Western Illinois University’s Haunted Halls

Tales of ghostly activity in several dorms and lecture halls make Western Illinois University in Macomb one of this state’s most haunted colleges.

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For years, students and faculty in Western Illinois University’s Simpkins Hall have told stories about phantom children. Many other odd occurrences 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. In addition to Simpkins Hall, several of the campus dorms—Bayliss just to name one—are also rumored to be haunted.

Nestled in the small town of Macomb, Western Illinois University began as a teacher’s college. Originally called Western Illinois State Normal School, its classes were confined to one building, now known as Sherman Hall. Sherman Hall was originally known as “Main Building.”

In 1937, the university built a new training school adjacent to Main Building. Local children enrolled in the Training School and were taught by the students at the college.

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Mount St. Mary’s University and Father Brute’s Ghost

The ghosts of a Catholic priest, and a Confederate soldier mortally wounded at Gettysburg, are among the most famous phantoms said to roam here.

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Mount St. Mary’s is a private Catholic university outside Emmitsburg, Maryland in the Catoctin Mountains. It is a small school on a 1,400 acre campus, with a little more than 1,700 undergraduates. It has a storied history, with a legendary foundation.

In 1805, a French priest named Father John DuBois saw a light in the hills as he passed between Frederick and Emmitsburg. It was growing dark, so he traveled toward the light, thinking it was a farmhouse. Exhausted, he laid down for the night beneath a large oak tree. When he woke up, he saw he was in a beautiful spot in the Catoctin Mountains. Local Catholics called it “St. Mary’s Mountain,” so it seemed an ideal place for a church.

DuBois also established a school, which grew into a seminary. Father Simon Bruté became a teacher there in 1812. The university was officially founded in 1830, and it doubled as a boarding school until the early 1900s. Bradley Hall is a remnant of those boarding school days. Not far from where Father DuBois erected his church, he also created a small shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is now known as the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, with extensive gardens and statuary.

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Rockford University’s Whispers of the Past

While rich in history, Rockford University is also rich in ghostlore and the origin of a wide variety of alleged haunts.

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Rockford, Illinois’ first college, established before the city was even chartered, was Rockford Female Seminary. Jane Addams, who would go on to fame as a social reformer and co-founder of Chicago’s Hull House, was a graduate of the seminary in 1881. In 1892 RFS became known as Rockford College, which remained a predominately female academy until 1958.

In 1964 the campus was moved from its home along the river to its present location along State Street. It changed its name to Rockford University in 2014.

While rich in history, Rockford University is also rich in ghostlore and the origin of a wide variety of alleged haunts. No less than three buildings are said to be home to restless spirits, along with one memorial arch, which was built using materials from the original Rock River campus.

Blanche Walker Burpee Center, Adams Arch, and the Clark Arts Center run the gambit of ghostly phenomenon, from disembodied voices, to moving objects, to phantom reflections, and a whole host of other unexplained things.

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Illinois State University’s Loyal Librarian

Some say the ghost of “Aunt Ange” lingers among the books she carefully cataloged when she was alive.

Founded in 1857 and originally a teacher’s college, Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois is currently home to around 23,000 students and faculty, as well as one tenacious ghost. This ghost is said to be that of Angeline V. Milner, or Ange for short, a librarian who remained with her books long after she passed from this world. As head librarian for 37 years, she was so beloved by the school that Illinois State University named its library after her.

Angeline Vernon Milner was born on April 9, 1856 in Bloomington. By all accounts, she seemed to be destined for the work which would become her legacy. According to Charles W. Perry, who assisted the famed librarian for several years and wrote her biography, she learned how to read before she was four-years-old.

Ange began her fated job at the university library on February 1, 1890, and the Normal School Board was so impressed with her skill and dedication that they appointed her as the sole and head librarian in the fall of that same year.

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Southern Illinois University’s Spectral Alumni

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois has had a long and colorful history. Its mascot, the Saluki, is an ancient Egyptian dog breed and a salute to the region of southern Illinois called “Little Egypt.” Nearly every campus building is said to be haunted, from the lost girl of Faner Hall to the ghost of “Henry” in Shryock Auditorium. The campus even boasts a labyrinth of underground tunnels.

Southern Illinois University was founded in 1869 as Southern Illinois Normal College, and its cornerstone was laid on May 17, 1870. Originally a small teacher’s college, the university grew to over 23,000 students by 1980. Enrollment has remained relatively consistent ever since.

While noted as a research institution, SIU has also been popularly known as a “party school.” During the late 1990s, Halloween celebrations broke out into riots, forcing the University to close its campus on Halloween weekend.

A 15-year-long city ordinance that prevented three popular bars on Carbondale’s main strip from doing business on Halloween and the following weekend was finally lifted for a one year trial period in 2013.

Wheeler Hall, Faner Hall, Anthony Hall, Shryock Auditorium, and Mae Smith Residence Hall are all home to macabre tales.

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‘The Gipper’ Still Roams the University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 by Father Edward Sorin, a Catholic priest, and was an all-male institution until 1972. Its motto is, “Vita Dulcedo Spes” or “Life, Sweetness, Hope,” a reference to the Marian hymn Salve Regina. In honor of the Virgin Mary, the university is home to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Built in 1896, is a replica of the original in Lourdes, France. Other famous religious buildings on campus include the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a neo-gothic church built in 1888.

Notre Dame is famous for its football team, the Fighting Irish. It was this athletic legacy that gave birth to the university’s most enduring legends. In 1920, George “The Gipper” Gipp, from Laurium, Michigan, was selected as Notre Dame’s first All-American football player. Unfortunately, he died of a streptococcal throat infection at the age of 25 on December 14, 1920. Ronald Reagan famously portrayed George Gipp in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.

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New Mexico State University’s Haunted Halls

If you believe the rumors, students at New Mexico State University share their campus with quite a few phantom coeds.

  • Founded in 1888, New Mexico State University is the oldest public university in New Mexico.
  • Rhodes-Garrett-Hamiel Residence Center, Goddard Hall, and the former Hershel Zohn Theatre are all believed to be haunted.
  • Goddard Hall, the engineering building, is believed to be haunted by the building’s namesake, Ralph Willis Goddard.

Founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College, New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico is the oldest public university in New Mexico. With a student enrollment of around 18,400, it is also the second largest four-year university in the state. The university is known for its extensive collections and research. The Zuhl Museum is home to a world-class collection of ancient fossils. Not to be confused with Zuul, demigod and gatekeeper of Gozer, “The Destructor,” the Zuhl Library and Museum at NMSU is named after benefactors Herb and Joan Zuhl.

The university itself is rumored to be home to a number of phantoms. The ghost of a laundress, or at least that of a young woman who is helpful with the laundry, is said to inhabit the laundry room at Rhodes-Garrett-Hamiel Residence Center. Students say she was either a student who committed suicide or who died after falling down the stairs. Regardless, she has been accused of folding laundry while students are away.

Rhodes-Garrett-Hamiel Residence Center was built in 1955 and named after Eugene Manlove Rhodes and Elizabeth Garrett, both authors, and longtime NMSU secretary Flora Hamiel. According to another legend, which may be transplanted from Goddard Hall, a student either hung himself or jumped from the bell tower over the Garrett Building.

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