School Spirits: Spine-Chilling Stories of Haunted College Campuses

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Silhouette of an unknown shadow figure on a door through a closed glass door. The silhouette of a human in front of a window at night. Scary scene halloween concept of blurred silhouette of maniac.

October brings the smells of pumpkin spice and apple cider, colorful fall foliage, and spooky season. For Halloween, there is nothing better than a good ghost story or several! While unexplained things may go bump in the night at many college campuses across the U.S., these schools have well-known haunted histories.  

Ohio University Athens, OH 

Founded in 1804, Ohio University is one of the oldest public universities in the United States and considered to be one of the most haunted campuses in the world. The school’s campus includes The Ridges on the former site of the Athens Lunatic Asylum, which was acquired by the university in 1993 and is now home to the Kennedy Museum of Art. The most famous ghost story on campus involves Margaret Schilling, a former patient at the asylum, who disappeared in December 1978. Her body was discovered one month later on the top floor of a ward that had been closed off for several years. A stain with the outline of her body remains on the floor to this day, and Margaret is said to wander the floors of the old ward at night. 

Wilson Hall, a residential hall on campus, was built on the site of the former cemetery and was even featured on FOX’s Scariest Places on Earth. Rumor has it that if you draw lines connecting the five cemeteries in Athens, it forms a pentagon with Wilson Hall in the exact center. Room 428 in Wilson Hall was closed, deemed uninhabitable by the university after students reported consistent sightings of a former female student who had died in the room under strange circumstances.  

University of Notre Dame South Bend, IN 

“Win one for the Gipper!” is a famous phrase in college football referring to legendary Notre Dame football player George Gipp. As the legend goes, he was locked out of his Washington Hall dorm past curfew on a cold night, which forced him to sleep on the steps outside. He contracted pneumonia and eventually succumbed to his illness. Since then, students have repeatedly reported inexplicable sounds coming from Washington Hall, including late-night music, slamming doors, and phantom footsteps. Considered a friendly ghost, Gipp is often noticed hovering over students’ shoulders, giving them an encouraging pat — only to vanish when they turn around.  

Several other spirits allegedly keep Gipp and the student population at UND company. Students believe that the Potawatomi tribe still roams the ground by Columba Hall, which is thought to be built on one of the tribe’s ancient burial grounds. Potawatomi warriors on horseback have supposedly been seen riding up and down the building’s front steps and throughout the hall. 

Fordham University New York, NY 

Fordham University dates back to 1841, when it was first founded as St. John’s College. This private university in the Bronx was built on top of much older buildings, including a hospital and the Rose Hill Manor House, which formerly served as a farm, a Jesuit novitiate, and an infirmary — complete with a morgue and crematorium. Current buildings, including a few dormitories and Keating Hall, are rumored to have a few extra inhabitants from bygone days. It’s worth noting that scenes from the 1973 film The Exorcist were filmed in several spots on campus that are rumored to be haunted. 

Actors on stage at Keating Hall have reportedly heard chairs crash down flights of stairs, seen unidentifiable visitors watching from the balcony, and felt inexplicable cold spots throughout the area. Perhaps, most unsettling is the basement of Keating Hall, which is believed to be on the site of the former hospital building’s morgue. A security guard claims to have witnessed doors slamming and chairs banging into walls of their own accord.  

Gettysburg College Gettysburg, PA 

The town of Gettysburg is notorious for both the Civil War battle and the spirits that have lingered since, so it’s no wonder that Gettysburg College has plenty of its own stories. The oldest building on campus, Penn Hall, was used as a hospital and morgue during the Battle of Gettysburg, and people claimed to have witnessed ghostly Civil War hospital scenes in the basement complete with bloody soldiers and doctors.  

Students living in Stevens Hall — a former prep school for girls — have experienced their fair share of hauntings. As the story goes, some girls snuck an orphan boy into their room one frigid night to keep him warm. When the housemother made a surprise visit, they forced him out onto the third story window ledge, where he mysteriously disappeared. Residents of Stevens Hall claim to hear strange noises and see his ghostly blue face pressed against the window. 

University of Montevallo — Montevallo, AL 

Several ghosts are said to haunt the campus of the University of Montevallo. The most well-known is the spirit of Condie Cunningham in Main Hall. In February 1908, she was making hot chocolate in her dorm using a chafing dish and some alcohol for fuel. She spilled the bottle of alcohol on her nightgown, setting it aflame, and ran out into the hallway, screaming for help. Two days later, she died at the hospital from her injuries. Legend has it that her face was burned into the door of her room and would appear no matter how many times the door was replaced. Students living in Main Hall have reported hearing her screams in the hallway.    

Reynolds Hall is allegedly haunted by the ghost of Captain Henry Reynolds, the building’s namesake. During the Civil War, Reynolds Hall was a hospital for Confederate soldiers. Captain Reynolds oversaw the hospital, but he had to leave his post one day, only to find when he returned that the hospital had been attacked and all the soldiers were dead. It is said that his portrait is moved to different spots around the building, despite no one touching it.    

California State University Channel Islands — Camarillo, CA 

Even though California State University Channel Islands opened in 2002, the campus was constructed on the site of the Camarillo State Mental Hospital — a facility rumored to have practiced electroshock therapy and lobotomies. Several buildings on campus that were once part of the hospital sit abandoned and crumbling, and students exploring these buildings have reported seeing the specter of a woman in a hospital gown who silently screams and then vanishes.   

Famous jazz musician Charlie Parker was a patient at Camarillo in the 1940’s — in fact, he wrote his song “Relaxin’ at Camarillo” after he was released. His spirit allegedly wanders the campus to this day, the sounds of his saxophone reportedly echoing through the corridors late at night. Numerous ghost sightings and unexplained activity have been reported throughout campus, including the sounds of children laughing, doors slamming shut, objects being thrown at people, and items being relocated.    

These are just a few examples — you may discover some spooky tales at the schools on your college list. While some of these stories might be scary, the college admissions process doesn’t have to be. IvyWise college admissions counselors can provide expert guidance that helps you build a strong profile and submit a compelling application that stands out. Schedule an Initial Consultation today to learn more.      

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