Ghost tours and school spirits with Chris Wolff

Did you know UMKC is haunted?

Whether it’s the ghost of Harriet Barse at Epperson House, the spirits of the Dickeys in Scofield Hall or the ghost of actress Vaughn Burkholder rumored to still haunt the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, UMKC certainly has its fair share of spirits.

One spirit that certainly isn’t haunting the school, however, is school spirit.
Chris Wolff, campus historian and manager of UMKC’s bookstore, noticed this problem.

“If you walk onto KU’s campus, or Mizzou’s campus, you can feel the history and tradition the second you step on campus,” Wolff said.

He explained that many students at other colleges and universities know the history of their school, citing the pillars at Mizzou as an example. Wolff wanted to fix that.

“In 2013 I started doing afternoon campus walks,” he said. “I talked about the history of the buildings and some of the major events on campus.”

He described how those afternoon walks morphed into the October ghost tours. In the 90-minute tours, Wolff reveals the history of UMKC, including its many ghost stories.

The tours cover buildings like Scofield Hall, the University Playhouse, Haag Hall, the bell tower and the notorious Epperson House, where it is rumored the Epperson’s adopted daughter Harriet Barse roams the empty halls in spirit-form.

Wolff boasts an incredible knowledge of campus history and wrote the book, “A Pearl of Great Value: The History of UMKC, Kansas City’s University.” He has spent an immense amount of time researching and preparing for the tours.

“I had to dig through countless dusty boxes that are buried in the library or somewhere in Kansas City,” he said.

However, over time he was able to organize and piece together the hidden history of UMKC.

“At first, I didn’t think anyone anybody would be interested,” Wolff said. “But whenever I advertise a tour, it fills up immediately.”

Wolff described the difficulty in getting students involved on campus with UMKC being a commuter school.

“What students can do to help is to learn more about our traditions and pass it on to each new generation,” Wolff explained.

With Chancellor Agrawal’s goal to transform UMKC into a residential campus, and Chris Wolff’s efforts to preserve campus history, we can hope that one day, school spirit may also haunt UMKC.

hmgb87@mail.umkc.edu

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