Campus buildings certified ‘haunted’


Photo credit: Andrea Knies
The Paranormal Society of Bradenton Florida (PSOBFL) had a successful night when they investigated two buildings on campus: College Hall and Caples.

Representatives from Admissions, the Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO), and Ringling Museum of Art were greeted to spooky snacks, including ghost pretzels and Halloween-themed gummies, at the reveal for the recent campus investigation conducted by the Paranormal Society of Bradenton Florida (PSOBFL). After reviewing the entirety of the night’s recordings, PSOBFL declared both locations – College Hall and Caples – “haunted.”

The initial investigation occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 25 from about 8:00 p.m. to early the next morning. A group of 10 participants was split in half and alternated between Caples and College Hall. Stemming from their own interest in old mansions and Ringling history, Admissions Coordinator Jodi Johnson and Internship Coordinator Andrea Knies invited PSOBFL to campus. The society works on donations, so the investigation was done for no cost.

“I only got really scared on – oh, well, twice,” Knies said with laughter at the start of the paranormal reveal. “I was going to say only once, but it really was twice.”

Even though PSOBFL initially reported a lack of findings in College Hall, a thorough review of the evidence proved otherwise. Residual and intelligent hauntings seem to occur in the building. Residual hauntings are classified as simply a recording of previous energy while intelligent hauntings have a consciousness and interact with the living.

In the upstairs area of College Hall, a camera caught PSOBFL’s first clearly delineated shadow ever on tape. The area was near where kids stayed during the Ringling era, and many suspected one of them might have caused the impressive piece of evidence.

Near the concrete chair by the bay, the K2 meter, which detects electromagnetic field and supposedly a paranormal presence, activated. Charles’ cigar also made an appearance throughout the evening.

“In Charles’ house, everybody had the smell of cigar pipe tobacco, constantly smelling it in different areas,” PSOBFL co-founder Liz Reed said at the reveal.

An immense cold spot was felt between College Hall and Cook Hall. College Hall was Charles and Edith Ringling’s home. Their daughter, Hester, resided in Cook Hall.

“It was like you walked into air conditioning,” Reed said about the cold spot.

The music room, which was a gathering space in the Ringling-era, was particularly active, with shadows lurking in the northwest corner and potential music and talking in the background. Knies and PSOBFL co-founder Ron Reed kept seeing a light get blocked in that same corner of the music room.

“By the organ, that [light blocking] kept happening” Reed said. “When we arrived today, I went over there and looked, and I really don’t see how anything could block that light.

“And when I was viewing the evidence, I believed that round light to be the reflection of our night vision camera off the window,” Reed said.  “It had to be something inside that blocked the light.” They counted something blocking that light more than 12 times.

Two significant electronic voice recordings (EVP) surfaced from College Hall. One followed a question directed at Edith, which asked if it was hard to have a psychic child. The response was “no.” Similarly, Knies at one point inquired if a certain area was the servants’ quarters and received a swift “no” in reply.

Unfortunately, recording equipment was only placed in College Hall; however, that didn’t stop Caples from producing its fair share of evidence.

Shadows were prevalent, and at one point Knies felt as if someone was touching her arm. Reed is still working to clean up an EVP that appears to record three knocks in response to a question. At one point, one of the investigators asked if there was enough dinner for the team in Caples’ dining room and got a reply of “no.” The K2 meter frequently activated in response to questions.

This evidence and more was enough for PSOBFL to label both College Hall and Caples as “haunted” locations. The organization presented the College with two certificates now displayed in the Admissions Office.

Liz and Ron Reed started PSOBFL about five years ago in response to their personal paranormal experiences.

“The fact that there is something out there that is unexplained to others is exciting to me,” Ron Reed said in PSOBFL’s Tampa Bay Area Ghost Hunting pamphlet.

The society uses a digital camera, digital voice recorder, video camera, electromagnetic field (EMF) detector, voice box, laser grid and walkie-talkies for their investigations. They also suggest bringing a friend.

PSOBFL have traveled all around the Tampa Bay area plus locations outside of the state, including Bethel Cemetery in Tennessee, Whaley House in California and downtown New Orleans in Louisiana. The society is particularly curious about the area around campus because the Powel Crosley Estate, College and Cook Hall, Ca’d’Zan and Caples are designated as a historic corridor. PSOBFL have investigated Crosley and found a good amount of evidence.

At the reveal, there were talks of a follow-up investigation occurring in early December. There are no plans in place currently, but the Reeds suspect that Dec. 2, 3 and 4 will be particularly active because those are the dates of Charles Ringling’s death, Charles Ringling’s birthday, and John Ringling’s death respectively. PSOBFL are also eager to receive permission for an investigation at Cook Hall.

“We’ll come back and do investigation after investigation here,” Liz Reed said.

If anyone is interested in helping with PSOBFL’s annual Halloween ghost walk by being a costumed character on the route, contact the author. Volunteers will receive a free ghost walk in return.

Information for this article was gathered from


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