By: Wesley Walter
As the second oldest building on Montevallo’s campus, Reynolds Hall has its fair share of ghost stories and sightings. Most notably, the building is said to be haunted by the ghost of Captain Henry Clay Reynolds – the Confederate soldier and university president for whom the building was named.
According to legend, the building served as an infirmary for wounded Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, with Reynolds, who was a lieutenant at the time, having the duty of guarding it. Reynolds was said to have left the building unguarded after hearing that General Sherman’s Union soldiers were marching towards Brierfield Ironworks. With Reynolds and his troops gone to defend Brierfield, Union troops reached the hospital and massacred all the men inside. Reynolds, who was supposedly destroyed by guilt because of his failure to protect his men, then swore to never leave the building again.
Despite being widely believed, this story of the history of Reynolds Hall is largely false since Captain Reynolds was never actually assigned to the building. He served in the Confederate Calvary primarily in Virginia and South Carolina. Furthermore, letters written by Captain Reynolds to his wife indicate that he was actually in Virginia at the time of the supposed massacre.
As for the building itself, although Reynolds Hall may have housed sick or wounded soldiers, it was never officially a hospital. The supposed massacre at Reynolds Hall most likely never occurred either, since there are no existing records reporting that anyone was killed in Montevallo during the time it would have occurred. This factually incorrect history of Captain Reynolds and Reynolds Hall is believed to have been fabricated by a mass communications student for a class project.
Regardless of the building’s history, in the years since students and faculty have reported a number of eerie occurrences in Reynolds Hall such as doors and windows closing by themselves, strange drops in temperature and the feeling that there is an invisible presence wandering through the building.
It was also reported that, after a picture that hangs in Reynolds’ was replaced, the original picture mysteriously reappeared in its former place.
Most notably, there have been sightings of a blue glowing aura and a spectral blue figure of a man that is supposedly the ghost of Captain Reynolds.
Captain Reynolds served as the university president after the Civil War, from 1896-1899. This was after the job was turned down by Julia Tutwiler.
Reynolds was asked by the Board of Trustees to step down as president after he was accused of being unwise with university funds. This included investing in a Selma Bank that failed to be profitable and having students buy supplies from a store run by Reynolds downtown.
Reynolds was greatly embittered by his dismissal from the position of university president, as he felt the school would have certainly folded without his leadership during its early years. This could provide an explanation for why the captain’s spirit may still haunt Reynolds Hall today.