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Mysterious America

Western Illinois University and the Ghosts of Simpkins Hall

For years, students and faculty in Western Illinois University’s Simpkins Hall have told similar stories, but the ghost of an adolescent girl is only one of the apparitions rumored to haunt the 80-year-old building.

Imagine you are a student going off to college for the first time. At home, you gave a sigh of relief as you opened your acceptance letter. Now, you are ready to put childhood behind you as you tuck your English lit textbook under your arm and enter one of the three arched doorways to Simpkins Hall, a stark, neoclassical building rising four stories with rows of windows cut along its face. Your footsteps echo in the foyer as you climb the stairwell to the first floor. Where are the other students? Florescent lights flicker on and off. Without warning, the laughter of a young child echoes down the dark corridor.

For years, students and faculty in Western Illinois University’s Simpkins Hall have told similar stories, but the ghost of an adolescent girl—so seemingly out of place—is only one of the apparitions rumored to haunt the 80-year-old building. Many other odd occurrences at the hall are attributed to “Harold,” a former janitor or graduate assistant who lurks among the classrooms on the third floor.

After classes finish for the day, the disembodied sound of keys jingling, doors opening and closing, or a typewriter clicking, rattle the nerves of even the most seasoned educator. Never-the-less, tales of encounters with the ghost of Harold and the phantom child have made believers of some, but many in this ivory tower remain skeptical.

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