By Linda Weems
Some universities are said to have been built on ancient burial sites; others were apparently the scenes of tragic suicides and unexplained deaths. It’s probably little wonder, then, that so many college campuses are supposedly haunted.
Taking in everything from possessed paintings to mischief-making poltergeists, haunted college ghost legends are as varied as they are chilling. What’s more, while some schools seem to shrug off their allegedly haunted histories, others actively embrace the reputations they have for all things paranormal. Students, meanwhile, have turned the humble ghost story into a campus institution, and tales are enthusiastically passed down from each generation of freshmen to the next.
The question is, which schools can lay claim to being the spookiest in the land? We were dying to find out, which is why we’ve compiled this list of the 50 most haunted colleges and campuses in the United States. Peruse at your peril.
To create this piece, we began by looking at a selection of other articles that have recorded and detailed haunted universities and campuses across the U.S. These include The Daily Caller’s list of “America’s Most Haunted College Campuses,” U.S. News & World Report’s article on “Universities With Haunted Dorms” and The Huffington Post’s “13 Haunted Campuses” list.
Using such information as a starting point, we then separately investigated the notoriety, volume and credibility of the supposed ghost sightings at each potential location. In addition, we determined, wherever possible, when and where on campus a particular sighting or other allegedly paranormal occurrence took place. To do so, we examined reports from university and college websites, as well as articles in local and national media, before making our final selection of 50.
Other lists referred to when first searching for entries included:
Transylvania University – Lexington, Kentucky
“Transylvania” may evoke images of night-dwelling vampires and Dracula’s Castle. However, the word actually derives from the Latin for “across the woods,” which is an appropriate description of Transylvania University’s lush Lexington, Kentucky location. That said, the macabre connotations of the school’s name may also be fitting, as the institution is said to be troubled by a former professor’s dark curse. French naturalist Constantine Rafinesque taught natural history and modern languages at the school from 1819 to 1826. Sadly, he wasn’t particularly well liked by his associates and students, and when he left the institution he uttered his now infamous curse, “Damn thee and thy school as I place a curse upon you.” A year later, the university lost its state funding. Furthermore, a year after that a devastating fire engulfed the campus’ main building, destroying everything but some possessions Rafinesque left behind. Another fire broke out on campus in 1969.
University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Virginia
Following the death of Confederate surgeon Bennett Wood Green in 1913, the physician’s collection of books was bequeathed to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The tomes were placed in the Rotunda library, which the doctor’s ghost is then said to have haunted. Moreover, when the collection was shifted to the Alderman Library in 1938, the ghost apparently went in tow, as staff and students have recounted hearing eerie footsteps and feeling as if they are being watched while in the building. Also located within the library is the Garnett Room, named after Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett, another benefactor. This room is believed to be haunted by the spirit of Garnett’s former doctor; an admirer of his patient’s books while both men were alive, he now looks after the collection, it is said, in death.
The University of Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa
Claims of ghostly experiences made by University of Iowa students hit headlines in 2012. Six members of the Iowa City school’s baseball team and a club hockey player reported that a spirit with a penchant for flicking through TV channels was haunting their shared home. And while their account was treated in jest, other more sinister tales have gone on to become urban myth – particularly an apparent suicide pact involving three female residents of the university’s Currier Hall dormitory. As the story goes, the fourth-floor occupants were discussing their new boyfriends, only to realize that they were talking about the same man. None of the girls were willing to give him – or each other – up, though, so instead they collectively ended their lives. What’s more, their ghosts, it is said, emerge whenever current residents have an argument.
Flagler College – St. Augustine, Florida
Flagler College’s impressive centerpiece is the historic former Hotel Ponce de León building. Henry Morrison Flagler – the industrialist after whom the St. Augustine school is named – oversaw construction of the grand edifice in the late 1880s. Despite great business success, Flagler endured a thorny personal life: his first wife passed away, his second was institutionalized, and one of his mistresses, it is said, hanged herself on the fourth floor of the Florida hotel. As for the building, it became part of the university in 1968 and was renamed Ponce de Leon Hall. According to students, the fourth floor remained out of bounds for many years, and this has surely given rise to ghostly gossip. Furthermore, Flagler died in 1913 and requested that all of the exits be kept open at his funeral in the hotel’s lobby; however, the doors and other openings were shut by a janitor, and some hold that Flagler’s ghost is eternally trapped in the building.
California State University Channel Islands – Camarillo, California
It may have only opened in 2002, but Camarillo’s California State University Channel Islands makes this most-haunted list by virtue of its spooky locality. The school’s campus was constructed on the site of the former Camarillo State Hospital – regarded as among the country’s most notorious mental health facilities. Between 1936 and 1997, over 1,000 patients died at the institution – some due to the passage of time, others from neglect and sickness – and shock therapy was reportedly commonplace. Paranormal investigators have visited the university’s grounds, believing them to be an active location for supernatural goings-on, while students have experienced the former hospital’s “unique eeriness” as well, with one mentioning a door that apparently locked itself. It’s perhaps appropriate, then, that the site was used to portray a creepy psychiatric facility in 2002 horror movie The Ring, while crews from TV shows like The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have also filmed here.
North Dakota State University – Fargo, North Dakota
It’s perhaps appropriate that North Dakota State University’s Ceres Hall should harbor a ghost, given how close it was to acquiring a rather ghoulish moniker. During the administration building’s construction at the beginning of the 20th century, there were plans to name it for Jessie Slaughter, the first woman to enroll at the Fargo school. However, in order to prevent students from relabeling it “Slaughter House,” the hall’s name was instead chosen to honor the Roman agricultural deity. Notwithstanding, it was on the building’s third floor that, during the Second World War, a man is believed to have hanged himself. A number of strange occurrences have been noted since, with some holding that the man’s spirit continues to haunt the place where he died. Moreover, such goings-on have likely caught the attention of the university’s Anthropology Club, which today runs an annual on-campus ghost tour that explores sites of supposed paranormal activity.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale – Carbondale, Illinois
A former mental health institution and nursing home located close to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s grounds, Sunset Haven was a fascinating venue to paranormal investigators. It was obtained by the school in 1957 and, after being renamed Building 207, hosted the institution’s agricultural courses. Over the years there were reports of phenomena including creepy groaning noises, the sound of clanking shackles and flickering lights being perceived in the building. Unfortunately for potential ghost hunters, though, the two-floor structure fell into disrepair, and it was eventually demolished in October 2013. Intriguingly, as recounted in local newspaper the Carbondale Times, researcher Bruce Cline believes that 87 burials occurred in the grounds around Sunset Haven over 66 years, from 1877 onwards. Despite the building’s demolition, however, in November 2013 the publication reported that the university has “no plans” to disrupt the graves.
Wichita State University – Wichita, Kansas
Doors are said to shut of their own accord at Wichita State University’s Wilner Auditorium, the Kansas school’s 1938-built theater. Some have reported beholding spectral visions there, while the utterances of ethereal voices have also apparently been heard. The ghost of namesake George Wilner – who headed the university’s theater program from 1923, before retiring in 1960 – is reckoned to be responsible for these antics. Wilner’s spirit is thought to be affable, but former psychology major Rachel Maxey thinks it has a “mischievous” side as well. The co-founder of the school’s Comprehensive Research in the Existence of Entities in the Paranormal Society (CREEPS) group, Maxey once probed the ghostly goings-on at Wilner Auditorium and concluded that students shouldn’t be overly concerned about the paranormal activity that has reportedly taken place inside the theater.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota – Winona, Minnesota
Inaugurated in 1920, Heffron Hall at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota was named after its school’s creator, Bishop Patrick Richard Heffron. The legend of the “Ghost of Heffron Hall” is said to stem from two separate incidents that occurred at the Winona institution. The first was the failed killing of Bishop Heffron by a subordinate of his, Father Lesches, in 1915, while a second episode in 1931 concerned a different priest – the unfortunate Father Edward Lynch. According to some, Lynch was electrocuted to death in his bed in Heffron Hall, where his badly burned body was discovered in a third-floor room. Sightings of ghost-like apparitions have been reported in the dorm, and strange noises have also allegedly been heard. Residents have said that they’ve in addition experienced chilly drafts, despite all access ways being firmly shut.
Salem State University – Salem, Massachusetts
As many know, Salem State University is located in the same Massachusetts city that hosted the notorious 17th-century witch trials – and appropriately, perhaps, there seem to be some malign forces at work in the school to this day. The Bowditch Hall residence is reputed to be the campus’ most haunted building, largely down to the mysterious activity that has allegedly taken place in room 222. When a story was made up about a triple student murder supposedly committed in the room in the 1970s, little did anyone know that the ghost, or ghosts, the tale spawned would come to life with such persistence. If reports are to be believed, noisy banging sounds can be heard from within the walls of the space, yet strangely, despite their volume, they can’t be detected outside. Perhaps more terrifying is the shaking of room 222’s bed, a phenomenon that has apparently been violent enough to throw occupants onto the floor. So far, no one has been able to explain the animated spirits’ motives.
University of Southern Maine – Portland, Maine
The University of Southern Maine’s Robie Andrews residence hall was built in two parts – the first constructed in 1897 and the second in 1916 – and it wasn’t long into its history that the building is said to have acquired a ghost. A student, so the story goes, fell pregnant and, possibly unable to live with the repercussions, then killed herself on the facility’s fourth level. Subsequent inhabitants have reportedly heard eerie footsteps and felt peculiar temperature changes. This may not just be down to the unfortunate girl, though, as some students believe that at least four other spirits reside in Robie Andrews. Occupants there have also allegedly experienced their possessions being mysteriously reshuffled and the sensation of being grasped. Still, such uncanny goings-on haven’t deterred the Portland dorm from arranging a full program of residents’ events – including the telling of ghost tales in the attic, where those eerie footsteps are supposed to have been detected.
The University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The University of Alabama’s Woods Hall was completed between 1867 and 1868, and shortly after its construction it was reportedly the setting for a gunfight between two male students. With the honor of a female relative of one of the opponents at stake, the pair decided to settle the score the traditional way: with pistols. After the gunfire, one man toppled over the balcony – dying either from a gunshot wound or his subsequent fall. Today, around 140 years after the incident, some still hold that this student’s ghost strides along Woods Hall’s balcony. The Tuscaloosa school’s Little Round House building, meanwhile, is home to another campus legend. According to the story, three Union soldiers were lured there by the promise of whiskey, only to be shot dead by a Confederate cadet hiding within. Some say the soldiers can, even now, be heard digging about for what was promised to them.
Rose Hill Campus, Fordham University – New York City, New York
With buildings that resemble castles, Fordham University’s Gothic-inspired Rose Hill Campus certainly looks ghost-worthy – and appropriately this New York City school doesn’t flatter to deceive on the haunting front. The campus’ principal building is Keating Hall, which dates back to 1936 and may have been constructed atop old morgue tunnels. This story may suggest why, in the 1970s, a security guard taking a brief time out in the building’s basement lounge observed chairs seemingly knocking themselves into a wall and doors shutting unaided. Perhaps inspired by this and other tales – like that of the ghostly hand that reportedly contacts unsuspecting shoulders on Keating Hall’s third floor – multiple films have been shot here, including The Exorcist. Interestingly, Father William O’Malley, who played Father Joe Dyer in the notorious horror movie, went on to teach theology at the campus’ Fordham Preparatory School until 2012.
Hamilton College – Clinton, New York
As Hamilton College’s assistant director of campus safety, Wayne Gentile presumably feels duty-bound to inform new undergraduates about the New York school’s spectral occurrences – just so they know what to expect with the bumps in the night. Gentile gives ghost tours of Hamilton’s Clinton campus that must surely include a stop outside the institution’s 100 College Hill Road student duplex. The building was occupied by Hamilton co-founder William Anderson and his children in the 1830s, and the Anderson family maintained a physical presence there until 1922, when Susan Anderson, William’s last surviving daughter, passed away. Susan had inhabited the place for practically her whole life, as had her two sisters, Harriet and Myra. Furthermore, subsequent occupants of the building – now used for temporary university accommodation – have reported spooky experiences involving the Anderson sisters’ ghosts, who purportedly watch over residents at night and cause floorboards to creak. Former Hamilton English professor Frank Ristine bought the house once Susan had passed on, but he apparently refused to sleep there on his own.
Montclair State University – Montclair, New Jersey
In 2010 Montclair State University’s Clove Road Apartments – built in the 1970s – were given a comprehensive revamp and rechristened Hawk Crossings. However, according to students who have lived there, the residences potentially contain something more macabre than just new windows, kitchens and bathrooms. In a 2014 interview with website Wired Jersey, television and digital media student and Hawk Crossings resident Chelsea Hermann described perceiving some presence in her closet, saying, “I heard something in there, like, kind of like pounding, like something making noise. And I walked by the door, and the door just started shaking back and forth.” Photography major Correy Dewindt also told the website that he once saw “a shadow” walking across his room, before the apparition paused at his roommate’s bed and then seemingly vanished. Other Hawk Crossings residents have reported phenomena such as flickering lights and even the inexplicable sound of a girl laughing in the hallway.
Georgetown University – Washington, D.C.
It took 24 years to fully complete Healy Hall, the landmark structure of Georgetown University’s Washington, D.C. campus, and when it was finally finished in 1901, the stage was set for some seriously sinister events. According to the legend, the building’s fifth floor was once home to a Jesuit minister who spent time examining ancient texts that relate various ways of conquering nefarious spirits. Such literature is held to be dangerous in untrained hands, so when the priest’s apprentice found the work and began reading passages out loud, all hell is said to have broken loose – literally, as according to the story a gateway to the underworld appeared right then and there. Some believe that malicious ghosts have been present in the building ever since, and witnesses have recounted noticing items that travel of their own accord, flashing lights and inexplicably changing temperatures.
University of Maryland – College Park, Maryland
Erected in 1898, the University of Maryland’s Morrill Hall is among the most historic – and most haunted – structures on the College Park school’s grounds. In 2002 the Maryland Spirits and Ghosts Association reported detecting multiple benign phantoms inside the building, while workers are believed to have discovered cadaverous remains beneath a sink during a 2003 renovation. Could the specters of those dead be the reason why people here inexplicably trip over, or why eerie sounds are detected at night? Marie Mount Hall, meanwhile, is held to harbor the ghost of the university’s earliest home economics dean, after whom the building is named. Campus staff claim to have heard the spirit of Marie Mount playing a piano during nighttime storms, and a paranormal investigator has recounted sensing her presence. Elsewhere, a creepy shadow is said to have been spotted in H.J. Patterson Hall, which was built in 1931.
Kansas State University – Manhattan, Kansas
Kansas State University’s Memorial Stadium has been the site of the Manhattan school’s most enduring ghostly urban legend for half a century. In the 1950s the parents of a Kansas State student known only as “Nick” supposedly perished in an automobile accident on their way to see their son play a football game in the stadium. Meanwhile, Nick was on the receiving end of a brutal tackle during the game and died from his injuries in the stadium’s refectory. Since his death, Nick apparently still wanders the scene of his demise, looking for his mom and dad. And while no one claims to have actually seen his spirit, people have reported witnessing floating fire extinguishers spurting foam and mysteriously moving wooden boxes. Interestingly, the Purple Masque Theater is also based in the stadium, and the apparition of a Confederate soldier has reportedly been spotted on its stage.
University of South Florida – Tampa, Florida
Former University of South Florida librarian Paul Camp is thought to have been fond of telling students about the spirit of a troubled young girl that supposedly haunts the Tampa school’s library. An English student called “Gottlieb” is said to have worked on the library’s fourth floor, but she reportedly took her own life towards the end of 1976. Since then, her green rucksack-wearing ghost has apparently appeared fleetingly, and while sightings are few and far between, the girl’s spectral presence still seems to spook people. “You always get the eerie feeling you’re being watched and get that paranoid sense of someone behind you walking through the library,” explained then psychology major Asa Semp in 2010. Meanwhile, Semp’s friend Brianna McClenithan, a music major at the time, imparted that she once became “unsettled” while looking for a text. Others have reported seeing book carts move of their own accord and automatic doors mysteriously opening.
The University of Vermont – Burlington, Vermont
In the mid-20th century, a medical student reportedly hanged himself in a residential building close to The University of Vermont’s Burlington campus. Shortly after his death, the story states, the deceased’s roommates reported experiencing visions of being treated by a stethoscope-wearing doctor at night. Then, mysteriously, medical recommendations allegedly began appearing beside their beds, seemingly written by the ghost of “Doctor Jack.” Joseph Citro, author of The Vermont Ghost Guide, has also reported uncovering instances of paranormal activity at a number of campus buildings – including Converse Hall, which is believed to be frequented by the ghost of another former medical student. “Henry,” as he’s called, is held to have killed himself in the building in the 1920s, and his spirit’s habits are more mischievous than those attributed to “Doctor Jack.” Apparently “Henry” has a penchant for playing with windows and doors, and both students and staff have told of lights inexplicably turning back on after they’ve switched them off.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville – Knoxville, Tennessee
The McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture is located on the University of Tennessee System’s Knoxville campus. Legend has it that the museum was constructed above a Native American cave and that the previous inhabitants still wander its halls. Something altogether more terrifying, though, is said to occupy Hess Hall, built in 1962. The building was the scene of an apparent student suicide in the 1970s, and the deceased’s tormented spirit can reportedly be heard shrieking even now. In 2010 one former student also described a vision he saw from his fraternity house in the late 1970s. “I looked out the window and saw an elderly lady walking down the street,” Dr. Bill DeWees explained to university publication Torchbearer. “Suddenly, this black bull… comes charging up behind her and runs over the top of her… I called the packing house across the river and was told no bovine had escaped.”
Cornell University – Ithaca, New York
Ithaca’s Cornell University is home to seemingly sophisticated spirits, as male apparitions in tuxedos are said to have appeared in the school’s Collegiate Gothic Willard Straight Hall, seemingly on their way to a formal event. Another legend concerns a terrible 1967 fire that ripped through Cornell’s North Campus Ecology House. The blaze took the lives of half a dozen undergraduates, three graduate scholars and a faculty member. Since then, students have allegedly heard mysterious footsteps and voices, while others claim to have seen specters in their bedrooms. Central Campus’ Olin Library, meanwhile, is thought to host the malevolent ghost of a woman who was either crushed by a toppling bookshelf or else mangled in mechanized shelves on the library’s lower floor.
Illinois State University – Normal, Illinois
In 1890 Angeline Milner became Illinois State University’s earliest dedicated librarian. What’s more, her commitment was such that, according to local myth, she died while sorting through a collection of scientific literature in 1928. The Normal, Illinois school’s library and its books have switched locations a number of times since Milner’s death, most notably to Williams Hall in 1940 and to the eponymous Milner Library, which opened in 1976. Still, this hasn’t stopped people reporting to have spotted Milner’s ghost since the 1980s, with a ghostly figure apparently hushing library visitors, not to mention books moving by themselves. Because of the library’s transfers from building to building, it’s believed that the spirit of “Aunt Ange” doesn’t actually haunt a particular area, but rather the texts over which she presided.
Iowa State University – Ames, Iowa
Originally constructed in 1927, Iowa State University’s Friley Hall is perhaps the Ames school’s scariest building; indeed, one of its rooms has been nicknamed “Satan’s Legion.” In 2014 student Sterling DeLoatch told The Des Moines Register that a former resident once committed suicide in the creepily named room, adding that anybody who has subsequently moved in either “dies or goes missing.” Apparently, the situation became so bad that the room was permanently closed – though this may actually have been for fire safety reasons. Elsewhere on campus, Gold Star Hall – which was opened in 1928 and honors the memory of more than 500 alumni killed in military conflicts since the onset of World War One – has its own spooky history. Among the dearly departed was a solitary woman: home economics graduate Hortense Elizabeth Wind, whose lonely ghost is said to roam the building, possibly searching for another female to chat to.
Washington Square Campus, New York University – New York City, New York
New York University’s Washington Square campus sits on the graves of approximately 20,000 people, with the land having hosted a cemetery until 1825. However, if late 19th-century rumors are to be believed, it isn’t one of the spirits of these dead that haunts the school’s University Building; rather, it’s the ghost of a student who supposedly committed suicide on campus – although this tale might actually have been taken from the plot of an NYU alumnus’ novel. The Brown Building’s tragic past has also made it the focus of supernatural stories: a devastating fire that raged there in 1911, when it was part of a garment factory, killed 146 workers – and students today have apparently told of eerie noises and smoky odors in the building. Brittany Hall, meanwhile, occasionally harks back to its previous incarnation as the Brittany Hotel. It seems that the parties at this Prohibition-era hotspot never stopped, and some occupants still claim to hear strange music and observe unexplainable lights there.
Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
A little over a decade after Loyola University’s foundation in 1870 – when the Chicago Jesuit-affiliated school was known as St. Ignatius College – a priest and a nun reportedly began a relationship. As the story goes, the nun fell pregnant and gave the priest a proposal: she would give up her position if he would do the same. When the priest declined, the devastated sister reportedly hanged herself on the 14th floor of what is now the school’s Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts (previously Mundelein College). The priest later discovered the nun’s body and was apparently so distraught that he promptly unfastened a window and leapt from the building to his death. Students have since reported a flickering glow emanating from the same window, not to mention a vision of a hanging human form, while others claim to have heard the sound of a man weeping, his subsequent scream and then an abrupt hush.
Miami University – Oxford, Ohio
Helen Peabody, the former principal of the Western College for Women, was considered a severe woman. One of her notable gripes was men from neighboring Miami University soliciting the attentions of the young ladies attending the school she presided over from 1855 to 1888. Following Peabody’s death in 1905, the Oxford, Ohio women-only institution’s Seminary Hall was rechristened Peabody Hall in her honor. Quite what the woman herself would have made of the school merging with Miami University in 1974 is anybody’s guess, but the behavior of her purported ghost in the building bearing her name gives a reasonably clear indication. Some believe that the principal continues to protect Peabody Hall’s women residents by haunting the men there. What’s more, her portrait, which hangs in the building’s foyer, apparently blinks when people guilty of acts she would have frowned upon walk by it.
Boston University – Boston, Massachusetts
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill is among America’s most celebrated dramatists. Sadly, O’Neill’s personal life wasn’t always so auspicious: after a series of family problems, he saw out the closing two years of his life on the fourth floor of Boston’s Shelton Hotel, where he eventually succumbed to bronchial pneumonia in 1953. The hotel was acquired by Boston University the following year and renamed Shelton Hall, and while guests were replaced by student residents, O’Neill’s ghost was seemingly reluctant to leave. For some reason, the elevator likes to make unscheduled stops on the fourth level, and the hall lights are reputedly more muted here than they are on other stories. David Zamojski, a former residence manager of Shelton Hall – renamed Kilachand Hall in 2012 – has said that students have communicated to him that they anticipate being “inspired to write their creative best by virtue of being on the fourth floor.” Others, he added, actively “wanted to connect with [O’Neill’s] spirit.”
Indiana University Bloomington – Bloomington, Indiana
Years ago, or so the story goes, a doctor working on the current site of Indiana University Bloomington’s Career Development Center began carrying out illegal abortions. His services were apparently offered to students with nowhere else to turn, but eventually the doctor is said to have started perceiving the unmistakable sound of crying infants. Moreover, since then others have also reported hearing the wailing babies. The school’s Read Hall dormitory, meanwhile, is believed to have once been occupied by continually warring lovers: a medical student and his girlfriend. Finally, in a fit of rage, the medic is rumored to have used a scalpel to fatally gouge his beau in the neck and then to have concealed her grisly remains in the basement. Nevertheless, the girl’s spirit, complete with signature yellow nightdress and flowing hair, reputedly still returns to trouble new inhabitants of Read Hall.
The University of Akron – Akron, Ohio
Constructed in 1871 at the request of industrialist John Hower and his spouse Susan, The University of Akron’s Hower House is so spooky that some students apparently refuse to cross its threshold. According to the legend, Susan Hower became furious after discovering that her husband John had been unfaithful, and she held onto this anger for the rest of her life. Since her death in 1896, a number of people have reported seeing Susan’s enraged spirit, which seemingly targets any male who dares to step inside the National Historic Landmark. The school’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house, meanwhile, is said to be occupied by the spirit of a girl who hanged herself inside. Some claim to have had brushes with the young woman’s phantom, while others have described observing strange lights.
Texas State University – San Marcos, Texas
Ghost tours are offered to freshmen arriving at Texas State University, presumably to warn them about what to potentially expect during their time at the school’s spooky San Marcos campus. One tale centers on formidable-looking Old Main, which was opened in 1903. Legend has it that a student plummeted from the Gothic building’s third floor while renovation work was underway, and some believe that her book-wielding ghost still roams the halls, attempting to figure out a route to class. Meanwhile, something more sinister is said to have taken place at Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, where during an initiation ceremony a number of years ago, a group of new members were purportedly killed. When investigators from ghost-hunting group Weird U.S. paid the building a visit, prior to it succumbing to a fire in 2007, they described observing the words “Help me” and “I’m sorry” scratched into kitchen worktops, not to mention vanishing bloody handprints on the walls.
University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, Indiana
In 2004 the Travel Channel’s Haunted Campuses show rolled onto the University of Notre Dame’s Indiana campus. The production team must surely have been hoping to catch a sighting of the ghost of George Gipp, a college football superstar who competed for Notre Dame from 1917 until his death in 1920. “The Gipper,” as he was affectionately dubbed, lost his fight with pneumonia at the age of just 25, and legend has it that he still relives his university days in spirit form by haunting Washington Hall, his old residence. Interest in Gipp’s ghost hasn’t gone away, either. Former chemical engineering undergraduate Bryce Chung set up the Notre Dame Ghost Tour, which attracted 100 eager ghost hunters for Halloween 2008. Chung himself claims to have had a chilling experience in the school’s South Dining Hall, when a radio seemingly switched itself on of its own accord. “I wasn’t going to stand around long enough to find out what that was,” he explained after the eerie incident.
University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida
From the outside, the University of Florida’s Beaty Towers appear to be ordinary, 1960s-built student apartment blocks, but there’s nothing typical about the spooky events reported to have occurred within. A past resident who was pregnant is said to have leapt to her death from one of the towers, and according to current students, her ghost can still be seen, and heard, on a regular basis. Another of the university’s Gainesville dorms, Thomas Hall – which opened its doors in 1906 – is reputedly haunted by the phantom of the building’s former refectory chef, “Steve.” The cafeteria no longer remains, but “Steve” apparently continues to make his presence known by crashing pots and pans against one another. Meanwhile, a more tragic tale concerns James W. Norman Hall, which was the site of an elevator accident that resulted in the death of a number of children. Rather eerily, the children have been said to linger around the third floor, laughing and playing in spirit form.
The University of Tampa – Tampa, Florida
When it opened at the end of the 19th century, Florida’s five-story Tampa Bay Hotel attracted some illustrious guests. The likes of Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt stayed at the establishment, before it took on a quite different role in the 1930s as what would be named The University of Tampa’s Plant Hall. However, the building’s most notorious visitor is someone – or something – more anonymous. Most students are familiar with the story of the “Brown Man,” the apparition of a red-eyed man in a brown suit who is apparently known to show up and vanish without warning on a staircase in the building. Not all sightings are necessarily by students, though: associate art professor Santiago Echeverry once claimed to have had a supernatural experience in Plant Hall’s historic Fletcher Lounge ballroom. His colleague, assistant professor Tracy Morse, told university newspaper The Minaret that Echeverry “said he saw two ghosts” in the ballroom following a Halloween party that took place in 2006. Theater professor Michael Staczar, meanwhile, has reported seeing a human-shaped “presence” on the school’s grounds.
State University of New York College at Cortland – Cortland, New York
Constructed in the 1960s, Clark Hall on the State University of New York College at Cortland’s campus doesn’t seem that creepy from the outside. The same might not be said for Clark’s room 716, though, for this is where the “Gridiron Ghost” allegedly resides. Thought to be the spirit of a former football player – although his identity remains unknown – the uniform-wearing apparition is said to sport a permanently bleeding gash near his eyebrow. Cheney Hall’s resident specter, however, has both a name and an apparently rather unfortunate past. “Elizabeth” is believed to have died after falling down a flight of stairs from the fourth floor. Some assert that she was pushed by her boyfriend; others that fighting with him drove her to suicide. Either way, since then it has become lore that Elizabeth safeguards others from something like the same tragic outcome, and students have reportedly seen a “misty” female form with outstretched arms on the fourth level.
University of Montevallo – Montevallo, Alabama
In 1908 University of Montevallo student Condie Cunningham’s nighttime fudge-making in the school’s Main Hall kitchen reportedly saw her come to a sticky end. In the rush to clean up the mess after the instruction for lights out came, one of Cunningham’s cohorts spilled a bottle of extremely flammable cleaning fluid, such that it poured onto the open stove. Cunningham suffered horrific burns from the resulting fire, and a couple of days afterward she died in hospital from her injuries – although her tortured spirit supposedly lingers, over a century after the accident. Kathy Lowe, director of the Alabama school’s Carmichael Library, told the Shelby County Reporter that women students have “reported hearing screaming and moaning in the hall, and on the wooden door of her dorm room, you could see [Cunningham’s] face – eyes, nose and mouth with flames.” Lowe added that the door was later removed owing to undue curiosity.
Eastern Illinois University – Charleston, Illinois
Eastern Illinois University’s Pemberton Hall women’s dorm – which opened its doors in 1909 – is said to harbor the spirit of Mary Hawkins, its former director. Hawkins passed away in 1917, but legend has it that she can still be heard whispering to “her girls” to check they’re okay. Hawkins’ legacy is certainly taken seriously: in September 2014 Gilbert Hawkins, Mary’s great grandnephew, traveled to the Charleston school from New Zealand to learn about his relative and the ghost stories that surround her. However, a more disturbing tale centers on Pemberton Hall’s fourth floor, where a deranged janitor is purported to have killed an unfortunate resident with an axe. The victim, it is said, can still be heard scratching at doors, perhaps in a vain attempt to draw attention to her plight. Fortunately, the fourth level today serves storage purposes.
Michigan State University – East Lansing, Michigan
A fervent supporter of women’s education, Mary Anne Mayo was a well-known personage at Michigan’s State Agricultural College – renamed Michigan State University in 1964. Having died in 1903, Mayo never lived to see the 1931 construction of Sylvan Lodge, which was later rechristened Mayo Hall in her honor. Nevertheless, the woman’s passing apparently hasn’t prevented her from visiting the dorm at the East Lansing school. There are reports of a mysterious female figure – potentially Mary’s ghost – that moves through the corridors of Mayo Hall, not to mention of lights switching off of their own accord, while it’s also said a piano is occasionally heard playing itself. Mary’s portrait is on view on the first floor, too, and some say her eyes follow people passing by. Legend has it, meanwhile, that darker events took place in the building’s fourth-floor attic, where a “red room” was reputedly a location for séances and satanic rites. This space has since been sealed shut.
Drew University – Madison, New Jersey
“A lot of stuff has gone on here,” were the ominous words uttered by Preternatural Research Society founder Deryl Mitzen when addressing an audience at Drew University in 2009. Some of this “stuff” is reputedly the work of Roxanna Mead Drew – or rather her spirit. The former wife of Wall Street banker and Drew Theological Seminary benefactor Daniel Drew died back in 1876, but her ghost has shown no signs of retiring to the afterlife. She, or it, is said to haunt the alcoves of the campus’ central building, Mead Hall. One former senior student claimed to have perceived footsteps there one weekend, saying, “I locked the door behind me; I knew there was no one else in the building on a Saturday, but I heard footsteps on the main staircase, and downstairs in the hall below.” Two security guards, meanwhile, reported a door banging shut of its own accord in the building.
Huntingdon College – Montgomery, Alabama
Margaret – or Martha, depending on who tells the story – never really did want to attend Montgomery’s Huntingdon College. For one, she was from New York – a far cry from Alabama. After relocating to enroll at the school, the young woman quickly became known among other students for her penchant for the color red. However, the Pratt Hall resident – later immortalized as the “Red Lady” – remained isolated and withdrawn, and she was eventually driven to slit her wrists in her own dorm room. Since then, students old and new have allegedly sighted the girl’s ghost, with supernatural activity apparently escalating on the anniversary of her death – when a strange red glow is said to be visible issuing from what was her onetime fourth floor room. Spookily, this spirit is actually Huntingdon’s second Red Lady: the first such phantom was spotted in the school’s former Tuskegee location in the 1800s, although she is only thought to have appeared once.
Gettysburg College – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
As everyone knows, Gettysburg College shares its name with an important American Civil War battle – an occasion that set the Union on a path for triumph, albeit with the death toll for both sides totaling in the tens of thousands. The Pennsylvania school was born in 1832, over three decades before the battle, and its Pennsylvania Hall centerpiece was turned into a military hospital during the fierce clashes. Inevitably, this was a place of great suffering, and this is said to have been re-enacted in spectral form a century later. One evening in the mid-1960s, two campus employees took the elevator down to the building’s first level; however, it refused to stop, carrying them right down into the basement. Expecting to see a nondescript storage area, the personnel were instead greeted by a macabre field hospital scene. Soldiers lay dead or close to death on the floor as blood-sodden doctors struggled to cope amid the chaos. Unusually, perhaps, the whole reported scenario played out silently.
University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia
Founded at the beginning of the 19th century, the University of Georgia “offers an abundance of stories that fit right in with the classic ghost tale.” This is according to assistant director of student programs Evan Tighe, who oversees yearly ghost tours of the Athens campus, around Halloween. The unsettling accounts referred to include the tale of Susie Carithers, who near the end of the 19th century was presented with a rather sizable wedding present: a home that would later become the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house. Sadly for Carithers, though, she was left standing at the altar – or so she thought, for the groom was simply running remarkably late. Even so, stricken with grief, the apparently jilted bride killed herself by hanging in her home’s loft – from where her ghost can supposedly be spotted gazing even now. In the Phi Mu sorority house, meanwhile, students have purportedly used a Ouija board to make contact with the spirit of heartbroken Anna Hamilton, whose fiancé is said to have been murdered by one of his family and buried directly in front of the building.
Kenyon College – Gambier, Ohio
Having been established in 1824, Kenyon College is Ohio’s oldest private higher education school. It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that its Gambier-based grounds have ghost stories aplenty. However, unlike the case with most such campus tales, the spooky goings-on aren’t limited to classrooms and dorms; instead, they begin at the college’s south grounds entrance, also known as “The Gates of Hell.” Legend has it that unfortunates who pass through the gates at midnight as the nearby Church of the Holy Spirit bells start ringing risk being sent straight to hell. Other campus ghost stories emerged from real events, notably the 1949 fire that gutted dorm building Old Kenyon, resulting in the tragic deaths of nine students. Shaffer Dance Studio, meanwhile, is purportedly haunted by what has been nicknamed the “Greenhouse Ghost.” The spirit is apparently that of a student who it is claimed lost his life there in a freak diving accident when the glass-roofed building housed a swimming pool.
University of Northern Colorado – Greeley, Colorado
According to the University of Northern Colorado’s website, there’s “a ghost story for almost every building” on its Greeley campus. Arguably the best-known campus spirit is that of “Edith,” a depressed former resident adviser who, it is said, hanged herself in the attic of the school’s Wiebking Hall dormitory. Apparently, during her time in the land of the living Edith had a penchant for marbles, and students report that she can still be heard playing with them in the building’s loft. Another legend concerns Florence Sabin – who was among the earliest professional female physicians-cum-research scientists. Moreover, despite the fact that at no point was she actually a teacher at the university, Sabin Hall was named after this pioneering scientist, and a portrait of her was hung in the facility, too. Nevertheless, after the painting went missing one day, a number of unexplained and spooky occurrences reportedly began. Witnesses say doors have opened of their own accord, and eerie rattling and creaking sounds have also been perceived in the building.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Urbana, Illinois
Literature and film students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign should take note: the school’s English Building is said to harbor the ghost of a drowned young woman. During the structure’s time as a women’s dorm from 1905 to 1937, an unfortunate student allegedly went to her watery grave in the swimming pool that was there and which has since been converted into an atrium. Another version of the story has it that the student was murdered. Regardless of how she met her death, though, her spirit has since reportedly been seen staring from a third-floor window and aimlessly walking the halls. Next door to the English Building on the university’s Urbana campus is Lincoln Hall, where on occasion a mysterious face can apparently be observed in one of the top windows. Such spooky tales have captured the imagination of folklore professor Susan Gray Davis, who has said, regarding the campus and its stories, “There really are scary things that happen.”
Wells College – Aurora, New York
Aurora’s Wells College takes its ghostly history seriously; so much so, in fact, that in the early 1990s some of the most enduring tales of the supernatural were recorded and added to the New York school’s archives. One of these concerns “Max,” a security guard who lost his life while evacuating students during a fire that destroyed the previous incarnation of Wells’ Morgan Hall. Today, students still occasionally feel the guard’s insistent pushes when walking down the building’s stairs. Another story centers on the Main Building’s red door, behind which lay the student victims of a dreadful winter flu outbreak. The door was painted its warning color to prevent people from unwittingly entering the provisional morgue it led to, but after the bodies were either buried or cremated and the door repainted, the red seeped through – perhaps to signify the space’s macabre former use. Today, as the building has since been refurbished, nobody knows for sure which room had the infamous red door.
East Tennessee State University – Johnson City, Tennessee
One of the many qualities for which East Tennessee State University (ETSU) founding president Sidney Gilbreath could be praised is his dedication to duty. Gilbreath passed away in 1961, but his ghost apparently still resides in the Johnson City institution’s Gilbreath Hall – not to scare students, but to switch off lights that have been left on and close windows left open. Another less practically minded spirit is said to dwell in sorority house Lucille Clement Hall. Residents know that the ghost, dubbed “Marble Boy,” has come to say hello when they hear the sound of marbles rolling around the upper level; once they go upstairs, though, there’s no one to be seen. In Burleson Hall, meanwhile, the spirit of former ETSU English teacher Christine Burleson – who died in 1967 – reportedly occupies a picture of David Sinclair Burleson, her dad. Students say that his, or her, eyes track people as they walk past.
Hollins University – Roanoke, Virginia
According to Hollins University’s 2012 guidebook, a number of urban legends center on the school’s Roanoke campus, the majority of them concerning ghosts. Indeed, the publication states that “almost every building” more than a century old is said to harbor a past student’s spirit. For while the Virginia institution assumed its full university identity in 1998, its roots as a coeducational college stretch back to 1842. Today’s campus features many historic buildings – like Presser Hall, completed in 1925 and home to the music department. It was here, so the story goes, that a female student began a relationship with her piano teacher, who later murdered her during practice. What’s more, apparently her ghost still haunts the building as a dark figure visible in a window. In the school’s Main Building, meanwhile, is the Green Drawing Room, where it is held that a student shot herself – and that her spirit continues to reside there.
Pennsylvania State University – University Park, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University’s Old Botany Building may look charming, but it has a sinister legend attached. The cottage – which dates back to 1909 – is said to harbor the ghost of Frances Atherton, the widow of former university president George W. Atherton. Following his death in 1906, Atherton was buried just to the side of the Schwab Auditorium, which itself sits directly opposite Old Botany. This allowed the grieving widow to watch over her late husband’s grave from the redbrick residence, and legend has it that her spirit still does so from an upstairs window. Numerous ghostly sightings have also been recorded at the auditorium itself. Rachel Moeser, president of the school’s University Park campus-based Paranormal Research Society, has said that inside the building, which was completed in 1903, “there seems to be the ghost of a janitor, and we think there is a female spirit in the theater.” Others, meanwhile, believe that Atherton himself haunts the auditorium, but whatever the real identity of the spectral presence, students have nicknamed the venue “Schwaboo.”
Ohio University – Athens, Ohio
Ohio University’s Athens main campus is said to have had the lion’s share of spooky goings-on, most notably in Wilson Hall’s infamous room 428, where in the 1970s a female occupant started behaving oddly. The student began intoning in a strange tongue, alarming her friends, but before they could intercede the girl had plummeted to her death from a window. At the time, she was reportedly practicing astral projection – the supposed departure of the “astral” from the physical body. The room has moreover since been sealed shut, amid reports of eerie phenomena like unexplained voices and flying objects. Elsewhere on campus is what’s left of The Ridges, a development that formerly accommodated a local psychiatric hospital. The almost 90-year-old Ridges Building 26 – the hospital’s old tuberculosis ward – was reputed to be haunted, which may have influenced the university’s decision to raze it in 2013, despite protests from local conservationists.