Sunday, October 9, 2016

La Tech Jack Howard Auditorium - Ruston, LA (A Killer Performance!)

305 Wisteria St.
Ruston, LA 71272

            In addition to the previously mentioned Biomedical Engineering Building, the campus of Louisiana Tech is probably most known for its haunting of another building. The Jack Howard Auditorium, built in 1940, has hosted popular performances by up and coming performing arts students and musicians throughout the years. As the sounds of recitals and plays echo throughout the building, ghostly spectators observe from afar. Students who have worked in the theatre during late hours have reported seeing the figure of a woman sitting in the seats. They have also heard strange sounds and witnessed lights turn on and off. The most common occurrence is for the theatre seats to be folded down, even after they have all been placed in the upright position. Staff make it a chore to ensure that all of the seats are raised. Minutes after they do so, they notice that the same one or two seats are always placed back down.
            For years, the urban legends of the auditorium have stayed the same. Two female students by the name of Jan and Vera were roommates. They both tried out for the school play and Jan was cast in the lead role. Vera became so upset she hanged herself along the rafters of Howard Auditorium and haunts the theater to this very day. Although the legend makes for a great late-night story, the truth has been changed just a bit. In reality, there is said to have been no debate amongst feuding roommates, yet the story does center around a woman named Vera.

             Vera Alice Paul was a speech and English professor at Louisiana Tech for many years. She founded the Tech Theatre Players, the first theater program for the university, established in 1926. She was present when the Howard Auditorium opened its doors for the first time and actually directed the first plays there. There is no valid evidence to solidify the claims that she committed suicide here, but it makes the story that much creepier. Anyone would agree that the haunting due to a distraught young woman who committed suicide is much more imposing of a story than an elderly teacher who was fond of her job. However, we must stick to the facts and if those facts are that Vera was a teacher as opposed to a suicidal student then we must take it for what it is worth.
              The one thing that remains a mystery is that for the many years Vera taught at Louisiana Tech, there are very few documents that mention her name. According to staff, on the fourth floor of the Prescott Memorial Library, where the archives are kept, they will find in the catalog, there is supposed to be a scrapbook featuring plays produced by Vera. Numerous individuals have attempted to locate this scrapbook to no avail. No mention has ever been made as to how Vera died. Is it possible that she did in fact commit suicide for reasons unknown and the school did not want to release such information? Perhaps the true facts will remain a mystery forever. Until the truth is discovered, students and faculty alike seem quite comfortable living with the story that has been told to them over the years. In many cases such as the Howard Auditorium, the “who’s” and the “why’s” are often left to the imagination, as the only concern is that the place is haunted. For many, that’s all they need to know!

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