Haunted YSU: The Legend of Lady Buechner

By Frances Clause

From stories of ghosts haunting Wick House and Fok Hall, to rumors of a dead janitor that still roams Kilcawley House, students learned about the history behind these legends during Maag Library’s haunted campus tour Wednesday.

Colleen Duchon, a reference librarian for health and human services and the organizer of the event, said the tour was a good way to get students more involved with the library and made for a fun Halloween event.

Buechner Hall pictured Oct. 30. Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

“There’s a lot of history in Youngstown, and [we] thought that with some of the older buildings on campus and some of the stories that have been told for a while now that we could use those to make an enjoyable event for students,” she said. 

Stops included Sweeney Hall, the Arms Family Museum and Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church, and some unexplainable sounds and sights witnessed by those who enter were blamed on the age of the buildings and the creaking floors that accompany.

But one building whose history is sometimes overlooked is Buechner Hall, a residence hall exclusively for female students and women in the workforce, built in 1941 near campus.

Gail Keaty, director at Buechner, lived in the residence hall from 1973-75 when she attended Youngstown State University and has worked there ever since.

“It was left in Lucy Buechner’s will [that] this building was supposed to be built in memory of her mother, Elvira [Buechner],” she said.

Lucy Buechner, last surviving member of her family in Youngstown. Photo courtesy of “Buechner Hall 50th Anniversary”

The Buechner family resided at Champion Street and East Federal Street for 41 years, and William L. Buechner, husband of Elvira and father of Lucy, was one of the leaders in organizing a hospital in Youngstown.

Complications from an illness ended Lucy Buechner’s life on Sept. 10, 1926. The bulk of Lucy’s $2 million estate went to found Buechner Hall.

From the day groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the Bryson Street site Aug. 2, 1940, to the present, her dream continues to come true.

As stated in her will, Buechner Hall continues to be “a home where student girls and women and those who are self-supporting and are engaged in gainful occupation” can benefit from the “respectable home surroundings, entertainment and inspiration.”

A Buechner 50th anniversary pamphlet written using Vindicator archives states Lucy Buechner provided well for her city and gave as generously as her father and brother, William H. Buechner, did.

After the death of her brother, Lucy Buechner was rarely seen by anyone except old friends who would come to the house, and she could occasionally be seen from a distance sitting on her porch in a black dress.

Ground breaking ceremony for Buechner Hall on Aug. 3, 1940. Photo courtesy of “Buechner Hall 50th Anniversary” pamphlet

Some students report that Lucy can still be seen roaming the residence hall in this same black dress.

Geena Badalamenti, a junior music education major, said she has encountered who residents call “Lady Buechner.”

“[Lucy] likes to jiggle door knobs when they’re unlocked at night. I also see a shadowy reflection in the window when I’m walking in the hallway at night, too,” she said.

Other sightings of “Lady Buechner” include the same, shadowy description.

Amanda Bertilacci, a senior vocal performance major and resident at Buechner Hall, said her friend woke up one night to something in her dorm room.

“I think it was a dark mist or something,” Bertilacci said. “Then it disappeared, but she had left her laptop open on her desk. … She said it turned on by itself and only displayed blue static.”

And even if a shadowy figure is not seen, some residents say a presence can be felt.

“The main thing was in the middle of the night, when you would go either down to the basement or the bathroom, it felt like you would have someone follow you the whole time,” Christina Aviles, a former Buechner resident, said.

There is no way to prove that Lucy Buechner still roams the residence hall, but one thing is certain: she is a very generous ghost.

Amanda Bertilacci, a senior vocal performance major and resident at Buechner Hall, said her friend woke up one night to something in her dorm room.

“I think it was a dark mist or something,” Bertilacci said. “Then it disappeared, but she had left her laptop open on her desk. … She said it turned on by itself and only displayed blue static.”

And even if a shadowy figure is not seen, some residents say a presence can be felt.
“The main thing was in the middle of the night, when you would

go either down to the basement or the bathroom, it felt like you would have someone follow you the whole time,” Christina Aviles, a former Buechner resident, said.

There is no way to prove that Lucy Buechner still roams the residence hall, but one thing is certain: she is a very generous ghost.

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