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School Spirits: University of Alabama

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School Spirits: University of Alabama

Emma Wilson

The University of Alabama is definitely a school full of spirit. It is also said to be full of spirits. Most of the campus was destroyed during the Civil War, but almost all of the buildings that remain from that time contain haunting reminders: ghosts. 

The Gorgas House is one of the oldest buildings on the University of Alabama campus; it might also be one of the most haunted. Story goes that despite dying in the house, Josiah Gorgas, former President of the University and Confederate General still walks the stairs of the building, clanging his sword against the wall as he goes. He is not the only Gorgas that paranormally remains on the campus. 

The Gorgas House

The Gorgas House

Amelia Gorgas Library is not only named after the wife of Josiah Gorgas, its haunted by her. Amelia was the university librarian in the late 1800’s after the passing of her husband. With a library named after her now, she likes to make sure everything remains in order. Elevators are programmed to bypass the fourth floor which holds special-collections. Despite this, one elevator has been known to stop on the fourth floor, only to open its doors to no one inside. No one we can see anyway. Amelia isn’t far from her husband, who haunts the neighboring Gorgas House. 

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Attached to the haunted Amelia Gorgas Library is an even more haunted building. The Little Round House, aptly named, acted as a guard house during the Civil War. As Union soldiers were attacking campus, two cadets from the University acted as welcoming party to the northern force. One cadet hid in the Little Round House, watching the campus go up in flames around him. The other cadet was questioned by three Union soldiers as to where they could acquire some whiskey. The cadet pointed to the Little Round House. As the Union soldiers breeched the door, they were met with gunfire from the hiding cadet. The cadet mortally wounded all three soldiers. Both cadets managed to escape. Today, the ghosts of the three Union soldiers still roam the near the Little Round House. It is said if you put your ear to the door of the building you can hear the voices of the soldiers, still in search of a drink. 

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Many other ghosts of Civil War soldiers haunt the campus. Three ghostly figures have been known to walk the Quad during foggy mornings. Some believe one of the apparitions is the ghost of Colonel Murfree, commander of the university cadets during the war. The Colonel is also said to be seen in Woods Hall as well. The other two figures on the Quad are claimed to be past teachers. 

Smith Hall on the campus of University of Alabama also acts as Alabama Museum of Natural History. The building however, has quite a history of its own. The building is named after Eugene Allen Smith, former state geologist. Smith would frequently take tours of schoolchildren through the museum. At the age of 85, Smith died in 1927, but he was not done with giving tours. It is said that if you are in the museum after hours you can still hear the footsteps and voice of Eugene leading tours of schoolchildren through the second and third stories of the museum. It is also said he haunts the elevator, which appears on the second and third floors without being called. This is all harmless activity, but to there are more chilling occurrences.  

On the second floor of the Alabama Natural History Museum is the carriage of Eugene Allen Smith. Despite being sectioned off in a display, students say they have witnessed this carriage rolling down hallways of the building. Sometimes they can hear the sounds of horses and the cracking of a whip. Again, this seems rather harmless, but darker goings-on occur. A common tale is that a group of students stayed after hours and followed ghostly sounds to a classroom. When they went inside the desks were in disarray, though they had been in straight rows earlier. The students would later learn this is the classroom said to have been the site of the deaths of several students years earlier during a boiler room explosion. Another incident involved a lab assistant being pushed into a closet one night and locked in the room until the following morning.

 While not as menacing, there is another more active ghost on campus.

“How’s my blocking Miss Galloway?” These are the words you should say while on stage in the Marian Galloway theatre if you want to see the ghost of Marian herself. She is said to appear in the back of the theater. Other times students have seen her in the audience during a performance, on the stage dressed in white, or walking the sidewalk in front of the building. She is not always seen as an apparition. Students have been known to see her, seemingly as alive as you and I, only to learn later that she passed years ago. While a benevolent presence, she does not appreciate lollygagging. Mrs. Galloway has been known to slam doors if actors aren’t putting enough effort into rehearsal. 

The University of Alabama is most widely acclaimed for its football team, but if this supernatural activity continues, the school might soon be known for spirits instead of spirit.