She's a brick house...of horror.

Me-Oh, My-Oh, Douglass Bio

By Jessica Teal

Over the summer, Rutgers Rarities learned of another building on Douglass that was known to university facilities and security officers as “one of those haunted old buildings”. Welcome to the Biological Sciences building off of Bishop Street for gaining a solid foothold in our collection of odd places on campus. Before actually investigating the building, our lead told us that he had been in the building quite often and found it to be one of the most “regular spots” for encountering the unexplainable on Douglass. Our lead has worked at Rutgers for many years, so when he informed us that “even the police, when let in there, get scared and upset over the footsteps that will follow you down the hall” we knew we were hearing about something good. This place was even once investigated by a like-minded staff member who possessed infra-red equipment and was determined to find out for himself just what was the source of the odd footsteps, flickering lights and strange vibes that the place gave off to many employees over the years. What he saw through his infra-red visuals was a figure of a man sitting in the basement, “clear as day” on the infra-red although nothing could be seen in that spot with the naked eye.

Determined to check on these stories ourselves, the RR Team did an impromptu investigation one summer night, albeit minus infra-red equipment and what we found was that (a) the “unexplainable footsteps” story held true (b) the lights in the topmost attics will turn on and off for no obvious reason and (c) the basement holds one of the nastiest-looking (and smelling) bottled and formaldehyde’d animal collections ever seen.

We also found some disturbing taxidermy specimens in the basement that looked rather botched as the animals were preserved in highly unlikely contortions, especially the many dead birds. We also found a sub-room off the basement where we were informed that a fire had taken place many years back and there could be no denying that some disaster had taken place at one time as the clean up has yet to be finished.

Our source also told us where the “animal experiments” had taken place at one time in the basement level. We actually saw these rooms that were designed to allow the viewing of large animals (our source told us that it was mostly gorillas and apes) from outside a glass wall. Now, try as I might, I could find very little documentation on how or when these animal facilities were in use. Our source told us that a lot of the testing was done in 60’s and that it was mostly primates who appeared to be the subjects in psychological testing involving games and food. These unused rooms look creepy though, today and one wonders about the animal testing era at Rutgers before the University Laboratory Animal Service (LAS) department was created.

The upper levels of building did seem unusually resonate when we walked through and we did hear what sounded like footsteps that echoed our own, just about every time we stopped walking or turned a corner. We weren’t greatly fazed by these “extra” steps as we know from experience that your ears can easily be tricked by the acoustics in some of these old buildings. However, it should be noted that many audible footstep or door squeaking-type noises were heard in the building on a late summer night, when there seemed to be no one around working or studying. Our final chilling moment of evening came when we stepped out the front door and noticed that the attic lights turned off and on by themselves. These were lights in the highest recesses of the building peaks and our guide assured us that no one was up there working. “This place always has something spooky going on” he told us. He seemed completely unsurprised about the footsteps, noises and lights, only seeming to pause dolefully when we asked about the room filled with preserved animal parts, which while gross, seemed relatively calm to the RR Team. “That room gives me a bad feeling” our friend said “I guess I can’t really explain why”.

If you know any background or have any neat factoids on this building, besides that the Koobi Fora Field School lists this creepy old Hall as its address, please drop us a line. We’re sure there’s more here than meets the formaldeh-EYE-d.


Formalda-you-can't-hyde from the stench. Jars of pickled animals don't-a smell so nice.

More jars and a bunch of stiffs - most certainly the products of a serious game of freeze tag.

Snake in the glass and the slowest moving land mammal (this is an animation and not a still photo).

Animal testing rooms formerly used for observing spunky monkeys and vanilla gorillas - say what?

Inside and outside the mother of all animal isolation aka cheese fry booths. Former office of Dian Fossey, famous for her gorilla studies in Rwanda and for writing the book "Gorillas in the Mist" - I am completely serious right now. No joke. Why don't you believe me? I know I goof around a lot in the captions but I'm not even playing right now. I'm serious. Just take my word on this one (jerk). You deserved that insult. You shouldn't have questioned me.

The wreck that is the Douglass Bio basement - what a raging mess. Hey, I'm still a little hurt that you didn't believe the solid fact I provided in the last caption. I thought we were closer than that. It's like I don't even know you anymore.

Lights on, lights off - what's up with that creepy attic? Listen, I'm sorry about those last two captions. Let's not fight. Friends?


©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005