By Hannah Irvin
If you research Alabama ghosts, you will quickly stumble upon the University of Montevallo and her most famous ghost – Condie Cunningham.
Condie was a 16-year-old student at Alabama Girls’ Industrial School in 1908. She was making hot chocolate – or fudge, depending on who you ask – with her roommate late one night. The curfew bell rang and the girls rushed to clean up. In their haste, they knocked over the alcohol-fueled flame and Condie’s nightdress caught on fire. She ran, screaming and panicked, as residents tried to help her put out the fire. By the time it was extinguished, Condie was badly burned. She died less than 48 hours later.
She was initially buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Birmingham but was later moved to Elmwood Cemetery in the Cunningham Family plot.
In the years following her death, a very strange thing happened. Firstly, there were reports that residents heard a young woman screaming as she ran down the hallway.
Secondly, and more famously, Condie’s former room had a wooden door. The grain of the wood revealed what appeared to be a girl’s face, engulfed in flames. The university replaced the door, but the image reappeared. The door was replaced several times, but the image always returned. Eventually, the room was sealed off.
The last door can be seen in the Carmichael Library archives, where you can learn more about Condie and the university’s response to her death. Steps were taken to ensure such an accident never happened again and that students were well cared for during their stay at the school. Perhaps if those steps had been taken sooner, Condie’s ghost would be an old woman instead of a girl, still on fire.