Nearly every college and university can claim a ghost story or two, but if even half its stories are true, the University of Delaware is among the most haunted in the country.
The University of Delaware opened in 1834 as Newark College and has undergone dramatic expansion in the intervening 186 years. It was established by Presbyterians under the auspices of the Academy of Newark, a school which graduated three signers of the Declaration of Independence. It became Delaware College in 1843 and the University of Delaware in 1921. Twenty-four years later, it merged with the Women’s College of Delaware to become a fully coeducational institution. Each change not only expanded its campus and enlarged enrollment, but cultivated stories and legends as well.
Take, for instance, the legend of the “Kissing Arches.” Storytellers say that when the Women’s College of Delaware opened on an adjoining campus in 1914, brick archways near Memorial Hall separated the two campuses. Young lovers rendezvoused under the arches before returning to their respective schools, and to this day, couples that kiss five times beneath the arches will be blessed with marriage.
It’s a romantic tale born from this unique relationship between the formerly distinct colleges, however, a university archivist told UDaily that men were always allowed to escort their dates back to the women’s campus. If they stopped to make out under the arches, it was by choice.
It’s the ghost stories, however, that have most captured students’ imaginations, and the University of Delaware has more than its share. Reportedly haunted locations include the Academy Building, Old College, Mitchell Hall, Smyth Hall, Memorial Hall, Recitation Hall, and Christiana Tower East to name a few.
The Academy Building at 105 East Main Street replaced a Colonial Era structure in 1841 and was originally part of Newark Academy. The University of Delaware acquired it in 1976 and today it is home to the Office of Communications and Marketing. Appropriately, this building is rumored to be home to the college’s oldest legend.