School is back in session, and students across the country are gearing up for midnight study sessions, nights out with friends—and perhaps an encounter with a troubled campus ghost.
Practically every school in the United States has at least one rumored specter that haunts its halls. But these 13 universities are cursed with the most abundant amount of paranormal activity. Whether it’s demonic possession, star-crossed lovers, tragic accidents, or Civil War-era grudges, here are the most haunted schools in the U.S.
1. Augusta University – Augusta, Georgia
Located just a short drive from Walker Cemetery, which is one of the oldest family plots in Georgia, Augusta University has had its fair share of unexplained phenomena. One building, Bellevue Hall, seems to be the focal point of paranormal activity. A girl named Emily Galt lived there in 1861; one of the building’s windows still bears her name, which she etched into the glass. Galt was engaged to be married, but when her fiancé was killed in the Civil War, she allegedly leapt to her death from the upstairs window. Students have reportedly heard the sounds of a couple arguing late at night, as well as footsteps behind them in empty hallways.
2. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
Students at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign have long been terrorized by the ghost of a girl who drowned in a swimming pool that used to be in the English Department building. The young woman has been spotted staring out the third-floor window and aimlessly walking the halls. Other spirits include the figure of a faceless man who has been spotted in nearby Lincoln Hall, peering out from its top windows. Students claim that those who encounter the faceless man meet unfortunate ends. One student, who claimed to have met the ghost, later hung himself in his dorm room.
3. Saint Mary of the Woods College – West Terre-Haute, Indiana
This Catholic university is home to the terrifying phantom of a faceless nun. Apparently, the former nun used to live in what is now Foley Hall. She was a talented portrait painter, always leaving the face of her subjects for last. When she finally painted a self-portrait, she fell ill and died before the painting could be completed. Students and staff alike claim to have been approached a figure in an empty hallway, only to find themselves face-to-face, so to speak, with the faceless nun. Despite Foley Hall burning down in 1989, the paranormal activity, like self-playing pianos, has continued.
4. Pennsylvania State University – State College, Pennsylvania
The campus is reportedly haunted by dozens of ghosts, but the most infamous is Betsy Aardsma, who was murdered in the library. In the late afternoon of November 28, 1969, Aardsma was studying in the library, when she was stabbed a single time in the chest. Her murder was never solved, and students claim to have seen a young woman matching her description wandering the stacks of the library in the years since her murder.
5. Ohio University – Athens, Ohio
Apparently, if you draw a line between the five cemeteries that buffer Ohio University, you get a pentagram … which can’t be good. In fact, every building on Ohio University’s campus is said to contain at least one ghost. Washington Hall has a whole basketball team. The legend goes that a visiting basketball team had such a great time, that when they all died in a bus accident back home, their spirits returned to Ohio University. Students have seen the entire team dressed in their uniforms in the hallway that connects Washington and Read Hall.
6. University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, Indiana
Though a multitude of ghosts call Notre Dame home, the campus is endowed with a celebrity ghost—that of George “the Gipper” Gipp, the university’s former football star, who died of pneumonia at the young age of 25 in 1920. The Gipp reportedly haunts Washington Hall, which was once his dorm. He’s a friendly ghost, who has been known to pat undergrads on the back. Other students have noticed him peering over their shoulder in library before disappearing altogether.
7. Flagler College – St. Augustine, Florida
It’s no surprise that this college is haunted, as it’s located in one of the oldest cities in the United States. The building that makes up the center of the campus used to be the Hotel de Ponce de Leon, and was designed by Henry Flagler, the man for whom the college is named. Flagler had a rather colorful personal life: his first wife died, his second went to a mental institution, and his third wife died under mysterious circumstances. Flagler reportedly demanded that all the doors and windows be kept open at the Hotel de Ponce de Leon for his funeral. Someone, though, closed them, leading guests (and, later, students) to believe that Flagler’s spirit is trapped in the building, unable to escape.
8. Huntingdon College – Montgomery, Alabama
The ghost of a student named Martha, who had a hard time fitting in at Huntingdon College, is said to haunt the campus. Martha, who had a predilection for the color red, was a sullen, lonely girl, who reportedly told her roommate she would be “sorry” when she moved to another room. Later, Martha committed suicide, and her ghost, glowing red, has been spotted in Pratt Hall ever since. As if that’s not scary enough, Martha is actually the second Red Lady of Huntingdon. The first was seen when the college was located in Tuskegee at the end of the 1800s: a woman dressed in scarlet wandering the halls. Some theorize that she followed the college to its current location in Montgomery … and perhaps possessed Martha.
9. Saint Mary’s University – Winona, Minnesota
In 1915, Father Louis Lesches tried to murder his boss, Bishop Patrick Heffron—the man after whom Heffron Hall, at Saint Mary’s, is named. Louis Lesches died in prison at the age of 84, but students believe his murderous ghost haunts Heffron Hall. Some claim to hear footsteps accompanied by the sound of a walking cane in the hallway. Other say they were prevented from entering certain rooms by an strange force. The activity has been so intense that parapsychologists were brought in to research the building. Their results were inconclusive, but anyone who has spent the night in Heffron Hall is certain that something is not quite right.
10. Kenyon College – Gambier, Ohio
The south entrance of Kenyon College is lovingly referred to as “The Gates of Hell.” It’s said that if you walk through these gates as the nearby bells of the Church of the Holy Spirit chime at midnight, you will be sent straight to the fires of Hades. No one is certain how this superstition originated, but historians point to the deaths of nine students in a dorm fire in 1949 as the basis.
11. University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
In 1868, shortly after construction was completed on Woods Hall at the University of Alabama, two male students allegedly dueled on one of the top floor balconies. There was a victor, of course, and the unfortunate man who was shot then fell several stories to his death. Students claim to see his ghost wandering the balcony. The Little Round House building on campus was also the site of some disturbing Confederate trickery during the Civil War. Union soldiers were led to the building, told they’d find whiskey there. Instead, they met a Confederate shooter who killed them all. Students have reported sightings of men dressed in Union uniforms wandering the halls, looking for what they were promised.
12. Loyola University – Chicago, Illinois
Sometime in 1870, the legend goes, a nun and priest both employed by Loyola University had a torrid love affair. When the nun became pregnant, she committed suicide rather than risk exposure. The priest, on finding her lifeless body, threw himself from the building. Since then, students have reported a strange glowing light emanating from one window in particular, and others have seen the terrifying vision of a hanging form from the same window. Others have heard the sounds of a man sobbing and screaming coming from empty rooms.
13. University of Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa
The legend of a suicide pact is at the heart of one haunting at the University of Iowa. Three female friends were talking about their boyfriends in their shared dorm at Currier Hall. Over the course of the conversation, they realized they were talking about the same man. The three made a pact to commit suicide together. Supposedly, their ghosts appear in Currier Hall whenever there’s an argument between students. Other students, late at night, hear the disembodied sound of three distinct female voices.