|Photo by Lori Wolfe, Herald Dispatch|
The following year, Applied Cards Systems leased the building and began a rocky existence in the Huntington location. In May of 1999 15 employees were hospitalized with dizziness, vomiting, and respiratory issues, although inspectors never found any cause for the illness. Later, the company would have issues with parking, a lawsuit filed by the state against them, and lease problems. Twice they threatened to leave the Huntington area, but stuck it out until the official closure of the call center in 2006.
The following year, another call center, PRC opened its doors. PRC's client was DirecTV, so when PRC went bankrupt in 2008, DirecTV worked out a deal to buy the building and maintain over 500 jobs. DirecTV continued to grow and flourish and today is one of Huntington's leading employers. However, they were not destined to stay in the old Ashland Coal Building for long.
When Mountwest Community and Technical College was forced to split from Marshall University, it began looking for a new home. It's first choice was the ideal Ashland Coal Building! It had ample space for classrooms, labs, dining facility, and all the other amenities the campus would need. DirecTV agreed to vacate the building and move down hill into the former Ames building, which shut down in 2001. They made the move to this better suited facility in August of 2011 and after extensive renovations, Mountwest was ready to open the new campus the following year for its Fall semester.
And, like all good institutions of higher learning, this new campus is said to be haunted!
The hauntings actually date back to around 2002, according to a viewer-submitted experience on the StrangeUSA website. According to that person, a security guard working at the Applied Cards center died of heart failure in the fourth floor restroom. Immediately afterward, employees at Applied Cards began reporting paranormal activity throughout the building, but most notably in the basement and on the fourth floor. Doors were said to open and close on their own, even locking themselves without explanation. The smell of pipe tobacco would pop out of nowhere around the halls and offices, only to disappear as quickly and mysteriously as it appeared. The most creepy activity reported is probably the feelings of being watched. People were reporting that they constantly felt as if someone were standing behind them, looking over their shoulder. Obviously when they turned around, they were completely alone.
Today the fourth floor of the building is used as office space, classrooms, and a study area. The basement area is used as dining facilities and locker room facilities. One cannot help wonder if the recent construction and renovation has managed to stir anything up...or has finally laid to rest the paranormal activity that plagued employees of Applied Cards for four years.
I'd love to hear from anyone who has worked in the building, or is going to school at Mountwest and has any information on any possible recent hauntings! You can comment below, or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!