Old buildings have a way about them. They have a long history, so it's only natural that the history includes curious or violent deaths. Educational institutions are no strangers to this phenomena, in fact, there are some great examples to share.
The Queen's Court dorm at Fordham University experienced bizarre moving mattress and an even more bizarre end to the phenomenon. (Photo: Raymond Bucko, SJ/flickr)
Founded in 1841 in New York, Fordham University is supposedly home to several haunted buildings.
The oddly named Martyrs' Court resident hall has housed several students who reported encountering a man in the hallways walking up to walls and then vanishing. More common are experiences by female students using a specific bathroom in the building. According to witnesses, a small girl appears in one of the shower stalls and stands quietly, not turning to look at any of the students who are in the bathroom with her at the time. Others report showers turning on by themselves when nobody else is in the room.
Built around the time of the university’s founding, Queen's Court dorm also has a haunting past. Students at the dorm have repeatedly told stories of finding mattresses taken from the beds and leaning against the walls. The mattresses would be put back on the beds but would reappear back against the walls the following day. Thinking it might be a prank, the rooms were locked when nobody was inside. The mystery of the moving mattresses continued until a Jesuit priest appeared and claimed he could rid the building of its otherworldly residents. The priest was apparently successful and the mattress-moving ceased. One of the students involved went to the university officials to obtain the priest's name so he could thank him. The student identified the priest from a photograph — but he was informed that the priest in the photograph had died several years earlier.
Heidelberg University is home to haunted classrooms and the wails of womens' ghosts. (Photo: Gagan Mishra/flickr)
Germany's Heidelberg University features hauntings that can be tracked back to the country's time under Nazi control. Classrooms belonging to professors who died in concentration camps feature chalkboards that erase themselves or produce nonsensical writings that appear overnight. The classrooms are locked at night.
Also during the Nazi era, many women were taken to this university to be sterilized against their will. Sounds of women crying have been heard within the university's medical clinic.
A burning of banned books occurred before World War II in the main area of the campus. On occasion, students have noticed the strong smell of smoke when there is no fire present in the area.
St. John's College, Oxford, hosts a few different ghosts, including one who kicks his head around the corridors of a library. (Photo: ponyun Chang/flickr)
The date of the founding of Oxford is shrouded in mystery. It existed at least as far back as the late 11th century, which makes it the oldest English-language university in the world today. Any institution that old is bound to have multiple tales of supernatural occurrences that cannot be explained.
The ghost of Colonel Francis Windebank was first encountered in the mid-17th century. He was reportedly executed at Oxford during the years of Oliver Cromwell's protectorate in 1645. A livelier ghost is that of Archbishop William Laud, who still appears throughout the library of St. John's College. The 16th-century clergyman can be found kicking his severed head along the corridors of the building.
Pennsylvania State University
The remains of Old Coaly, a mule, at Pennsylvania State University. Students in the agricultural school have said they sometimes hear the sounds of animal hooves and a donkey’s braying. (Photo: George Chriss/Wikimedia Commons)
This university, founded in 1855, is host to numerous paranormal activities. Schwab Auditorium is said to be visited by Charles Schwab (no relation to the bank founder), the man who oversaw the construction of the auditorium. A classic list of spooky manifestations are alleged to have taken place within the building, including ghostly footsteps, objects moved by invisible hands and vague apparitions in the halls.
One tragic story features a student named Betsy Aardsma who was murdered in the library on Nov. 28, 1969. No one was ever charged with the murder, leaving it an unsolved cold case. There have, of course, been sightings of Betsy in the aisles of the library.
The oddest tale is that of mule ghost named Old Coaly, a "resident" of the university's agricultural school that died on the first day of 1893. Current students taking classes in the building housing Old Coaly's remains sometimes hear the sounds of animal hooves and a donkey’s braying.
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame's Washington Hall at night. The ghost of George Gipp allegedly haunts the building. (Photo: Lazurite/flickr)
This Indiana university is not only the home of a collection of Patawatami Indian ghosts but also the spectral residence of noted football player George Gipp, played by Ronald Reagan in the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne, All American." Known after his death for the famous “win one for the Gipper” speech, Gipp allegedly haunts the university's Washington Hall. Students and faculty have reported a long list of mysterious phenomena ranging from slamming doors and untraceable footsteps to music coming from out of thin air and vague apparitions within the building.
These are not the only institutions of higher education that are reportedly visited by the supernatural. Other notable phantoms include Nagasaki University's multiple atom bomb casualties, the University of Toronto's murdered stonemason and a young pregnant woman murdered by her priest lover at the former Bradford College in Massachusetts, which is now the site of Zion Bible College.
The stories will continue. Old university buildings seem to attract stories about former students and faculty who refuse to go away. As long as there are dusty library shelves and dark hallways at midnight, there will be tales of paranormal residents.
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