Rumor Has It: 10 Chico State Myths Explored

There are many myths and rumors that are told time and again at Chico State. Is there a Volkswagen Beetle buried somewhere on campus? Was Bidwell Mansion once used as a dormitory? Are there cameras inside the Three Sisters statues? We went looking for answers to these head-scratching myths to find out the truth.

Trinity Bell Tower’s bells mimic London’s Big Ben.

The sun sets on the Trinity Hall Bell Tower/Carillon in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

Trinity Hall bell tower (Jason Halley/CSU, Chico)

Rumor has it Trinity Hall’s bells play a recording of London’s famous clock tower, Big Ben. The Trinity Hall carillon rings at every hour and half hour. It even plays other sounds depending on the occasion, like holiday music and a solemn bell toll for the 9/11 anniversary, according to Public Affairs Director Joe Wills.

As impressive as they sound ringing across campus, Trinity’s everyday chimes have no connection to the famed London clock tower.

Truth or meter-04

Whitney Hall is the tallest building north of Sacramento.

The residence dormitory, Whitney Hall, rises nine stories tall in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

Whitney Hall (Jason Halley/CSU, Chico)

Rumor has it that the nine-story residence dormitory Whitney Hall is the tallest building north of Sacramento. At one point, it was true that Whitney Hall, which began construction in 1967, was the tallest building north of Sacramento and south of the Oregon border. However, after talking to Hector Guzman, a tour guide at the Office of Admissions, we are not so sure that this still holds true. He speculated that a newly-built casino surpassed Whitney in height, but he wasn’t sure which one.

So, we continued our search for the truth. According to the Office of University Housing and Food Services, it turns out that Whitney Hall’s claim as the tallest building all depends on the cutoff line. The opening of a 13-story casino in 2013 in Lincoln, about 30 miles north of Sacramento, dethrones Whitney Hall as the tallest building north of Sacramento. In the North State, however, Whitney still remains the tallest.

Truth or meter-02

Ghosts roam the halls of Chico State.

Picture taken from "Chico State: Now and Then" article by Ernesto Rivera, Public Affairs Intern.

Laxson Auditorium (Ernesto Rivera/CSU, Chico)

Rumor has it that ghosts roam the halls of various buildings on Chico State’s campus, including Laxson Auditorium. Laxson is reported to be the source of the most common “sightings” of a ghost. Public Affairs Editorial Assistant Ernesto Rivera did some investigating last October, and the results were extraordinary. But, are the rumors true?

Listen to Rivera’s exploration of The Ghost of Laxson Auditorium to learn more.

Truth or meter-02
A Volkswagen Beetle time capsule rests underground.

Rumor has it that a Volkswagen Beetle was buried as a time capsule somewhere on our campus. But, where?

People have speculated that it was buried under the soccer field, while others suggested somewhere by the creek. The tradition of preparing and opening time capsules, signaled by the numbers in the sidewalks outside the entrance to Kendall Hall, was discontinued in 1969 but rekindled in 2000. Some calls about the VW Beetle were made both around year 2000 (when it was supposed to be opened) and 2012, when Chico State celebrated its 125th anniversary.

According to Wills, the University has since not found proof that this burial ever happened. Perhaps this means we have yet to be proven right? We’ll leave it up to you dreamers to decide.

Truth or meter-03
One Side of Kendall Hall Stands Older than the Other Half

Picture taken from "Chico State: Now and Then" article by Ernesto Rivera, Public Affairs Intern.

Kendall Hall (Archive photo courtesy of Meriam Library; current photo by Ernesto Rivera/CSU, Chico)

Rumor has it that one side of Kendall Hall is much older than the other, because one side of the building was burnt down due to a chemistry lab explosion. The original Chico State Normal School building was constructed in 1888 where Kendall Hall would eventually reside. The Normal Building was gutted by fire (not related to a chemistry accident) in 1927, and the whole building was replaced with the current one in 1929. Wills speculates that people are getting the half and half idea because we have run “old and new” photos showing part of the old building and part of the current one in composite photos, similar to those seen in Rivera’s “Chico State: Then and Now” rephotographic series.

In the end, what did we make of this myth?

Truth or meter-04
There is a hefty fine for getting caught picking roses.

Early morning in the George Petersen Rose Garden. (Photo by Jason Halley, University Photographer)

The George Petersen Rose Garden (Jason Halley/CSU, Chico)

Rumor has it that if you are caught picking roses from the George Peterson Rose Garden, a rose garden that was planted behind Trinity Hall during the spring of 1957, you will be hit with a $50 fine per flower. Is this number outrageous? We reached out to a reputable source for the answer.

“There may or may not be fines given to people who help themselves to the rose garden,” said Michael Alonzo, supervisor of grounds & landscape services. “The fines may be steep…ranging from $50 to perhaps even $1,000! If someone wants a rose, keep an eye out for the gardening specialist who cares for the garden. Politely ask him for a rose, and if he has time he will most likely hand you one. Also, at the beginning of the spring semester, free cuttings are available, where rose-lovers and amateurs alike can take a cutting home and try to grow their own rose bush.”

We’ll let you decide if it’s worth the risk.

Truth or meter-02
Bidwell Mansion was a dormitory for female students.

Chico State College students sitting in the dining room at Bidwell Hall. (Photo Courtesy of CSU, Chico Digital Collections)

Chico State College students sitting in the dining room at Bidwell Hall. (Photo courtesy of CSU, Chico Digital Collections)

Rumor has it that Bidwell Mansion used to be a dormitory for female Chico State Teachers College students. The Bidwell Mansion, a three-story, 26-room Victorian house, is one of California’s State Historic Parks. It stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell, founders of the city we now know as Chico.

From 1922 to 1964, the mansion was owned by the University, and known as Bidwell Hall. It was used for classes and faculty offices as college enrollment grew. Additionally, it was, in fact, used as a women’s residence hall for many years.

Truth or meter-01There are tunnels running beneath Chico State. 

Rumor has it that there are underground tunnels all throughout Chico’s downtown, and some even lead to Laxson Auditorium and various fraternities and sororities, including Alpha Gamma Delta and Phi Kappa Tau.

In 2007, the Chico Enterprise-Record wrote an article investigating Chico’s urban legends, including the belief in underground tunnels and interconnecting basements. The author cited comments of the late John Nopel, a Chico historian, that confirmed the truth behind these tunnels, and went further to stipulate that Holt Hall was actually Chico’s best candidate for this kind of urban legend.

What do we make of this mystery? While Guzman also agrees and says that these rumors are true, he admits that these basements have since been sealed off.

Truth or meter-01
There are cameras in the Three Sisters’ eyes. 

The Three Ladies statue sculpture overlooks the George Peterson Rose Garden at California State University Chico in Chico, Calif. (Sam Rivera/Student Photographer)

The Three Sisters statues overlook the George Peterson Rose Garden. (Sam Rivera/CSU, Chico)

Rumor has it that there are hidden cameras in the eyes of the Three Sisters statues, located by the George Peterson Rose Garden. The Three Sisters statues were created by well-known sculptor, Deborah Masters. According to Wills, about 15 or so years ago, Chico State did have a webcam in a window of Meriam Library pointing toward a bridge over the creek.

But, what about these stone-faced sisters?

Kelly Lindner, University Art Gallery director and public art curator, revealed that the camera myth is definitely not true.

Truth or meter-04
Ayres Hall and its monolith statues are haunted.
 

Monolith Sculptures by Ayres Hall. (Photo Courtesy of Deborah Masters.)

Monolith sculptures by Ayres Hall (Photo courtesy of Deborah Masters)

Rumor has it that Ayres Hall is haunted. Another rumor claims that if you rub the belly of the sculpture of a woman during finals week, you will receive good luck. But, where are all these rumors coming from?

According to a Chico Statements article from 2011, “In the student-created Ayres statue garden is a monolith of a woman giving a little boy up to the heavens, a memorial to artist Susan Bardin’s cousin, who disappeared as an adult. Inside the sculpture is one of his shirts, a bandana, and a love letter from his wife.”

This homage to loved ones lost does give the monoliths a ghostly quality, but are the stones truly haunted?

Depends, are you a skeptic or a true believer?

Truth or meter-02