By Clay Parlette
With the crisp advent of autumn upon us, many students have officially gotten the full-on cravings for everything fall. New seasons of spooky favorites like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead, pumpkin carving, cider, pumpkin spice lattes, and hoodies are all some of the small pleasures many of us enjoy with the new season. Personally, I plan to take some friends closer to home one of these weekends to experience the local ghostly folklore of the Elmore Ghostrider and Holcomb Woods—two unsettling places that never leave me without a thrill or slight confusion for the reality of ghosts. Some believe in the paranormal, some doubt its existence, and some deny it, but for those who believe or potentially believe, UF offers some pretty chilling locations for some unsettling feelings that perhaps you are not alone.
The first obvious example to me of such a location is Old Main. As the first building on campus and sustaining more than 130 years of existence, the place has certainly seen its share of history. Many who step foot into Ritz Auditorium will attest that the old theater brings thoughts of Abraham Lincoln’s tragic experience at Ford’s Theatre, or something of the sort. The basement is equally eerie, especially at night when the unexplained clunks, creaks, and hissing of the building sporadically resound through the walls and vents. I’ll admit it; there have been times that I have been alone in Old Main at night, and though I haven’t seen anything too terrifying, the building’s ambiance is enough to make me spend my time someplace else. I was once told that there is an alleged ghost that does haunt the building, but I have so far been unsuccessful in finding details.
The other slightly sinister building right on campus is the UF Haven residence hall. Built in 1960 and originally functioning as an assisted living facility, some may stand by me when I suggest that not everything is exactly warm and cozy in this hall. Especially when walking the halls on a brisk autumn night, I definitely get the feeling that some troubling things may have occurred here during its lifetime and perhaps still do occur. For now, I’ll just try to avoid it at all mortal costs.
If you’re one of the many upperclassmen who resides in an on-campus house, perhaps populating Howard or Frazer Streets, you know that your house ain’t exactly a spring chicken. The existence of skeleton key locks anywhere is a good indication the house was built before the 1940s—many of which are much older. Whether or not any are infested with ghosts can really only be answered by the home’s residents, but just imagine the stories that took place under each residential roof over the course of a century: fights, celebrations, sickness, work, play, lounge, crime, death. I’ve heard stories about several of these houses. One professor I talked to is very confident that her office house on the Cory Street Mall is haunted by some of the ancient affluent souls of Findlay. Another home I experienced seems to house
a more Casper-like phantom—playing tricks and deceiving the mind, but all in good fun. Yet another home supposedly experiences the occasional whisperings of some unearthly foreign language. It’s not to say that all ghosts are mean, but anything paranormal or unexplained is enough to send shivers down my spine.
Okay, okay. Maybe all this is ridiculous. Maybe it’s all in our head. But in the prime of fall, it’s fun to imagine what could be, and on a campus as historic and rustic as ours, there’s no reason (if you believe in ghosts) to believe that we don’t have any stories of our own. After all, the paranormal hasn’t been proven false.