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Marci Sischo | 09/19/2023 | Fall, Holidays

Haunted Corvallis

Corvallis is home to a handful of haunted locations, including - according to local legend - Oregon State University and a few other local schools, a cemetery, and more.

Oregon State University is the most well-known haunted location in Corvallis, with ghosts in residence at Community Hall, Sackett Hall, and Waldo Hall. Cheldelin Middle School is supposedly home to the ghost of a janitor, and Crescent Valley High School's theater department apparently boasts a cranky poltergeist. In other parts of town, a warlock haunts Crystal Lake Masonic Cemetery, and the Whiteside Theatre is home to the spirit of Lillian McElroy Taylor, a vaudeville star who haunted the organ in the theater.

Waldo Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, by Zatilafrah, CC BY-SA 3.0Waldo Hall at Oregon State University (Zatilafrah, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Oregon State University features multiple spooks and ghost stories. On the fourth floor of Waldo Hall you might spot the shade of Ida Kidder, OSU's first librarian.

Ida Kidder began working at the Oregon State Library at OSU, then called Oregon Agricultural College, in 1908. She inventoried, organized, and modernized the college's entire book collection and helped get a new library building built, among other accomplishments. Waldo Hall used to be the widow's hall, and Ida Kidder lived there until her death in 1920.

Apparently she never left. Folks who claim to have encountered her ghost describe feelings of an unseen presence in the room with them, a door slamming closed for no reason, the sounds of furniture being moved, and the sound of someone walking in high heels across the floor.

Meanwhile, in Community Hall, pesky spirits apparently love to hide the janitorial supplies and like to play music when they've run out of things to hide. Stories claim you can sometimes hear a woman singing, accompanied by a piano, in vacant rooms.

Sackett Hall is home to what are easily the scariest ghost stories at Oregon State. In 1974, Ted Bundy abducted student Kathy Parks from Oregon State University's Memorial Union cafeteria. According to urban legend, Parks was killed in the basement of Sackett Hall and her body was hidden somewhere in the underground tunnels beneath OSU. (This isn't true, of course. Bundy confessed to taking Parks over 250 miles away to Taylor Mountain before murdering her, and some of her remains were eventually found there.)

Parks isn't the only ghost haunting Sackett Hall, though. A second ghost, Becky, is supposedly the spirit of a 1950s student who was murdered by a drunken frat boy. She has a penchant for standing over the foot of residents' beds and setting the occasional fire.

Whiteside Theatre, Stage, Corvallis, OregonWhiteside Theatre Stage, by Reed Lane Photography

The Whiteside Theatre opened as a vaudeville theatre in 1922 and was home to Lillian McElroy Taylor, a famous vaudeville performer. She played the organ and was well-known for her beauty and talent. She was fired in 1931 when the theater managers were trying to save money. Not long after her firing, and with her health failing, she discovered her husband was straying. Lillian shot him dead and then turned the gun on herself.

Lillian was apparently particularly fond of the Whiteside's organ, and her hauntings began when the organ was brought back into the theatre. Witnesses say you can hear her footsteps, and she will sometimes turn lights off and on and open and close doors.

Lillian isn't the only spectre in residence at the Whiteside. You may also spot Charles Whiteside, who is theatre founders George and Sam Whiteside's younger brother. Charles has been spotted in the theatre seating on occasion.

Barracks and parade ground at Camp Adair, Oregon, 1942, Salem Public LibraryBarracks and parade ground at Camp Adair, Oregon, 1942 (Salem Public Library)

While the Whiteside Theatre's and Oregon State University's hauntings are Corvallis' most infamous ghosts, these aren't the only spooky spots in town.

At Cheldelin Middle School you may sometimes hear jangling keys, whistling, and sweeping from the ghost of a janitor who died there from a heart attack. Crescent Valley High School's theatre department, meanwhile, hosts a cold and unwelcoming "presence," the hallmark of a spirit there who also likes to move furniture and make noises in the scaffolding and costumes.

Crystal Lake Masonic Cemetery is home to the ghost of a warlock who was killed for getting just a little bit too friendly with many of the town's wives, and the Hanson Country Inn, one of our most popular B&Bs, is purportedly haunted as well, although the details are pretty thin on the ground.

Camp Adair is rumored to be haunted, too. Camp Adair opened in 1942 and closed in 1946, and in between those times housed 40,000 people - enough to make it the second largest city in Oregon at the time, had it ever been incorporated. It was also used as a POW camp in WWII, holding Italian and German prisoners of war. Stories of Camp Adair's haunting include the sensation of a menacing presence staring at you from darkened buildings.

For more details on these and other ghost stories around Corvallis, check out these resources.

Featured Photo: Community Hall at Oregon State University (Zatilafrah, CC BY-SA 3.0). Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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