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Palace+TheatreBy Rebecca McDonough

Dark figures slinking through the attic, floorboards creaking from above, whispered strains of music coming from deserted rooms. Are these strange occurrences simply tricks of the light and the results of an old building weathering the elements? Or could there be something more within the walls of the Insite Printing & Graphic Services building?

The ghost stories surrounding the hotels and businesses in Downtown Bryan have been around for decades, originating from the history of Bryan as an old railroad town. “Anywhere you get 19 bars and a boarding house, you probably have some issues going on,” says Insite Office Manager Wendy Seward.

Seward, a self-proclaimed believer in the supernatural, is no stranger to the unusual activity surrounding the Insite Printing building. During her nine years with Insite, she has heard singing and laughing, as well as observed doors opening and papers blowing off desks for no apparent reason. One night, while on the second floor, which still resembles its former life as an old boarding house, Seward recalls hearing a child say, “Hello.” Although no else heard it at the time, the voice was audible on a recording device that had been set up during a hunt for possible paranormal activities.

Manda Jackson, a print advisor for Insite for the past eight years, has also had several encounters with the supernatural, including three separate sightings of dark figures. Jackson’s first sighting occurred when she was alone; she saw an old man wearing suspenders standing in a corner.

The other two sightings were shared experiences.

Seward was present for Jackson’s second encounter, when the two employees saw a dark, male figure wearing a cowboy hat standing by the stairs on the second floor. “It was peeking around at us,” recalls Jackson, “and then it just…darted across in front of us and into the wall.”

Jackson’s third sighting occurred with her sister, when they both saw a dark figure walking toward them before disappearing behind a pillar. All three sightings were upstairs in the former boarding house.

This isn’t the first telling of Insite’s ghost stories. In February 2011, Insite Magazine covered the story of two ghost hunters who conducted a search of the building’s second floor. Both Seward and Jackson were present for the ghost hunt, which is when they saw the dark figure.

They are not the only Insite employees who have had a brush with the supernatural. Molly Barton, operations manager, has had few encounters of her own with the ghosts, but has witnessed other people’s reactions to them throughout her thirteen years with Insite.

Several years ago, Barton was on the second floor moving boxes into a closet with a friend who had never heard about the ghost stories surrounding the Bryan area. Barton says her friend suddenly stepped out of the closet with the hair standing up on his arms, claiming to have heard a male voice saying, “Get out of my closet.” She adds that when she has given tours of the upstairs in the past, people have admitted to strange feelings while traversing the old boarding house.

“The ghosts must not talk to me,” jokes Barton, “because I don’t hear voices or anything.” However, the encounters of other people are enough to make her consider the possibility of supernatural behavior.

So, are these encounters truly paranormal, or are they simply tricks of the mind? Barton is happy to share her opinion: “I believe that the mind is a powerful thing and that there [are] lots of things we will never be able to explain. I don’t really know [if it’s true], but I believe anything is possible.