University of Texas Haunted Scottish Rite Dormitory: Dorm Lore Rises From an Elevator Shaft

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Few people admit to actually ever seeing a ghost at the Scottish Rite Dormitory, but some University of Texas students swear by the evidence.

"Sometimes lights will start flickering for no reason or we'll get back to the dorm and find our belongings in a different place than we left them," says Amanda Chavira, a junior who has lived at the off-campus women's dorm in Austin for three years. "When that happens, we usually blame it on the ghost."

The apparition in question, legend has it, belongs to a former resident who threw herself down one of the building's elevator shafts when her boyfriend died in World War II.

VIDEO: Some students at the Univ. of Texas say a spirit roams the halls. Play
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While dormitory employees say the tale is pure fiction, some of the residents believe the ghost of the young woman still haunts the halls, Chavira says.

Scottish Rite Dormitory was built in 1922 to house freemasons' daughters and granddaughters while they were attending the university. As one might imagine, an 88-year-old colonial mansion has more than one ghostly tale to offer.

Melissa Howell, the building's program director, has her doubts but is willing to concede that strange things have happened.

As a former resident who graduated from the university in 2004, Howell recounted the tale of one particular photograph that refused to stay put.

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One part of the building displays the photographs of women who have been administrators there over the years.

"There was one woman who had hated having her picture taken and never wanted her picture up," Howell says. "Our administrator at the time put the picture up of the woman -- who had long been deceased -- but her picture kept falling off the wall."

It seems that mysterious things occurred all that week: Housekeepers heard noises coming from the apparently empty storage room; the fire alarm unexpectedly sounded in the middle of the night; and the building's heater wouldn't turn off.

The house administrator jokingly told the woman's photograph, "'You're freaking us out and you need to stop,'" Howell says.

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Eventually, things returned to normal and the photo never fell off the wall again.

Still, Howell has heard accounts from maintenance workers who say they've heard coughing in empty rooms or seen the elevator moving from floor to floor of the building when everyone is away on holiday breaks.

Such tales, not surprisingly, make perfect fodder for Halloween season, student after student, year after year.