Skip to main content

Ghosts of Carleton

Quinn investigates rumors of ghosts around Carleton's campus.

Quinn investigates rumors of ghosts around Carleton's campus.

What is a college without a few good ghost stories? With over 150 years of history and plenty of old buildings to go along with it, there is certainly ample time for ghosts to manifest themselves.

I must admit, I am somewhat of a skeptic, but I still think these stories are interesting to look at. While there have been a few reports of ghosts on the website, such as in Watson or the Weitz Center for Creativity, I am going to examine some other likely contenders for ghosts (if you believe in them, of course). I also may or may not have edited these photos I took to look spookier…

Gould Library, 1st Floor

Carleton’s Gould Library is 5 floors tall, and built into a hill. This means that you enter on the 4th floor, and each floor below 4th gets quieter as you descend. The 1st floor is nicknamed to be “monastery quiet” and is completely silent after 5 p.m.

I cannot trace the origin of the myth that it is haunted, but it is a topic discussed among Summer Fellows and Tour Guides. I can definitely see how one could believe that the 1st floor is haunted—the silence would allow people to hear strange noises. Ghosts or not, the 1st floor silence can give off an eerie feeling, so some choose to not go there anyway! Luckily, there are other floors and spaces around campus, so everyone can study where they enjoy!

1st Libe
Library shelves on the first floor (I turned off the lights to make it more dramatic).

Faculty Club

Faculty Club, a campus-owned house, was my home for the first month of the summer before I moved (and no, the ghosts don’t scare me away). Like every entry on this list, I’m a bit skeptical of hauntings, but I could see how Faculty Club could be haunted.

An older building, it has some interesting architectural choices. The hallways are narrow and winding, allowing noise to bounce off them in strange ways. The space has also been repurposed several times, so there is now a staircase that leads down to nothing. While I didn’t have any paranormal experiences, my friends and I agree that out of all the buildings at Carleton, Faculty Club is most likely to be haunted. 

Fac Club
A staircase to nowhere in Faculty Club.

The Arb

Is it possible for me to write a blog post and not mention the Arboretum? I’m not sure the arb would be haunted in the conventional sense, but there is definitely the possibility for some paranormal activity.

Early in Covid, when masks were required in all buildings at all times, I decided to go for a walk in the arb. Since I was outside, I put my mask in my back pocket and went for a long walk. In the middle of my walk, I heard a very strange noise that I still can’t place or explain. I turned around to look and saw my mask in the grass—I never would have noticed it was gone until I got back to campus. Maybe the alert was a helpful arb spirit!

Arb at night
The arb at night.

Chapel, Catholic Prayer Room

Located in the basement of Skinner Memorial Chapel, there are several prayer and meditation spaces, one of which is the Catholic Prayer Room. This is probably the most credible ghost story I have heard, and upon visiting the area I can see how it could be haunted. A friend of mine was working outside the only entrance/exit to the prayer room and was sorting items that were stored in the basement for a student government project. Inside the prayer room, he heard someone playing the piano. After a period of time, it stopped, and he looked inside, but no one was to be seen. He was right outside the entrance and would have noticed anyone leaving, but saw no one. Musical ghosts? Who knows!

Catholic prayer room
The Catholic Prayer Room (illuminated by only the red “exit” light).

Quinn (he/they) is a junior studying Political Science and International RelationsEnvironmental Studies, and History. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, they enjoy walking barefoot in the Arb, looking for free snacks in department lounges, and searching for their next favorite book in the library. Outside of work and school, they are the Treasurer of the Carleton Student Association (student government). There, they oversee the budget as well as work with the Student Activities Office to manage clubs on campus. Meet the other Bloggers!