On the community level, the halls and walls of universities, colleges, and educational estates were converted to infirmaries, war hospitals, campsites, prisons, housing for soldiers, burial grounds, and asylums. For decades, the institutions became quiet witnesses to the conflicts and hostilities.
It’s little wonder then that old colleges and universities are still the poster child for all things paranormal even as modern technology, pragmatic architecture, and stunning design took over.
Curiously Horrendous College Tales
Hair-raising narratives involving colleges, as passed on from generation to generation, are excellent conversation starters. Everybody loves a campus horror story that scares students out of their minds.
And we’re so here for it!
We rounded up 20 of America’s most haunted colleges and universities, detailing the most famous ghost stories associated with them. This list primarily focuses on the colleges and universities that have been around for a long time, with all their dark histories and stories. The haunted colleges are listed randomly, as they are all equally notorious for the hair-raising narratives.
Most Haunted Colleges in America
Gettysburg College is adjacent to the battlefield, where 51,000 soldiers fought and perished in the Battle of Gettysburg. Then known as Pennsylvania College, it was a field hospital where the wounded were operated on or amputated without anesthetics. The unlucky ones couldn’t be brought to the hospital and died on the battlefield. Today, cries for help, the groaning, and soldiers are said to still echo on the college hallways.
The Pennsylvania Hall, reportedly the most haunted spot, was occupied by the Confederate soldiers and used as a morgue. It was also used as a prison camp after the battle.0 According to witnesses, the ghosts of soldiers identified as the Lone Sentinel and the General would march on the grounds and visit the Stevens and Huber student halls.
One of the eeriest encounters was narrated by administrators who took the elevator to leave the building and ended up in the basement instead, where a scene from the Civil War hospital appeared before their eyes. It was a gruesome scene – bleeding soldiers, blood-covered doctors, and more blood splattered on the walls. To them, it seemed like watching a film on mute. No one ever dared to use the elevator again late at night.
The Glatfelter Hall would be next on the list of haunted buildings on the campus. Rumor has it that a Lady in White jumped off the bell tower after losing her lover to the war long ago. It is said that whoever met her gaze would suffer the same fate as her.
All these and more make Gettysburg College one of the most haunted colleges not just in the U.S. but in the world.
University Park, PA
A testament to Penn State being a haunted college is the existence of its Paranormal Research Society. Some of the episodes of the Paranormal State by A&E Network were based on the hauntings on the campus as told by the students, faculty, and visitors.
The most famous ghost is that of Betsy Aardsma who was murdered in the Pattee Library by an unknown killer. Several students swore they felt her presence in the basement and the library aisle where she was killed. Some reported having nightmares of her chasing and strangling them! It was said that during one of her death anniversaries, candles and news clippings about her death were found on the aisle, and on the floor were the words written, “I’m back!”
In a window on the upper level of the Old Botany Building, a woman would be seen watching over the opposite side, grieving. It is believed to be Frances Atherton, widow of Penn State’s president George Atherton. Mr. Atherton was buried right beside the Schwab Auditorium, which stands directly at the Old Botany Building where Frances used to live.
The Schwab Auditorium houses ghosts, too, including that of an unidentified woman and a janitor. The Brumbaugh Hall is haunted by the spirit of an ax murderer on the loose! But it’s not just the spirits of humans that haunt the campus. The ghost of Coaly, a mule who helped hauled materials during the construction of the Old Main, is said to still roam around university grounds. His relic is displayed at the Freeman Auditorium.
Ohio University is a go-to spot for ghost hunters! Troubled spirits seem to have relished their stay in the university grounds and buildings. The Ridges, where the Athens Lunatic Asylum used to stand, is a playground for the criminally and mentally ill patients who died at the asylum. One of whom was identified as Margaret Schilling. She was a resident of the asylum who, during a game of hide-and-seek, went missing. A month later, her decomposing body was found locked inside an abandoned building. Witnesses say the floor still has the stain shaped like her body, and this mark is said to be visible underneath the renovated halls.
The disturbing footsteps, bizarre sounds, and moving inanimate objects make Room 428 of Wilson Hall an infamous haunted spot in the university. It is believed that its previous occupant performed black magic that led to her violent death. Wilson Hall stands on the hospital cemetery of Athens Lunatic Asylum. With five other nearby cemeteries, Wilson Hall is located right at the center of the pentagram they form.
Closing the Athens Lunatic Asylum did not seem to stop curious students, paranormal experts, and historians from flocking the area. Ultimately, the school administrators decided to demolish the remaining portions of the building.
Notre Dame, IN
Catholic schools are notoriously haunted! Spirits of nuns, a “floating” priest, and a certain Father Sorin can be sighted roaming around the University of Notre Dame. The Washington Hall Mainstage Theatre is haunted by a steeplejack who fell to his death during the construction in 1881. Students also reported hearing phantom rehearsals and performances in an otherwise empty theatre.
Football fans would be familiar with The Gipper – George Gipp, a senior football star who succumbed to pneumonia at 25. According to the story, Gipp contracted the disease after being locked out of the Washington Hall during the cold winter. His spirit reportedly frequents the area.
The South Dining Hall also hosts spirits. Why, the radio in the Hall simply wouldn’t play on its own, would it?
Newcomers to Kenyon College may want to stay away from the south entrance, famously dubbed the Gates to Hell. They say to avoid it specifically at midnight after the Church of the Holy Spirit bells ring!
Students at the Caples Residence Hall know very well the story of a male dormer who tried breaking out of a stuck elevator but fell on the shaft. Nine lodgers of the Old Kenyon Residence Hall who were killed in a tragic blaze in 1949 share their harrowing experience with the present dormers by waking them up with warnings and cries for help.
Most of the witnesses to all the paranormal activities in Kenyon College are security guards. They roam the campus 24/7 and experience the most bizarre encounters in many of the buildings.
Kenyon’s swimming and diving programs are recognized nationally for winning competitions here and there. The famous Greenhouse Ghost was a campus diver testing out his ability on the new diving board of the then Shaffer Pool but unfortunately jumped so high that he hit his head on the glass roof, broke his neck, and drowned in the pool. Wet footprints, flowing showers, bouncing boards, and pool splashes are some of the occurrences at the building witnessed by staff and students before and even after it was converted to a dance studio.
The most tragic story circulating about Kenyon College is the death of Stuart Pierson. He was in the process of being fraternized into Delta Kappa Epsilon, and as part of the hazing, pledges are dispatched to remote dark places. Stuart’s destination was the tracks. Unfortunately, there was an unscheduled trip, and his body was mangled as the operator hadn’t noticed him. Newspaper articles reveal that he was probably tied to the tracks and was not able to save himself.
Visitors who are planning to visit the University of Illinois might want to avoid looking at the windows of their buildings. The English Building, previously the Woman’s Building and Bevier Hall, has a pool where a female student was said to have drowned. The reason for the incident is unclear. Some say she committed suicide or was murdered as she seemed to have not rested in peace yet as there were sightings of her walking the halls of the old dorm, sound of light footsteps, whispering voices, and slamming doors. Passers-by have seen a figure of a woman in one of the windows of the building. On rare occasions, the strange ghost at the adjacent building, Lincoln Hall, may just be peeking at the same time as the drowned woman.
The Crampton Residence Hall hides something in its closets. One of its dormers was found dead, hanging in his closet. Several years after the incident, a student was also found in the same position. His friends found him just in time and still alive. Other dormers also report seeing a man in their room during the night who would then vanish into the closets.
Those pulling an all-nighter at the Main Library may want to come in groups. A very studious former student is said to appear at a specific aisle in the Main Stacks at the same time every night. There are also stories of students dying in the library due to exhaustion or getting lost in the shelves that they were never found again.
A man in uniform has also been spotted several times around campus. His stance appears as if he is guarding and watching the students. In other circumstances, his presence would bring a sense of security. The only problem is that this uniformed man has no face.
Spiritual beings at Drew University seem to consist of women predominantly. Let’s start with the university founder’s wife, Roxanne Mead Drew. She seems to still have the administration of the building named after her. Her presence can be felt in the Mead Hall by security, staff, and maintenance workers, from footsteps on the staircase to closing doors. When a fire broke out in 1989, firefighters tried to save a woman trapped inside the building. They noticed that she was wearing clothing from the early 19th century. She was caught in the middle of the fire, but it didn’t seem to bother her the slightest. The firefighters said that she looked at them in the eyes and then vanished into the fire.
Asbury Residence Hall hosts the ghost of its former dormer who hanged herself from the rafters of the building while a dark-haired woman roams the corridors of the Hoyt-Bowne Hall and peeks through its windows to watch people. Residents of Hoyt-Bowne also report random things disappearing from their rooms.
The Craig Chapel holds a midnight concert once in a while. Those living on campus sometimes hear someone playing the organ. However, the identity of the player remains unknown. A rather annoying ghost they named Reggie dominates the Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. He destroys the students’ props and disrupts their performances. He even set one of the performer’s costumes on fire at one time.
The University of Montevallo is one of the few universities that has embraced its otherworldly heritage. They hold the annual Montevallo Ghost Walk, a tour of the campus’s haunted buildings. The tour convenes at Palma Hall, where the ghost of Dr. William Trumbauer wanders the halls of the theater vexing anyone he encounters, virulent that the building was not named after him.
During the Civil War, one of the buildings, now known as Reynolds Hall, served as a hospital. Captain Henry Reynolds, the namesake of the building, was guarding the building. He left his post to answer the call of his men in another area. When he returned, the hospital was already occupied by the enemy who held everyone inside a prisoner. Up to this day, it is believed that Captain Reynolds still guards the building and has never left his post again.
A very wealthy man built the Edmund King House. It is said that before he died in the war, he buried bars of gold in the back orchard. Students and employees often see a man with a shovel and lighted lamp walking back and forth behind the King House. It is believed that this is his ghost, and he is trying to find the spot where he buried his gold.
The Main Hall is haunted by the spirit of Condie Cunningham. She was a hall resident fixing herself a hot drink when the stove exploded, catching her clothes on fire. Present dormers often hear screams in the middle of the night, and some catch a glimpse of a woman engulfed in flames running down the halls only to disappear after reaching the end.
Boston University acquired Hotel Sheraton to be converted into student living quarters. It is now known as Kilachand Hall, formerly Shelton Hall. However, before it became school property, it housed various guests, including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize awardee American playwright, Eugene O’Neill where he died of pneumonia. O’Neill, the ghost, often roves the floor and knocks on other rooms, as reported by residents who always open them to an empty doorway. The lights on the fourth floor where his room was are noticeably dimmer than those on the other floors. While students are sometimes unwillingly brought by the elevator to this floor, some intentionally choose to do their writing there to feel inspired and connected to the prolific writer.
Myles Standish Hall was the actual setting of the death of Arthur Miller’s uncle, who committed suicide on the ninth floor. The building was described in his play, Death of a Salesman. A rummaging ghost is also on the loose on the fifth floor of the building. Residents would sometimes return to their rooms in total disarray, drawers open and chairs upside down.
Everyone has heard of the Boston Strangler, but only a few know that one of his victims was a resident of 515 Park Drive, a housing at Boston University. Residents have heard footsteps in the middle of the night, and even non-residents experience an eerie feeling every time they pass by the building.
Saint Augustine, FL
The historic building that is Ponce de Leon Hotel is not just home to students and faculty of Flagler College but also to numerous ghosts going on about their time in the present as if they are still alive. Henry Flagler’s spirit is believed to be trapped inside the building as a janitor went against his request to have all the windows and doors open at his funeral. No one dares speak his name as he will have his presence felt through the flickering of lights. His first wife, second wife, and mistresses also haunt the building up to this day. One of the mistresses has committed suicide by hanging herself on the hotel’s fourth floor. The entire floor was closed off for some time after the incident.
Numerous stories of different paranormal encounters told by some who stayed in the hotel-turned residence hall will surely raise hairs on the back of our necks. The residents of the now Ponce Hall have reported waking up at night and seeing a woman all dressed in black at the foot of their bed staring at them. There’s also a plumber who’s eternally fixing the plumbing in the bathrooms. Dormers using the shower don’t have to worry as he is not a peeping Tom. He just likes to whistle now and then when he works.
There’s also a sighting of a ghost of a pregnant woman near the staircase. The story circulating is that she fell from the stairs while running after her lover, who went back to his wife. Two boys roam along the halls of the old hotel. One just likes to run around and play on the corridors while the other one lost his balance and fell from the balcony.
William Congreve wrote in The Mourning Bride, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” The line applies to the women haunting the sorority houses at the University of Georgia.
Susie Carithers was gifted a house by his fiance, which later became the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority House. However, the supposed groom who gave him the house did not show up on their wedding day on time. Thinking that she was being stood up, Susie left the venue and hanged herself at the very home they intended to live in. Sorority sisters living in the house can feel her presence in the loft while onlookers meet her gaze full of sorrow right through the window.
Over to the Phi Mu Sorority House is the ghost of Anna Hamilton. A brokenhearted widow whose husband was killed by his family right in front of her. The sorority sisters residing at the house used an Ouija board to communicate with her. They then discovered that the body of her husband was buried beneath the front steps. That is why Anna chose to hang around at Phi Mu’s. Very not so often, residents can hear her cries and grieving sighs in the quiet hallways.
No wonder campus ghost tours are a Halloween tradition at the University of Georgia!
Johnson City, TN
Up to this day, the dedicated founding president of the university, Sidney Gilbreath, continues to watch over the students and fulfill his duty in the simple things like closing windows and doors and turning off the lights that people forgot at the Gilbreath Hall. He is also seen in attendance during school functions and programs at the theater. Students who are late or skipping class might just hear a man’s voice ordering them to get to class.
There is a portrait of David Sinclair Burleson in the Hall that was named after him. Students have reportedly seen and felt his eyes moving every time they pass by it. However, many believe that it is not his spirit that lives in the portrait but his daughter, Christine Burleson, a teacher at ETSU. She fell sick and was confined to a wheelchair which caused her depression. Not wanting to live in her condition, she chose to end her life by committing suicide.
The Lucille Clement Hall has been the home of a ghost the residents have named Marble Boy. He got the moniker from the sounds of his rolling marbles coming from the upper floors of the building. When dormers come to check, they could not find a single marble. Stories tell that the little boy fell from the elevator shaft while playing. It has been going on for so long that it doesn’t seem to bother them that much anymore. They think that it is the Marble Boy’s way of greeting his co-residents at the Hall. Aside from him, there’s also a little girl who likes playing with water and keeps turning the faucets on in the washroom. These children are believed to be casualties of the plane that crashed at Hall’s parking lot in 1985.
Ghosts living in Hollins University are a mix of different personalities. Some frighten students while others offer a helping hand. One can encounter them at the respective buildings they occupy on campus.
Student and teacher relationships have long been existing in the educational system even though they are forbidden. Some have happy endings, but this is not the case for a female college student at Hollins University and her piano teacher. She practiced at the Presser Hall when the piano teacher choked her to death using a piano string. The dark figure lurking in the shadows by the window at Presser Hall is believed to be her. She would also play the piano.
The Green Drawing Room at the Main Building is haunted by the spirit of a student who shot herself there. Looking at the mirrors in the drawing-room is not for the faint-hearted as their reflection is not the only thing they will be seeing. The school has thought of ways of rearranging the mirrors in the room, and so far, there are no more incidents of her reflections appearing.
One night, two dormers saw a girl pick up a poster off the floor and neatly laid it down on the table. They both thought it was the other until the next morning when they realized they were looking at a stranger in the dark. Beth, the ghost at the workshop, has a knack for finding lost things.
Indiana University probably has the youngest ghosts among all other haunted universities. Illegal abortions were said to be performed by a doctor at the Career Development Center. IU students mostly availed of his services until he stopped offering the procedure because he started hearing the cries and shrieks of babies. At first, he thought it was all in his mind until students and staff reported hearing the same thing.
The Read Hall Residence, particularly in its basement, hides a dark secret. Two lovers used to stay at the Hall. The guy is believed to be a medical student. During one of their many fights, he lost his temper, got hold of a scalpel, and stabbed his girlfriend in the neck. After getting back into his senses and realizing the severity of what he had done, he decided to conceal her body in the tunnels just below the basement. A lady in a yellow nightdress visits dormers in their rooms once in a while. She is not the only lady ghost haunting this residence. Paula was a dormer who threw herself down on the stairs. Residents can hear her painful screams on her death anniversary.
Other buildings at the university also have their own horror stories. Indiana Memorial Union has ghosts of humans who committed suicide by jumping from the top floor of the building and that of a dog who was killed in the area. It still roams the surrounding grounds up to this day. The IU Auditorium has a stubborn bloodstain on the stage that keeps on reappearing even after multiple renovations. It is said to belong to a construction worker who fell from its scaffolding. One has to look for a woman dressed in a black veil when passing by Third Street. She usually follows students to frighten them but never does any harm.
Moravian College, the sixth oldest college in America, is haunted! The Brethren’s House, which is the music and art building at present, used to be a converted hospital during the revolutionary war. Students report hearing deafening sounds of trains passing by, evidently coming from the upper floors of the building. Sometimes, they would hear what would sound like war nurses’ footsteps and the wheels of gurneys being rolled up and down the hallway.
Technology has no place at Comenius Hall. The ghost of an angry nurse who roams the halls at night interferes with the technology used by professors and students for their lectures, such as television, projector screens, and other multimedia equipment.
The Main Hall, an exclusive female dormitory, is said to house the ghosts of a girl and a cat. Residents, especially those who have pet cats at home, can sense their presence. In the early mornings, some can feel a cat snuggling up next to them on the bed. Although they can’t see the cat itself, they can see a dent on the bed and the covers shuffled.
Some students have shared stories of interacting with the ghost of a boy who was locked inside a cabinet and died at Hearst Hall at the Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus. The students said that they used a flashlight to communicate with the boy. They left it near the cabinet that was said to be the source of tapping sounds and instructed the boy to turn on and off the flashlight as instructed to which he obeyed.
The Wichita Paranormal Research Society has a particular interest in the unearthly activities happening at the university. Several school buildings have been converted for various purposes since their existence. Many people have also come and go through their doors, but some never left at all.
The Wilner Auditorium is often visited by its namesake, George Wilner. Personnel has often observed paranormal activities, from the simple flickering of lights to apparition sightings. He remains the custodian of his building, ensuring that it is adequately taken care of by those using it. He might just whisper a thing or two to his building’s visitors.
The maintenance worker of the former Henrion Gymnasium was allegedly hit by lighting while mopping the floors of the gym. His ghost goes about his daily task early in the morning and late at night even though it is now being used, not as a gym, but as an art studio space.
Utilized as an infirmary during the influenza epidemic, Fiske Hall is a men’s dormitory and office. Ghost residents are said to haunt these old buildings.
San Marcos, TX
Before any student starts their first academic year at Texas State University, part of the orientation is a tour of the school grounds, including spots that are considered haunted.
The first and the oldest one on the list is the Old Main, where a student has fallen off the third floor while the building was undergoing renovation. Some claim that they often meet the ghost of a student carrying books along the hallways as she hurries to her class. Other ghosts haunting the building don’t just let their presence be felt physically. They sometimes use technology to get their message across. A professor in a call got interrupted by white noise, followed by unintelligible noises and a soft voice asking for help.
The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity House bears witness to a hazing initiation that resulted in the tragic death of the pledges. Bloody handprints have stained the walls of the building only to disappear and appear again. Words asking for help are scratched into the countertops in the kitchen.
The Sterry Hall has a nightly visitor in the form of a ghost of a young student who roams the Hall at night. The TSU community pointed the blame for a student assistant jumping from Laurel Hall to the spirit that occupies the building. Objects at the Butler Hall seem to have a life of their own, moving and flying off the wall on occasions. The Tower Hall is posted by its architect’s daughter, who jumped off the structure and has ever since haunted it.
The tour serves as somewhat of a warning to students to take the resident ghosts of the university seriously.
The Gorgas House is the same building where the university’s former president Confederate General Josiah Gorgas, died. Visitors can hear footsteps ascending the stairs while his sword clashes against something in the house. On the other hand, his wife, Amelia Gayle Gorgas, is “overseeing” the library operations to this day! She rides the elevator and stops at the fourth floor. It would be an ordinary occurrence if the elevator were not programmed to specifically not stop on the said floor.
Duels are a sport of the past, but those who died in the hands of their opponent continue to suffer even after their quick death. Students can sometimes hear gunshot wounds and a thud of a body falling from a balcony coming from the Woods Hall. According to the story, the duel was between two close friends, who turned the friendly sport into a violent fight. The ashes of two cremated professors were scattered at the Quad. Today, these faculty members are often “seen” on the grounds together with a former cadet.
The Little Round House was built to serve as a guardhouse for the Alabama Corps of Cadets. But it became a place full of revenge, betrayal, and suffering. UA cadets invited three Yankees for a drinking session, but once they were inside, they were killed one by one. It was a disguised ambush.
“How’s my blocking, Mrs. Gallaway?” is the famous line student performers say to summon her on stage and absorb her creativity and masterfulness in theatre. She makes sure that students do not slack off during rehearsal, so she “visits” them and slams the doors if they catch them not executing their best!
Lastly is the Smith Hall, where geologist Eugene Allan Smith relives his research days. The desks in the Hall would often be in disarray by personnel without seeing anyone entering or leaving the room. He is said to arrive at the entrance on his carriage, and one can hear the neighs of horses and wheels rolling.
The College of Arts and Sciences at Ellison Hall is the university’s most haunted college and building. A young boy on roller skates roamed its corridors and was later identified as Bobby, whose death was caused by a hit-and-run incident. Unfortunately, efforts to rush him to the university’s then infirmary, Hygeia Hall, were not enough to save the boy’s life. The Hygeia Hall is now known as the Ellison Hall. The Hall’s motion sensor lights are seen going on and off at night with no one in the vicinity. Aside from Bobby and Ellison himself, other spirits inhabiting the building are an unknown man and a nurse.
The Cate Center has sightings of a headless boy. The story goes that the boy crawled into the cafeteria’s dumbwaiter and got stuck. In a case of bad timing, the dumbwaiter was pulled up, beheading the boy in the process.
The gargoyles at the facade of the Bizzell Memorial Library are not enough to keep ghosts from dominating the building. Passing by the Great Reading Room and into The Stacks brings eerie feelings. Stories have it that a male student fell on the glass floors and broke his neck while looking for a specific volume.
Music can be heard coming from an organ from one of the rooms at Holmberg Hall. It is being played by a former organ professor, Mildred Boggess, who was mad when the organ was removed from the building during renovation.
Despite the violent history of the ghosts at the University of Oklahoma, they are pleasant and harmless. They are only seeking attention and help for their tumultuous souls.
Resident halls at UNC seem to be the favorite of very active ghosts on campus. Lawrenson Hall has some loud spirits confined in its four walls. Residents would often wake up to screams and shouts right in their ears. Dormers of other halls, including Wiebking and Wilson, have similar experiences. Students report a ghost flipping through channels, moving furniture, and showing herself or shadow. Edith is the ghost said to be responsible for all these paranormal activities. She was a resident assistant who was bullied by female dormers. To avoid them and calm herself, she went to the attic and played with marbles. This is why marbles can be heard rolling from upstairs. When she couldn’t take all the bullying and insults anymore, she hanged herself in the attic.
Aside from disturbing the students and faculty through their sense of sight and touch, there have also been reports of unexplained odors in Turner Hall. The smell is said to be coming from Stoney Ghosty, as students dubbed him. He died from a drug overdose, and the distinct smell he leaves is that of burnt marijuana.
The Frasier Hall is still frequented by former UNC president George Frasier, after whom it was named. Sewing machines in the basement would operate by themselves, and doors would slam out of the blue! Harrison Hall’s basement is also occupied by a janitor who died when a brick hit his head. When curious students played the Ouija board and asked the janitor for any message, he spelled the word “out.”