School Spirits: The Haunting of Spring Point Inn

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Bifulco

Autumn brings out the fabulous colors of the SMCC campus, but it also brings out the ghosts. Travel guide Flavorverse named Southern Maine Community College’s South Portland location number 10 in their 36 most haunted places in Maine. With the school’s storied history as a hospital, military base, and home to a centuries-old graveyard, it’s easy to see why. Although most buildings around the scenic campus have their own collection of creepy anecdotes, none are so prodigiously spooky as the McKernan Hospitality Center, also known as the Spring Point Inn.

The inn is a private building on campus primarily staffed by culinary and hospitality students. Despite its gorgeous situation right over Fort Preble and overlooking Casco Bay, it’s not open to the public. Most events are privately contracted or organized by the school.

The list of minuscule paranormal events is long and comes from student workers, former residents, and even campus security. Evan Sanborn, a security supervisor, explained, “I’ve had security officers lock up McKernan at night, then leave and see a light on. Hell, I’ve been one of them.” There have been doorknobs rattling at night, sounds of glasses clinking in the dining room, and even a woman’s voice heard in the hallway by a resident who was staying alone in the building.

The hauntings might have something to do with the campus’ history during the Civil War. It’s a history not without tragedy. An old newspaper clipping, from an 1863 issue of the Portland Daily Press, reads, “Execution of a Deserter.” Private William Ladd was a poor, illiterate farm boy from Berwick who was conscripted to fight in the Civil War. He deserted that summer and was charged with desertion, insubordination, and threatening an officer. Those who knew him, however, described him as noble and kind. A telegram from Washington authorized a suspension for his execution, but a riot in New York caused the lines to be cut. The message was received too late, and Private Ladd was shot by a squadron of 12 gunmen at Fort Preble. One onlooker commented that Ladd “met his death heroically.” The execution happened in the courtyard of the fort, which is coincidentally right behind the Inn.

Jill Hannaford, the Executive Chef of the Spring Point Inn, who has been familiar with the building for 11 years, is indifferent about the affair. “I’m not a believer of the stories, but I’m not a non-believer. If it is the case that we have [ghosts], then they are guests and they are benign.” Despite her tenure, she has only had a single odd occurrence at the hotel: phones ringing on lines they shouldn’t be.

The mystery surrounding the Inn can’t overshadow the antique luxury it provides. Its ornate decorations and majestic views ensure a wonderful stay for guests all year round. The Inn sometimes even pokes fun at its reputation: last year, their crew hosted a haunted house for Halloween with makeup and costumes. The haunting of Spring Point Inn is just another fascinating detail of SMCC’s great campus.

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2 replies »

  1. I appreciate the time you spent researching the campus’s history and gathering first-hand accounts for this article. This is a topic I think many students would find interesting to read about–great article!


  2. Great job on this article, it really grabbed my attention. With what we know involving the history of the area, it really makes you wonder how much of it is connected.


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