College and university campuses are a breeding ground for all things paranormal. The University of Idaho is no different. Ask any U of I student and they’ll tell you a tale about otherworldly whispers in darkened halls, and disturbing bumps in the night.
One such story features U of I’s very own Hartung Theatre. Built in 1973, this space was designed with the audience in mind, making for a rather cozy theater experience. It is the largest theater venue on campus, and named after the university’s 1965 to 1977 President, Ernest Hartung.
However, this theater has a slightly darker side. One of unexplained footsteps and unearthly screams. “The ghost of Hartung Theatre is both a tradition and a reality for the people who work closest with the dramatic productions on the U of I campus” (Wright, 1979, p. 1). This ghost was said to be a worker who died during the initial construction of the venue. Legend says he was checking the steel girders above what is known as the Green Room. The worker suffered a heart attack, ultimately falling to his death. Though there is no evidence to support this, students, staff, and faculty can’t deny the weird happenings which plague the Hartung Theatre. More and more accounts have surfaced through the years of unknown voices, equipment malfunctions, missing props, and doors opening on their own.
But campus haunts don’t end there. In 1992, the University of Idaho had two special visitors: Ed and Lorraine Warren (Tynon, 1992, p. 1). The Warren’s were famous for their work in the field of paranormal investigation. Ed was a religious demonologist and Lorrain claimed to be a light-trance medium (able to detect spirits through light and sound). Not only did the supernatural couple speak and present their past findings for their national tour, but they also investigated campus. Ridenbaugh Hall and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity house were on their list.
Ridenbaugh Hall was built in 1902 and it was originally a girl’s dormitory. Now it is the home of music practice spaces and art galleries. Ridenbaugh is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings on campus. Students say the hall is haunted by a female ghost who allegedly hung herself in room 225. Frequent and unexplained temperature changes occur, music and singing are heard when the building is empty, and there have been sightings of shadow people. Lorraine was quick to pick up on the essence of a young female entity during their investigation. The spirit is described to have been dressed in 1930s fashion with hair pulled back into a bun.
The events that took place at the Kappa Sigma house are frightening to say the least. When the Warren’s entered the house, immediately something paranormal made itself known. The spirit is supposedly that of Glenn, a member of the fraternity during the 1950s who died in a car crash over Christmas break. Lorraine felt his presence, and so did other members of the investigating party. So much so that one seemed to have had a panic attack. Another felt her St. Christopher medal pulsing (Tynon, 1992, p. 15). The end result was a warning from the Warren’s to have the house cleansed and blessed. If you ask members of Kappa Sigma today, they know all about their resident ghost.
Do you have any haunting stories about the U of I campus? If you’re not too afraid, send them to the Special Collections Department of the UI Library.
Wright, J. (1979, October 30). Ghostly thespian haunts the halls of the Hartung. The Argonaut, 84, 19.
Tynon, K. (1992, March 10). Ghost hunters search for spooks. The Argonaut.