One College’s Ghost Stories

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Ghost stories …how appropriate for around Halloween! Or any time really. It’s especially unnerving when the stories of hauntings take place in buildings at a most unexpected place – college!

Hauntings apparently are commonplace at Kenyon College in Ohio. Founded in 1824, Kenyon is the oldest private college in Ohio. Kenyon College’s “Our History & Tradition” points out that initially it was an all-male college founded to educate clergymen for the American frontier. As the college grew and changed, it opened its doors to women in 1969.

We are partners with Kenyon College’s Bookstore which sells our diploma frames on their site and on ours. I haven’t seen any ghost stories concerning the bookstore, but aside from that, there are many, many ghost stories associated with this school.

Fireside Ghost Stories

Tim Shutt, Professor of Humanities at Kenyon College, has traditionally told accounts of hauntings at the college on Halloween, according to YouTube. On this particular night, he and the crowd that was gathered together around a bonfire, listened to his stories near the dorm he was talking about. What he reveals on the YouTube video – Ghosts of Kenyon: Caples Dormitory Haunting – sounds mysterious for sure.

Capels Hall - Kenyon College
Capels Hall on Kenyon College
Photo Credit: KCpedia via Kenyon College History CC

The professor related, (although this is not totally verbatim), “Two people on security and the switchboard operator all told me this was true. They swear this was the fact. On the night of August 8, nobody was around. Nobody was in Caples. It was totally locked. Completely locked. They got in quick succession phone calls from the room on the 6th floor and the two rooms above it on the 7th and 8th floors. The calls consisted of the same thing, [he screamed loudly] “Blah, blah, shrieks.” That’s all. One, two, three, just like that. They immediately sent three guys from security to check it out….”

There’s more to the Caples Hall story, and on the video, you can hear people murmuring their reaction as the professor expanded on the events.

Ghost stories are also told to entering freshmen during their orientation in late August at a nighttime event. The setting also included sitting around a bonfire in the first-year quad.

Ghostly Details

In the Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, The Haunted Kenyon Tour, written by Wendy MacLeod ’81, and photographed by Emily Zeller ’08, there are lots of details of haunted campus buildings, but the author looks at it with wary eyes. “Some Kenyon ghost stories grew out of actual events, like the Old Kenyon Fire, while others have shakier credentials.”

Who are the usual sources of these ghost stories? According to the alumni article, the Campus Safety Office, theater people, the fraternity DKE, and the swim team.

Yahoo! Voices shares an article, Kenyon College: Ghosts, Hauntings, and Legends by Jennifer Eblin, the author of Haunted Miami Valley. She notes all the odd things that have occurred on campus: lights turning on and off on their own, furniture being moved, knocking on doors when no one is there, toilets flushing when no one is in the bathroom, voices of people yelling when no one is around, walking back and forth, windows being shut, watery footprints, or someone swimming in a pool, but the pool is now gone.

Old Kenyon Building at Kenyon College
Old Kenyon Building at Kenyon College
Photo Credit: Joe Nassau via photopin cc

This college campus is fascinating pertaining to the stories of hauntings because of the number of buildings on the Kenyon College campus that are involved. Dorm rooms such as Norton Hall, Manning Hall, Caples Hall, and Lewis Hall have had their incidents. Other buildings said to be haunted include the Shaffer Pool Building (now the Bolton Dance Studio), Hill Theatre, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and the oldest building on campus which burned down because of fire, but was rebuilt.

Who are the ghosts? Supposedly a couple of former students who committed suicide, one in a dorm room, the other in a dorm attic. Another student who is said to have passed away before her classes began, but no one knows why.

Then there’s the student swimmer who hit his head on the ceiling of the former Shaffer Pool Building and drowned. There’s mention of a student who fell down an elevator shaft and two people (not students) who were killed in a driving accident where a campus building is now located. There’s also a fraternity pledge who was hit by a train, and nine men who died in a fire on campus in 1949.

There’s no doubt that the Kenyon College campus hauntings are fascinating.


Halloween is something that the Kenyon College Bookstore has fun with. This bookstore, which celebrated its 188th birthday on August 3, and is reported to be the third oldest bookstore in the US, as well as the oldest continuously operating college bookstore, publicized its 2nd biennial Halloween Epitaph Contest last year on its Facebook page. The store asked students, faculty, staff, alumni, etc., to choose a classic horror author from their list (such as Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl) and to post their epitaph on the store’s Facebook page.

Last October 10, the bookstore offered Pig and Squirrel masks and an Animal Farm t-shirt to celebrate Halloween.

Also shown on the bookstore’s Facebook timeline, and definitely related to spookiness, is a book by a Kenyon College alum – Ransom Riggs ’01, author of MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN.

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