Ghost hunters, both amateur and professional, returned to the Rensselaer campus again this October to experience the legend and lore of the Institute’s nearly 200-year history. For the second year in a row, the Rensselaer Student Union sponsored “The Spirits of Rensselaer” Haunted Historic Ghost Tour. The 90-minute walking tour, a collaboration of the Union and the Original Albany Ghost Tour, took paranormal enthusiasts, young and old alike, through the lower campus. Guides told the history of the university through the spirits that may still inhabit it today.
“People are fascinated by the idea of ghosts and spirits, especially during the month of October. The RPI campus has a long history of being haunted and people love to hear the stories behind the hauntings,” said Paul Nooney, one of the tour guides. Nooney, who works in the First-Year Experience Office, has been leading ghost tours for nine years with his paranormal partner, Maeve McEneny, program coordinator for the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This year’s tours kicked off in early October with a special event—a ghost hunt in Rensselaer’s most haunted building, West Hall. A team from the Tri-City New York Paranormal Society, along with representatives from the Union and Public Safety, spent the night in the historic structure (formerly the Troy Hospital) with “the latest in ghost hunting technology.”
The findings of this paranormal investigation will be revealed on Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in the West Hall Auditorium. “We can’t wait to see the results,” said McEneny. “We tell many stories of experiences people have had in the building on the tour and it’s exciting to think that people still have these encounters to this day.” Many ghost stories of West Hall surround a former nun at the Troy Hospital who has been dubbed “Nurse Betsey.”
Other stories on the tour tell of a ghost that lingers in Sage Lab, an old man’s spirit that paces within the Houston Field House, and a mysterious “voicemail from nowhere” that was left on a campus extension in 2013. Nooney and McEneny also told of some local hauntings in Albany and Troy, including a cemetery just outside the Troy city limits which is said to be one of the most haunted in the country. Several Capital Region ghost stories have ties to the Van Rensselaer family, including a mansion in Albany that was owned by the aunt and uncle of Rensselaer’s namesake, Stephen Van Rensselaer.
Guests who experience “The Spirits of Rensselaer” may not leave the tour convinced, one way or the other, that ghosts are real. But the tour reveals that the winding paths of Rensselaer’s campus and the structures that overlook the city have witnessed evolving history of Troy and the surrounding Rensselaer County.