Like most century-old universities, Western Michigan University has some spooky legends that have carried through its history. Some of these myths include weird uses of Rapunzel’s Tower on East Campus to human bodies being buried around campus. Lately rumors have circulated about a body being buried under the new Sangren Hall.
The ashes of Paul V. Sangren, the second president of WMU and his wife Flossie, are actually buried inside Sangren Hall.
Sangren served 34 years as president of WMU from 1926 to 1960, and Sangren’s remains have not left the university’s borders since he was laid to rest there in 1964.
“Sangren was one of the longest serving presidents at the university,” said Amy Burns, the Administrative Assistant in the College of Education and the building coordinator to Sangren Hall. “I believe that is why [WMU] did this for him. Nowadays they name buildings after people rather than placing ashes in them.”
Sangren’s original resting place was in the lecture hall wing of the old Sangren Hall. To make way for construction of the new building, Sangren’s ashes were temporarily moved until the new Sangren Hall was completely finished. When the building was completed, WMU held a dedication ceremony placing Sangren in his new resting place.
“We had to contact the family in order to make sure they were fine with us taking the ashes out of the old building,” said Burns. “[Sangren’s] son came to the dedication when we placed the ashes in the new location.”
Sharon Carlson, Director of Archives and Regional History at WMU, said that burying ashes in buildings was a tradition back in the day. Dwight Waldo, WMU’s first president from 1903 to 1926, had his ashes placed inside East Hall in 1939. Sangren would be the last WMU faculty member to be buried on campus. Only Waldo and Paul and Flossie Sangren’s ashes are buried on campus.
Burns said that there were never any actual human bodies buried anywhere on campus. That myth is completely false.
Sangren’s ashes are located on the first floor of Sangren Hall near the main entrance. His ashes are placed in the wall behind the metal plaque and the large portrait painting of himself.