Dr. Carl Jesse founded Walker College in 1938. Davis Hall, built in 1941, served as the classroom building for many years. The funds for its construction were provided by a grant from the Federal Works Progress Administration. During the building’s first year of existence, four faculty members and forty-five students attended classes in Davis Hall. Following Dr. Jesse’s death in 1955, the college’s second president, Dr. David Rowland, nurtured the growth of the college through his innovative fundraising efforts, such as a two-dollar-bill campaign and a silver- dollar campaign. In December 1993, the University of Alabama initiated plans to acquire Walker College. Bevill State Community College absorbed Walker College in 1998.
The paranormal activity reported in Davis Hall could possibly be traced back to 1955, when Dr. Carl Jesse’s body lay in state on the second floor. For many years, the stately old building remained empty until the college received federal grant money to renovate it to house the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism. During the renovations in the early 1990s, students began reporting strange occurrences in the building, such as papers flying off a music stand when the vent was closed and brand-new pieces of equipment turning on and off by themselves. Moving shadows were seen in rooms where all the windows were blacked out due to the studio lighting.
Pamela Decker was a student here in the early 1990s. Late one evening, she and a friend were in Davis Hall when they heard phantom footsteps echoing in the hallways behind them. Elevators would run by themselves, and when the doors opened, no one was there. Pamela said she felt a presence on the stairs, as if someone was walking behind her. One of the scariest places in the building was the basement. “One day, I was standing at the vending machines in the basement when I saw someone walk by,” Pamela told me. “I thought it was a maintenance worker or a janitor. I began talking to the person, but I was met with silence. I walked back to the area where I saw the person walking around. All the doors were locked, and no one else was in the basement.” Over time, more and more students began hearing strange noises inside and outside of Davis Hall. A story about its haunting appeared in the 1993 Walker College yearbook, Stars and Bars.
After enough people began reporting unexplainable experiences inside Davis Hall, the stigma attached to having a paranormal encounter began to wear off. “When all these strange things began happening, we were pretty passive about them,” Decker said. “We didn’t discuss them for a long time. No one wanted to face the almost certain ridicule. But when we finally did have a group discussion, it turned out that almost everyone who were in the building had experienced something strange. Once the topic of a possible ghost came up, there was a feeling of release, a catharsis, I suppose.”
Haunted Alabama written by Alan Brown – Copyright © 2021 by Alan Brown