The trees around my house have already begun dropping their leaves. The stores are filled with school supplies. Vacations are coming to an end and the school year is close at hand. For those of you with children who just graduated from high school, you’re probably planning a trip to their new campus. So, just in time for that adventure, I thought I’d share some stories about haunted college campuses – just to get you in the mood.
Let’s start with one of my favorite campuses, The University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. My sister, Maureen Tan, used to work at the University and she was the first one to introduce me to one of their ghost stories. She was working on a Saturday afternoon in one of the older buildings on campus. The campus was nearly deserted, and she was the only one in her building. She walked down the dim hallway to the ladies’ room, opened the door and saw a woman hanging from the light fixture. A moment later, the woman was gone, and the bathroom was back to normal. I can’t quite remember if she decided to use the facilities or just go home for the day. My vote would have been to go home!
The website Prairie Ghosts believes that the most notorious location for ghosts on campus is the English Building. Their website states, “Many years ago, this structure served as a women’s dormitory and according to legend, a young lady committed suicide here after a love affair ended badly. The stories say that flickering lights and slamming doors have long been common here, especially in the former rhetoric room, which was later turned into offices for graduate teaching assistants. This was allegedly the location of the young woman’s room and the place where she took her life. Witness accounts say that she still wanders the hallways of the building.”
There are some varying accounts of the tale of the ghost of the English building. The Daily Illini writes, “Late one night, decades ago, a University female was found floating lifeless in the English Building’s basement pool. It remains unknown if the drowning was purposeful or accidental. Since then, University students routinely report faintly hearing a woman’s voice, along with doors suddenly closing and floors loudly creaking in the basement’s computer lab: the site of the old pool.”
But it seems that the English Building isn’t the only place that has a history of strange occurrences. Prairie Ghosts shares another spine-tingling tale, “One U of I alumni named Steven H contacted me about some strange experiences he had at the Natural Resources Building while working there as a graduate student from 1997 to 1999. Part of his research assistantship was to work in the ground floor Ichthyology collection, curating specimens. Because of his class schedule, he often worked there alone and during the late-night hours. On a few occasions, the building’s elevator would engage and would come down from an upper floor to the floor where Steve was working. Upon reaching the ground floor, the doors would open, and no one would be in the elevator. This happened on several occasions and Steve later learned that it also happened to a friend of his, who also worked in the building under these same circumstances.
“What made this creepy,” Steve told me, “is that this, to my knowledge, never happened in the daytime and I knew that I was the only one in the building when this occurred because the doors were always locked after work hours, I could see the parking lot outside was empty and on one occasion, I checked the hallways and rooms on the floor to see if anyone else was there.”
“It’s possible that this may have been something mechanical,” he added, “but if it was, it should have occurred in the daytime too. I watched for it to happen and this is what made me question it. It was a minor occurrence that probably doesn’t qualify as a “ghost story” but it truly creeped me out when it happened.”
Next door to the English Building is the Lincoln Building. This is the home to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Ghostly Activities shares a little information about this haunting. “The Lincoln Building has a female spirit that looks out windows on the upper floors. She has a very sad expression and she’s only active after the building closes at night. Some people believe the ghost is a long-dead teaching assistant. Others say it’s a young co-ed who jumped to her death from the top floor. This one’s still open for debate.”
Also, to lend credence to the saying, “Old university presidents never die, they just fade away,” we have the story of President Gregory. President Gregory was the first president of the University and, according to legend, he has been known to appear as a wavy figure crossing the Kentucky Blue Grass lawn to get to Altgeld Hall. He’ll even wave at you as he hurries by.
So, pack up those kiddies with their new dorm room supplies and don’t forget an extra flashlight because you never know who you might meet in the dark.