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Think and Boo!

That blood-curdling howl you just heard might not be from NC State’s canine mascot. We might have just become home of the WereWolfpack.

Call the Scooby Gang, because State’s campus does have a supposed history of mystery, from the distant cries of orphaned babies to the unseen presence of a former school president’s daughter to the murderous plots of former Dungeons & Dragons aficionados.

It’s probably no surprise that in a state where both the capitol building and the executive mansion are believed to be haunted – by former governors, no less – that the state’s largest university campus has its own haunts and haints.

Have you ever seen or heard them?

Catholic chapel

Crybaby Lane was located near the orphanage, which was torn down in the 1970s.

Well, ghost stories abound around the Brickyard. There are tales of slamming doors in Winslow and rattling noises in the corridors of Turlington residence hall.

Since Halloween is this week, there’s always time for a good ghost story, plausible or not. Some of them are tied to actual events from the university’s past, some are just legends.

Cradle to Grave

There’s the case of the squalling infants on the abandoned side road that used to be known as Crybaby Lane, located near the Catholic orphanage that was demolished in the 1970s. All remnants of the Nazareth orphanage and seminary have been demolished or buried under the roadbed of Centennial Boulevard.

The legend of the crying babies came from three different fires at the orphanage, though none of them resulted in the deaths of orphans. One priest-in-training died after helping fellow students escape from a middle-of-the-night fire in 1905. No one was injured in a 1911 fire that destroyed several orphanage buildings. The last fire was in 1961, when a priest trying to destroy a wasps nest with fire accidentally took down the entire rectory.

The fact that no orphans died in any of the fires takes a little bit of the fright out of the stories some students used to tell about roaming the ruins of the orphanage back before Centennial Campus was developed.

Spring Hill House

No one knows why a baby can be heard crying in the night at Spring Hill House.

Haunted Hill

Spring Hill House, one of only two campus buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits quietly on a plot of land near Centennial Campus. Or does it?

Sometimes, late at night, those inside have reported hearing – again with this – the wail of a baby. University police have responded to automated alerts from the motion detectors inside the house. Making the place even creepier is the fact that the original owner is buried in the backyard in a small family grave site.

Phantoms of the Infirmary

Infirmary at Winslow Hall.

The ghosts of two young nurses who died in the 1918 influenza epidemic still get into mischief at Winslow Hall.

The supposed spirits in Winslow Hall may be remnants of the 1918 worldwide outbreak of Spanish influenza, which killed three times more people than World War I. Winslow was the infirmary at that time, where some 450 cases of the flu were treated. There were 13 fatalities on campus, including nurses Lucy Page and Eliza Riddick, the daughter of school president W.C. Riddick.

Some say their spirits have remained in the building formerly known as Alumni Hall, which dates back to the early 1900s. They’ve been seen in the hallways and made overnight messes, knocking off papers and books from the desks of those who work there.

Ghoulish Gamers

And what about the steam tunnels that run through the heart of campus? Though it’s totally impermissible for students and staff to be caught in the tunnels, it and the breezeways in the East Campus Quad became popular places to play the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons in the early 1980s, just before video games became a student’s favorite downtime activity.

Add to it a 1988 murder – plotted in a booth at a fast-food joint on Western Boulevard – by those known for their involvement in steam tunnel D&D, and the off-limits area of campus gets even spookier and more forbidden. Two books by well-known crime writers and a two-part adapted television miniseries made it one of the more sensational crimes of a bygone era.

Riddick Field House

Before it was demolished, Riddick Field House was one of NC State’s most haunted spaces.

Creepy Campus

Some of the places that are supposedly haunted are no longer around. The Riddick Field House, the last remaining building associated with NC State’s first football stadium, was torn down earlier this year, but it was supposedly one of the most haunted buildings on campus, with ghosts so wily that not even the university police department – a longtime resident of the building – could catch the paranormal perps.

Shadowy figures, overhead footsteps and unexplained noises were frequent occurrences for the officers who worked in the two-story building.

Legend has it that if you stand on the Pullen Road bridge that crosses the central campus railroad tracks you can hear the screams of a pledge who was literally scared to death during his fraternity initiation.

Did you know? The ashes of former football coach Earle Edwards, whose five ACC titles set the standard for his successors, are sprinkled over the playing surface of Carter-Finley Stadium and there are as many as three family burial plots in prime tailgating areas around the stadium parking lots.

Perhaps first-year head coach Dave Doeren and his team can rely on a little other-worldly help this weekend for Saturday’s homecoming game against North Carolina.

6 responses on “Think and Boo!

  1. Chris Austin says:

    Thanks for the story! What are the titles of the books about the 1988 murder?

  2. Jonathan Howell says:

    “Kids playing D&D in university steam tunnels” is largely a fabrication, generated as part of the moral panic against RPGs in the 1980s. Most cases either turn out to be complete fabrications, or the players were in the steam tunnels to map them out, and would use the maps as a basis for areas their characters would explore while playing the game later, at home.

    If the 1988 murder is the one I’m thinking of, it didn’t take place on campus, it happened in Washignton, NC, and involved an NCSU student, Chris Pritchard, arranging to have his mother and stepfather, Bonnie and Lieth Von Stein, murdered so he could collect a $2,000,000 inheritance. Pritchard had a history of antagonism against his stepfather, and of alcohol and drug use, but authorities focused on the gaming aspect after a map of the Von Stein house was found among his gaming materials. Pritchard’s friends, Gerald Neal Henderson and James Upchurch, were implicated in the plot. All three went to prison in 1990; Henderson and Pritchard have since been paroled, Upchurch is still serving a life sentence.

    Authors Joe McGinniss and Jerry Bledsoe played up the role-playing angle in their books, with much attention given to Upchurch’s influence and power as the game’s Dungeon Master (referee/director). Bledsoe’s book, BLOOD GAMES, was made into a TV movie, HONOR THY MOTHER, in 1992. That same year, McGinniss’ book, CRUEL DOUBT, was adapted into a two part TV miniseries of the same title; this film featured real role-playing game materials, doctored to imply that they had caused the murders.

  3. Joan Alford says:

    Great piece! Enjoyed it.

  4. Ben says:

    lol, Maybe they should recheck Carter-Finley. Given the state of the program I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was built on top of an ancient indian burial ground.

  5. Rudra Dutta says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the research and the writeup.

  6. Will Spence says:

    I went into Winslow Hall this afternoon to see if I could see the ghosts of Lucy Page and Eliza Riddick. However, no ghosts, but… the building to me at least from the inside, had a very sad ambiance to it. The upstairs unisex bathroom doors are also said to lock mysteriously by themselves. When I went into the bathroom I saw no ghosts, but I did expect to possibly see Lucy or Eliza’s reflections in the mirror, still looking for help to fight the epidemic that killed them and 13 other Spanish flu victims in Winslow Hall in 1918.

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