Halloween is Friday, and that means all kinds of ghosts, goblins and princesses will be roaming around the University of Oklahoma looking for candy. But trick or treaters may want to steer clear of Ellison Hall on the west side of campus, where ghostly phenomena have become a year-round occurrence.
Jeff Provine spends his days teaching at the University of Oklahoma, but for nearly five years now, he’s given ghost tours on the university’s campus. It all started when he traveled abroad.
“I went with some of my friends on their hometown ghost tours, which it was England and a thousand years old, and everybody’s got lots of dead people,” Provine joked.
“I knew one ghost story about Norman, which was the Ellison Hall little boy roller skating, and we’ll get back to him, but when I got back and started doing a little research on it, there’s tons of stories,” he said.
Provine guides amateur ghost hunters through the campus and points out where organ-playing ghouls, old cooks and downright scary spirits hang out. But Provine’s tour isn’t all about the supernatural. It also includes quite a bit of history.
“This building was our first infirmary on campus. It was built in 1928, and it was originally named Hygeia Hall, after the Greek goddess of health,” he said. “[It] doesn't roll off the tongue very well, so when he retired in 1932, we renamed it after our first dean of student health, Dr. Gayfree Ellison,” he said.
Angela Startz works on the third floor of Ellison. She’s been there for 10 years, and she has researched what purpose the building served before it was converted to an office space.
“It was a functioning hospital. There was actually a operating suite here, there was an isolation ward, there were two wards, one on the third floor, one of the first floor. There was a clinic. It was fully functioning,” she said.
Startz went to school at OU and always heard rumors of ghosts haunting Ellison. But recently, she’s been helping out paranormal investigators from the Oklahoma Paranormal Association first hand.
“They've been able to identify that there's a little boy that hangs out at the north end of the hall, and he's accompanied by a charge nurse,” Startz said. “She was somebody that we were not familiar with prior to this, but everybody's heard the story about the little boy.”
“We named him Robert, but he goes by Bobby. We've seen his shadow multiple times,” said Tanya Mccoy, cofounder of the Oklahoma Paranormal Association. She says Bobby’s is one of the most well-known ghosts at OU. She and OPA’s Dee Parks says she constantly hears stories.
“People have reported hearing roller skates, marbles being played, stuff like that, and that's mainly him,” Parks said.
“His story happens in early 1930s,” said Jeff Provine.
“He's out here on Elm roller-skating. Some versions say an asthma attack, others versions said he was hit by a car. Either way, he was not doing well. This was the nearest hospital, so they took him in and up to the third floor.”
But he didn’t make it.
Bobby, a friendly ghost
Angela Startz says she’s never seen any ghostly activity while working in Ellison, but she has heard things before.
“One night I was working late, and I'm on the south end of the hallway, but there was some kind of noise at the north end of the hallway, and when I looked out, there was no one there,” she said.
Startz says it might just be her motherly intuition, but she thinks the boy is just looking for his parents.
Jeff Provine says there are dozens of ghosts that roam older buildings on campus, but Bobby’s always been a favorite. He says really no reason to be afraid.
“Most of our ghosts are really nice and eager, like the little boy roller skating around. He’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Tanya McCoy and Dee Parks from the Oklahoma Paranormal Association say they’ve been asked not to remove the ghosts from the buildings, so it seems there will always be a few spooky Sooners floating around.
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