The Hauntings of the University of Maryland

Legends say that ghosts and specters walk among us at the University of Maryland. This Halloween, perhaps it’s time to learn about some of the hauntings that happen in our own backyard.

The supernatural is not uncommon in College Park. Dating back to before the Civil War, the University of Maryland has multiple locations across campus that are known to be paranormal with spirits possibly haunting the same corridors where we live and learn. Students, faculty and staff alike have encountered Maryland’s ghastly spirits and spooky buildings, making this university’s reputation as one of the most haunted campuses in the country.

The University of Maryland has two buildings that date back to the 1800s, both of which are considered the most haunted places on campus. Opened in 1898, Morrill Hall is notable for several supernatural encounters. The building sits at the top of a hill and eerily looks over the original center of the Maryland Agricultural College, later known as UMD, before it burned down in 1912.

Photo by Kate DeBlasis

On Thanksgiving 1912, most students had returned home for the holiday, but about 50 students remained and threw a Thanksgiving dance. During the dance, the campus was engulfed in flames, burning down almost every building, except Morrill Hall. Smoky remains of the Great Fire of 1912 can sometimes be smelled in the basement of Morrill, even when there is no source for the smoke around.

According to the University Archives, the college was once run as a military training school in the early 1860s. The grounds in front of Morrill Hall were used for military drills where cadets would march around with rifles on their shoulders. Rumor has it that people have heard the marching of feet in and around Morrill Hall, but there was no one around to create such a noise. 

Photo by Kate DeBlasis

“Morrill Hall just gives me bad vibes,” said Leanna Rathbun, a sophomore government and politics major. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I have a lot of classes in LeFrak and for some reason, I just always go the other way.” 

Rathbun continued that she’d rather walk by the Point of Failure, supposedly the unluckiest spot on campus, rather than get close to Morrill Hall.

“I’ve never seen anyone go in or out of the building, and I don’t know why,” Rathbun added. 

Not only do some students experience uneasiness around Morrill Hall, but a paranormal investigation found ghost activity in the building. In May 2012, a team from Maryland Paranormal Research conducted a study in both Morrill Hall and the Rossborough Inn. Although Morrill Hall did not have as much paranormal activity as the Rossborough Inn, the team gathered unexplained audio clips, called “drop-in communicators” in the academic building. On the third floor of Morrill Hall, the paranormal investigators picked up electronic voice phenomena (EVPs), including a voice saying “Morrill Hall” and other voices saying names such as “Libby” and “Leggett.” 

Photo courtesy of @marylandparanormal on Instagram

Although Morrill Hall can seem intimidating, some students find another building a little more unsettling: the Rossborough Inn. This building is the oldest building on campus, dating back to 1804. According to the University Archives, it was once a major way-station for people traveling between Baltimore and Washington D.C. because it was on the main route to both cities. During the Civil War, the inn was supposedly managed by a woman named Miss Betty. It is said that Miss Betty still roams the halls of the inn to this day.

Photo by Kate DeBlasis

Miss Betty has been described as a woman in a long, avant-garde yellow dress who roams the halls of the inn and the adjoining Carriage House where the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is based. The University Archives reports that Miss Betty may be the cause of weird occurences in the inn. Things like a vase of flowers appearing on its own, unexplained footsteps when no one else is in the building, and faces appearing in windows and mirrors could be caused by Miss Betty. Even students now have had supernatural encounters with the spirit.

Photo by Kate DeBlasis

“Betty is definitely real. I’ve never seen her and I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts, but if I did, I’d definitely believe in Betty first,” said Katie Joy, a senior environmental science and policy major. Joy worked at the Rossborough Inn front desk this summer and had a few spooky experiences during her time there.

“Sometimes I would be at the desk until dusk by myself. I would be the only person in the building for awhile, which was kind of eerie anyways just because the building is so old and makes a lot of noise,” said Joy. “One time I was sitting at the desk, and I heard a door opening in the viewing room behind me. I went in and both of the closet doors were open, which were previously closed.”

Joy continued, “Another time, we were sitting in the Images office, so upstairs in the inn, and we were just talking to our boss. Then, a metal shelf that had been propped up on the wall for like eons, just slammed down out of nowhere, and it was really loud. It had been up there for so long. There was nothing that would have caused it to fall, except Betty.”

Once this summer, Joy called UMPD to lock up the inn early, and the responding officers told her a story about one of their encounters with Miss Betty. According to Joy, the police officers were called to the Rossborough Inn because a motion alarm was tripped. Once they arrived to the scene, there was no one there and no signs of entry. However, one of the officers claimed to have seen Miss Betty standing on the stairs of the inn. Now, that officer refuses to go back to the Rossborough Inn alone.

Although Joy does not believe in ghosts, she is not a skeptic.

“I’ve never seen a ghost. I just don’t exactly buy it,” Joy said. “But I do believe in spooky things. Maybe not ghosts, but spirits or energies or something. But if ghosts are real, Betty is real.”

When the Maryland Paranormal Research team investigated the Rossborough Inn, they found potential evidence of the multiple spirits possibly haunting the historical building. One voice in particular could have proved the existence of the UMD legend. An EVP caught a disembodied voice saying, “Betty, talk to them please.” 

One of the most spooky findings from this paranormal investigation was a video recording of the second floor corridor of the Carriage House. In the video, clear voices with accents, one from a man and one from a child, can be heard telling the paranormal investigators to leave. It is important to note that the paranormal team reported that the building had been locked, and no one else but the team was in the area. If you want to know more about the Maryland Paranormal Research team’s discoveries, they released the evidence they gathered on their website

 

Photo courtesy of @marylandparanormal on Instagram

These are only two locations of many possibly haunted places at the University of Maryland. Other sites including several Greek houses, Marie Mount Hall, Washington Hall, Hornbake Library and even South Campus Diner have had reports of hauntings.

If you want to spook yourself a little more this Halloween, the University Archives created UMD’s own ghost tour for anyone to go and explore the unknown. Perhaps this Halloween, you can investigate for yourself whether or not UMD is truly haunted.