Most Haunted Colleges in America. It’s a well-established element of college lore that every college worth its salt has one or two ghost stories. College ghost stories are one of the easiest methods for upperclassmen to tease freshmen and make sure they spend the first few weeks sleeping with the lights on in their “haunted” dorm. While some students might enjoy them, there are no ghosts in our ranking of the top college dorms.
As for Greek initiations, nothing puts the newcomers in their place like the urban tale about the pledge whose spirit wanders the frat house looking for his head. In fact, there are a ton of more contemporary college urban legends to pull from if a school is too new to have any respectable Colonial or Victorian-era ghosts to claim.
Some haunted colleges and institutions go above and beyond with a whole scare of ghosts and ageless tales to go with them. This is one of the most overtly sinister collective names out there. They could be heartbroken spirits that linger in the residence halls where they committed suicide, or naughty poltergeists moving books around the library; they could be missing Revolutionary War troops or freaked-out acid victims from the 1970s.
Old mansions, churches, hospitals, and asylums that were integrated into campuses along with their resident spooks are the source of some of the best college ghost stories. And if a college has a sinister, ancient cemetery, that’s pure spooky gold.
Being a haunted college involves more than just spooky tales recounted in late-night bull sessions; it also involves ghost tours, paranormal researchers with their EVP recorders, persistent historians searching for the truth, and loud-mouthed skeptics who are powerless to quell the myths. Homegrown stories give students, professors, and alumni a sense of community and a little different understanding of history than the significant events and significant people that make up the so-called “actual” story.
Ranking of Most Haunted Colleges in America
Would you really want a ranking like this to be authoritative or objective, which is impossible? We’re not looking for “actual” ghost stories; rather, we compiled this rating by identifying universities that not only have a long history of hauntings, but also take pride in being among the most haunted in the country. The greatest small institutions and national liberal arts colleges in the US are included in the Most Haunted Colleges ranking even if there are several huge research universities with interesting ghost stories. This is because nothing fosters tradition like a tiny, close-knit group.
One of the prestigious Seven Sisters and the largest women’s college in the country, Smith College has been a leader in women’s education since 1871. Its alumni include some of the 20th century’s most significant thinkers, artists, and scholars, including Sylvia Plath, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan. Naturally, a century and a half are more than enough time to create some original college ghost stories, and Smith has centuries of accidents, murders, and epidemics to pull from thanks to structures that date back to the Colonial Era (it being Massachusetts, after all). Smith University is one of the spookiest institutions in New England even though College Consensus ranks it as the best women’s college in the country.
Even a list of all the campus ghosts that have been reported, along with their individual stories, is available on Smith’s website, and there are some real doozies. The Sessions House, erected in 1751, is the setting for the most well-known and sorrowful tale, in which two star-crossed lovers—a British soldier and an American girl—met in a secret stairway. Evidently, the mansion is still haunted by their ghosts, and new residents are always burdened with discovering the hidden stairway on Halloween.
Other ghosts include a senior who perished after failing to turn off the gas oven, a little child who perished after being confined in an attic, and a broken-hearted mother who haunts the premises while the infant she murdered in real life cries. These spirits date back to the time before Smith. Students at Smith, get some rest! There isn’t a mouse making that noise in the attic.
The University of Notre Dame, home to the Fighting Irish, football icon Knute Rockne, and the first collegiate marching band, is one of the most illustrious universities in the US (outside of the Ivy Leagues). Notre Dame, which was founded in 1842, is not only the undisputed football champion but also one of the most illustrious Catholic universities in American history. Throughout its lengthy history, the university has also been the subject of several ghost stories.
When compared to other haunted universities in America, Notre Dame’s ghosts appear to cluster around Washington Hall, the theater constructed in 1881. Both a music student who continues to practice his French horn at night and a steeplejack who fell off the roof during building are believed to be haunting the theater.
Philander Chase, Ohio’s first Episcopal Bishop, established Kenyon College in 1821, making it one of the oldest and most esteemed universities in the Midwest. For its greatness and relative obscurity, Kenyon has long been recognized as one of the best liberal arts universities in the country. Kenyon features not only one of the most stunning campuses in the US, but also one of the most haunted institutions in the country. In fact, Professor Tim Shutt has long conducted a ghost tour of the college, taking aficionados of the eerie and dark to the campus’ most haunted sites. Kenyon Collegiate also doesn’t keep its college ghost stories a secret.
Gettysburg College has every right to be haunted, if any college does. After all, the prominent liberal arts college, which is frequently named among the best in the country, is located next to the site of the bloodiest, most violent combat of the American Civil War, the Gettysburg Battlefield. With up to 8000 soldiers killed during the three-day conflict and up to 50,000 total fatalities (wounded, missing, and captured), Gettysburg has the reputation of being one of the most haunted locations in the world. That much evil energy is enough to haunt any town. Naturally, many of those ghost stories are set in Penn Hall at Gettysburg College, which served as a hospital and mortuary during the conflict.
Penn Hall, the college’s first building constructed in 1832, has an astounding number of ghost stories associated with it. More than one administration has taken the elevator to the basement only to see a full-fledged ghostly field hospital operating when the doors opened. Students have reported encounters with ghosts outside of Penn Hall as well.
In addition to Stevens Hall and Huber Hall, students have reported encounters with the lost and wandering spirits of fallen warriors while on campus and during trips to the battlefield. Some students avoid Gettysburg because of its reputation, but others come in search of a little paranormal activity at one of the country’s most haunted universities.
Flagler College was founded in 1968, therefore you might assume that it lacks the historical background necessary to sustain any traditional college ghost stories. The Ponce de Leon Hotel, the focal point of Flagler’s campus, was constructed in 1888 by eccentric businessman Henry Morrison Flagler, who is often credited with turning Florida into a tourist destination despite the fact that Flagler is only 50 years old.
Additionally, Flagler is situated in St. Augustine, Florida, which was established in 1565 by Spanish conquistadors and is the oldest city in the United States. Flagler College is not an exception to the fact that St. Augustine is home to enough troublesome ghosts and bad karma to fill a whole library of literature on the supernatural.
Flagler College may rank as the second-best regional college in the South, but it’s also a place where students may discover a ghostly woman dressed entirely in black standing at the foot of their bed or a young child who perpetually plays through the hallways. The Ponce de Leon is supposed to be haunted by several ghosts, including a pregnant woman who fell down the stairs after her lover went back to his wife and a youngster who fell from a balcony.
However, Henry Flagler himself is rumored to be a special guest at the hotel he designed, his ghost imprisoned in the Flagler Room, while both his wife and one of his girlfriends are also said to inhabit the old structure. Additionally, a ghostly handyman is said to work on the showers while whistling, but don’t let that deter you from cleaning because it seems he is also blind.
Among the most haunted universities in America, Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, doesn’t have the most ghosts, but it does have a claim to two of the most famous: the two Red Ladies who have lived there for a long time. The first Crimson Lady of Huntingdon College, which was established in Tuskegee as a women’s college in 1854, was a young lady who strolled up and down the steps of Sky Alley’s original residence hall while carrying a red parasol and wearing a red dress.
The first Red Lady, who emitted a brilliant red light, was only ever seen once, and the college relocated to Montgomery, the state capital, in 1909 to be closer to students. It’s probably a coincidence that the first building for the college in Montgomery quickly caught fire.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the oldest Catholic institution in Indiana, was established in 1840 by a group of French nuns who moved to a region that was still undeveloped outside of Terre Haute. A pioneer in more ways than one, SMWC was the first women’s college in Indiana and one of the first in the US to emphasize professional and business education for women rather than “refinement” for women. It also happens to be one of the American colleges with the most hauntings.
College ghost stories have a long history in the Le Fer and Foley buildings, with inhabitants reporting seeing shadowy figures clutching at their feet and Foley residents reporting hearing eerie piano music emanating from the Conservatory next door (which was demolished in 1989, forcing its ghosts to find new environs). There is even a well-known rumor that Foley was exorcised, but this is untrue; instead, a special Mass was conducted to “quiet the spirits” in the structure. There is nothing ominous about that at all.
The University of Montevallo, the only public liberal arts college in Alabama, has consistently been rated as one of the best regional universities in the South and among the top schools for veterans. Although King House and Reynolds Hall are among the oldest structures in Alabama, Montevallo’s history dates back for further than the year 1896 when it was first established as a technical school for women. The University of Montevallo is undoubtedly one of the most haunted universities in America.
There are more ghosts in Montevallo than you can toss a stick at, and tourists can view their locations on the yearly Montevallo Ghost Walk. Of course, ancient structures also naturally bring along old ghost stories. According to legend, Captain Henry Reynolds’s ghost haunts Reynolds Hall and keeps watch over it out of guilt.
When a Union onslaught at another place distracted Reynolds from his duty as the building’s protector during the Civil War, he left his post. When he returned, he discovered the hospital had been overrun and the patients had been taken prisoner. Less tragically, Dr. William Trumbauer’s ghost, enraged that Palmer Hall wasn’t named after him, cheerfully irritates everyone in the theater.
Drew University, one of the oldest Methodist seminaries in the country when it was founded in 1867, is consistently rated as one of the best liberal arts universities in the US and one of the most picturesque colleges in the fall. But for our purposes, that isn’t what’s actually significant about Drew. The fact that Drew University has developed a reputation as one of the most haunted universities in America and openly advertises this fact to the world is what matters most.
When Southern aristocrat William Gibbons constructed the estate he dubbed The Forest for his family’s summer residence in the North, that is when Drew’s history began. The eerie events at Drew University started when his heirs sold the land to the college’s founder, Daniel Drew, in 1867 (perhaps as a result of the financial crisis following the Civil War).
10. Ohio University
One of the most haunted universities in America, according to ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts, is Ohio University. It makes sense that an institution with a history of more than 200 years would have had plenty of time to establish a national reputation for its urban legends and old campus ghost stories. Ohio University, one of the country’s oldest public colleges, was established in 1804 and began enrolling students in 1809.
Athens, Ohio, is renowned as one of the most cherished college towns. However, adherents contend that the institution is situated between five cemeteries, making a pentacle, with Wilson Hall at its very center. Or perhaps it was constructed on an Indian burial place or the unmarked graves of asylum inmates from Athens. In any case, nobody resides in room 428, the location of two students’ allegedly strange deaths.
Some universities are supposed to have been constructed over old burial grounds, while others are said to have been the sites of tragic suicides and mysterious deaths. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that so many college campuses are said to be haunted.
The rumors surrounding haunted colleges are as varied as they are terrifying, covering everything from possessed paintings to poltergeists who cause havoc. Additionally, although some colleges appear to ignore their purportedly haunted pasts, others actively promote their renown for all things supernatural. Meanwhile, students have elevated the commonplace ghost story to a status symbol on campus, and tales are passionately passed down from one freshmen class to the next.
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