Oxley Hall, built in 1908 as the first women’s dorm, has a history of paranormal activity. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Archives

Rumor has it there are still Buckeyes on campus that “go bump in the night.”

Oxley Hall, built in 1908, was the first women’s residence hall on campus. Although the history of the building itself is fascinating, students have found its paranormal history even more intriguing. Several stories rumoring ghosts haunting the halls date back to the ’80s and detail the death of a woman and the ghost of a former university president, according to University Archives.

One version of the story tells of a young woman who lived in Oxley during the 1930s or ’40s, according to archives of the Ohio State Lantern Oasis in 1986. The young woman stayed on campus over winter break and was supposedly found dead when people returned, with the cause of death unknown.

According to a Lantern article from 1990, the light in the woman’s third-floor corner room could be seen on at night on Dec. 17, the night of her rumored death.

Although the story cannot be confirmed due to a lack of death records at that time, many suspect that the young woman still remains in Oxley, haunting the halls, according to a Lantern article from 1990.

Other versions of the story describe a mysterious poltergeist of the ghost of William Oxley Thompson, former university president and namesake of the building, according to the 1990 Lantern article.

In 1966, the cost of renovations and general upkeep of the building had increased so much that the dorm was no longer up to standard, according to documents in the university archives.

Although there are no longer students living in Oxley, spooky encounters are still reported to occur in its new capacity as the Department of Linguistics, as well as in the connecting residence hall, Mack Hall.

“Someone said their door flew open,” Alani Brands, a first-year in biology and Mack resident, said. Although Brands said she does not believe there is a ghost living in Oxley or Mack, she is aware of the surrounding suspicions.

Another Mack resident, Jessie Hartman, a first-year in biology, also has suspicions about whether Mack and Oxley are haunted.

“We are concerned because our door always shuts on its own and sometimes opens on its own when it is locked and closed,” Hartman said. “We are not completely sure what that is.”

Similar reports of mysterious, unexplained activity have occurred through the years. Bill Wahl, former manager of community and visitor relations, recounted one incident in an interview with onCampus in 1985.

Wahl reported having encountered mysterious behavior in Oxley’s basement.

“I went down there with another person, and we walked about 50 feet into the hallway tunnel, and the lights went out,” Wahl said. “We ran back out of there so fast. When we got to the light switch, it had been turned off, but no one was there to turn it off.”

In a 1986 interview with the Ohio State Lantern Oasis, former South Campus security guard Randy Gebhardt recounted unexplainable events that occurred in Mack. Gebhardt worked as a security guard for the residence halls from 1980-82.

According to the archives, Gebhardt was called by a female security guard who reported the feeling that someone was watching her from a Mack balcony. She also reported the door slamming shut.

“We called the dorm director and toured the building. We saw a ladder that had been on the third floor was now on the second floor,” Gebhardt said. “We went to the balcony and started seeing tinsel lying on the floor leading out of a dorm room.”

Gebhardt entered the room to discover that the Christmas tree from the room was missing.

“Someone had gotten into the room and dragged the Christmas tree down the hallway,” Gebhardt said. “The weird thing was the tinsel just stopped in the middle of the hallway.”

The mystery of the Oxley Hall ghost still remains as rumors pass from student to student.

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