Ghost Hunters, Brown Edition: Places on campus that are (probably) haunted

Halloweek is all about the treats, the Halloweeknesses, and, of course, the spooks. Have you ever wondered why some places on campus are so damn creepy? Here’s one blogger’s speculations about places on campus that may or may not be haunted. Curious? Read the list after the jump. 

93 Benevolent St.

Its story: Officially named Edward Bannister House, it served as the main residence for African American Edward

Bannister and his wife, Christiana, from 1884 to 1899. The building was purchased and renovated in the 1930’s by Euchlin Reeves, who turned it into a museum that housed his personal collection of antiques. Brown bought the property in 1989, and it had a brief stint as a rental property for student housing. It was closed in the mid-1990’s and subsequently fell into severe disrepair.

Why it’s probably haunted: If you’ve ever walked down Benevolent Street at night, it’s hard to ignore the chilling aura of its barred windows and boarded up entrance. This spooky house has a mysterious appeal worthy of an R. L. Stine series. One has to wonder why each owner came and went so quickly, and why has Brown postponed any “foreseeable plans for its future”, despite active interest from local preservation groups? It’s up to you to find out.

Ann Mary Brown Memorial

Its story: The Ann Mary Brown Memorial’s history stems from a love story. Rush Hawkins, devastated by the death of

his wife (and granddaughter of Nicholas Brown) Ann Mary, built a mausoleum for her remains to rest in peace. Now, both of them are entombed at the very end of the memorial, which also houses an exhibit of European and American paintings from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Why it’s probably haunted: It’s a tomb. There are skeletons underneath the stone floors. That’s the first sign of ghosts roaming around. And who knows, they probably have friends over at night…

Keeney Tunnels

Its story: Actually, the underground tunnels that connect many university buildings are not limited to Keeney Quad and Wriston. The oldest ones are on Pembroke, right underneath Andrews Hall. The tunnels began in the 1940’s as part of an expansion plan set forth by the University. There are four tunnel systems in total: under Wriston, Andrews, Keeney and the John Hay Library. Even though they were originally intended to be used for maintenance and convenient access to important buildings when the weather was rough, they were converted into bomb shelters in the 1960’s in the midst of the cold war.

Why it’s probably haunted: We’ve all tried to stealthily sneak down to the tunnels, only to be disappointed by the obstacles impeding the journey. The spook factor of the Keeney tunnels is one of those freshmen thrills that’ll never get old. And with rumors of muggings, rape and other illegal behavior, one can’t help but wonder what really went down underground after hours.


Its story: Built for the family of Ellen Dexter Sharpe in 1912, the house became an extension of RISD after Sharpe’s death in 1953. Brown got its hands on the house shortly after, in 1955, making it an all-female dorm. An extension, known as the ‘New House’, was added in 1975 to accommodate more students into the building. Then in 1989, the Sharpe residence’s name was officially changed to Antonio Machado House, in honor of the Spanish poet. A bust of Machado that now sits comfortably on the front entrance driveway was originally in the Ann Mary Brown memorial but was moved for the renaming of the building.

Why it’s probably haunted: New house members are forced to sleep with one eye open by haunting tales of whispers in the dark, mysterious screams coming from the hallways and supernatural forces that seem to inhabit in Old House rooms. Let’s just say Machado pulls off “haunted house” pretty damn well. Personally, I will stay away from the Old House singles, despite their vintage glamour. Also, I’m going to go ahead and be a conspiracy theorist and say that the bust moved from Ann Mary Brown to Machado had something to do the our spectral visitors…

University Hall

Its story: University Hall was the first building on campus, constructed in 1770. During the Revolutionary War, the Hall was converted into an army hospital. According to Providence Ghost Tours, the contorted face of a soldier can be seen out a second-floor window.

Why it’s probably haunted: Every hospital has its horror stories, and University Hall is probably no exception. From broken bones to deathly wounds, this building has probably seen it all. And it’s also the oldest building on campus, which gives it major ghost story cred.

Happy haunting.

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