One of the fraternity houses at the University of Oregon is very haunted. What happens in the house is kept pretty quiet because some people just wouldn’t understand, some flat out wouldn’t believe, and also to avoid social stigma. Every brother knows about the ghost(s) and many have seen or felt them, as well as a few other friends and outsiders. Over the years that I lived there while in school, I heard enough stories about it before seeing it for myself that I am able to piece together this background.
The house is colonial, with white pillars out front, and looks like Tara from Gone With The Wind. It was built between 1910 and 1920. I know this because there is an aerial picture in the foyer of a local bar from around that time that shows the entire campus. The house is included in the shot, while the rest of the street is vacant or under construction. It appears that it was initially a residence, probably for a professor and his family. In the 1940’s to 1960’s it was a house for a sorority that either dwindled away or went bankrupt. In the 70’s and 80’s it held several different fraternities, before being rented by ours, and we still reside there today. The house was converted from a residence into what it is today probably during this time. It has 20+ rooms and 4 levels. The main floor is primarily a living room, library, dining hall, etc. The second floor is made up of individual rooms. The third floor houses the sleeping porch, TV room, and two large individual rooms. The basement has bars and a dance floor and another private room. The third floor and basement are where the weird stuff happens.
There are two ghosts in the house, the ‘thing’ in the basement, and the man in the brown suit on the third floor. There are usually hardly any people on these floors, which is why I think so many odd things have been noticed there.
First of all, I never believed in this stuff until I experienced it for myself. As a freshman first moving in, I heard the stories: empty beer cans in the basement crashing off a wall with no one down there; people asking who the old guy was wandering the third floor hall; that it was freezing cold in the basement boiler room; etc. A friend from high school came to visit once. I was giving her a tour of the place and she freaked out as soon as we hit the basement stairwell. She wouldn’t go down there. She felt it. She refused to go further. A lot of girls would never go down there unless the dance floor was fired up and there were people there already. I never saw anything happen until I became an older member and moved into the suite in the basement.
See, I thought all the stuff mentioned above was just people’s drunken/drugged imaginations. I did not believe in ghosts! I took the basement room because it was quiet down there, it stayed relatively cool in the hot weather, and it had a private bathroom. It was summer term 2006, and I was taking summer school. Only about ten of us were staying there at the time. After about a week, things started to happen. I’d be down in my room, watching TV or reading something, and all the hair would suddenly stand up on the back of my neck. I felt like I was being watched from all directions. It was creepy as hell. Then, almost as instantly as it started, it would just stop, and the room would return to normal.
Sometimes, at any given moment during the day, I could hear footsteps on the cement dance floor down the hall, or doors creaking, and no else was down there but me! Sometimes you’d get a chill, the air around you would become freezing then return to normal a second later. I told my buddy Brad about what was going on. He thought I was stupid. One afternoon we were downstairs playing video games and we paused the game so he could use the bathroom, and so I could go outside to have a smoke. Brad came up two minutes later, asked for a smoke, and was quiet. “What’s your deal?” I asked. He just looked at me and said, “Your friend popped in for a visit.” He was almost white. “Did you see it?” I asked. “No” was all he said. He didn’t talk about it for a long time after that and rarely stopped by while I was still living there. I think it shook his religious beliefs a bit.
I got ‘visited’ about twice a week or so that summer. Sometimes it was scary and I would leave. Most of the time it wasn’t. I guess I got used to it. I’ve seen movies before like Poltergeist and Amityville Horror and I was always the one that said, “Why don’t these stupid people just move!” Why didn’t I move? I could have had a room upstairs. Most of them were empty. I guess I preferred the ghost to the noise of drunken 18-year-olds running through the halls. Bizarre, huh? Anyway, I got visited twice a week or so. There was one night I got really scared and spent the night on Brent’s couch. No questions asked, he understood.
Sometimes when it came I would simply tell it to go away, and it usually did. That summer I had to work early mornings, which meant I got up at 4 a.m. If it came and I had to sleep, I would say, “I’m tired, I have to get up early, this is not a good time.” It would just go away.
I stayed in that room through the coming fall term. Hell, it was quiet and, like I said before, I was burnt out on the noise of drunken freshmen running through the halls at 3 a.m. Things continued as normal. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and if it was there, I’d ask it to leave and that was that. Other times it would creep in and I would ignore it and continue whatever I was doing. When my terms were up (we were required to physically live in the house for six terms) I moved out to an apartment like most of the older guys did. I even said goodbye to it. It was kind of sad, almost like I was moving out on a roommate.
I mentioned my summer to the next person who inherited the room and he didn’t believe me. However, about two months later, he was more than willing to hear all of my stories. The thing visited him too. He claimed he actually saw it once. He said it was a distinct black shape that drifted across the room and disappeared.
What was it? I honestly don’t know. There were rumors that a girl had hanged herself in our basement when it was a sorority house in the 1950’s, but I think that’s a legend made up to explain the existence of the ‘thing.’ I have a different theory on what it is. You see, we practice our initiation rituals in that basement. I’m pretty sure every chapter that rented the mansion did theirs down there too. I know our ritual is based on Christianity, and I’m pretty sure others were too. However, I think that somewhere along the way, at some point in time, something was ‘invited’ into the house. It’s not necessarily evil. I don’t even know for sure if it is (or was) human. It mostly just likes to watch. It’s moody. Sometimes it’s simply just there, and other times it goes out of its way to let you know it’s there. It would occasionally throw stuff and open or close doors elsewhere in the basement (although it never flung anything in my room or slammed my door). I think it just liked to pop in and see what I was up to sometimes. Maybe it liked to watch TV? Maybe it was just curious. It’s still there today. Although I’ve been out of school for almost three years, I still know people there, and every now and then you hear about something that happened to someone in the basement.
As to the man on the third floor, I never saw him, but my girlfriend did. Just not on the third floor. See, the Man in the Brown Suit, as he’s called, was always seen on the third floor, wandering the hallway. Over the years I guess people would see him dart around the corner and disappear. One night my friend Kevin, for example, was on the sleeping porch with the door open. He swears that he was trying to go to sleep when he saw the man walking toward him from down the hall. He said the guy simply vanished into thin air before he hit the doorway. Another frat brother, Chuck, would practice his guitar in the third floor TV room and saw him pass by the door several times. He said the first time he actually ran after the guy (out of sheer disbelief of what he was seeing) only to find an empty hall around the corner. The ghost is described as wearing an all-brown suit with a brown hat, kind of like a reporter from the 1950’s. I never had an ‘experience’ with him until after graduation, when I came back for a visit.
It was June I think. I had finally graduated the previous winter term and moved back home. My girlfriend Trish and I had driven down for the weekend to party and see some old friends – she had gone there too. I had never told her about anything that happened in that house; I didn’t want her to think I was crazy or weird. So we drove down and stayed there that weekend. I mean, hey, the place was half empty and I was too cheap for a hotel. On Saturday night we were hanging out by the pool drinking with some folks. Trish’s allergies were bugging her pretty badly and she went to bed early. I stayed outside ‘til about 2 a.m. or so with my friends Brian and Tim. I went up to the second floor room we were staying in to pass out, and Trish woke up and asked if there was anything to eat. I went back down to the kitchen and found a box of frozen corndogs. I nuked a couple and went back upstairs. I walked into the room and Trish (half asleep) got mad. “Baby, I’m in my nightclothes!” she said. I was like, “So? It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.” She grumbled and ate her corndog then went back to sleep.
The next morning on the drive back to Portland she said “Who was that with you last night!” “When?” I asked. “When you brought the corndog! I was in my bra and panties.” “There was no one with me!” I said. I was telling the truth – Brian, Tim, and I were the only ones still up, and they had stayed out by the pool. She kept insisting there was someone else. “Who, Brian? Tim?” I asked. “No! Some guy!” “What did he look like?” “He was wearing an old funny hat and standing right behind you!….” My heart stopped. I couldn’t hear the rest of what she was saying. I think I turned white. She knew nothing about the ghost, I’m sure of it. I then told her the story and we had a long, quiet ride back home. She swears what she saw was real. She had only had one beer that night and she had no allergy pills with her.
The weird thing is that the brown man has only been seen on the third floor. She saw him on the second. Maybe because there’s always so much noise and people on the second floor, no one noticed him there before. I don’t know.
I’m pretty sure that the brown man and the thing in the basement are two separate entities. I think that if the basement thing was in the room with me and Trish that night, I would have felt my hair stand up. I always felt my hair stand up when it came around before. I also don’t know a whole lot about the house itself. I know what I mentioned above, but I don’t know who built it or exactly how many frats or sororities had rented, etc. I know the ghosts are real. I’m a believer now. I think about them every now and then. I wonder who or what they are, and why there seem to be stuck inside that house.