Having lived in this area, I would say there’s something off about the surrounding area of College Ave. This street is known mostly as being home to several Fraternity Houses and Pots bar, as well as having magnificent views of Ruby Diamond Auditorium and Wescott Fountain from the bottom of the hill. A conversation with a true crime junkie, or a simple google search, will tell you that College Avenue was also home to Ted Bundy following his prison escape. If you walk up College Avenue and take a right on W. Jefferson, you’ll be using the same route Bundy used the night he committed the Chi Omega Murders. I choose to believe the sense of malaise I get from walking that on that road to be my own anxious mind and not the ghost of Ted Bundy (he’s not cool enough to get to be a ghost,) however paranormal you find this area to be, it’s always an eerie thought to have.
Elizabeth Budd-Graham’s Grave
Elizabeth Budd-Graham, or “Bessie,” was a woman who lived in Tallahassee until her death in 1887. She was 23 years old, the wife of John Alexander Graham, and the mother of two children. Her grave in the Old City Cemetery is known as being one of most immaculate gravesites in the area, as well as for being the grave belonging to the “double dead witch.” The rumor of Bessie practicing witchcraft began decades after her death, and there is no evidence from her life suggesting she was a witch at all. The rumor presents itself from few clues, such as her epitaph quoting a passage Edgar Allen Poe’s Lenore and her grave facing west. I have visited her grave a few times and I will say this: she is a ghost witch. Each time I visited her grave, there were a bunch of little knick-knacks left as offerings. Things like crystals, jewelry, tarot cards. A friend of mine went to her grave, left her a crystal, and asked for a specific physical object as a joke. My friend then turned around and saw the object she requested five feet away. My friend went back and asked for another favor in exchange for a ring and got that too. My friend believes, so you should respectfully pay Bessie a visit.
The Keen Building at FSU
Find your local physics major and ask them if they’ve seen the light on at the top floor of the Keen Building. Chances are, they will say yes. The light is always on. The story attached to the Keen building is one of Dr. Keen, who the building was named after. The circulating myth is that Dr. Keen performed lobotomies on homeless people and first year students on the top floor to continue a study he was doing, which FSU cut funding to.
“During my orientation way back when, they took us on a ghost tour and told us that the top floor of the Keen Building was haunted and we could verify this because the light at the top will never go off,” FSU student, Erica Iglesias states, “The ghost is of a professor who used to perform lobotomies on first year students and got away with it. They say when the school found out what he was up to, he locked himself at the top of Keen, and thus roams the top floor waiting for his next victims.” Upon visiting the top floor, Iglesias reported the area felt “weird and off,” and that regardless of which hour she walked by the building, the light would always be on.
As I write this section, thunder booms outside of my apartment. It sets a spooky setting for this next location. There’s no evidence supporting this story, other than student experiences. The legend goes that decades ago, a female student was sunbathing on the fourth floor of Cawthon Hall. It was a sunny, breezy day, but in a twisted bit of fate, the Tallahassee weather suddenly changed to a thunderous lightning storm. This unnamed, unfortunate woman banged and screamed on the doors and windows until she was suddenly struck by lightning, dying instantly. Students living on the fourth floor has since reported seeing the face of a screaming woman in their windows and sensing the feeling of someone standing next to them when they were alone. As such, the ghost of Cawthon Hall is a popular FSU tale.
I don’t know how to feel about this story. On one hand, it’s too perfect of a spooky story. A sudden unexpected, tragic death of a student that FSU has no public record of existing, that no one can name as anything other than the Screaming Sally of Cawthon Hall poses several weak spots that indicate this story is without basis. You should also consider that the story changes from person to person, with some adding the cruel aspect of the girl having been locked outside as a prank by her friends who soon forgot about leaving her out there. Sometimes, the story is entirely different, stating she died alone in room 408 and her body wasn’t discovered for days.
Here are the facts: Despite a relatively recent renovation, Cawthon does have a sundeck which students are not allowed to go on, but they do have access to the roof and are allowed to go up there. The building was originally built in 1949, so there are decades of time in which terrible things such as deaths could have occurred here.
Here are the stories: RAs and students in an online student documentary report returning to their room to find their shower turned on. Others report the screaming window woman. Others report the “ghostly presence.” My only experience with Cawthon Hall was occasionally visiting once or twice, and always thinking the elevator felt “weird,” but it’s been so long I think I can attribute it to social anxiety from being a dorm I didn’t live in.
There’s a documentary online if you’d like more information, but you could just request to live there if you’re brave enough to find out.
Wescott Fountain at FSU
Originally Gallows Hill, a site where people were sentenced to death by hanging, Wescott fountain sits in front of Ruby Diamond Auditorium collecting dust on its ghost rumors. I don’t think this location is haunted. I’m a paranormal junkie, I lived next to a cemetery with a witch in it because I considered it a real estate perk. I visited Robert the Doll in Key West—and that doll tried to kill me. Twice. I love spooky stories and the only travel plans I’ve ever wanted to embark on are ones to the most haunted places in America.
Wescott Fountain is not haunted, if it is, it’s not haunted by any spirits I would consider malevolent. I’ve never once felt anything less than happiness while near that fountain. People take graduation photos there! If anyone is there, they’re not making it obvious, and I think they’re simply happy to see a fountain replaced the hanging tree.
Dodd Hall at FSU
While I’m 10000% sure I stepped into an alternate dimension in this building, I cannot say for sure I entered a hallway with no doors. “Realistically,” I walked through the hallway too quickly and probably just “didn’t notice the doors,” even though everything in me remembers my increasing panic in the moment as I continued to look for my TA’s office DOOR and didn’t find ANY doors. No other student I’ve asked about Dodd Hall has mentioned the hallway, though some students have their own “outlandish” stories. Other students have no stories at all. While there’s not much “data” to be compiled to decide if a place is haunted or not, I think I’d need to see more similarity in the stories that come from Dodd Hall to not attribute it to Finals Week Mass Hysteria, even though I myself believe something is seriously wrong with that building.
Hi! I'm Tina! I was born in Miami, FL, and raised in the Florida Keys before attending Florida State University in 2016. I graduate at the end of July with a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media and a combined minor in English and Film; yay! I've been writing since I was a small child and have worked to hone my craft since then as well. My favorite book in Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and you can often find me cuddling my dog and playing silly iPhone games in my spare time.