Inside Iowa State
October 22, 2004
Worth repeating: Tales from Morrill Hall
Inside asked some people who once worked in Morrill Hall to "Tell us a story about Morrill Hall." Here are their answers.
In the spring of 1987, I was working in my second floor office in Morrill Hall around 6:30 p.m. Feet on the desk and leaning back in my chair, I heard the tinny sound of the overhead lights usually associated with activity on the floor above. At the same time, I felt a couple hard tugs on the back of my chair. I knew there was no one else in the building, but I still turned to see who was there. The room was empty.
I began to feel a little nauseous. Maybe I was hungry or maybe I was spooked, but I decided I had worked enough that day and left.
When I got home, there was a special news announcement on television that a substantial earthquake had been recorded in southern Illinois. I'm convinced that the episode in the office was the result of the earthquake. I thought it was kind of cool. Of course, Morrill Hall was not the best place on campus to be during an earthquake.
I was walking to our lab (in the basement of Morrill Hall) from the front counter one day when I noticed a familiar-looking creature above the men's bathroom door. I stood there for a moment pondering what to do, and before I knew it, there were six of us standing there. All of a sudden Paul Lem opened the men's room door. There we were, all standing and staring at him. Actually, the bat was directly over his head and he didn't know it was there!
This happened back in 1988 or '89: For a few years in the early 1980s, the university had a much more wide-spread holiday "shut down" to save energy. Most offices and buildings that did not house sensitive research or operations deemed necessary to keep the place functioning were closed for two weeks (Christmas and New Year's) and the building temperatures reduced to about 60 F.
Morrill Hall was shut down and the steam valves adjusted to minimize heat. I came into the office late in the first week to check on things, and I was hit with what felt like a tropical blast! I quickly went through the building and discovered the temperature to be over 90 F everywhere!
Apparently, the main steam valve malfunctioned and was pumping in heat full blast the entire time. I called facilities people who came in and corrected the problem, but not before every plant in the building had turned to spaghetti and floor tiles all over the place had popped up.
I doubt there was much of an energy savings from Morrill Hall that year! It did help us get carpet on the main floor, which was one of the only times any money was spent to spruce up the place.
I was the last Publications Office employee to leave -- the third floor had been vacant for several weeks. I was sitting at my workstation, archiving electronic files for clients, when the blinds made a loud racket and a bat "fell" on my chest. I brushed it off and without a second look, ran down to the first floor (to John Anderson), screaming all the way.
The bat was discovered several months later under a dented wastebasket where it had managed to crawl into a hiding place. I probably scared IT to death!
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