A Haunted Campus - Legends of Appalachian State University

It’s long been rumored that the campus of Appalachian State University is home to countless ghostly spirits. From the infamous haunts in East Hall to paranormal happenings in student housing on Howard Street, plenty of legends have circulated among students to keep rumors alive for years to come.

App State is rich in history; one of many creepy examples is that a former hospital and morgue was renovated into what is now Founders Hall. And like most other universities in the country, App State has had its fair share of tragedy; numerous suicides have taken place on and around campus over the years. These circumstances have created the perfect atmosphere for spooky stories to flourish among students and faculty.          

It seems as though every student at App State has heard stories about the ghost of East Hall, one of the university’s longest-standing residence halls. Ask any student who has been in the dorm – chances are, they’ll tell you how creepy it is whether they believe in ghosts or not.

“East has this energy to it. Oppressive, dark, crushing,” Q Russell said. “And I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts and all that stuff, but you don’t go messing with it.”  He isn’t wrong. East Hall has the effect of old horror movies – the corners of the rooms seem dark, you feel like you need to look over your shoulder upon entering the bathrooms or when walking down the hallways. 

Erected in 1952, East Hall has housed thousands of students, some of whom took their own lives in the building. The Watauga Democrat wrote that Lacy Dean Everitte, a student at the university in 1977, took his own life in his East Hall dorm room. Many of the rumors of ghosts in the building stem from this tragedy. 

The East Hall haunts are so legendary that one ghost even has a story written about her on North Carolina Ghosts, a website dedicated to investigating and sharing North Carolina folklore. Some students say that the spirit of a young woman who took her own life in the lower level of the building can still be found wandering the vicinity, though there is no record of her death.

Freshman Erin Sherrill was told a chilling story by a friend who was the victim of a lower level fright. 

“Early in the school year, my friend and her roommate went to the bathroom in East that’s supposed to be haunted, messing around looking for the ghost,” Sherrill said. “They were calling out and asking if anything was there. Well, they got kind of creeped out and were like ‘wait, we should probably see if anyone is in here first.’” 

The two girls looked through the bathroom, opening stall doors and shower curtains. There wasn’t a sound or any other sign of anyone else’s presence, for that matter. 

“They got to the third shower stall and pulled back the curtain and this girl is just standing there with the water off, totally naked,” Sherrill said. “So, they drop the curtain and are like ‘oh my gosh! Sorry, sorry,” but she never responded, and they ran out.”

Sherrill was told that the girl in the shower was a redheaded with inhumanly pale skin – a common theme in recounted East Hall ghost sightings.

Margaret Truslow said that her friend who was spooked during her time at East Hall as well. 

“She told me about all these weird things that would happen in the middle of the night,” Truslow said. “Her desk randomly fell apart once, and another night, a candle that she had sitting in her closet literally flew straight out and hit the wall she was leaning against right above her head.” 

East Hall may be the most notorious site on App State’s campus for apparent paranormal activity but isn’t the only building that’s said to be haunted by ghosts of students passed. 

Residents living in the Appalachian Panhellinic Hall often report paranormal experiences. The APH, which has been renovated into a dorm that primarily houses sorority members, was formerly a hotel. 

Emma Metcalf, now a junior, lived in the hall during the spring semester of her freshman year. Metcalf had a chilling run-in with what she believes was a female spirit while she was walking back to her first-floor room after visiting with a friend on the second floor.

“Everyone knows the elevators at the APH are whacky and take forever to come when you call them, so I just decided to take the stairs that night instead,” Metcalf said. “As I was coming down the hallway, I passed the elevator area and saw this girl in a long dress walking toward me out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned my head fully to see if it was someone I knew,” Metcalf continued, “both elevator doors were closed, and no one was there.” 

Feeling rattled, she ran the rest of the way to her room and locked the door. 

Lyndsey Finkbeiner said that she believes she also fell subject to spirits of the APH.

“Weird things kept happening when I lived there, but I remember the majority of it happening when my roommate left for the semester,” Finkbeiner said. She was scared to live in the dorm by herself, so she would sleep with a lamp and the television on. 

“I woke up randomly one night because something was grabbing my ankle. Like, I didn’t imagine it. I felt it happening,” Finkbeiner said. “I remember just feeling like there was a presence there. Watching me.” 

Other nights, Finkbeiner would wake up to the sound of the toilet in her room flushing, although she said that could just be a side effect of the building being so old.

Kirston Greene, however, thinks that she might have an explanation for the flushing toilets.

Greene, now a senior, lived in the APH during her sophomore year. As the residence hall used to function as a hotel, all rooms are equipped with a bathroom. 

“I got up one night to use the bathroom, but I didn’t flush because my roommate had the bed that’s shared with the bathroom wall,” Greene said. She went back to sleep but was woken up shortly after by the distinct sound of their doorknob rattling.

“It sounded like somebody was full-on trying to get in the room,” Greene said, “but we just moved in a few days before that, so I figured one of the girls on our hall was just drunk or something and had the wrong room number so.”

The next morning, she went to use the bathroom and found that the toilet had been flushed. 

“I asked my roommate if she had flushed it during the night, but she said she never uses the bathroom at night,” Greene said. 

She said that she later heard that the APH hauntings are the work of ghosts of room service personnel who used to clean the building back when it was a hotel. 

“Apparently, we had a ghost that liked to clean up after us,” Greene laughed.

Katherine Harper Hall is one of the non-residence halls that’s believed to have spirits at unrest. 

“Once I was in the studio down in the basement, and the door just randomly shut,” interior design student Morgan Hall said. “It had one of those blocks that keep it open under it, and it flew out and the door slammed.”

Those who live off campus don’t seem to be totally safe from unexplained happenings either. 

Sydney Hand and Claire Harris live in a white house on Howard Street, just across from the student union, that many students and faculty would recognize. 

“Our house was built in the 1920s. I read that it’s one of the oldest residential homes in Boone. I’ve done my research,” Hand said. “Six of us live there with very different schedules, so a lot of the time you might think that one of the roommates is in the house with you, but you’re actually alone.” 

“I’ve had instances where the doorknobs start shaking, or my door will just fly wide-open, or I’ll be in the kitchen and I’ll hear it slam, but none of my windows are ever open, so there’s no reason that should happen,” Hand said. 

“When you’re in the shower, you’ll hear people come into the house,” Harris said. “and you’ll text your roommates to see if they’re there, but they aren’t.”

Harris recalled a time that the police showed up at their door with dogs. 

“They brought the German shepherd into our house and told us that we needed to leave. Someone called the police saying that they saw someone go into the house,” Harris said, “so they searched the whole house, but there was no one found and no sign of a disturbance.

Harris and Hand joked that maybe it wasn’t ghosts, but perhaps a stalker instead.