|Portrait of Mary Mayo. Okay, I'll admit I'd be a little |
freaked out if I thought that she was watching me.
Whether or not Mayo Hall is home to a ghost may be up for debate, but the fact remains that several of the rumors that led to Mayo Hall’s reputation as the most haunted building at Michigan State are simply not true. Believers insist that it’s Mayo’s ghost that haunts the building, and that she either killed herself or was murdered. Some versions of the story hold that she actually died in Mayo Hall itself. The truth is that Mary Mayo died in 1903 after an illness, and did so a full 28 years before the residence hall bearing her name was even built. That’s not to say that her ghost doesn’t haunt the building. However, it does beg the question: Why, if Mary Mayo is the hall’s ghostly resident, would she spend her afterlife scaring students in a building that, when she died, didn’t even exist?
Her earthly remains may rest in southwest Michigan, but apparently many people believe that Mayo’s spirit traveled sixty miles north to spend eternity in a Michigan State dormitory. Reports of hauntings have persisted since Mayo Hall opened as a woman’s residence hall in 1931. The rumors passed from one class to another, and became even creepier when students began talking about a “red room” on the building’s fourth floor, where unknown people were said to have conducted satanic rituals. Spirits are mysterious creatures, so the question of whether or not Mayo Hall is haunted may never be answered. However, we do know that Mary Mayo was a groundbreaking crusader for the rights of women in academia, and it’s this achievement—not the possibility that she wreaks ghostly havoc in Mayo Hall—that should be her real legacy.