Haunted ISU Tells Chilling Tales of the Universities Past

Ryan Pattee

On Halloween night, Iowa State University Museums hosted their fourth annual Ghost Stories of Iowa State event, sharing ghostly tales of the campus and its buildings. 

The event began with a welcome from David Faux, Iowa State University Museums interpretation specialist, expressing his joy at how popular the event had become, and kicked off the evening with a story about Fisher Theatre. 

Many students began to notice strange occurrences happening at the theatre. Numerous students claimed to see a shadowy figure at the top of the seats from the stage. Most assumed it was a trick on their eyes, but as this continued many began to question.

They soon learned of Fredrica Shattuck, a theatre teacher who taught from 1907 to 1969 and never missed an ISU Theatre performance. She came to be known as the one who watched the students. If you saw her, it meant your play was doing well.

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 supporter that the theatre was haunted

Faux then moved on to talk about football-related hauntings in Linden Hall.

“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.

“There were some screen doors that would open and close even when the day was calm, with no wind,” Faux said. 

There were mirrors in many of the halls except Merrill House because students supposedly would see something in the mirror that really wasn’t there. An unnamed community adviser who lived in Merrill House confirmed the mirrors were gone. He also told a story that two calls came in that two mirrors had fallen in Merrill House and later another in the CA’s room.

Faux then told a story about the Wilson family who lived in the Farm House on campus, and about the suicide of Esther Wilson who flung herself into campus creek killing herself. People claim to see her spirit, yet there has been no evidence of this according to Faux.

“Sometimes when you have stories like that those tragedies start to build a story around it, but has no connection to Esther [Wilson],” Faux said. 

After the Farm House, Faux then talked about the spirit that allegedly haunts the Memorial Union.

“One of the most prominent interest was 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,” Faux said. 

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

Another story told of shadows appearing on the door with no explanation. The room became known as the haunting room, where someone supposedly hung themselves. Students are advised not to enter the room on the fourth floor as that means the spirit was there.

Another story was set at Birch, Welch or Roberts Halls, where patrols saw a person on the balcony and shined a light on them. The figure then jumped from the balcony to the roof. They searched the dorm and found that a student who had been missing for two weeks had hung himself in the rafters. 

One of the most chilling tales on campus was that of Friley Hall.

“There’s a room in Friley where no one would live because whoever lived in that room would disappear or die,” Faux said. “People would wake up in a room that they would be reminiscent to hell, with bleeding walls, fire and a man with a black suit and top hat.”

However, this was disproved by Faux as he explained the real reason why these people didn’t live in the room was because it had no fire escape.

Faux later went on to talk about the story that frightened him the most.

“The creepiest one I’ve heard was an apparition of a woman who lost her child,” Faux said. “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.”

Finally, to close off the night, Faux gave the audience a chance to tell their own stories and give their experiences in the supposedly haunted residence halls. After the tales were told everyone was sent on their way with a reminder that what you see might not actually be a trick of the eye.