Uncovered: Something hidden underground

Tunnel from Staff Parking Lot

While pulling up parts of West Park’s staff parking lot, construction crews recently unearthed a hidden historic gem.

More creepy than historically valuable, EllisDon uncovered a buried forgotten tunnel from West Park’s earliest days. Using an old campus map from 1949, the tunnel, which was built in 1907, was able to be traced geographically from the old Administration (Hammond) Building to the King Edward (Mulholland) Building.

Location of Underground Tunnel

Map of Tunnel Location

                         Click for a larger view

Old West Park Site Map

West Park 1949 Site Map

                         Click for a larger view

Spooky memories

The tunnel, with peeling thick green wallpaper, faded patterns of dated floor tile, and an old wooden window pane leaned up against the concrete, is a ghost of what it was 40 to 50 years ago. But the tunnel still has some ghosts of its own, sparking memories among some West Park veterans.

Jon Clark, a support assistant at West Park, recalls the tunnel as “something out a Stephen King novel.”

With dimly lit light bulbs on wire hanging from the damp concrete ceilings and the cold concrete staircases leading to various doors, the tunnel was often a last resort for travel when the sun went down.

Many staff opted to take the much longer walk outside to the residence or their cars rather than brave the dark underground tunnels, which got progressively creepier as you went through them at night, says Clark. The fear, he says, comes in part from the prevalence of ghost stories in the old Prittie and Ames Buildings, as well as the Ruddy Building, which is still standing and in use today.

Tunnel Entrance from Gage Side

     View of the underground tunnel by the Gage Building