There Are A Lot of Haunted Colleges and Universities In Massachusetts

In her new book, Renee Mallet looks at the scary secrets at local schools.

Photo via Jessica Novak/Haunted Colleges and Universities

Photo via Jessica Novak/Haunted Colleges and Universities

When it comes to ghosts and ghouls, author Renee Mallet has heard it all.

“Most hauntings are pretty boring and pretty similar,” she says. “For one person that experiences a ghost, it seems extraordinary and unique to them, but when you collect a lot of these, you hear a lot of the same things.”

Mallet, however, found the most spine-tingling experiences during her research for her new book, Haunted Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts, which details the encounters students and faculty members have had with spirits in dorm rooms and school halls. “My job is to find the story and find the cases that are not quite as typical, and have some history behind them.”

One example is the death of Irish-American playwright Eugene O’Neill, in 1953. O’Neill died in room 401 of the Sheraton Hotel, a room that is now a Boston University dormitory, and is allegedly haunted by his spirit.

Then there is the “grief-stricken widow” who roams Winthrop Hall at Endicott College wearing her pink wedding gown. Mallet said the woman threw herself from her widow’s walk after receiving news of her husband’s death at sea, and is known to students today as the “pink lady.”

Endicott is also haunted by “The Witches Woods,” she said, which is her personal favorite of the more than two-dozen stories recorded.

According to Mallet, during the Salem witch trials, some women fled the town to try and escape the witch-hunts.  They ended up living in an area close to the school’s campus, which is now a popular place for ghost sightings. “I’m always more interested in those types of historical stories than anything,” she said.

She said the scariest story, however, comes from UMass Lowell, where there is an abandoned campus they no longer use for classes. The set of buildings once served as a truancy school for boys in the 1800s—a collection of brick buildings abandoned in the 1970s and left to rot.

“People told stories about getting lost inside, and not being able to find their way out and not being able to say why. They had feelings of being followed, and electronic devices suddenly didn’t work,” Mallet said.

Although it wasn’t rare to find some sort of detailed recap about a haunting at a school, Mallet managed to track down particularly eerie occurrences from Framingham State, Emerson College, Boston University, Boston College, and Babson College, just to name a few.

She said while there are hauntings everywhere, however, people are always most interested about what goes on at Harvard University.

“Yes, there are lots of ghost stories about Harvard. I don’t know why there is a fascination with Harvard, but part of it is likely because of its age,” she said. “Older schools are quicker to embrace their history’s than the modern schools are.”

To source her stories, Mallet spent countless hours interviewing students, faculty members, and even police officers at various schools, who she said usually have the most run-ins with creepy calls and situations. “Very few are willing to say outright that they have seen a ghost, but they will say they will have a certain experience they can’t explain, and will say they don’t know why or how it happened,” she said. “They would consistently tell me they were officers for 20 years, and they get called to the same spot by different people.”

Besides re-telling the chilling tales, Mallet also offers readers a guide on how to find out if ghouls occupy their university. She suggests doing a little research, reaching out to historical societies, or even calling in ghost hunters.

She said since the book came out two months ago, people have been reaching out to her, thanking her for writing it, because it reaffirmed their own haunting and unexplained encounters. “A lot of current and former students get in touch with me to say they found the book reassuring because they went to these schools and had these experiences and didn’t know what it was,” she said.