Stories of haunted buildings and ghostly sightings have been part of Radford University’s folklore for decades. In 1995, Dean of Students Bonnie Hurlburt described “a tradition, so to speak, to initiate and expose new co-eds to stories of ghosts.” Orientation, it seems, just might involve more than meets the eye.
One of the most famous tales involves a girl who hanged herself in the elevator shaft at Tyler Hall. Different versions of the story persist – students in Tyler have heard strange noises and attempts to “explain” the story have often left more questions unanswered than answered. Some think that the ghost has moved to different buildings over time, including Russell Hall. You can read an account of the Tyler Hall ghost in this issue of The Tartan from October, 1995.
As the “Top Ten Haunted Places” box from a 2002 Halloween article in The Tartan illustrates, Radford has had its share of haunted places. The tunnel system underneath RU’s campus is fertile ground for ghost stories. In 1984, Tartan columnist Richie Ellis related the sad tale of Elizabeth, teased by her peers, who met a terrible fate in the tunnels after a Halloween party. Legend has it she haunts Radford’s Halloween parties, looking for those who did her wrong. You can read his account of Elizabeth’s tragic fate here.
It seems that Radford students don’t have to live on campus to live in haunted buildings – in fact, several student houses seem to be home to uninvited ghostly guests . A Tartan article from 2002 describes several houses on nearby streets that are purportedly haunted. You can read Jacqueline Storm’s Tartan article about these houses here.
One of the most infamous stories involves a 1980 murder and the allegations that the body was buried under the Dedmon Center. The murder is, sadly, a true story involving a missing RU student, and it was legally significant in that it was the first murder conviction in Virginia with no confession, body, or eyewitness. Our colleagues at the Library of Virginia have collected the legal documents about the case, and you can read the finding aid and summary of the case here.
Can’t get enough? Whim has collected RU ghost stories in the past, and you can read some of them here. If you have an interest in the folklore involving Halloween, the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center has an excellent short article here.
Here in the RU Archives, we don’t have all the answers about the “top ten” places mentioned in the 2002 Tartan. Many things remained unanswered – so be careful around campus this Halloween weekend!
Many thanks to Paige Nolen for her research assistance on this project.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite