Castleton University: Ellis Hall

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A Female spirit makes herself known in startling ways; some are terrifying .

Ellis Hall may bring out the mischievous side of male spirits who may be here too.




Ellis Hall is described by some residents as being a “Home away from home.” It can hold nearly 145 students. The first floor has the common rooms: lobby, TV room and a large living room. Stairs go up to the three floors of rooms. A long corridor runs the length of each floor with single and double rooms along each side. There is a common room in the middle where students can study. There is a sense of community in this layout, and it is easy to make long-lasting friends.

Each floor has designated male and female showers and bathrooms. The first floor of Ellis Hall is also home to a “gender-inclusive” floor, which includes “a designated gender-neutral bathroom.”

The Residence Hall web page explains: “We designate specific floors in several of our residence halls, which means you are able to select a roommate without regard to gender or gender identity. Gender-inclusive housing is an option for all students.”

The second floor is male-oriented and the third floor is female-oriented. Though it is the oldest dorm, with showers that take longer to heat up, and where the water pressure isn’t the best, Ellis Hall offers special bonuses to those who appreciate all the great advantages received by living there.



Ellis Hall was named after mover and shaker George Ellis, who made his fortune in the railroad business. The first residence hall for students here was Leavenworth Hall, built in 1926, located very near to where Ellis Hall was built. But, in 1971, Leavenworth Hall was burned to the ground.

Ellis Hall was the second residence built at Castleton, in 1951, when the college was called Castleton Teacher’s College. It started out as an all female dormitory. Proper etiquette was observed. Women had to sign in and out of the residence hall. Men were not allowed in the women’s rooms unless they were helping to move the women in and out. Reputations were very important.

vermontMen and women were allowed to socialize in the lobby and living room, and outside porches. There was a curfew system then. All women had to be in the hall by 11:00 pm, Monday through Thursday, and by 2:00 AM, Friday and Saturday. In 1968, curfews were abolished except for first semester Castleton Freshmen.

Many great friendships that have lasted for years have been made here. Traditions made strong bonds. For example, when a young woman became engaged, a ceremony was performed in which a lit candle was passed around the circle of her friends in the dorm until the engaged one herself blew out the candle.

In 1977, an annex was added to Ellis Hall for sixteen male students, joining the one hundred women already living there. Over time, more men moved into Ellis Hall and it became truly co-ed.

In the mid-1990s, Ellis Hall became a Castleton College Freshman residence. Perhaps, it wasn’t such a great idea. It got the reputation for having “rambunctious residents” who played pranks, probably had panty raids, and tested the fire drill system frequently. Eventually, the mischief-making calmed down to a more normal, respectable level.

It was during this time that paranormal activity was noticed and folks started to have personal experiences, the kind of activity that didn’t provide hard evidence.



Living people who kill themselves sometimes find no peace in the afterlife. This is true in some College Residence Halls.

Some students enter college who are not ready for the pressure of academics, new relationships, etc. and if they are psychologically weak, this kind of pressure can push them over the edge.

Indiana University at Bloomington Read Residence Hall, IN (A female student threw herself down the stairs and broke her neck).

Central Washington University, WA (A female student hung herself in the attic of her dorm when she found out that her beloved was killed in war).

Leavenworth Hall at Castleton University, VT (Before it burned down, someone may have killed themselves. When their building burned down, their spirit may have moved into Ellis Hall when it became co-ed, because of the close proximity).

Ellis Hall at Castleton University, VT (A female student, known as “Penelope” by the living, is said to have killed herself in the second or third floor bathroom).


People who die unexpectedly sometimes aren’t ready to leave just yet, and try to continue on with their lives as a spirit.

O.K. Corral, AZ (Billy Clanton didn’t expect to be killed and returned soon afterwards in spirit form).

Red Buffalo Trading Company, AZ (Morgan Earp wasn’t expecting to be shot and similarly came back as a spirit).

USS The Sullivans, NY (The five Sullivan brothers didn’t expect to die all at once because they thought that if all served together on the same Navy ship, they would come through it).

Castleton University Ellis Hall, VT (When Leavenworth Hall burned to the ground, maybe not everyone got out. Perhaps this is why they didn’t rebuild this residence hall. Spirit who died there could have moved into Ellis Hall).

(Or perhaps some resident or residents died in a car wreck, or died in WW 2, The Korean War or Viet Nam conflict).

(Or, it could be spirits of young men who died here much earlier in the late 1800s, perhaps in the Civil War or Mexican War).


Spirits who are lonely sometimes get touchy-feely and alarm the living.

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, MA (The spirit known as “Jerusha” can’t resist living males).

Battery Carriage House Inn, SC (The spirit of a gentleman comforts and watches women closely).

Saint Francis Inn, FL (The spirit of a soldier kisses sleeping brides).

Ellis Hall, VT (A lonely female spirit in Ellis Hall got a little too close to a female resident in at least one case).


Changes in a structure can act like an environmental trigger, and draw spirits inside to visit, stay and be active once more.

Brumder Mansion, WI (When the bar was built in the basement theatre, certain spirits became more active there).

Cincinnati Music Hall, OH (When musical events began to be held here just after the hall opened, spirits would be seen arriving in the elevator and staying to enjoy the concert dressed in their finery).

The Alamodome, TX (After it opened for events, spirits connected to the land started to attend for free).

Ellis Hall, VT (Some spirits may have been attracted to Ellis Hall when it became an all Freshman resident dormitory because of all the tom-foolery, pranks and other rambunctious behavior).



The main spirit that likes Ellis Hall is said to be the female spirit, named “Penelope” according to the residents. On occasion this female spirit is inspired to make an appearance though.

“Stories told about what takes place inside the walls of Ellis Hall are hard to believe for most people, because most consist of what people hear, rather than what people see with their own two eyes.” On occasion this female spirit is inspired to make an appearance, though.

Some people think that other spirits may visit, or have taken up residence here as well. Some unofficial research was attempted by using the Ouija Board, which resulted in the discovery of perhaps two male spirits. (Using a Ouija Board isn’t recommended by, because any spirit nearby can come in through this open door. Some are not nice ones, but obviously the spirits who love Castleton University are well brought up gentleman, with great Castleton manners!)

I’m Here!

The Spirit named “Penelope” knows how to amuse herself, as do the other male spirits who may be here.

Footsteps are heard coming down the hallways of Ellis Hall when no one living is making them.

In the second floor bathroom, apparently, toilets, showers, and faucets have a mind of their own. “Toilets flush randomly and the shower and faucets can be heard running when no one is in there.”

Click… Click… Click

Penelope likes to tease the living, especially if it is a cute guy.

The second floor now is all male students. One of them, Higley, had a scary experience in the bathroom. He was alone when he heard the sound Click… Click… Click.

“’Hello?!’” he said, hoping for an answer. After a long dramatic pause, he heard it again. Click… Click… Click …”HELLO? IS SOMEBODY THERE?!”

“With no reply, Higley pulled up his pants in a panic, swung open the bathroom stall door and examined the room. To his surprise, he was alone.”

“I was in the bathroom carrying on with my business and I knew I was the only one in there. The next thing I know, I heard footsteps.

“‘Everyone knows that distinct clicking sound of high heels, my mother wore them every day to work so I know what they sound like and that’s what I heard. When I got out of the stall and saw nobody else in there, I panicked and got the hell out of there,’ he said.”

A RARE Appearance: Feeling Lonely?

Female resident Xapilak shares her story in the online article “The Hauntings of Ellis Hall.”

It was 4 a.m. and Xapilak was half-asleep in her bed.

“I heard the door open – but didn’t see a light. I open my eyes up and I saw this girl standing in front of the dressers, just standing there! I’m trying to talk but nothing would come out.”

“I thought for a second I was dreaming, so I turned to my side and all of sudden I felt an arm go over my body, I could feel someone laying right next to me. Again, I tried calling out to (roommate) Kayla, but I couldn’t say a word. After a couple of seconds it all stopped.”

Other Spirits: The Ouija Board Experience

Through the infamous Ouija Board, the students asked if a girl named Penelope killed herself in the bathroom. Some male spirits said that she didn’t.

Through the Ouija Board, these male spirits also introduced themselves, and told the participants that they had attended the school back in the late 1800’s. Someone from Ellis had later reported that they went and checked if the names were in the list of students that had been enrolled as students, and they were.

The source didn’t say what school, Castleton Medical School or Teacher’s Normal School.


Students have had personal experiences with the spirit Penelope, and other spirits here.

The student who ran the Ouija session checked if the names of the male spirits disclosed had been actual Castle students, and they were former students.



Possibly So! Spirits visit and reside in other Castleton University buildings, so it is very possible that a few also are attracted to Ellis Hall.

While no hard evidence has been caught, and some think at Castleton University that Ellis Hall is not haunted, but instead is just the active imaginations of students, residents still have “scary” personal experiences that have convinced them that spirits are here.

No one knows for sure if a woman named “Penelope” killed herself in the bathroom at Ellis Hall, but it is possible. Or, she could’ve killed herself somewhere else on campus or even at her home, and wanted to reside in her old school home, Ellis Hall. Perhaps she regrets her rash act, and longs to be alive again. She seeks attention and gets lonely too.

The male student resident, Higley, who reported his experience of hearing high heel sounds on the bathroom floor, also suggests that more than one spirit may be residing here. He thinks that too many weird things have happened to be the work of one spirit.

The information from the Ouija Board board has some merit, because the names of the two male spirits were actually listed on the Castleton University’s past student lists. Could these two male spirits be the same ones who gave their names to the Ghost Hunter, John Zaffis, during his investigation of The Old Chapel building? (See Old Chapel Story on haunted



314 South St
Castleton, VT 05735

Ellis Hall Dormitory is located off South Street, near the intersection of University Drive and Alumni Drive and South Street.

Ellis Hall is a convenient place for students to live as it is an easy walk or bike ride to the dining hall, and the rest of campus.




  • idsnews website –
    “The Woman in Black and other ghosts haunt IU’s campus,” BY CHRISTINE FERNANDO,Published Apr 19th, 2018 9:00 am
  • Subengal website
  • castletonspartan website:
    The Hauntings of Ellis Hall, October 17, 2016, 7:50 pm by Christian Procida
    Now & Then: Ellis Hall, April 9, 2019
  • Confessions of an Over-Worked Mom – confessionsofanover-workedmom website

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