Athens State University

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Athens State University

The History: The university, established in 1822, has a fair share of ghostly lore that it has gained by being the oldest higher education institution in the state of Alabama.  The college had its beginnings as the Athens Female Academy before being purchased by Methodist Church in 1842 who changed the name to the Athens Female Institute.  The university remained female exclusive until 1974 when it was purchased by the state and transformed into a co-ed school.In 1985 the university was added to the National Register of Historic Places and by 1998, the institution had changed to their current name of Athens State University.

The Legend: The first of the ghost stories of the university comes from the Civil War era. It is reported that in the upper floor of one of the dormitory buildings a young woman in a flowing white dress, which was the fashion of the time, jumped to her death upon seeing that Union soldiers were upon the horizon. Her body can be seen every Monday, falling to her bloody death as her ghostly form hits the open window that ended her life.  Reports have also been made that you can see the apparition of the young woman standing watch looking out the window where she took her deadly jump.

Also at Athens State University, the building of McCandless Hall is said to be haunted by Madame Childs, a ghostly house-mother who has been reported to torment young women who come home after curfew, perhaps continuing her work from beyond the grave from when the university was an all girls school.  There are also reports of a young girl who haunts the halls of McCandless.

The Analysis: Throughout an archival search I was unable to find any evidence of the McCandless ghost or any other tragic events that may have caused residual energy at the university. However, I could easily be wrong or there could have been a previous employee that had worked at the university and died elsewhere. McCandless hall is currently used as an auditorium and a facility for musical staff, offices, etc. Built in 1912 the building has been on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the distinction of music hall does point to there being little to no validity to this particular claim to be missing. There would be no need for a house-mother if the building was not used as a residential facility (Athens State University : Campus Buildings)

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