Quirky campus: Truths or myths?

Sullivan and Burnam Halls, Mozart's grave and Keen Johnson are all notable locations on campus known for odd legends at EKU.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to properly reflect that Burnam Hall is the oldest dorm on campus and that Burnam and Sullivan Halls were not built on the foundations of Civil War hospitals.


Eastern Kentucky University’s historic campus has many buildings that date back to the early 20th century (or even before that, in the case of the University Building). Any campus with that much history is bound to have a few odd legends attached to its location, and EKU is no exception. 

The most well known campus legend is that of the Blue Lady, said to haunt the Pearl Buchanan Theatre. The Blue Lady was said to be an actress that performed in a play during the early years of the school. She then either died by hanging herself in the back of the theatre or was hit by a train, depending on who you ask. Either way, many students over the years have reported seeing her spirit in the theatre. 

Some students even claim to have seen a ghostly blue light atop the Keen Johnson tower at night that is attributed to this spirit. If you walk by the Keene Johnson building late at night, you may have a chance encounter with our most famous spirit. 

A lesser-known entity is said to haunt the eighth floor of Clay Hall. Many residents have told stories over the years about a shadowy figure seen sitting on the top of the bunk beds, specifically on the eighth floor. No one is quite sure when these encounters began, but residents still talk about seeing this spectre to this day. 

Burnam Hall is the oldest standing dorm on campus. Burnam's most famous ghost is known as the Shadow Man. He can be seen in the dorm’s basement laundry room, where residents say they see him standing out of the corner of their eye. The general description of this entity is that of an unnaturally tall and thin shadow figure who usually stands completely still just behind the person. 

Burnam Hall is also rumored to have a sub-basement sealed below the current basement, which would perhaps allow access to the old tunnels connecting Burnam and Sullivan. There are even some rumors of students accessing the sub-basement and posting about it on old internet forums, although there has never been any evidence of this. 

Across the Eastern Bypass, Keene Hall has a ghost story of its own. As the story goes, a football player died in the dorm sometime in the ‘80s. Ever since, residents of the dorm have reported loud footsteps, slamming doors and loud music coming from rooms. When a complaint is made, oftentimes the room where the noise is coming from is found to be empty. These events have been attributed to the ghost of the football player hanging around his old dorm. 

On a lighter note, another quirk about campus can be found in the Ravine. Behind the amphitheater, you can find a small marker in the ground that marks the grave of the unofficial campus mascot from 1947-1964. Mozart the dog was a stray that wandered onto campus one day and found a home among the residents. Named for his apparent love of music, Mozart often sat in on classes in the music building and anywhere else music could be heard playing. He always knew when class time was over and would bark at professors who would take too long to end class. 

Many former students also talk about times when he slept in their dorms on cold nights. When Mozart died, he was honored with a stone plaque to mark his grave, and that spot has since become a campus landmark.

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