Think of a university campus and you might picture gothic architecture, manicured green lawns, students relaxing in the quad and other idyllic scenes. But colleges can also house something a little spookier: ghosts!
Sometimes the traditions and hallowed histories that college campuses lay claim to come hand-in-hand with some ghoulish companions – the apparitions of students and professors from centuries past. After all, there are students who enjoy college so much they never want to leave, and then there are students who take that attitude to a whole new level.
When it comes to spookiness, not all schools are created equal. Most colleges that have been around for a while are probably home to an unsettling story or two, but some campuses are truly creepy. Here are 10 of the most haunted schools out there.
- Ohio University
Located in Athens, OH, Ohio University is one of the oldest universities in the United States – little wonder, then, that it claims a long history of hauntings. Almost every spot on campus you can point to has a ghost story to go with it, and the school was featured on the reality TV show Scariest Places on Earth.
Several buildings on campus were formerly used to house patients in the Athens Lunatic Asylum, a massive mental hospital known for its use of lobotomies and shock therapy. The Lunatic Asylum’s grounds also included three cemeteries that have since fallen into states of disrepair.
Students have reported lights flickering on and off and silhouettes appearing in the windows of buildings that were previously part of the mental hospital. Throughout campus, they also talk about hearing the infamous “marble drop,” a sound like hundreds of marbles falling and rolling across the ceiling.
The most haunted of all haunted places on campus is Wilson Hall, rumored to be in the middle of a pentagram formed by five cemeteries scattered throughout the surrounding foothills. One room in particular, room 428, has a sinister history. Year after year, students assigned this room are said to have witnessed paranormal phenomena, including lights turning themselves off and objects flying off of shelves.
In the 1970’s, the story goes, a female resident began practicing the occult and trying to harness room 428’s supernatural powers. She died a violent death. At that point, it is said that the room’s paranormal occurrences became so frequent that school administrators ruled it uninhabitable and sealed it shut.
- Gettysburg College
During the battle of Gettysburg, Gettysburg College’s Pennsylvania Hall served as a signal station as well as a field hospital where medics performed grisly wartime procedures like impromptu amputations. These days, students report seeing a range of specters including the “Lone Sentinel,” who can sometimes be found standing on the roof of Pennsylvania Hall wearing his uniform and holding a gun.
On one occasion, school administrators who took the elevator to the basement of Pennsylvania Hall reportedly stepped out into a chaotic, bloody but deathly quiet Civil War hospital. When one of the doctors approached them, they shut the elevator doors and returned to the floor they’d come from as fast as possible. Thinking the whole thing was probably just a student prank, they then took the elevator back down to the basement only to find the whole scene had vanished.
- Texas State University
According to legend, a variety of apparitions call Texas State University’s San Marcos campus home. For example, janitors have reported seeing the ghost of a female student who fell to her death from the school’s Old Main building, still carrying her books and rushing to get to class.
Another building on campus formerly housed the university’s chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. One year, it is said that several “Pike” pledges were killed during a hazing ritual. The pledges who witnessed this event were forced to write down what they’d seen on paper, then burn the paper and nail it to the wall.
When Weird U.S. investigated the now abandoned Pike House, they reported seeing charred pledge books nailed to a beam, crime scene tape and messages including “Help Me” and “I’m Sorry” written on the walls.
- Boston University
Boston University is home to an unusually distinguished phantom: the ghost of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill. On November 27th, 1953, O’Neill died in room 401 of Boston’s Sheraton Hotel, uttering the last words “I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room and died in a hotel room.”
The next year, Boston University bought the building and transformed it into what is now the school’s Shelton Hall. Ever since, unexplained phenomena have been reported on the building’s fourth floor – mysterious gusts of wind, knocks on the door when no one is there and unscheduled elevator stops. Despite these spooky occurrences, the dorm attracts many of Boston University’s writing students, and the fourth floor is now know as “Writer’s Corridor.”
- New York University
The campus’ Brown Building once housed the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, where a fire broke out in 1911. Because the factory’s owners had locked the building’s doors to keep workers from leaving during their shifts, 146 people died, unable to escape, many of them jumping to their deaths from the windows.
The incident became a catalyst for improved workplace safety regulations. Today, students sometimes report smelling smoke and hearing odd noises.
- Illinois College
Illinois College is a hotbed for ghostly activity, with students reporting everything from phantom Civil War soldiers to doors opening and shutting themselves. However, the school’s most unsettling incidents involve a faceless man dressed in gray thought to have first been spotted by an Alpha Phi Omega sister on the steps of the sorority house.
Since then, several students have reported waking up at night to find the man watching them, then retreating into the closet. One student was reportedly found hanging upside down in his closet, naked and terrified, while another is even said to have been found dead in his closet, hanging in a way that ruled out suicide.
- Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
In 1912, Bishop Patrick Heffron founded Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, MN. Heffron reportedly had an authoritarian leadership style that embittered some of his colleagues, including one Father Laurence Lesches. In August 1915, while Heffron was praying, Lesches approached him, pulled out a handgun and fired several shots at him.
Heffron survived, and Lesches was tried for attempted murder but was acquitted by reason of insanity and was instead sent to a psychiatric hospital.
On May 15th, 1931, school librarian Father Edward Lynch, a friend of Heffron’s and an enemy of Lesches’, went to bed early and was found lying across his bed the next morning, apparently electrocuted to death by his bedside lamp. An investigation carried out by the school’s newspaper in the 1960’s suggested that Lynch’s body may have been badly burned and that the 110-volt lamp would not have been powerful enough to kill someone. Other sources have claimed that in 1931, one other Saint Mary’s Priest was killed in a fire and three in a plane crash.
Lesches died in 1943, still in the psychiatric hospital. Since the 1940’s, Saint Mary’s Heffron Hall has become notorious for paranormal goings-on. Students have reported everything from invisible hands touching them to sudden temperature changes to the sound of footsteps when nobody is around to mysterious cloaked figures wandering the halls. These incidents led USA Today to name Heffron Hall “Minnesota’s Most Legendary Haunted Place.”
- Wells College
A small town in upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region seems like the perfect place for ghosts to take up residence – and Aurora, NY’s Wells College doesn’t disappoint. The school’s official archives contain a collection of reported hauntings and creepy incidents.
For example, legend has it that during one especially brutal winter, a deadly flu epidemic broke out on campus, killing many students. The bodies were stored in one of rooms on Main Building’s fourth floor, and the door to the room was painted red so students would know not to enter.
Once the bodies were removed, the door was repainted and the room was returned to its normal function. However, a few weeks later, the old color had bled through the new coat of paint, turning the door red again.
- University of Georgia
Before what is now the Alpha Gamma Delta house was turned toward its current purposes, the home is rumored to have been given to one Miss Susie Carithers as a lavish engagement gift. When the big day came and Carithers walked down the aisle, however, the groom was running exceptionally late.
Under the mistaken impression that she’d been abandoned at the altar, Carithers left and hung herself in the house’s loft. It’s said that her ghost can still be occasionally spotted there.
- California State University Channel Islands
Many students, faculty, staff and visitors report getting a certain creepy feeling around California State University, Channel Islands’ campus. The school is built on the site of an old psychiatric hospital and abandoned buildings are scattered across the surrounding area.
The location’s eeriness make it a hot destination for film crews, and scenes from The X-Files, The Ring and other scary productions have been shot here.
While it’s impossible to say whether these reports are just the result of students’ imaginations running wild, many of the stories are based on verifiable historic events, and the number of students claiming unusual experiences is truly unnerving.
Have you had any encounters with the unexplainable? Let us know in the comments! Happy Halloween!
By Niels V.