The history and mysteries of Moore

Back entrance of Moore, located on Western Carolina's upper campus.

Back entrance of Moore, located on Western Carolina’s upper campus.
Photo by Cory Klein.

“This beautiful, imposing and indestructible building should be made a monument to… public service.”  The Cullowhee Yodel, July 1924.  

Haunted, old, useless and quiet are words that come to mind as you walk passed the Moore building on Western Carolina University upper campus. Students, unaware of the historical moments that once took place there, stumble near the building like it does not have eyes.

Only rumors plague the near century old structure. Occasionally students may build up the courage to get close to it, peeking into the dust-covered windows, trying to get a glimpse of a spirit or apparition.

As one of the oldest structures still standing on the campus, Moore has served several purposes since its creation in 1917. It is currently closed waiting to be reconstructed into a ‘academic space and innovative classroom space, and to acknowledge and celebrate the historic roots of the campus’ as stated in the WCU 2014 Master Plan.

Judge Walter E. Moore of Hayesville, a former state Senator, gave the funds to the school for the construction of Moore Hall. According to the Cullowhee Yodel, the Cullowhee student newspaper that later became The Western Carolinian, Moore was dedicated to the school in June of 1924.

Moore Dormitory was opened  in 1924, after 7 years of construction, where Cullowhee’s Normal & Industrial School was first located.  It’s first use was a female dormitory, housing 180 female students. Edna Robinson Clapp, was the first house mom for the building, keeping a close eye on the girl’s behavior. In 1927, Clapp adopted the “Rules for the Young Women’s House Government Association.” A violation in these rules would prohibit the young women from attending social functions and speaking to boys.

According to the book “Mountain Heritage:Western Carolina University Centennial 1889-1989 by Curtis W. Wood and H. Tyler Blethen Moore,  parts of the building were used for different purposes.  In the 1920’s the lobby of Moore was a ball room where students congregate, danced and socialized. Casual dances became a regular event before dinner. The parlor of Moore Dormitory was used for Tea Parties, held by Mrs. Hunter and Anne Albright. In 1931, a multipurpose room in Moore was converted into a cafeteria, which had been previously located in Robertson.

In the 1930s the Infirmary was located in the basement of Moore until Graham hospital was built in 1939. The basement of Moore also held the morgue, which often spooks visitors at Moore always get spooked with that information.

In the mid-1940s, WWII veterans began returning to school. The May Day Court was a privilege given to war veterans to escort their fiancé from Moore Dormitory to the Woodland Theater.

The college cafeteria in Moore Dormitory in the 1950's.

The college cafeteria in Moore Dormitory in the 1950s.
Photo Credit: Western Carolina University Centennial 

In 1957, the cafeteria from Moore was moved to the Brown building, and around that time according to the Mountain Heritage book  the center of campus began to shift down the hill, along with newer constructions like McKee and Stillwell.

The exact year Moore became an all-male dormitory was never published, although the building did become a Nursing, Health and Human Science Facility in the late 1980’s. They stayed there until 2012 when the new HHS building was open on the new Millennial Campus.

Aside from the physical history of the Moore Building, rumors have been circulated through the WCU’s attendees for several decades.

The most commonly known rumor is that a young woman haunts the building after being murdered in a bathroom in the mid-1920s.There has also been a rumor about a teacher who was murdered there in the 1980s. The only commonality among these rumors is that they both happened on the third floor.

George Frizzell, Head of Special Collections at Hunter Library and WCU alum, says those rumors are just that – rumors repeated to other schools and buildings, which confirmed the lack of public records regarding any of the rumored incidents.

“There are no records to my knowledge proving them,” Frizzell said. ”Those rumors have also been told at other schools, with different details.”

Suzan Hallyburton, a reference librarian at Hunter Library, visited Moore when it was used for Health Sciences, Nursing and Physical Therapy.

“I was never haunted when I worked in Moore Hall! That building was awesome.  Okay, I heard one instructor say there were some interesting bumps and whatnot in the building when she worked alone, but nothing more than most,” Hallyburton wrote in an email message.

For Andy Degrove, who works in Facilities Management, the stories come from the fact that it is an old building. When he was attending WCU, the park around Moore used to be “a romantic get away for young couples.”

Although there is nothing happening in the Moore Building besides UClub meetings, it is important to know what the building once offered. The memories and special occasions are slowly seeping out the door, finding new places to reside.