It seems like every institute of higher learning—from the Ivy League to the West
Coast Conference—has its own ghost stories. At League we love Halloween as
much as we love celebrating the traditions of the many institutions we serve. So
to get you in the spirit of the holiday, we thought we’d share a few ghoulish tales
from our hardworking brand ambassadors across the country.
Kirsten Gabbett, West Virginia University
Elizabeth Moore was the principal of Woodburn Female Seminary, which was a
women’s educational academy that existed in Woodburn Circle prior to WVU’s
inception. Moore was a firm believer in women’s rights and was a mother figure
to her students. Many have claimed that Moore’s presence is still felt on campus today,
particularly in E. Moore Hall (pictured), which was named in her honor. Her ghost has been
spotted hovering over the E. Moore Hall swimming pool, chaperoning the young
women swimmers (the building was originally supposed to be an all women
faculty). Others have discovered her portrait moved to different areas of the
building without being touched. She is allegedly still sighted and felt in the
building on a regular basis.
Sara Geiger, North Carolina State University
Near NCSU’s Centennial Campus, you can find a house sitting on what was
once the land occupied by Dorothea Dix Hospital. The psychiatric hospital closed
in 2010, but that Spring Hill House remains standing as it has since 1850. It
became a museum in 1982 and a national historic site in 1983. The building is
unoccupied, but the grave of the former owner, Colonel Hunter, remains behind
the home. Sometimes at night, the motion sensors in the house will go off, alertng
the campus police. So far, officers have found no intruders. More disturbing,
some who’ve dared to enter the house after dark have heard the faint cry of a
Abbie Weissman, University of Virginia
Edgar Allen Poe is widely known for his mysterious and morbid short stories, but
not many people know that he actually attended the University of Virginia from
February 14th to December 15th, 1826. During this time, he lived in Room 13 on
the West Range of the UVA lawn. Unable to continue paying tuition and
overwhelmed by debt, Poe was forced to leave the University that December and
never returned. Legend has it that etched in the windowpane of Room 13 Poe left
behind the ominous message:
O Thou timid one, do not let thy
Form slumber within these
For herein lies
The ghost of an awful crime.
Madeleine Davis, Vanderbilt University
Located in the heart of Nashville, you can find where the heart of Vanderbilt
University’s founder remains. Old Cornelius Vanderbilt lives in his statue the
center of campus, despite his passing in 1877. The only visitors to this haunted
statue are the ravens who keep Cornelius company and the late night Vandy Van
shuttle service for students. Every Halloween, the university runs extra Vandy
Vans for the extra students out late at night, and each Halloween, one Vandy
Van goes missing near the statue. Coincidence or Cornelius?
Molly Niemczyk, Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech may not be known for ghosts or ghouls, but there’s one man
whose invisible presence permeates all aspects of life at the Institute. George P.
Burdell was one of Georgia Tech’s most successful and brilliant alums. He
graduated from the institute with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and
later received his Master’s. He flew a B-17 bomber with the Airforce in
England during World War II and was in contention for Time magazine’s Person
of the Year. He also never existed. Burdell was the concoction of a former student
Willam Edgar Smith. In 1927, Smith, then an incoming Georgia Tech student, was
accidentally sent two registration forms. As a prank, he decided to register both
himself and a fake student — Burdell — and perpetuated the ruse by enrolling
Burdell in classes and turning in assignments under his name. Smith even
enlisted the help of his friends, so professors wouldn’t catch on. Students have
continued the tradition of enrolling Tech’s most famous alum in classes and
clubs, and the “spirit” of Burdell can be felt across campus, even today.
Robin Thady, College of William & Mary
The most famous ghost story at William and Mary is pretty morbid, but according
to legend, a girl was studying in an academic building called Tucker Hall in the
1980s and hanged herself due to stress over exams. Her ghost supposedly visits
students who are pulling all-nighters in that same building to ask them how their
exams are going, and if they answer that they’re going well, she becomes very
angry and violent until the student leaves (variations of this story say that she'll
murder the students). Another story is that in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall (our
theatre & performing arts building), a girl who was supposed to be the lead in a
play died, and when the new lead was rehearsing by herself in the auditorium,
she saw the dress that the character wears sitting upright in the front row of the
Sayali Desphande, Michigan State University
Mary Anne Mayo (1845-1903) was a pioneer woman from Calhoun County, MI,
who believed strongly in the importance of education for women. As an
advocate, she often spoke in public and traveled to make her case that women
should have a place in institutions of higher learning. Mayo encouraged MSU to
allow women to study at the university and because of her work, she had the first
women’s dorm named after her in 1931. Her portrait that hangs on the first floor
is said to follow visitors with its eyes, and her spirit is believed to walk the halls.
People have reported that they have seen Mary near the piano on the West Wing
of the hall as the piano plays by itself. Another legend centers around a woman
who hanged herself on the fourth floor. This room is now known as the “Red
Room,” and even though the floor is closed off, there have still been reports of
flickering lights and figures seen through the windows.
Allie Haddad, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Built-in 1849 and a symbolic element to The University of Wisconsin, Madison
Bascom hill was named after John Bascom, the former president of the University.
It is said that the remains of two former settlers were exhumed in 1909 in
preparation for placement of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, which now overlooks
campus and the capital. Although it is good luck to rub Abe’s toe as he proudly
watches over campus, everybody knows that spirits do not like to be disturbed.
Since the exhumation, it is believed that the spirits of the two settlers haunt the
hill. Many have noted the presence of ghostly figures and heard their whispers on
Bascom Hill. Roaming through the building and guarding the top of the hill, the
shadows of these two men (as well as that of Abraham Lincoln) have been seen
during the dark hours. Nobody knows why these men were buried there, but this
is another reason to avoid hiking up Bascom Hill.
We hope these haunting tales have put you in a ghostly mood. Have a happy
and safe Halloween!