Paranormal Activity

The Hauntings of USC's Campus


Photo by Mason Haselden

Remember your first step on University of South Carolina’s campus? You walked onto the Historic Horseshoe and thought, “this is home.” Little did you know, USC is home to some permanent residents as well. Founded in 1801, USC is one of the oldest public universities in the nation. Its age makes its story rich with ghastly history, proving there’s more to Halloween in Columbia than costume parties and trick or treating. 

Our very first spirit is somewhat well known around campus, partly because a building on the Horseshoe is named after him. James Rion McKissick, one of the universities most beloved presidents and alumni, guided the University through the trying times of the Great Depression and World War Two. With the help of President Roosevelt's New Deal, McKissick expanded campus by adding a new library as well five dormitories for incoming students. In his last years, he writes:

“I would rather be president of the University than hold any other position in this state and country…  If I could live my life over, I would give much more of it to Carolina.”

It seems as if he couldn’t give more of his life to Carolina, he gave his death. McKissick died of sudden heart attack while serving as president on Sept. 3, 1944. Students were so fond of Mr. McKissick, that they petitioned for his body to be buried on the Horseshoe – that petition was successful. The ghost of McKissick has been seen walking around the McKissick Museum, especially the dome, as if he was looking through the books.

Photo by Mason Haselden

The next spirit is said to be haunting the DeSaussure College building on the Horseshoe. The woman is said to be the daughter of Dr. Black, a military man killed by a group of soldiers on campus during the Civil War. The daughter avenged her father’s murder by poisoning the group of soldiers who killed him. After accidentally drinking some of the poisoned wine herself, she died along with her victims. Her spirit and those of the soldiers now reside in the building for eternity. 

Dr. Black's avenging daughter is not the only DeSaussure College ghost. 

There is said to be a woman who was raped and killed by Union soldiers on campus during the Civil War. These days, she is said to be roaming the residence halls and tormenting students from the Northern States, as if to torment those who harmed her in her lifetime. Carpetbaggers beware.

Photo by Mason Haselden

You might notice something eerily creepy about the Longstreet Theatre. When civil war broke out in 1863, Confederate soldiers gained control of Longstreet and converted it into a 300-bed hospital despite the protests of university leaders. What is now the “Green Room” on the first floor was used as the morgue, where piles of dead soldiers were left to rot – and eventually haunt. 

Grab some friends, some ghostbuster gear and go find these ghosts. If you’re not feeling that adventurous but are still intrigued by Columbia’s ghostly past, local ghost tours will leave you feeling spooky.