Spooky Season: Haunted College Campuses

Colleges of Distinction »

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there are endless spooky stories of hauntings surrounding colleges and universities. Colleges of Distinction has rounded up 10 of the most haunted college campuses. From benevolent Jesuits to vengeful murder victims, there are all kinds of spooky spirits roaming these campuses. Keep reading to learn more… if you dare. 

1. Spalding University

Louisville, Kentucky

The Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin mansion, ​​located at 851 South Fourth Street in Louisville, Kentucky, is the oldest building on Spalding University’s campus and dates back to 1870. This Italianate building’s facade was constructed with limestone, which is said to absorb the energy of traumatic events. Before it was bought by the Sister of Charity of Nazareth, who founded the school, the previous owners died in what is now the university’s chapel.

Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing alum David Dominé tells the story of a séance in his book “True Ghost Stories and Eerie Legends from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood” and recounts a chilling encounter in “Ghostly Tales from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood.” However, most ghost reports come from campus security officers who patrol the mansion at night and in the early morning. During this witching hour, security officers often feel like they are being watched and hear whispers or creaking floors, even when they know the building is empty. The chapel is the center of this ghostly activity. During one early morning walk through the mansion, a security officer glanced over and noticed a single older woman sitting in the chapel. He considered checking on her and turned around. By the time he returned, she vanished.  

Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin mansion at Spalding University

2. SUNY Oneonta 

Oneonta, New York

Many staff members, student workers, and custodians believe that the Alden Room, a small room on the third floor of the Milne Library, is haunted. Containing college archives, photographs, and scrapbooks, this room is said to house the spirit of its namesake, Jessica Alden, who was SUNY Oneonta’s first librarian and worked at the college from 1912 until 1944. Librarians have reported suddenly feeling cold, and one said she felt a pushing sensation on her back, as if someone or something wanted her to leave. They also say they hear footsteps and other noises after the library is closed, see shadows flit across walls, and watch as rocking chairs move by themselves.

black and white photo of Jessica C. Alden

3. Lindenwood University

St. Charles, Missouri

Established in the early 1800’s, Lindenwood University’s historic campus in St. Charles, Missouri, is rumored to have ghosts abounding the heritage side of campus. The University’s founders, Mary Easton Sibley and her husband George (along with their dogs), watch over the campus from a hilltop resting spot that overlooks the football stadium, awakening the spooky senses year round. Ask any student on campus, and they’ll be sure to point you towards historic Butler Library, currently closed for renovations and enjoyed by ghosts and ghouls alike. Halloween season is capped off on the Lindenwood University campus with Dark Carnival, a seasonal festival complete with haunted hayrides through the historic drive of the campus. Beware—you just may see Mary Sibley herself!

4. Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania

For those of you who are fans of 007, you may not know that James Bond’s character is actually named after a man who inhabited GMercyU’s campus more than 100 years ago. The “real” James Bond was a respected ornithologist (expert on birds) and lived in his family’s country estate in Gwynedd Valley, Pa., which is now known as GMercyU’s Assumption Hall.

Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels, shared a love of birds with our James Bond, and settled on the name for 007. 

Here’s where the ghost story comes in… As legend has it, James Bond’s fiancée wished to get married in Assumption Hall. The day before the wedding, the fiancée fell down the stairs, hit her head, and died. Rumor has it her ghost can be seen in Assumption Hall’s second-story windows between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 am. Is it true? Come check it out for yourself!’

GMercyU’s Assumption Hall.

5. Southern Utah University 

Cedar City, Utah

Earning the crown as the most talked about and spotted ghost at Southern Utah University is Virginia Loomis. Legends say that in 1898 Virginia was murdered by a boyfriend in a quarry just east of Cedar City, Utah, and SUU’s campus. The same bloody rock Virginia’s body was found on was used to build Old Main, the top floor of which is occupied by Virginia’s ghost. 

Years after her death in 1948, Virginia’s spirit became an alleged arsonist when Old Main burned to the ground. This happened coincidentally on the same morning that her boyfriend, who was acquitted for her murder 50 years prior, stepped foot on campus for his first day working as a custodian.

Old Main fire at Southern Utah University

6. Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University has its fair share of ghost stories, but perhaps its most famous spirit is that of American playwright Eugene O’Neill. Boston University’s Kilachand Hall used to be a luxury hotel called the Sheraton Apartment Hotel. The hotel’s most famous resident was playwright Eugene O’Neill, Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author of such plays as Anna Christie, Strange Interlude, The Iceman Cometh, and Long Day’s Journey into Night

O’Neill lived in an apartment on the fourth floor with his wife, Carlotta Monterey until his death in 1953. Just a year later, the hotel was acquired by Boston University and turned into a women’s dormitory. These days, Kilachand Hall residents believe the spirit of O’Neill still roams the building. Students report elevator doors opening and closing without being summoned, mysterious knocking, and the lights of the fourth floor being inexplicably dimmer than other floors in the building.

Eugene O'Neill Boston University

7. College of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

The College of Charleston’s Berry Hall has a chilling past. The residence hall stands on the site of the Old Charleston Orphanage, which served from 1790-1956. In 1918, when the orphanage was being ravaged by the influenza epidemic, a fire broke out. The blaze was reportedly caused by children playing with oily rags on the orphanage’s front lawn, killing four orphans by way of smoke inhalation. The orphanage was later demolished in 1956. 

Over 30 years later, the College of Charleston built what is now Berry Residence Hall. Students living in Berry report strange, inexplicable experiences, including false fire alarms, children’s laughter, and the sound of rolling marbles echoing through the halls of Berry. Perhaps the scariest thing is the faint sound of children chanting the nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosie.”

8. Fordham University

New York, New York

In the summer of 2003 at Fordham University, a group of resident assistants preparing the residence halls of Queen’s Court reported strange behavior of mattresses… Yes, mattresses. The RAs would find mattresses propped up vertically despite numerous attempts to lay them flat. One RA also reported hearing a knock on his door late one night. On the other side of the door was an elderly Jesuit who said, “Someone must have been praying pretty loudly if they got me up at this hour. Sorry about that, it normally stays at the other end of the hall, but it must have gotten out. Don’t worry, I took care of it.” Now, that sounds harmless, right? Well, the RA thought so too—until he tried to find the Jesuit once the semester started. He discovered that the only Jesuit matching his description had been dead for 10 years. 

9. University of Montevallo

Montevallo, Alabama

On one cold night in 1908, Montevallo student Condie Cunningham and her roommate were making hot chocolate in their dorm room. The girls were heating the chocolate by using a chafing dish and alcohol for fuel. When the curfew signal rang out, the two girls rushed to put their items away, knocking over the bottle of alcohol onto Condie’s nightgown.  

The gown caught fire, and Condie ran out of her fourth-floor dorm screaming for help. When the flames were finally put out, Condie had suffered many burns and was sent to the hospital where she would die from her injuries two days later on Feb. 6. 

After she died, the image of her face was burned into the door of her dorm room. According to local legend, no matter how many times the door was replaced, her face would return. Eventually, the door was replaced with a locked metal door and no one has been assigned the room ever since. Residents of Main Hall say they still hear Condie periodically running down the hall screaming to this day.

Yearbook photo of Condie Cunningham.

10. University of Northern Colorado

Greeley, Colorado

​​While UNC claims that “you can get a ghost story for almost every building,” the most famous ghost on campus is one by the name of Edith. Edith supposedly hanged herself in the attic of the Wiebking and Wilson student residences, which she haunts to this day. Though her true life story is still somewhat up for debate, students today say that they not only experience things like channels on their TV changing randomly or furniture moving when they’re asleep, but also that they can hear sounds of something in the ceiling—explained as Edith rolling marbles across the floor, something she used to do a lot when alive. Other residents in these dorms have reported feeling a strange presence and seeing suspicious shadows in their rooms.

UNC campus building