The haunting of Donor Auditorium


Staff and students share stories of paranormal activity on campus.

His name is George. He is good-spirited, even friendly. If you wave, he might wave back. He likes playing organ music and tampering with the electricity.

And he’s dead.

Legend says that in 1919, George was working as a janitor in SDSU’s Doner Auditorium. He fell to his death from an alcove above the stage, where the organ was.

Two years after George’s death, the organ was dismantled and taken to its final resting place in the music department. Some say the organ was scrapped because it didn’t work properly anymore. Others say it was because a ghostly apparition was playing it from time to time.

Ray Peterson, a retired professor who spent 40 years teaching theater at SDSU, says he never met George face to face, but still believes in him.

Peterson was a full-time technical director for three years and heard many strange noises when he was working alone on the old stage.

“I don’t know how many times I stopped what I was doing,” to listen to odd banging noises, he says. “I kept telling myself it was just ventilation and some air problems.”

Theater major Jessie Storovich says George is both a loved and feared figure in SDSU’s theater program. She also has a personal experience with odd happenings in the auditorium.

To prepare for an upcoming show, she had to clean out the theater. Storovich tried entering through the back, where there is the easiest access to the theater lights, but the door was locked. This forced her to enter through the front of the auditorium, where she had to walk down the aisle, walk the main stage and navigate her way backstage to find the lights.

“I got about half way down the aisle and all of a sudden … every single light in there started blinking on and off and just going crazy and there were all these, like, pounding noises,” she said.

“I didn’t know if it was a trick or if there was some really scary hobo sleeping in Doner or if it was a ghost, but I was not staying in there and I was not going any further down the aisle.”

This, combined with over-active imaginations, is just what skeptics like Theater Professor John “J.D.” Ackman says perpetuate ghost stories.

“I don’t happen to believe there is a ghost in Doner,” Ackman says, “And I have spent an awful lot of time in there, often at night and often alone.”

Another strange fact: There is no record in the U.S. Social Security Death Index of a man by the name of George dying in Brookings in 1919.