This month, I wanted to use the skills I've gained in my first semester of college to write something meaningful. Something you won't know you needed until you've read it. Something revolutionary. Something that has never been done before. So, I put all my energy into coming up with the most original idea anyone has ever heard.
A ghost story.
Not your typical ghost story, though, something even worse.
A ghost story about -
- The University of Tampa.
I learned about the ghosts of UT while desperately searching for spooky stories to fill the void. I read The Ghosts of Plant Hall with such disinterest that I almost fell asleep. I was not in any way fascinated by those uninteresting, lackluster ghost stories.
However, as I drove past the domes of UT a few nights ago, the school seemed eerier than usual. I felt bad for all the possible UT ghosts.
"What if these ghosts are misrepresented?" I asked myself. What if they are misunderstood? What if October is their only time to shine?
At that moment, I decided it was my duty to sympathize with the ghosts.
It is my duty, to write them a terribly inaccurate, slightly below average ghost story.
It was a chilly February afternoon. A soft hum came from the city streets; the city was quiet in 1891. Leaves lay scattered on the ground; they always fall late in Tampa. Tons of palm trees line the soft grass, separating the bay from the masterpiece that lay before them. Everything is still and quiet.
A Grand red brick building straight out of a Victorian dream, topped with unique Moorish minarets and cupolas, stands quietly in the early afternoon sun. The crunching of old leaves breaks the silence. A tall shadow is cast on the grass and as a man steps directly in front of the hotel, arms crossed. He gives a subtle smile.
"The Tampa Bay Hotel." He says quietly.
The beautiful 500 room hotel is without a doubt the most beautiful part of the entire city. It almost breathes new life into the streets. A young man, maybe a front desk employee, maybe the age of 25, leans against a brick wall behind the gazebo and pulls a cigar out of his shirt pocket. Quietly, he watches the rich men chat. The sweet smell of tobacco lingers in the air after he slips back in through the back door. When the sun sets, A woman with tear- streaked cheeks bursts out the big hotel door. Her pearl jewelry glistens in the dull moonlight, and her brown curls seem almost too soft. She wears one of those big straw hats, adorned with red flowers. It is obvious that she's rich, maybe an actress. The tears are not from acting. After sitting quietly on the grass, she fixes her long, red dress and wipes her cheeks with the inside of her glove. Without a word, she disappears back into the hotel.
The Tampa Bay Hotel was beautiful, attracting celebrities from all throughout the nation. It was unnatural when the great depression left it empty.
But although it stopped having guests, some believe the hotel was never once unoccupied. Since it's reopening as the University of Tampa in 1933, students feel a strange heaviness whenever they enter Plant Hall at night.
Bessie guards Falk Theatre - the students describe her as a bit protective. She is just as distraught as she was before she committed suicide, (after discovering her husband cheated on her with a fellow actress). Her favorite game is preventing other leading actresses from wearing red.
"The Brown Man," lingers on the staircase at night. He is characterized by a brown suit and glowing red eyes. An unknown source retells the account of one girl who went exploring in the Henry B. Plant museum at about 5:30 a.m. As she reached the second floor, she saw, in the distance, a man standing at the end of the hall. His clothes seemed outdated; she recalls thinking that he "didn't belong here." She would've missed his glowing red eyes if he didn't approach her.
Perhaps this story will inspire you to pay a visit to Plant Hall, perhaps it will inspire you to give up sub-par ghost stories forever.
Despite how you feel, and despite there being little investigation into these encounters, there remain many accounts of the unexplainable heaviness students feel when they enter UT late at night.