HAUNTED school?! Exploring the ghost stories of UC Berkeley
Updated: Dec 24, 2021
Judging by the analytics on this blog's corresponding YouTube channel, most of my audience is beyond school age. Some of you might not remember your school days so fondly — in which case, this video might take you back in ways you don’t really want. But I think it’ll bSo that’s all I have for you today on the hauntings of UC Berkeley. This is a location I was originally going to feature in my video on haunted places in California, but decided to give it a full video of its own. If you’ve been to the campus or if you’re a student or former student there, I’d love to hear your ghostly experiences — if you have any.e light enough that you can still enjoy it without having flashbacks to things like hangovers and cramming for finals. Let’s talk about the hauntings of the University of California, Berkeley.
So first, a brief history. The University of California system was started all the way back in 1869. Today, the Berkeley campus is just one of 10 and boasts over 350 degree programs. One of the school’s most notable alumni was Rube Goldberg, the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist and inventor known for his cartoons of crazy contraptions. Goldberg received a degree in engineering from UC Berkeley back in 1904. Berkeley has also come to be known for its political protests* over the years, many of which have turned violent.
(*I know Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source, but it did have the most comprehensive list of all the political protests on Berkeley's campus.)
So let’s talk about some of the spots on campus that have reports of paranormal activity. The first is Sather Tower. Also known as the Campanile, this 307 foot bell tower was opened in 1914 and contains 61 bells that chime regularly.
Sather Tower is reportedly haunted by the ghost of John Patterson, a student who took his own life by jumping off the tower in 1961. Even after his death, he’s been spotted in and around the tower. There’s also a story that someone took a picture of the tower and a ghostly hand showed up in the picture. Was this John Patterson’s hand? I couldn’t find any confirmation that this story was true; I’m not sure if it was made up, or if it really happened and the records have just been lost to time.
The next haunted location is Barrington Hall. The building started out as a student housing co-op back in 1933. Lots of students who organized the political protests the school has become known for lived in this building. It had a reputation for being the home of rebels, students who wanted to push back against the status quo…as well as students who liked doing drugs and getting in fights.
Barrington closed in 1990 but, according to Weird California, is still in operation as private student housing. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of a student who fell off the roof, as well as another one who committed suicide in a stairwell. The latter ghost has been spotted in that stairwell as well as other parts of the building.
So now let’s talk about Hearst Gym. This building went up in 1927 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. But there is a dark side to its history.
As early as the 1950’s, archaeologists have unearthed Native American remains and artifacts in the area. Many of these early finds were turned over to the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, also on UC Berkeley’s campus. But thousands of Native American remains — up to 12,000 by some estimates — are buried under the pool of Hearst Gym. As of 2018, only about 1,000 of these sets of remains had been returned to Native tribes.
Needless to say, many Native Americans aren’t too happy about this, believing the remains belong to them and should be returned as soon as possible. If you do believe in ghosts, it’s easy to see why some of the people buried under this pool might be upset at their situation. Paranormal activity has been blamed on things like flickering lights, strange tapping noises and general feelings of unease in the gym.
I also found a vlog from a girl who goes to UC Berkeley — or at least did in 2018, when the video went up. The vlogger shows a little bit of footage inside the gym and talks a bit about the paranormal rumors. You can check it out here. (segment goes from 4:40 to 6:40)
The last major haunted location I want to talk about is the Faculty Club. This club was opened in 1902 “to promote mutual acquaintance and fellowship among officers of instruction and government of the University” (according to their website). Just like Hearst Gym, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The main ghost said to haunt the Faculty Club is that of Henry Morse Stephens, a literature professor who lived at the club until his death in 1919. At the time he died, Stephens was working on a couple of projects that, of course, went unfinished. Does he keep coming back to his old home after death in the hope of completing his work?
Stephens’s ghost has been spotted numerous times. Students claim they’ve seen him sitting in a chair in his old room, reciting poetry. A visiting professor staying in Stephens’s old room said he saw his ghost fly across the room and promptly disappear. A psychic visited in 2009 and went to the room to try and communicate with Stephens’s ghost. Instead, they claimed to reach a football player who died of pneumonia in the 1920’s. This ghost reportedly left the conversation with the psychic by saying “Go Bears!” So even if he died a tragic death, at least he has some school spirit!
There are a few other places on campus with more vague paranormal legends attached to them. Residence Hall Cloyne Court is supposedly haunted by a couple and their dog after the husband committed a murder/suicide. A few sources have mentioned Evans Hall and the numerous suicides there, but there aren’t really any specific stories. Memorial Stadium is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former football coach, and there are stories of a ghostly woman wandering campus at night calling out for her boyfriend, Pedro. To be fair, though, Pedro isn’t that uncommon of a name — so maybe they’re really looking for a living Pedro?
There’s one last thing I want to mention before we go. In my research, I found an article titled “Frat Row is Haunted by the Tiny Ghosts of Thousands of Goldfishes Swallowed by KA Pledges, and We Hired a Team of Paranormal Investigators to Prove it.” As the title suggests, the article goes on to detail the hauntings of fraternity row by goldfish who died after being swallowed by hopeful frat boys. This article was published on a website called The Free Peach, and a poke around the website reveals it’s pretty obviously satire. But as someone who has a bizarre fear of fish, the idea of them coming back to haunt me is, frankly, more terrifying than human ghosts.
I mean, seriously — just look at those eyes and tell me that’s not nightmare inducing.
So that’s all I have for you today on the hauntings of UC Berkeley. This is a location I was originally going to feature in my video on haunted places in California, but decided to give it a full video of its own. If you’ve been to the campus or if you’re a student or former student there, I’d love to hear your ghostly experiences — if you have any.