Meet the Ghosts of Rockford College

Clark Arts Center

Out of all of the buildings at Rockford College, the Clark Arts Center, which contains both Cheek and Maddox theaters, is thought to be the most haunted. It is generally believed to be haunted by a former Theater Arts professor named Knox Fowler, who designed the building in 1971 and died of cancer shortly thereafter. Many of the flickering lights and strange noises are blamed on his ghost. Ancient frescos depicting figures in various stages of celebration, often playing instruments, line the hall outside Maddox Theatre. Their cherubic faces, it has been said, change expressions and even watch the audience as the guests filter in for a performance.

Maddox Theater

Maddox Theatre is the largest of the two in Clark Arts Center. Behind the stage, in the dressing rooms, students have reported that lights flicker with no probable cause. In the prop room, a bell supposedly rings on its own. The explanation behind the strange behavior of the bell was that an actress, who was very sick, used it to call for help, but she died several days later. Another auditory phenomenon described by students involved a tapping sound that has been heard after the lights were turned off.

Cheek Theater

Cheek Theatre, named after Mary Ashby Cheek, is a much smaller theater located on the ground floor opposite of Maddox. The walls are painted black, giving it a gloomy appearance that compliments its resident ghost. Before some performances, theater students say they have seen a shadowy figure. They assert the figure is the ghost of a former music teacher who died in a car accident.

Read all about haunted Rockford College in the latest issue of the Legends and Lore of Illinois. Don’t miss the latest adventure of The Fallen or our interview with Brittney-Jade Colangelo of the popular horror blog Day of the Woman!

Adams Arch

Adams Arch formerly served as the doorway to Adams Hall, which was built in 1891. After Rockford College moved to its current location in 1964, a generous family thought at least part of the old campus should be preserved. As a remnant of the original campus along the Rock River, the arch is said to contain within it a little more of the past than its donors intended. On certain evenings, when the air is very still, visitors have reported hearing the laughter of young women in its vicinity.

Blanche Walker Burpee Center

The Burpee Center is not the kind of place one would usually associate with phantoms and other denizens of the afterlife. It is a modern, well-lit building, but some students and storytellers maintain that the basement formerly held a radio station that was the scene of a man’s suicide. No one is quite clear about who this man was, whether a student or employee, but individuals who find themselves in the building after hours report hearing doors slamming shut, footsteps, and a man’s disembodied voice in the basement.

McGaw Hall

According to legend, an epileptic girl was staying in McGaw Hall over Thanksgiving break. Despite being alone, she decided to take a bath. She suffered a seizure in one of the bathtubs and hit her head and drowned because no one was around to help. A cheerleading squad stayed on the sixth floor for four days in 2004, and the young women posted some of their experiences on a website. The cheerleaders described hearing a girl singing in the shower and a man’s voice even though there were no men in the building. Several young women sleeping in Room 603 said they heard a chair slide across the floor in the room directly above, but no one was staying there and that room was locked.

Read all about Rockford College and the adventures of our favorite paranormal investigators, The Fallen, only in the new issue of the Legends and Lore of Illinois!


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