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.
In the 1960s, as Western Illinois State Normal School became Western Illinois University, the Training School building was given to the Department of English and Journalism. The children went elsewhere to accommodate the deluge of incoming college freshmen from the baby boom generation, but closets with tape still bearing the names of the last occupants, rows of green lockers, tiny desks, and wooden loudspeakers remained.