate, analyze, document, and improve technology for the advancement of paranormal research.”/div

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emFileccia can be reached at alexandra_fileccia@emerson.edu./em

ID (courtesy of Giuliano):

emYour Emerson ID photo isn’t so bad, and it will only get better with age./em

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