These Are the Most Haunted University Campuses You Can Visit in America
Bring up the topic of ghosts and you’ll probably hear opinions diverge quickly. Some people firmly believe in ghosts, including some former presidents of the United States. But others dismiss any talk of paranormal activity out of hand. But depending on where you went to school, you may have another reason to pay attention to some ghost stories. Some historic university campuses have gained a reputation as the most haunted colleges in the country. That lends a new meaning to the phrase “school spirit.”
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, read on to check out the university campuses that some people believe to be haunted. Does your alma mater make the list?
1. Bennington College
- Location: Bennington, Vermont
- Most haunted spot: Jennings Hall
According to Reader’s Digest, Bennington College definitely makes the list of the most haunted colleges. The biggest culprit? The supposed presence of ghosts in Jennings Hall. As the publication explains, “It wouldn’t be unusual to hear music coming from Jennings Hall since it houses the music department, but when instruments are playing themselves it can make your hair stand up.”
Students have also heard footsteps and strange voices in the building. And students make note of the university’s location within the “Bennington Triangle,” a region of southwestern Vermont where a number of people have disappeared.
Next: The ghost of a kitchen maid — and murder victim — supposedly haunts this university.
2. Centenary University
- Location: Hackettstown, New Jersey
- Most haunted spot: Centenary Theater
Centenary University has a few ghost stories, too. USA Today reports that the most frequently-sighted ghost is that of Tillie Smith. Smith, an 18-year-old kitchen maid, was found murdered in a field behind the school in 1886. On the day of her death, Smith asked janitor James Titus to let her into the building after curfew. That way, she could see a local theater performance. Upon her return, Titus attempted to rape her. And he strangled her to death in the process.
Smith became the talk of the town as locals admired her struggle to “protect her virtue.” USA Today reports that her “reach still looms large, with frequent ghost sightings.” Students report seeing her walking through the oak trees on campus. And some have seen her floating on the ceiling at South Hall. But her favorite place? The theater, where students often see her in a back room behind the stage.
Next: Students have reported seeing ghosts in several buildings at this university.
3. Drew University
- Location: Madison, New Jersey
- Most haunted spot: Asbury Hall, Hoyt Hall, and Mead Hall
Reader’s Digest also counts Drew University as one of the most haunted universities. The campus has several buildings where ghosts have supposedly been spotted. In Asbury Hall, people say they’ve seen the ghost of a student who hung themselves from the rafters. And on the fifth floor of Hoyt Hall, people have reported seeing the spirit of a dark-haired woman.
Plus, the spirit of Roxanna Mead Drew, wife of the university’s founder, reportedly haunts Mead Hall. Reader’s Digest explains, “Rumor has it that while fighting a fire that broke out there in 1989, two firefighters attempted to rescue a trapped woman, but the flames burned right through her and then she vanished. They noted she was dressed oddly, in a 19th century garment.” Sounds pretty creepy to us!
Next: A story of marital discord and murder supposedly explains some of the hauntings at this university.
4. Denver University
- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Most haunted spot: Margery Reed Hall and Mary Reed Building
Next on the list? Denver University. At least two buildings on campus supposedly host spirits. One story goes that Margery Reed, for whom Margery Reed Hall was named, had a falling out with her husband. So he poisoned her. (She was wealthy, and he stood to inherit her money if she died — which she did.) To commemorate Margery, her daughter Mary donated the funds for the university to build Margery Reed Hall.
The building hosts the theater department, and generations of performers have heard strange echoes and eerie whispers. Plus, in the Renaissance Room at Mary Reed Hall, the eyes in a portrait of Mary Reed seem to follow visitors. And at the Buchtel House, guests experience cold breezes, thumping noises, and slamming doors. All are attributed to the ghost of Henry Buchtel, a “militant prohibitionist” who disapproves of the alcohol served at parties.
Next: Students have spotted ghosts and spirits in several of this university’s halls.
5. Fordham University
- Location: Bronx, New York
- Most haunted spot: Queens Court
Mental Floss reports that Fordham University has one of the most haunted campuses, with ghosts spotted in several different locations. One resident assistant at Queens Court reported repeatedly seeing mattresses that should have been flat on the floor standing upright against the walls — and then being visited by the ghost of a long-deceased Jesuit priest who said he’d “taken care of” the evil spirit responsible.
Plus, the Fordham library reports that students feel a cold hand grab their shoulder in Keating Hall. At Martyr’s Court, students see the ghost of a young girl staring straight ahead in one of the showers. And in Finlay, now a dorm but originally the location of the medical school, students wake up at night feeling as if someone has grabbed their throat. Or, even worse, they feel tugging on their toe, as if they were one of the cadavers being tagged before dissection.
Next: This college’s role in the Civil War might explain its ghost stories.
6. Gettysburg College
- Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- Most haunted spot: Pennsylvania Hall
Gettysburg College is known for its close proximity to the historic Civil War battleground where the bloodiest battle on American soil was fought. The college also has a reputation for numerous ghost sightings. In fact, Pennsylvania Hall hosted a field hospital and communications outpost during the war — and is now supposedly very haunted.
According to Reader’s Digest, two college administrators reported getting in the elevator to go to the first floor but ending up in the basement. Instead of seeing what should have been a storage space, they saw a gruesome hospital scene with soldiers bleeding out and dying. Additionally, the building hosts the ghost of a soldier called “the Lone Sentinel” and another called “the General.” Not far away, Glatfelter Hall’s bell tower reportedly hosts the apparition of a woman spurned by her lover “in a suicide pact gone awry.”
Next: This college also played a role in an American war — and has the ghosts to prove it.
7. Moravian College
- Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Most haunted spot: Brethren’s House
Another supposedly haunted Pennsylvania university can trace the origin of its ghosts to the use of one of its buildings as a hospital. Moravian College’s Brethren’s House served as a hospital during the Revolutionary War. Students have reported many ghost sightings in the building. That includes one unnerving tale shared on the college’s website.
One student describes a night when she and a friend heard deafening noise in the building. “It almost sounded like a train went by; we couldn’t hear one another speak. It sounded like there were carts rolling, almost 25-30 people running up and down the hallway above us.” The noise is attributed to the ghosts of nurses running up and down the hall, rolling gurneys as they went.
Next: Even university administrators acknowledge this haunted space as “uninhabitable.”
8. Ohio University
- Location: Athens, Ohio
- Most haunted spot: Wilson Hall
Reader’s Digest characterizes Ohio University as “the only university with a room that’s been permanently sealed off because of a ghost sighting.” What an introduction! That room is located in Wilson Hall, which is reportedly “centered in the middle of a pentagram of five cemeteries. The pentagram is known to symbolize power and magic.”
Administrators sealed off Room 428 in the dorm because of the many strange sounds, footsteps, and even moving objects that students reported over the years. School officials have deemed the dorm room “uninhabitable.” But what happened in the dorm room? Reportedly, a female student practicing black magic died suddenly. Another potential factor? A mental hospital, the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was built next to the university in 1874. And supposedly, Wilson Hall occupies the same land once used as the hospital’s cemetery.
Next: This university supposedly hosts several ghosts and spirits.
9. Pennsylvania State University
- Location: State College, Pennsylvania
- Most haunted spot: Pattee Library
According to Reader’s Digest, several ghosts supposedly haunt the campus of Penn State. Students claim to have seen the ghost of a mule who helped plow the school fields in the 1850s. They’ve also spotted the spirit of a murdered student in the library. But the most famous ghost? Betsy Aardsma.
Aardsma was a 22-year-old student in 1969. She was murdered in the Pattee Library. And authorities never caught the murderer. But here’s where it gets creepy, according to Reader’s Digest. “Years later on the anniversary of her death, a flickering candle surround with clippings about the murder were found in the library aisle she died in. A message scrawled across the floor that read ‘R.I.P. Betsy Ruth Aardsma, Jul. 11, 1947 – Nov. 28, 1969. P.S. I’m Back.'”
Next: A “faceless nun” supposedly haunts this midwestern college.
10. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
- Location: St. Mary’s, Indiana
- Most haunted spot: Foley Hall
With a name like Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, it doesn’t take a far stretch of the imagination to think that this college could be haunted. Mental Floss reports that the ghost of a “Faceless Nun” floats through Foley Hall, where the nun once taught art courses.
According to Mental Floss, another nun “recalled numerous instances in which an art department worker named Isabel interacted with the Faceless Nun. In one of many incidents, Isabel complained to Newport of a nun who constantly came around, standing between her and the light. ‘She leaves when I speak to her,’ Isabel explained, ‘and I never see her face.'”
Next: The most notorious ghost story at this women’s college dates back to the colonial era.
11. Smith College
- Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
- Most haunted spot: Sessions House
According to Reader’s Digest, the Sessions House has a reputation as the most haunted spot on the campus of Smith College, a women’s college in Massachusetts. “The building contains a secret passageway that was used by the colonial to hide from Native Americans,” Reader’s Digest explains. Supposedly, the spirit of Lucy Hunt, granddaughter of the man who built the house, haunts the dorm.
Lucy became the lover of British general Johnny Burgoyne, who was held captive in the house during the Revolutionary War. The two would rendezvous in the passage. But when Burgoyne went back to England, she never heard from him again. Rumor has it that they both roam the halls and passage, looking for one another. Another ghost that reportedly haunts the building? The spirit of a woman who allegedly killed her children with an ax, mistaking them for intruders.
Next: Some of the incidents that inspired “The Exorcist” took place on this university’s campus.
12. St. Louis University
- Location: St. Louis, Missouri
- Most haunted spot: St. Frances Xavier College Church
As St. Louis University itself reports, the exorcism made famous by The Exorcist “has become part of Saint Louis University legend.” The exorcism was performed on a boy known as Robbie Mannheim or Roland Doe. The rite began at a house in a northwest St. Louis suburb. Then, it moved to the Alexian Brothers Hospital in south St. Louis. Next, it shifted to the St. Francis Xavier College Church on St. Louis University’s campus, and then moved back to the hospital.
The College Church rectory was torn down in 1966. The university doesn’t say much about any paranormal occurrences on its campus. But notably, CBS reports that when Robbie left Alexian Brothers Hospital, the room he stayed in was permanently locked. Hospital workers noted cold air emanating from the locked room. They also noticed electrical problems in surrounding rooms. Eventually, they closed the entire section — and later demolished the hospital.
Next: A student supposedly died in one of this university’s buildings. But no evidence seems to exist.
13. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Location: Champaign, Illinois
- Most haunted spot: English Building
Next on the list? The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, the most famous haunting is supposedly linked to the death of a student. The student in question either drowned or committed suicide in the English Building, originally called the Women’s Building.
At the time, this hall served as a dormitory for female students. But it had a swimming pool on its lower level — which explains how someone could drown there. The woman’s ghost supposedly roams the hall of the building. She’s blamed for flickering lights and slamming doors. Even stranger? It’s true that the building did have a swimming pool. Yet there’s no evidence of the student’s death.
Next: Students have reportedly spotted numerous ghosts at this university.
14. University of Notre Dame
- Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
- Most haunted spot: South Dining Hall
Mental Floss reports that Notre Dame has been described as a “breeding ground” for ghosts. One supposed center of paranormal activity? The South Dining Hall, where workers have heard claps and moans. They’ve also seen weird flashes.
And as Mental Floss notes, “One person even claimed to see a white figure floating by the entrance — only to later recognize him in a campus portrait.” That floating figure was supposedly Father Sorin, the founder of Notre Dame University.
Next: Several ghosts supposedly haunt one building at this university.
15. University of Oklahoma
- Location: Norman, Oklahoma
- Most haunted spot: Ellison Hall
Finally, the University of Oklahoma also numbers among the most haunted universities. The story goes that Ellison Hall, home to the College of Arts and Sciences, is also the home of the ghost of a young boy who roams the halls on his roller skates. In 2013, a medium investigated the spot and said that the boy’s name is Bobby. Bobby was either hit by a car or had an asthma attack. He then died in the infirmary in Hygeia Hall, later renamed Ellison Hall.
Various people have reported hearing roller skates in the second and third floor hallways. Even the dean’s staff has admitted to seeing motion-activated lights going on and off. They’ve also reported hearing strange sounds in empty halls and vacant offices, and hearing the sound of voices and dishes clinking on the first floor. Others have also seen a nurse, a man, and maybe even Dr. Ellison, who ran the infirmary.
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