Haunted Colleges and Universities

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University of Notre Dame

South Bend, Indiana. University of Notre Dame

Many schools of higher learning around the world are sites of ghostly activity. Here are some of the most haunted colleges and universities.

If you've heard the phrase "Win one for the Gipper," this is a reference to George Gipp, a legendary Notre Dame football player. It's his ghost that is thought to haunt Washington Hall on the university campus. Gipp died of streptococcal throat infection in December, 1920 as the result of a cold he contracted while sleeping overnight on the steps of the building, which was a student residence. It was shortly thereafter that students began experiencing haunting activity, including:

  • unexplained music late at night
  • phantom footsteps
  • slamming doors
  • students shoved on the stairway by unseen hands
  • something unknown walking around on the roof.

Although no one can say for sure whether it's the ghost of George Gipp or not, some say they have seen his spirit hovering near students and occasionally giving them an encouraging pat on the back.

It is also claimed that ghosts of the Native American Patawatami tribe haunt Columbus Hall since it might have been build over one of their ancient burial grounds. Patawatami warriors on horseback have allegedly been seen moving up and down on the front steps of the hall.

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Penn State University

Penn State University
State College, Pennsylvania Penn State University. Penn State University

Several buildings on the campus of Penn State University are said to be haunted. The most well-known, perhaps, is the spectre of Pattee Library. According to the story, in November, 1969 a graduate student by the name of Betsy Aardsma was in the library doing research for one of her classes when she was stabbed to death between the shelves of books. The assailant was never found, which may be the reason that Betsy's ghost still wanders the aisles of the library in the dark of night. One student's story is that one night after searching for a book in the very aisle that Betsy was murdered that she was strangled by unseen hands in his dorm room.

Another ghoul said to haunt the campus is a gruesome spirit wielding an axe that usually appears around Halloween time.

Schwab Auditorium has two ghosts:

  • The ghost of a former president of the school, which is reputed to be rather friendly.
  • A rather noisy ghost rumbles around in the attic, pushing around chairs and other stored items; they say it's most noisy during exams. After one professor had to stop a test because of the racket, he ventured into the attic with a couple of football players to confront the pranksters. They found nothing except fresh scrape marks on the floor.

Across the street from the auditorium is the Botany building, built in 1909. The ghost here is the plant-loving life of the former president (the one who haunts the auditorium). This spirit shows her displeasure when the building's plants are not properly cared for. She'll dump garbage from the trash cans onto the middle of the floor, unplug computer printers, and flick lights off and on.

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Lincoln Memorial University

Lincoln Memorial University
Harrogate, Tennessee Lincoln Memorial University. Lincoln Memorial University

Brief history: Legend has it that during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln remarked to General O. O. Howard, a Union officer, that Howard would one day establish a great univerisity for this vacinity. The school began humbly with an elementary school in 1890, but soon after General Howard began work to create the university, which was chartered on February 12, 1897 -- Lincoln's birthday.

Ghosts: According to Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee, the most haunted building on campus is Grant-Lee Hall, which was originally built as part of a hotel, but later adopted by the school as a dormitory. The building was twice ravaged by fire. The fire in 1904 claimed the life of a woman and her child on the building's fourth floor. It was said she was wearing a red dress at the times. Her ghost has been reported on a number of occasions, including the building's second fire in 1950 when she was seen screaming for help from a fourth-floor window.

Today, residents claim to hear phantom footsteps on the stairs, knocks on doors, doorknobs turning, and even the apparition of a lady in red wandering the hallways.

Source: Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee

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Smith College - Sessions House

Smith College - Sessions House
Northampton, Massachusetts Smith College - Sessions House. Smith College

Brief history: Sessions House is the oldest building on the Smith College campus. It was built in 1710 by Captain Jonathan Hunt and includes a secret passageway that was used to hide from Native Americans during the colonial era. The building now serves as a dormitory for the college.

Ghosts: A pair of ghostly lovers may haunt Sessions House. They are thought to be the spirits of Lucy Hunt (Captain Jonathan Hunt's granddaughter) and Johnny Burgoyne, a British General who was held captive in the house during the Revolutionary War. It is said that the two young people fell in love and would meet secretly in the hidden passageway. Their affair ended when Burgoyne was sent back to England; he promised to return to Lucy, but never did. Their spirits, it is said, have been seen and heard in the building, searching for one another.

Two other tales include the ghost of a woman who allegedly killed her children with an axe, mistakenly, thinking they were intruders; and the spirits of two female students who fell while searching for the secret passageway.

Sources: "Living at Smith - Sessions House"; Encyclopedia of Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger.

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Eastern Illinois University - Pemburton Hall

Eastern Illinois University - Pemburton Hall
Charleston, Illinois Eastern Illinois University - Pemburton Hall. Eastern Illinois University

Brief history: Now serving as a women's dormitory, Pemberton Hall was built in 1909 and named in honor of State Senator Stanton C. Pemberton. It is the oldest such residence in the state and has been named a historic landmark.

Ghosts: The ghost haunting this building has been given the name Mary and is said to be the spirit of a counselor who was murdered by a crazed janitor. Keeping an ever-watchful eye on her girls, even after death, Mary roams the building from room to room giggling door handles, and turning TVs and stereos on and off. According to one student who lived in the dorm in 1981, she saw the apparition of Mary float into her room, as if checking on her.

Sources: Pemberton Hall; Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck.

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Ohio University

Ohio University - Brown House
Athens, Ohio Ohio University - Brown House. Ohio University - Brown House

Brief history. "Ohio University in Athens is probably the most haunted college campus in the entire country, if not the world," states Forgotten Ohio. This might be an unverifible claim, but they do cite a number of reports of haunting activity in a number of their buildings as anecdotal evidence. Here are a few:


  • Brown House (pictured above) - The ghost of Millie Brown, who donated this house to the university, can still be seen on occasion peering out of one of the windows. Also, there used to be a swimming pool in the backyard, and the sounds of children splashing around in it can still be heard.
  • Delta Tau Delta frat house - After the mischievous frat boys swiped a tombstone from Simms Cemetery, they began experiencing all manner of poltergeist activity in the house. It stopped only when they returned the grave marker.
  • Jefferson Hall - In 1996, a few students were exploring the attic of this dormitory when they encountered a woman dressed in clothing from the 1950s. When they tried to speak to her, they noticed she was transparent and floating above the floor. The sighting was followed by an array of poltergeist activity: lights switching on and off; toilet paper rolls unrolling by unseen hands; and the what sound like hundreds of marbles being dropped on an upstairs floor.
  • Crawford Hall - This freshman dorm is thought to be haunted by the ghost of Laura, a student who fell to her death from a fourth-floor window. One night, an RA was awakened by the ghost who opened his drom room door and said, ""I'm sorry, I've woken you."

See the link below for many more stories.

Sources: Forgotten Ohio

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Kansas State University

Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas Kansas State University. Kansas State University

Brief history: Kansas State was founded in 1858 when Bluemont Central College was founded and 53 students enrolled. Today it has an enrollment of more than more than 23,000.

Ghosts: K-State lays claim to several ghosts and haunted spots, but the most well-known might be that of the school's Purple Masque Theater, located on the main floor of the campus's East Stadium. Heard but never seen, the ghost here has been named Nick and is said to be the spirit of a football player who died there in the 1950s when the building served as a dormitory for athletes. They say Nick's heavy footsteps can be heard in the hallways, on the stairs and near the theater's stage. He has been blamed for numerous mischievous pranks, including moving chairs, playing music at night, and stacking boxes in a dressing room.

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, they say, is haunted by Duncan, who died during a pledge initiation gone wrong. The paddle used to pledge Duncan was hung on a wall in memoriam, but when the paddle was taken down to paint the wall, a dark stain remained that could not be painted over. They finally had to install paneling to cover it.

Another haunted frat house is that of Delta Sigma Phi. The building used to be St. Mary's Hospital and two ghosts have been seen there, apparently from the hospital days: a phantom nurse still making her rounds; and George, an elderly patient who died in a freak accident, and whose ghost can still be heard making a racket on the third floor.

Sources: Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck; The Ghosts of Kansas State University

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Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Gettysburg College. Gettysburg College

Mark Nesbitt, one of the foremost authorities and authors on the ghosts of Gettysburg, relates one of the area's most gruesome experiences. Pennsylvania Hall at Gettysburg College has been the site of many Civil War era ghost encounters, but perhaps none can compare to what two college administrators saw one night.

One hundred years previous, the building had been used as a field hospital for many of the fierce battle's wounded. But on this night, as the two administrators were taking the elevator from the fourth floor down to the first, the long-ago nightmare wasn't even on their minds.

Inexplicably, the elevator passed the first floor and continued on to the basement. When the doors opened, the administrators could scarcely believe their eyes. What they knew to be storage space was replaced by a scene from the hospital: dead and dying men were lying about on the floor; blood-covered doctors and orderlies were rushing about chaotically, trying desperately to save their lives. No sound emanated from the ghastly sight, but both administrators saw it clearly.

Horrified, they frantically pushed the elevator button to close the doors. As the doors closed, they said, one of the orderlies looked up and directly at them, seeming to see them, and with a pleading expression on his face.

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University of Montevallo

University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama University of Montevallo. University of Montevallo

The University of Montevallo first opened its doors in 1896 as the Alabama Girls' Industrial School. It later became a technical school and eventually a co-ed college offering traditional courses of study.

Less conventional are its tales of ghosts, which are said to haunt the campus's King House, Main Dorm and the King House Cemetery. Here are some of the stories:

  • You've heard of "death by chocolate"? Well, in 1908 a sophomore student was making fudge in the Main Dorm when her nightgown caught fire. She died soon after of the injuries, but her ghost has been heard moaning and screaming in the hallway. And an image of her burning face on the wooden door of her dorm room -- a sight so disturbing that it had to be removed and put away.
  • Mr. Edmund King is said to haunt the grounds of King House, a building he constructed in 1823. It is said in life he wandered the house, orchard and cemetery with a lantern. Today, people attest to seeing the lights and curtains move in the house. And other unexplained lights have been seen in the orchard and cemetery. According to legend, Mr. King is searching for the money and silver he buried on the property.
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Hamilton College

Hamilton College
Clinton, New York Hamilton College. Hamilton College

The students of this picturesque college in the Mohawk Valley of Central New York might complain about the area's cold and snowy winters, and they might be equally apprehensive of its haunted campus buildings.

  • Students who live on the third floor of the North Residence Hall have reported seeing a Revolutionary War era messenger walking the hallway. They say he stops and points at people he believes to be trespassers before walking away and disappearing through a solid wall.
  • The college's Admissions Building and Alumni House are reputedly haunted by the ghosts of the families that once inhabited them. Faculty and staff have reported lights that turn on by themselves and doors open that were left shut.
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St. Joseph's College

St. Joseph's College
Emmitsburg, Maryland St. Joseph's College. St. Joseph's College

Brief history: St. Joseph's was founded as a Catholic girls' academy in 1809 by Elizabeth Ann Seton, better known as Mother Seton, who later was canonized as a Catholic saint. Over the years, the school grew into a college of liberal arts for women. The college closed in 1973 and the campus was bought by the U.S. Government to house the National Emergency Training Center. During the Civil War, the campus served as a field hospital for wounded soldiers -- a reason, no doubt, for much of its haunting activity.

Ghosts: Those who attended the college before it closed its door still recall some of the phenomena that took place there:

  • Sightings of the ghosts of Civil War nurses carrying away buckets of bloody amputated body parts
  • Sounds of the screams of wounded and dying soldiers
  • The powerful smells of the long-gone hospital
  • The friendly ghost of Mother Seton herself has been seen walking the campus, possibly hurrying to attend to the injured soldiers.
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Michigan State University

Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan Michigan State University.

Brief history: Located in East Lansing, three miles east of Michigan’s capitol in Lansing, MSU was founded in 1855. It has more than 47,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in 200 programs.

Ghosts: MSU has several ghost legends associated with its campus:

  • The restless spirit of May Mayo, after whom Mayo Hall is named, is said to have something to do with a piano that plays itself as well as ephemeral figures that have been seen floating about.
  • Mayo Hall also has the haunting "Red Room," which was allegedly the site of Satanic activity in its past.
  • In Holmes Hall, the quirky behavior of the elevator has been blamed on a ghost, especially on the sixth floor where two mysterious figures have been sighted.
  • Fairchild Auditorium is thought to be haunted by the spirit of a small boy.
  • The residents of the 12th floor of Hubbard Hall have reported lights that on and off by themselves as well as the sounds of running and ghostly laughter.
  • The ghost of an old man has been seen in the basement oak room in Mason Hall; allegedly he suffocated and died there in 1975. Is he responsible for the loud banging heard there in the early hours of the morning?

Other haunted locations include the University Garden, the Physical Plant, and Williams Hall.