School spirit is part of the college experience, and at some universities, so are school spirits...of the ghostly kind, that is. There are many haunted universities all across the United States, and perhaps it's no surprise given how attached people are to their alma maters. Are these university ghosts college students and faculty who loved their educational institutions so much they never left, or could America's haunted universities have ghosts for other reasons? Take a peek inside 10 of the United States' most haunted colleges to find out.
Founded in 1804, Ohio University in Athens is well known for its hauntings. The best place to start is Brown House, which currently holds the Contemporary History Institute. The woman who deeded her home to the university never left after she died. Today, she stands in front of a window in her house watching students pass. The second someone spots her, however, she vanishes.
She's not the only mysterious lady on campus. In Jefferson hall, a woman dressed in 1950s period clothing floats around the building, spooking students and staff. Sometimes, the mid-century student apparition likes to sit at one of the desks, but if somone approaches her or asks her a question, she disappears.
If you want a really odd and eerie paranormal experience, pop over to Washington Hall and if you time your visit just right, you'll hear the sound of marbles dropping and rolling along the ceiling. So, what makes Wilson Hall so frightening? It was once part of the Athens Lunatic Asylum (known as The Ridges). Thousands of patients and administrators lived at the asylum from 1873 to 1993. Many of the unfortunate inmates ended up buried on the grounds. Many of these restless souls wander the halls of the building, so you may just bump into one of them.
Marquette University was founded in 1881 as a Catholic Jesuit university in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The university was named after the French missionary, Rev. Jacques Marquette, S.J. (1637-1675). As the campus expanded through the years, Marquette University acquired old buildings and, along with the extra space came active spirits.
In 1988, the university acquired the building that formerly held the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The university renamed it Humphrey Hall and converted hospital, morgue, and autopsy rooms into a dorm. Throughout the hall, students feel as though someone is watching them, especially inside the elevator. The disembodied joyful sounds of children at play echo throughout the building. Shadowy figures and children playing in the parking area show up on the security cameras, but each time the campus police investigate, no one is there. Students living in the dormitory see children playing in the halls, while a young man enjoys helping the janitors.
In Cobeen Hall, another dormitory, doors often open on their own, objects suddenly disappear, the spirit of a little boy peers out of the top-floor window, and student posters constantly fall off the walls.
University of Missouri
The Quad, an outdoor square bordered by classroom buildings with iconic columns, is the heart of the campus. At the quad, you can see the oldest campus building, The Residence, which is home to chancellors and university presidents. The hauntings at the university are widely blamed on the first university president's wife, Alice, who died on campus in 1874. Apparently, Alice enjoyed the seven years she lived there and decided to stay on to enjoy college afterlife.
Strange lights and waltzing figures flash in the windows of the third floor. If that isn't enough to frighten students, then the slamming of doors, flashes of light that come out of nowhere, and the elevator moving up and down the floors on its own certainly are. Alice is blamed for taking students' electronic devices and leaving them in odd places once she's through using them. She makes non-working clocks chime on the hour and delights in turning the lights on and off.
The Conley House, an Italianate building once home to a local family, now holds administrative offices. According to local lore, the Conley House has a bad-tempered ghost, Aunt Sally, who glides down from the attic and appears to people she doesn't care for, scaring them out into the night.
Penn State University
Penn State University in State College was originally founded in 1855 as The Farmers High School. In 1863, it became Pennsylvania's only land-grant university and grew into a major research university.
Old Coaly, a beloved mule, was a well-known mascot in the late 19th century. Even after his death, he continues to make the rounds with his thudding hooves echoing in the Penn State buildings. Legend claims that wherever Old Coaly's bones are, you can hear the mule. Today, many believe that Old Coaly finally gave up the ghost and is now resting, since his phantom hooves are no longer heard in the buildings.
Staff and students also frequently spot another resident ghost. The spirit of Mrs. Atherton watches over her husband's remains from the Old Botany building. She peers out from the upstairs window as though daring campus pranksters to touch her husband's grave and feel her wrath.
Connecticut College, located in New London, was founded in 1911. The college is near an old turnpike that 17th century European settlers used. The layers of history that surround the college include quite a few spirits.
You can find ghosts in Knowlton Hall. A poltergeist delights in slamming doors, frightening even the security personnel. Ghost music drifts from empty dorms, and students feel as though they're being watched by something or someone. Apparitions move in and out of the chapel, but no one can get close enough to engage them in conversation, and shadow people move about the pews. When the lights are turned off, the ghosts immediately turn them back on. People working at the campus theatre hear phantom piano music, followed by nearby phantom footsteps.
The most frightening encounter involved campus safety officers. They were called out to search an area near the campus arboretum's pond after reports of a woman crying for help. The officers split up to move around the pond, but the voice changed positions more quickly than was humanly possible. After many cat-and-mouse tactics, the disembodied voice told the men to leave, and she stopped talking to the guards. Nothing was ever found to explain the disturbance or the mysterious voice.
Central Methodist University
Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri was created when several schools morphed into the university in 1853.
The university has a plethora of spirited activity haunting its halls. Among the spookiest ghosts is the spirit of an orchestra conductor. In May 1864 during an outdoor concert, he was conducting the piece, The Catacombs from Pictures at an Exhibition, when he suffered a heart attack and died in front of horrified onlookers. Not long after the conductor's death, students saw him. Today, students see a man dressed in a tuxedo waiting outside a university building. He takes a puff on his cigarette and says, "Nice night for a concert," before vanishing in front of the witnesses. The ghost is easily identified from his portrait in the music department. Other paranormal activities include knocks, disembodied footsteps, and apparitions materialize in the dormitories.
In 1839, members of the United Methodist Church established the university in Vermont and in 1867 moved the Boston University to Boston. At the private research university, Shelton Hall is the most haunted building on campus. In the past, Shelton Hall was part of the Shelton Hotel, which was was built in 1923. Playwright Eugene O'Neill and his wife, Carlotta, were permanent residents of the Shelton Hotel during the last years of their lives. O'Neill passed away in 1953, and his ghost returns often to check on the students. He knocks on their doors but vanishes when they answer.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University in Corvallis was founded in 1856 as Corvallis Academy with the help of Corvallis Freemasons. In 1858, it became Corvallis College and officially incorporated in 1868. Many of the campus buildings bear the names of those Freemason founders. Today, it is an international public land-grant research university, and it is haunted.
Among the most benevolent ghosts on any campus is Mother Ida Kidder, librarian, confidant, and personality of Oregon State University. Ida Kidder oversaw the development of the school's library from 1908 until her death in 1920. She was a beloved figure at the school and across the state. She tooled around the college in her electric cart dubbed the "wickermobile," and when she died, her casket was placed in the library for people to pay their respects. Today, Mrs. Kidder continues to watch over the campus from an upper floor window in Waldo Hall. She bustles around the buildings where she still oversees her life's work.
Other campus ghosts include a woman who hangs out in Sackett Hall but fades away when approached. The spirit of a girl for the 1950s, who was killed in her room, enjoys setting fires and throwing objects.
Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, was established in 1867 as a seminary school called Drew Theological Seminary. Wall Street financier and steamboat tycoon Daniel Drew gifted a property called The Forest and $250,000 to the university.
Like other universities, Drew University has its share of resident ghosts that staff and students see regularly. Hoyt building is very active with spirits. A woman with dark hair peers out a fifth-floor window. But, whenever security or students investigate, all they discover is a very cold room. Students' belonging disappear and show up in strange places.
Mead Hall was the site of a terrifying encounter between security officers and a hazy, mist-like entity. The men were doing their rounds in the basement when a shadowy figure stepped out from a corner, "noticed" the men, and then jumped back into the dark hall. The startled yet intrepid guards searched everywhere but found nothing.
United States Military Academy West Point
The United States Military Academy West Point in West Point, New York, was founded in 1802. It has graduated outstanding military and government leaders through the centuries. For cadets, as the students are known, days are tightly scheduled and filled with training, studying, and service. But Room 4714, a former dorm area, provides cadets with additional experiences they never forget.
It all started during the 1970s when cadets saw another student dressed in the traditional 19th century military uniform in room 4714. The ghost sat, as though on a bench, holding a gun. He never acknowledged the dumbfounded cadets as he faded away. Continued appearances led the Academy to invite paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren, to investigate the visitations, although little information was shared with the public. Whatever the cadets saw was never explained, and the US Army refuses to talk about it. Room 4714 is no longer used for a sleeping area.
While the soldier is the best known ghost, he's not the only one at West Point. The superintendent's mansion houses a maid named Molly for the mid 1800s. She appears as a milky yet iridescent figure. In the old Morrison House, the spirit of a woman who died there floats about the room, intentionally scaring anyone unfortunate enough to be in the room.
Tales of Haunted Universities From Coast to Coast
If you want to enjoy a good scare along with a fascinating story, just ask about ghosts the next time you take a college tour or attend a campus event. University students are often eager to share their stories of ghostly encounters on campus.