The Corner

Culture

Horrors in Hillsdale

In the Hillsdale Collegian, the student newspaper of Hillsdale College (which I attended), National Review’s John Miller — who directs the school’s journalism program — argues that the school needs a ghost.

Hillsdale College needs a ghost.

Every college should have one, and the best already do. A tradition says that King Charles I, beheaded in 1649, roams Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. The Harvard Gazette, an official publication of its university, has reported on spectral stories. The Syfy channel has produced “School Spirits,” a six-episode series about paranormal encounters at the University of Michigan and elsewhere.

Have you ever seen a ghost on our campus? Neither have I. We have many blessings here, but it seems we lack a good haunting.

In my years there, I never encountered definite evidence of a campus ghoul, though there were some creepy places. I agree with Miller, though: Hillsdale needs one. Ghost stories are fun in themselves, but also often tend to accrue to places with durable institutional history, which Hillsdale deserves a reputation for if it does not have one already.

For now, though, there are things with which the Hillsdale, Mich., area can make do. Six (!) years ago, as a Collegian staffer, I wrote about one of them: Church Road, a mysterious stretch of road a few miles from campus. I am still proud of my lead:

A car moves slowly along a single-track dirt road, its wheels treading cautiously. They alone break the silence. Against cloudy skies and a night already fallen, its headlights challenge a darkness that crushes from all sides. To the left, through a thicket of trees, stands a dilapidated barn with no visible means of access. To the right, old, broken furniture is scattered at the edge of a dense forest.

This is Church Road.

A few weeks ago, however, in a blow for Hillsdale’s ghost enthusiasts, the Hillsdale Revival Center was demolished. A creepy, abandoned church just a mile or so from campus, it had only a basement level. While still at Hillsdale, I saw a picture of it in the Collegian that made it seem to glow an eerie green; I then took to calling it Minas Morgul. Morgan Morrison, a current student, wrote an excellent account of the now-demolished mysterious structure, including this chilling detail:

Some students claim to have had “paranormal” experiences in the church, such as inexplicable organ music and a child’s cry. Nate Spieth, a resident of Hillsdale, claimed that he repeatedly saw a shadowy figure walking around the church “at all times of the night.”

These are not the only rumors of the paranormal around Hillsdale. But they’ll have to do for now. But don’t get me started on the Hillsdale UFO . . .

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