AskMeAmes: Has any kind of paranormal activity occurred on campus?


Mikinna Kerns/Iowa State Daily

Construction in front of Friley Residence Hall closes the entire road. 

Logan Metzger

We asked you: “What do you want to know about Iowa State?”

In response, you asked us: “Has any kind of paranormal activity occurred on campus?”

Everyone has their own opinions on the paranormal. Some believe, some don’t, some are scared, some aren’t. No matter what you believe, you need to know about some strange happenings here on campus.

Throughout time many people have claimed to experience the paranormal. It ranges from unexplained sounds to objects moving and the appearance of a ghostly figure. Pulling from old Daily articles, here is a comprehensive look at Iowa State’s spookiest spots.

Friley Hall

One well known story is of Mr. Big. Supposedly, one day some security guards were making their rounds around a building when they stumbled across a man wearing a cape and a top hat. The guards asked the man to stop but he started to run.

After a few hours, the guards grew tired and stopped looking. That’s when one guard peered through a hole in a brick that was sealing up an old room. In chalk, they saw written on the wall “I am Big” right next to an outline of a man wearing a cape and a top hat.

Memorial Union

Go the Gold Star Hall – the room past the Zodiac – and listen carefully. You may just hear a very eerie moan. Staff at the Memorial Union can’t seem to explain it. Rumor has it that it is the ghost of the only female veteran from Iowa State to die in World War I – Hortense Elizabeth Wind.

“She was a medic in World War I and died from influenza, but has her name and stained glass in the halls,” said David Faux, Iowa State University Museums interpretation specialist, in a previous Iowa State Daily article.

Supposedly you can hear Wind moaning because she is alone, being the only woman on the wall.

Farm House

The Farm House is the oldest building still on Iowa State’s campus, built just two years after Iowa State’s founding in 1858, and over the years has racked up a couple of ghosts. Edith Curtiss and Esther Wilson to be exact.

Edith, daughter of former Dean Curtiss, was known to visit lovers late at night by sneaking out of her room on the second floor. It is said that her ghost still opens blinds.

Esther, wife of former Iowa State president Wilson, is believed to simply move things around, such as silverware.

“The museum coordinator came into the house in the morning and noticed that each piece of the silverware set in the dining room had been slightly moved from its original position,” Faux said.

“She moved them back but the next day she came in, they were moved again. She actually took a piece of thread and sewed a small loop around each piece so that the silverware would stay in place. She set the alarm and left for the night. When she returned the next morning, all of the stitching had been snipped and the silverware was moved again,” Faux said.

Faux said there was no evidence of anyone breaking into the house and the mystery is still unsolved.

Stephens Auditorium

It is said that C.Y. Stephens himself haunts his building. He make his presence known by cold drafts in the basement. He is known to watch shows from the third floor balcony as well, which is thought to be a good luck sign.

Fisher Theatre

It’s a commonly known fact in the theatre world that every theatre has a ghost, and the ghost of Fredricka Shattuck, a theatre teacher who taught from 1907 to 1969 and never missed an ISU Theatre performance, has been around for a while. She originally haunted the old Shattuck Theatre, but after it’s demolition she needed a place to go. It is said that she moved to Fisher Theatre.

She came to be known as the one who watched the students. If you saw her, it meant your play was doing well. She is also known to move a wheelchair around the theatre. She used a wheelchair for the last few years of her life, and after her death she donated it to be used as a prop.

However, a more sinister story was told of a student who was rehearsing alone one night and looked up and saw the figure. After going into the entryway to see if it was a prank, he found nothing. After this story, the legend became a large piece of support for the theatre being haunted.

Linden Hall

Legend says that there is a ghost of a former Cyclone football player that can occasionally be seen in full pads the night before home football games.

“In Linden the occurrences in this hall happen everywhere, but Merrill House have had the most interesting,” said Faux. “Many see glowing lights and appropriations of football players in full gear.”

This apparition would disappear shortly after being spotted, according to Faux.

Iowa State Cemetery

Multiple sources have claimed to see white mists above graves that roughly represent the outlines of people.

There is also a story about a woman who lost a child.

“The child who was gravely sick at some point left the house and died to the elements. If you go to the graveyard and cry real tears at the mother and child’s gravestone, the ghost will come and console you,” Faux said.