The Alabama legislature established Troy State Normal School on February 26, 1887. Its first president was Joseph Macon Dill. It was renamed Troy State Normal College in 1893. The name was changed again, this time to Troy State Teachers College, in 1929, and it was moved to its present site. Enrollment more than doubled after World War II as a result of the influx of returning veterans whose education was funded by the GI Bill. To accommodate the new students, the college expanded its curriculum to include majors such as business. The word “Teachers” was removed from the college’s name. Troy State College began offering extension courses on military bases in the 1950s. Several branch campuses were established over the next few years in Dothan, Phenix City, and Montgomery. The name was changed once again in 1967 to Troy State University after Gov. Lurleen Wallace removed the institution from control of the State Board of Education. The word “State” was removed from the name in 1982 to reflect the university’s global mission. Today, Troy University is known for the high quality of its educational programs and for its haunted dormitories.
One of the university’s oldest buildings is Shackelford Hall. Built in 1930, it was named after Edward M. Shackelford, who served as president from 1899 to 1936. The newly renovated suite dormitory is home to male and female students. The third floor of Shackelford is said to be haunted by a student named Sally Shack who hanged herself in the stairwell following her fiancé’s death in one of the world wars. Sally’s ghost is still an active presence in the lives of the residents, many of whom claim to have seen the melancholy spirit roaming the hallway on the third floor. Student Hunter Gregg told me about an incident that allegedly occurred in a room on the third floor of Shackelford Hall in the 1990s. “The two girls who were living there came back to their room after classes, and they saw two ink pens levitating off the table. They were so scared that they moved out of the room the next day.”
Another haunted dormitory is Pace Hall. Named after Matthew Downer Pace, it was constructed in 1947 and renovated in 1998 as a Living and Learning Center for U.S. and international students. Pace Hall is known for its poltergeist activity. Sharrnique Mceachern, a broadcast journalism major from Ashville, said that one day in the early 1990s, two members of Phi Mu sorority, which was housed in the dorm at the time, were using a Ouija board to communicate with the poltergeist. No one knows for certain whether or not the spirts moved the planchette, but the next day, the students were astounded by the sight of paperclips floating near the windowsill. Suddenly, a pen and pencil flew across the room and hit the wall. That night, they were also frightened by a tapping sound coming from the outside of their window. The distraught students reported the paranormal incidents to the housing office.
One of the haunted fraternity houses on campus is the Phi Kappa Phi house. A member reported that one night, he was sleeping in his bedroom when he was awakened by the sensation that he was being forcibly held down. He had trouble breathing as well. After several seconds, he was finally able to move. He was covered with sweat as a result of his ordeal. This condition, known within the para- normal community, has been called “old hag syndrome.” Many people experiencing pressure on their chest have attributed their discomfort to a sexual demon, an incubus or succubus. However, some psychologists refer to this phenomenon as “sleep paralysis,” which sometimes occurs when people sleep on their backs. In an article published in the October 30, 2014, edition of Troy’s student newspaper, the Tropolitan, the author interviewed an alumnus, Matt Holmes, who told of a weird experience he had in McCartha Hall. One night, he and a friend decided to explore the building, which had assumed an aura of mystery because very few people were ever seen exiting. They had not gone far before something strange began happening. “Hallways seemed to change on us—sometimes slightly, like a picture or vent seemed to be in a different place than before, but sometimes even doors and whole corridors seemed to not be there when we would pass them again.” Holmes admitted at the end of his story that he and his friend might have let their imaginations get the best of them.
Troy University might not be Alabama’s most haunted campus, but the student body would argue that its ghosts are definitely some of the most active in the state’s higher-education system.
Haunted Alabama written by Alan Brown – Copyright © 2021 by Alan Brown