The Daily Gamecock

Ghost tours highlight USC's haunted history

University Ambassadors share chilling stories of campuss's oldest buildings


As night fell on the unofficial beginning of Halloween weekend, students embarked from the Horseshoe on an exploration and celebration of the spookier side of USC’s history.

University Ambassadors hosted campus ghost tours Thursday night, highlighting some of USC’s historical haunts.

Ambassadors President Nick Riley said the purpose of the tours was to “entertain ... and educate people about some of the fun parts of our history.”

Tours began at McKissick Museum, where guides recounted the tale of “The Janitor” who supposedly haunts the third-floor exhibit, rearranging displays in the night.

Other myths of the Horseshoe were also told, including the tale of the Confederate doctor’s daughter who haunts northern boys living in DeSaussure College, as well as the ghost of former university

President James Rion McKissick, who keeps watch inside the South Caroliniana Library.

Some of the stories told on the tour are well-known folklore on campus — like Longstreet Theatre’s former use as a Civil War hospital and morgue. The theatre department now encourages a “buddy system,” tour guides said, to ward off the Civil War ghosts.

Some more obscure tales were also shared. Second-year biology student Anne Shaw said her interest was particularly peaked by the story of the ghost in the old Columbia Hotel near the Statehouse, which was refurbished into a women’s residence hall in the 1930s and 1940s.

As the legend goes, girls reported the sound of footsteps at night in one particular room, and no resident could be coaxed to stay there for more than one night. Through research, a resident mentor discovered that a male student who had rented that room fell to his death from the window. When the university later demolished the building, spectators reported seeing a face pressed against the windowpane from that room, yelling for help before the building crumbled. It was believed to be the ghost of the man who years earlier had fallen from that window. The Daily Gamecock later published a picture showing a figure in that window prior to the demolition.

“It was a really eerie story, and it gave me goose bumps,” Shaw said. “It was definitely one of the creepier stories they told.”

In the past, University Ambassadors had conducted ghost tours during Welcome Week and Parents Weekend, Riley said, but this year they decided to coordinate the tours with Halloween to draw more attention to them.