FARMINGTON — Mike McFalls heard someone banging on a piano above him in Merrill Hall, but there was no one there.

There was no piano, either.

“It was around 1 in the morning, last January, and I was working on a project in the basement off Merrill,” one of the campus buildings, said McFalls, an art professor at the University of Maine at Farmington.

As he went up the stairs to leave, he heard a noise that sounded like someone was banging on the piano. “This was not someone playing the piano, but rather someone literally pounding on the piano.”

He went to the second floor to look in auditorium, but there was no one there.

Sitting at his office desk recently, McFalls recalled the experience. “It was cold that morning, and it’s usually not cold in Merrill Hall. I had been having a strange feeling all week,” as if someone were watching him.


“I had never had that feeling before, and then this happened.”

After McFalls explained hearing the piano banging to Steve Pane, the music director at UMF, Pane told McFalls that the piano wasn’t even there at the time he had heard the noises.

“He told me that the piano had been sent away to get tuned,” McFalls said.

“It could have been my imagination. It was late at night, and I was leaving to go home.”

Lady Nordica

Sylvia Cypher, a university administrative associate, smiles when asked about the “ghost” of Merrill Hall.


“From my understanding, the voice that people hear is said to the ghost of Lady Nordica,” she said.

Cypher explained that Nordica was well-known in her day. “She was a famous opera singer who was born in Farmington and traveled to all of the continents and performed shows. Prior to her getting sick, she came back to the States and put on a welcome-home show. After that show, she got sick and died.”

Although Cypher has never had a firsthand experience with the ghost, she says she has no reason to doubt the stories.

“I’ve talked to people who have heard noises late at night, coming from all different floors of Merrill Hall,” she said.

Jim McEntee has been a custodian in Merrill Hall for 16 years. “There have been times when I’ve been working and heard a door shut or the sound of footsteps from up above, but when I go to see who’s there, I never find anyone.”

McEntee said he keeps an open mind about strange noises he hears, thinking that,”The person may have gone into another room.”


He also knows that Merrill Hall, built in 1864, is the oldest building on campus. “It’s very easy to hear the sounds from another room,” he said.

McEntee, who usually works in Merrill from 3 p.m. until midnight, tries not to go into the building thinking that something else is there. “I try to not bring a lot of emotion into the situation,” he said. “If I were to go to work thinking that there is a spirit, then I would probably feel differently about the sounds that I hear, but I try not to think that way.”

Normal for now

Since hearing the banging on the piano in January, McFalls says he has seen or heard nothing out of the ordinary.

“That was the only time that something happened, and since then I have never gotten that feeling as though someone is out there, watching over me.”

McFalls said that whatever he heard on that January night, he didn’t fear it.

“From what I understand about Madame Nordica, there is no evidence that suggests she is a bad ghost,” he said.

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