This week, the Sewanee Writing House held its second annual Ghost Story Cemetery Tour on Sunday, October 30, 2022. Although the tour had to be moved inside the Writing House due to conditions weather, it was always an exciting experience. They included pumpkin decorations and themed treats which really added to the ambiance of the evening. The spooky walk began with our encounter with our tour guide, “Vincent Vonhelstein”, who bravely led us through the writing house as ghosts popped up from various places.
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 around Sewanee.” There were a few fan favorites, like Johnson’s 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 the campus for an eternity.
The creativity behind these ghost stories was impressive. All writers have embraced the spirit of Halloween to come up with these spooky poems. My favorite was a 19th century mirror ghost who died during a ball. She still haunts the dorms of Tuckaway Hall, staring at every reflective surface she can find.
“I was scared, but it was really funny,” said fellow tour participant Stevie Mac (C’25). “It was a very good experience and the poems were great.”
The tradition began with a collaboration between the Maison d’Ecriture and The Mountain Goat Diary Last year. The theme was historical eras and featured ghosts from the Vicorian era and even a communist ghost! The event was a huge success and after receiving many positive comments, the Writing House decided to extend the event. Bullard explained that they “wanted to make the event even bigger this year, which is why we rented the social pavilion and organized Halloween activities in addition to the tours”.
Although the outdoor cemetery portion of the tour had to be canceled and moved inside the writing house, in some ways this added to the experience. The “Ghosts” got very creative with their surroundings, using parts of the house to make it a truly interactive experience. As the ghost of Johnson Hall read his poem to us, we could hear the sound of footsteps on the stairs behind us.
At the end of the night, everyone had the opportunity to grab a take-home script containing all of the poems. I loved this opportunity to re-read and really appreciate the poems, plus it was a fun keepsake to remember the night. All in all, it was a great experience that really showcased the talents of the writing house while getting everyone in the mood to celebrate Halloween.