ghost photoHalloween is just over a week away, that one night where the forces of darkness are allowed to run rampant. In ancient Ireland, Samhain, the Gaelic festival from which Halloween sprung, was a celebration of the end of the harvest. The Gaels also believed that on October 31 the worlds of the living and dead overlapped, the dead would return, and evil spirits would wreak havoc. Costumes and masks were worn by participants to mimic or placate the evil ghouls. Bonfires were raised, burning the bones of slaughtered livestock. The Celts would open their burial mounds during Samhain, and their priests and priestesses would enter to receive prophecies for the coming year.

As promised, I have another offering of spooky stories, three this time. Like the Samhain festival of old, this collection has its share of malignant spectres and restless dead communicating from the grave. So, without further ado, three more spooky stories:

1. Berea College: A Phantom Runner, Undying Tragedies, and the Ghostly Tour Guide

berea college ghostTucked away in the Kentucky woods, this obscure liberal arts college houses quite a few phantoms. As with so many other colleges, many of these hauntings are said to originate from tragic happenings in the school’s past. Still, it also has its odd, inexplicably random haunting.

Take, for instance, the Phantom Runner of Pearsons Residence Hall. It turns out that back in the 1920s, one of the school’s football stars, Charles Seabury, Jr. died of a broken neck while playing ball. His grieving father donated money for a new gym on condition that the school would never again have a football team. The school honored his request. Apparently, however, young Seabury has not ceased his pursuit of sports. To this day, students report the sounds of someone running up and down the fourth floor hall early in the morning. Phantom breezes blow past students with no apparent origin, leaving the students feeling chilled and frightened.

Also like many other colleges, a couple of Berea’s ghosts come from rumored suicides. In James Residence Hall, a female student hung herself in the elevator shaft after being taken advantage of. Students tell of finding wet footprints leading toward the old shaft, which has since been converted into a janitor’s closet. The footprints go in, but none come out. Another female student was rejected by her boyfriend after he got her pregnant. Unable to endure her shame, she hung herself in the Fairchild Residence Hall attic. Students report seeing a mysterious candle in the attic window and hearing footsteps and a melancholy rocking chair creaking in the attic.

In a much lighter tale, one student was taken on a campus tour by a strange young man in a 60s-style suit. When it came time to show him the library, the tour guide showed the building that used to be the library. The student told him that the new library was elsewhere and the guide agreed. That was when four more 60s-style students appeared, holding each other up, one of them crying. The odd tour guide vanished, and the students reported feeling an acute sense of loss and seeing a demolished, muddied, 60s-era tow truck being taken to the city dump. The student was left perplexed and you probably are, too.

2. Mount Holyoke College: A Picture Paints One Word

mount holyoke college ghostPaintings seem to naturally invoke reflection, study, curiosity, and awe. At this South Hadley, MA college, however, one painting invokes madness. Apparently, Deacon Porter, one of the school’s early supporters, had an illicit affair with one of the school’s founders Mary Lyons. When Porter’s wife, Hannah, discovered his treachery, she vowed to get revenge on him. She exacted revenge from beyond the grave, it seems. A portrait of her, with its intense, staring eyes, is said to have driven a female student to insanity. It is unclear why the painting would exact its revenge on an unrelated female student or if the painting exists at all. Actually, there is little evidence to support any of the story. But it sure is spooky…

3. Kenyon College: 17 Ghosts and A Gateway to Hell

This well-known liberal arts college is apparently quite crowded… with the dead. One hall is haunted by a spectral insomniac, a former student who committed suicide in his dorm room. Another hall is haunted by a female student who died before she could attend classes; she continues to rearrange furniture from the grave, scaring her living housemates and exhibiting a complete lack of talent in interior decorating. And at yet another hall, another suicide victim flushes toilets, flicks lights on and off, and knocks on doors randomly- some people never grow up.

In the pool building and dance studio, a former high-diver cracked his head on the building’s glass ceiling, broke his neck, fell into the pool, and drowned. To this day, lifeguards will hear someone thrashing in the water, screaming for help. When they run into the pool room, it is empty, the water calm. In the dance studio next door, people have heard the same splashing sounds. They’ve also reported showers turning on and off by themselves. Wet footprints appear in the dance studios, and eyewitnesses have seen a white face with wet, slicked back hair peering out of the building’s windows.

haunted elevator shaftAt the theater building, security guards tell of curtains opening by themselves, light bulbs being unscrewed by themselves, and the ghastly sound of a body falling hard on the stage. Years ago, they say, a student fell from the catwalk and that the sound of his demise is being replayed again and again. At the fieldhouse, another ghostly runner frequents the track; it also likes to play music in the supply cage and open doors. At one of the female residence halls, a jealous spook haunts the elevator shaft where he apparently met his doom during a dangerous prank. He also likes to appear in the girl’s rooms and block their doors with furniture. He tried to harm female students, trying to smother one with a pillow on one occasion. Another hall is haunted by the victim of a fraternity pledge gone wrong, in which a student was struck and killed by a train.

To top it all off, Old Kenyon, which was the site of the deaths of nine male students when a fire consumed the old building, continues to experience a plethora of supernatural activity. The nine fire victims glide up and down the halls. They are said to be visible only from the knees up because the new reconstructed building was built ten inches higher than the original one. Students on lower floors will see ghostly legs protruding from the ceiling. Lights turn on and off; toilets flush. Scenes of panic are reenacted from that terrible night, with screams of trapped students being heard, doors being shaken violently, and male voices calling, “Wake up! Fire!”

To complement this severely haunted school, students claim that a gateway to hell exists at its main gates. They may not be too far off.

In a way I can’t wait until Halloween is over, because writing these posts is getting me freaked out. On the other hand, I must admit there is a primal thrill in scaring myself and others. Send in your scary stories- especially if you are a student at any of these schools. I’d love an insider’s viewpoint. Leave your comments below…

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5 comments on “The Bride of College Ghost Stories: A Terrifying Trilogy

  • its ok, but not scary, quite funny actually, scary stories are ment to be scary, but these apparently these terrifying stories are not scary. at all, get better ones

  • can’t tell can’t find anything spooky or scary i need something more terrifying.

  • I attend Berea college and we don’t really talk about the ghosts and none of them are really rooted in fact but it sure is interesting. (also I know it been a few years sorry)

  • First of all, Berea College is not “tucked away in the Kentucky woods”; nor is it obscure. Just check any of the national national college rankings and you will find it among the top schools in both the southeast and the nation. When I attended Berea, the most prevailing ghost story was the haunting of Phelps-Stokes Chapel, which repaced the chapel shown burning in the picture, yet you did not mention this particular story. We did go “ghost hunting” one Halloween in Phelps-Stokes, and heard a number of unexplained noises in the mezzanine.

  • I am not perplexed by the story of the tour guide because I was a student at Berea in l963 when the tragedy happened that set this paranormal event in motion. This tour guide was a student in my class. He was from Florida. I’ll give you his name if you contact me personally. This is what happened. Students ran the fire department when I went there. When a fire alarm sounded early one morning, this student jumped on the fire truck with one of his friends. He was not legally authorized to be on the truck. While speeding around a curve, the truck overturned crushing this young man to death. The next day many of us students lined hwy 25 and watched a tow truck pull the mangled fire truck across campus to a junk yard. The area was filled with grief. This student’s work assignment was giving tours of the campus. He met the groups at Boone Tavern Hotel. He had red hair. You can verify the truth of my story by checking the archives of the Berea paper or talking with anyone who was a student at Berea between l961 and l965. I was shocked when I read your short mention of the tour, but I am not surprised that this unexpected, traumatic death imprinted itself as a paranormal event.

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