Birmingham Public Library
Main Residence Hall
Pickens County Courthouse
The King House
University of Montevallo
By Dr. Frank McCoy
The legend is that Edmund King came into this area in the 1820ís when
Indians, of course, occupied the place, and he carved, quite literally, a
homestead on top of a hill. And
then he built what was certainly the most magnificent house in the county,
and possibly in the entire state. For
example, when you walk in the front door, you will notice the ripple glass
in the walls, which a 19th century sort of architectural touch.
The story is that King was a wealthy man, and his ghost will show up
periodically in one of the upstairs windows, where you can see him
counting his money. A t times, he will lose money or canít figure out
why his books wonít balance, and the he starts roaming the inside of the
house, and people see him walking past the windows.
Then he will go outside, and. Of course, itís dark outside, so he
carries a lantern and a shovel. And
heís really looking at a building just behind the King House, where
there was once an orchard. Supposedly,
he buried his gold in the orchard so that Shermanís army coming through
wouldnít get it.
My first encounter with the ghost actually was a realistic one.
It was my first year hereó1976óand I was hired to come here by
President Kermit Johnson, who had already retired from being a principal
and superintendent in Birmingham. He
seemed to be really old to me back then.
The students would tell you that they had seen the houseís ghost,
and we decided to stake out the place.
My office was in Brock Hall right across the street.
And we decided to wait after nightfall to see if we could se ehim.
And sure enough, we looked up one night, and we saw this shadowy
figure walking around outside of the house, and everywhere this figure
went, it suddenly got very dark. He
went to another place, and it got very dark again.
The third time it got dark, I realized it was the president.
Kermit Johnson was going around turning off all the lights to keep
the utility down. The lights
were on the ground, and he had to bend over.
The students still tell the story, but there is an interesting
phenomenon that you will find at small colleges.
Back in the Ď70ís and Ď80ís, there were much closer
connections between students and faculty.
That connection came because they didnít know that we didnít
know everything, so what developed was the faculty perpetuated many of the
ghost stories on this campus. They would have the students at their homes, and what are you
going to talk to an 18-year-old about over dinner? You are not going to talk about math or science or art
history; youíre going to talk about campus life, and there are few
things more interesting that talking about ghosts, so it became almost
traditional that faculty would tell students about the ghosts, and some
faculty would really embellish those stories.
This is not done so much anymore because there are fewer students
living on campus. Back in
1976, almost all students lived on campus.
Now there is probably only one third of the student body on campus.
In 1976, the faculty was required to live within a few blocks of
the institution. Today, many
of them live within a half hour drive of the place.
So many of those student/faculty relationships have not been