University of California at Berkeley

A Halloween Tale

The Tower Room: Occupied by Something Other Than a Guest?

 by Fernando Quintero

The door to room 219 at the Faculty Club appropriately creaked as it was opened.

For years, guests and staff have reported a mysterious presence in 219, known as the Tower Room because it was built as an addition to the historic Bernard Maybeck building shortly after the turn of the century.

A steep and narrow stairway leads up to the small room with high cathedral ceilings and dark wood paneling that instantly absorbed the late afternoon sunlight streaming in from a window facing south.

Squeezed into a corner of the room is a queen-size bed with a chair placed next to it.

It is the very spot where on March 9, 1974, visiting professor Noriyuki Tokuda reported waking up to a "very gentlemanly" Caucasian man who was sitting on a chair and peering at him.

Tokuda, who had just flown in from Boston, was picked up at the airport and taken by Professor Chalmers Johnson of the political science department to the Faculty Club to rest for the evening.

Around 7 p.m., while he was sleeping, Tokuda suddenly "felt some kind of psychological pressure."

As he told a local reporter: "I was almost awakening.

"I saw something in my dream. I felt some old gentleman -- Western, white -- sitting on the chair by the bed. Watching quietly.

"It was quite strange. I opened my eyes then and saw a funny picture -- two heads with a body passing out of my sight and disappearing."

Tokuda went out to dinner and told his story to Johnson and his wife. They made sure that he was moved out of Room 219 the next day.

It turned out that the room had for 36 years been the home of a solitary professor who had died shortly before Tokuda's visit.

Many stories had circulated around campus about Professor Henry Morse Stephens and his occupancy of 219.

In "A History of the Faculty Club" by James Gilbert Paltridge, students of the time tell the story of walking home after the library closing, seeing the window of the Tower Room wide open and hearing Stephens' thunderous voice reciting his favorite lines from Kipling:

Lord God of Hosts, Be with us Yet
Lest we Forget, lest we forget!

When Faculty Club officials later described the professor to Tokuda, he said he resembled the image that appeared in his room.

"I think perhaps Professor X (Stephens) still likes to live there and doesn't want to leave," said Tokuda, a political scientist who was specializing in modern China at the time.

According to another story, when workmen were digging foundations for the Faculty Club in 1902, they disinterred Ohlone Indian skeletons, adding another Stephen King-like detail.

There is an unmistakable energy in Room 219, whether put there by the power of suggestion or a less explainable force.

Janet Lukehart, the assistant general manager at the Faculty Club and an employee of 19 years who has stayed in the allegedly haunted room several times, said she has yet to witness any unusual happenings.

"I'm still keeping my eyes open," she said with a smile.

"I'm certainly open to the possibility of there being a ghost here.

"I'm holding out hope that he will return."


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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