The Ghosts Of St. Edward’s University

Posted by blogger in Haunted Austin Ghost Tour
The Ghosts Of St. Edward’s University - Photo

South Austin’s big-name University, St. Edwards, positively reeks of the paranormal. The university is a hodgepodge of architectural styles and era, huge gothic cathedrals and spire mixed in with the glamour of the roaring 20s and the functionality of the late 50s. It is the sort of haven that births wold tales on a daily basis… and some of those sinful urban legends seem to stalk the alumni across its maze-like hallways.

The History Of St. Edward’s University.

The academia was founded by the same superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, who brought into being the University of Notre Dame. The man was called Edward Sorin, a reverend that saw a communal need in the farmlands south of Austin and filled up that educational void with what would eventually become St. Edward’s.

For 10 years the structure that house the academic behemoth to come was quaint and rather homely; it was the proverbial homespun school ripped out off the script pages of Little House On The Praire. That all changed when the President of Edward’s, Rev. P.J. Franciscus, in 1885, managed to secure an official college charter. That small tilt against the windmills of ignorance skyrocketed the academy and earned it the necessary prestige to not only increase its enrollment but to attract financial aid and investors.

By the end of that Millennium, Edward’s was growing at a rapid pace. Architect Nicholas J. Clayton of Galveston, Texas was tasked with the project’s success and renovation. He designed a four-story tall main building in the Gothic Revival style and flipped the university’s narrative on its head. It was no longer an outskirt underdog academia but a powerhouse of scholarship and enlightenment.

A Point By Point Chronology.

  • In 1903 a massive fire destroyed most of the major main building.
  • 1922 a huge tornado battered the main building.
  • 1966 the University opened its doors to women. A separate building was erected, Maryhill Collage.
  • 1970 Maryhill was completely absorbed by St.Edwards and the university became co-educational.

The last 50 or so years has basically been a revolving door of presidents and chancellors, of investors, or growth and of new departments. St. Edwards is one of the most prestigious universities in the country and, regionally, it is a beacon of civic initiatives and communal improvements.

It is an educational morass that has raised some of Texas’ intellectual elite and some of the nation’s most iconic leaders… It is also a place that, given its history, its passions and its continuous flow of humanity, also managed to amass a few horror stories and more than one ghost.

Let’s take a look at what sort of skeletons St.Edwards has in its closet.

The Hauntings Of St. Edwards.

Some of the students, faculty, and staff members that call St. Edwards their stumping ground are continually attacked by all manner of supernatural events. The university over the year has managed to collect, behind its pristine exterior and shiny towers, a gaggle of savage story and blood-soaked urban legends.

The first yarn comes from the university’s genesis, from those few first years where the forging of the mammoth was being led and the academia was on its first tentative steps. Back in 1877, one of the first classes to attend the scholarly fort suffered a major tragedy. A popular student was trampled by a horse-drawn carriage; his neck severed by the animal’s hooves. The place where this tragedy took place is now a major street, no longer smothered with wooden carriages but by cars. Some students have reported hearing a loud thud while driving on that thoroughfare as if their wheels have just passed over something.

“It’s something that happens quite often, you go outside check under the car and there’s nothing… But, a minute before you could have sworn you crashed into something.”

St. Edwards is renowned through the land for its excellent drama and music program. It is one of the most coveted of its kind in the state. It is also one of the most harrowing, passionate, and demanding. Its students are held to high standards and a strict disciplinary curriculum.

During fevered late-night rehearsals, some of these passionate and artistic souls have been assailed by a myriad of macabre incidents.

“You see things. Some times you don’t know if it’s your mind playing tricks on you, if maybe its a mental short-circuit, or it’s your just sleep deprived… but you see things. Horrible things.”

Students have witnessed all sorts of horrid images. They have reported shadows crossing the walls and chasing them down corridors, fetid smells and the reek of rot, cold spots – “as if someone just walked over my grave”, a putrid mass of limbs crawling out of sight right at the corner of their eyes, and even a being floating and wailing silently.
The Mary Moody Northern Theater, where most of these supernatural occurrences take place, has a rather morbid story tied to its long history. When the university became a co-educational pavilion it had some growing pains to work through… one of those pains was gender-equality and sexual harassment.
“Legend has it that a girl was harassed, possibly raped on campus… she supposedly took her life in the Mary Moody Theater. Hung herself from the rafters. Some people claim that she’s the one haunting the place.”
And it’s not just those two but a couple more that haunt this place. One of them is the accidental monk. During the campus’ early years, the university and much of its learning staff were compromised by brothers and monks. It was a religious institution and it only became partly secular by the end of the 1950s. These brothers were artistically prone, and would often paint landscapes on easels in the upper floors of the university; a retreat of their to collect their sanity after dealing with rowdy teens.
A tragedy took place during the renovations of the 1920s. A brother was swept up in artistic fervor when a gust of wind snatched his painting and pulled it out an opened window. The window was in the midst of repair and a death-trap in the making. The brother reached for it, but the structure gave way beneath his feet and he plummeted to his death.
Students constantly report hearing strange lamentations from the top floor of the main building. Some have even gone of record and described a shadowy entity that constantly opens and shuts the upper window shutters.
“Sometimes it’s not even windows and you can actually see the shutters banging against the side of the building as if they were caught in a hurricane.”
The final ghost to haunt St. Edwards can be found in Teresa Hall. The place is said to be the habitat of a 12-year old specter named Danielle. According to eye-witness accounts, this wraith has long black hair and wears a white dress. She is said to approach new students and ask them if they want to play and hang out.
“She’s a poltergeist. Out of all the ghosts on the campus, she’s the most active. If you decline to play with her, she’ll start to follow you around and play pranks on you. Whispering in your ears, flicking the lights on and off whenever you enter a room… She gets tired after a while and moves on.”