Tales of ghosts continue throughout SDSU history

Moans, groans, creaks and squeaks are just a few sounds an old building might make.

With the Halloween season right around the corner, a regular bump in the night can seem scarier than any other time of year.

South Dakota State University is 135 years old and many buildings still stand from early in the school’s history. With any old building, stories of ghosts are not far behind.


Doner Auditorium

The story of George, a ghost who lives in Doner Auditorium, has been passed along generations of the Theatre Department.

Legend has it that George was a janitor who fell to his death from an alcove holding an organ in Doner Auditorium in 1919. In the years following his death, the organ played at random times during the day by itself until it was dismantled, according to the Haunted Places website. 

Ashley Bietz, senior theatre major, claimed she has seen George and caught him on film. 

“I absolutely believe that George is real, I have been here late at night working with the light equipment and things started falling from the balcony. It sounded like people were throwing wrenches, but no one was there,” Bietz said. 

In the 1970s, George harassed the Theatre Department costume crew. They were then moved downstairs and were harassed far less, according to a Collegian article in 2002.

But there are mixed opinions about George’s existence.

Professor and Director of Theatre J.D. Ackman isn’t quite convinced George is real.

“I have spent a lot of time in here since about 1975, and I have never seen George,” Ackman said. 

Yet Ackman also isn’t totally convinced that George isn’t real. He acknowledges the possibility of the ghost existing in Doner Auditorium.

“Maybe George just likes me and that is why he doesn’t bother me,” Ackman said. “The only really weird thing that I have seen are theatre students.”


Lincoln Music Hall

It is said that around Nov. 24 each year, weird things start to happen in Lincoln Music Hall.

Chairs and boxes will move across the room and lights will flicker.

There have been rumors of a figure in a black trench coat roaming the halls of the basement, according to a 2011 Collegian article.

Amanda Roehl, program assistant at Lincoln Music Hall, is skeptical about the mysterious figure as she has not experienced it herself.

“I have heard stories, but nothing has happened to me personally, though I haven’t been here as long,” Roehl said. “I have heard students talk about there being a presence in the performance hall.”

The mysterious figure might be a professor who once worked in Lincoln Music Hall.  

William H. Powers was a professor of literature and head librarian from 1927 until his death nine years later. On Nov. 24, 1936, Powers passed away at his desk due to a heart attack, according to a Collegian article in 2006.

But it has still not been confirmed if Powers is the mysterious figure in the black trench coat.


West Hall

Built in 1907, West Hall was used as the Brookings Hospital and morgue until 1964. Later on it was repurposed, and it served as a residence hall until 1969.

There is no information of there being a ghost in West Hall, but there have been mentions of feeling like you’re being watched, according to a Collegian article in 2011.

Jill VanDamme, retention adviser for the University College, doesn’t feel any creepiness in the building, but she said her children do. 

VanDamme said her oldest daughter will not enter the building because she believes that West Hall is haunted. 

“My children know it was an old hospital and when it is dark out they are sure it is haunted and prefer not to go in it,” VanDamme said. “They were with me one time and they thought that they heard footsteps in the hall.”