ATG: Mysterious Door in Martin Basement

Biology majors and other regular visitors to Martin may have noticed a mysterious door, in the basement of the building, sporting an intimidating sign that warns students not to enter without expressly informing others of their location.

Senior Technical Specialist for the Biology Department, John Kelly, explained, through email, that the door leads to a bare, dimly lit crawl space below Martin. “After you open the door,” Kelly says, “you walk up a few concrete steps to a roughly 10’ x 12’ dirt-floored area enclosed by a three foot high dirt plateau…there’s only about four feet of clearance between the top of the dirt plateau and the concrete ceiling so it literally is a crawl space.”

The dark cave-like space houses nothing more than electrical cables and pipework. It extends to the opposite end of Martin, where it opens into a sub-basement containing electrical, telephone, and computer network equipment, which is accessible via a door near the south main stairwell of the building. The entrance to the crawl space is kept locked deter any wily explorers, or more appropriately, spelunkers.

As for the daunting sign, Kelly says Swarthmore Facilities posted the warning “shortly after a College staff member had a serious incapacitating accident elsewhere on campus after normal working hours.” While this space, itself, is not very dangerous, Kelly explains that “if something unforeseen were to happen to a person crawling through there…they could be there for a very long time before being found.” Hence, the sign warns employees to inform others before plunging in.

Curious about other mysterious nooks and crevices on campus? Ask the Gazette!


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