The older a place is, the more likely it is to collect ghost stories and William & Mary’s campus is no exception. Superstitions and rumors spread and change over the years like a haunted game of telephone. Now, W&M tour guides talk about the curse of walking the Crim Dell alone, students walk around – not through – the College Cemetery as they head into Blow, and ghost tours wander over from Colonial Williamsburg in hopes of seeing some spirits. Based on student accounts, these are the four places on Old Campus you’re most likely to experience the supernatural.
The Wren Building
Objectively the most haunted building on campus, the Wren Building’s illustrious history has opened its doors to quite a few ghosts. Fires have ravaged the building multiple times and during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars it served as a hospital for wounded soldiers, some of whom never left alive. Students have reported seeing soldiers wandering the halls, though it’s unsure which side they fought for as they disappear before anyone can get a good look at their uniforms.
Any late-night visitors to the Wren Building may also hear footsteps following them around. Are they from Christopher Wren, checking on the building that carries his name? Are they from the ghosts of those who were put to rest in the crypt below the chapel? Or are the footsteps just the visitor’s own footsteps echoed back to them in the old building?
The crypt, which is not accessible to the public, was built in 1729 under the chapel of the Wren Building and hosts a number of prominent Virginians, such a Lord Botetourt and Sir John Randolph. However, their rests haven’t been peaceful as the tombs have been raided and robbed multiple times over the years. Most notably, Union soldiers raided the building during the Civil War – but more recently it has been rumored that the crypt has been broken into via the creepy steam tunnels that run under Old Campus, which are also not accessible to the public.
Built in 1927 and only recently a co-ed dorm, Barrett Hall is rumored to be housing more than just students. On most nights, while students stay up way too late on the lower floors, someone – or something – turns on the lights in Barrett’s attic. The attic doors sit at the top of the stairs and is locked to students at all time. No one has ever seen anyone come in or out, yet on most nights the attic light can be seen flickering through the windows.
Those who’ve lived on Barrett Third have reported hearing noises coming from the attic at night. Nothing outright threatening but definitely noises of something up in the attic that shouldn’t be there. It’s also been said that this ghost will talk to students through Ouija boards, but whether it is actually the ghost or just a prankster moving the planchette is up for debate.
On warmer days, people fill the Sunken Garden to lounge in the sun and at all hours people are crossing back and forth across the paths to get where they need to go. However, on nights when the Sunken Garden fills with fog, it may not be just students running across the Sunken Garden.
Back in the 1700s, William & Mary housed and taught Native American boys on campus. They lived in the Brafferton, which still stands next to the Wren. Many of the boys weren’t there by choice. It’s said that at night the Native American boys would make a run for it in hopes of escaping but that they were always caught and brought back to the house. Now, years later, the boys can still be seen on foggy nights running through the Sunken Garden. Since the Sunken Garden wasn’t completed until 1935, 200 years after the boys were on campus, these spirits sprint along at the old ground level, feet above where the Sunken Garden sits now.
Tucker Hall, once the campus’s main library and now the home of the English department, has a third-floor haunt. No, it’s not the sleep-deprived students trying to finish their midterm assignments. Supposedly, there’s a former student that haunts the halls at nights, forever stressed about exams, and joins students who’ve camped out to finish their work.
According to legends, she’ll join any students working alone and ask them how their studying is going. If they answer negatively, she’ll try to convince them to stop worrying about exams completely and just give up on studying to save their soul from the stress. However, if the students say things are going well, the ghost will get upset, jealous that exams will never go well for her, and throws a fit until the student leaves Tucker Hall for the night.
Other rumors say that the Ghost of Tucker Hall isn’t quite that aggressive. Instead, the ghost just messes around with people’s books and projects, as if she’s trying to help them study instead of trying to deter them.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, William & Mary does have quite the history so it’s no surprise that such tales have come about. For years, these rumored ghosts have been talked about between students. Whether fact or fiction, they’re fun stories to pass on around Halloween.