Ghastly creatures haunting UNI

NI Archives

There are a few patrons of UNI’s campus that are a bit more “ghoulish” than most. 

Ghost Zelda and Augie have been haunting UNI and calling the campus home for many, many years. 

Zelda has taken a leading role, as Strayer-Wood Theatre’s premiere poltergeist and Augie has been living with the ladies of Lawther Hall for many years than many of the current residents have been born.

The exact date that either ghost first appeared is hard to determine.

As early as 1963, Zelda was described in the student newspaper, The College Eye, as “the spirit of the theatre that is neither seen nor heard.”

Reports of Augie began appearing in the student newspapers around 1977 when he reportedly changed the lettering on a bulletin board outside one room to say, “Augie will return to haunt Bordeaux House.” 

Before beginning her days of fright in Strayer-Wood Theatre, Zelda was said to live in the basement of the Old Auditorium, now known as Lang Hall, which was then the home of college dramatic performances. 

However, in 1978, Strayer-Wood Theatre opened for productions and it is believed that Zelda moved with the Theatre Department to the new surroundings. 

“The legend of Zelda haunting the theatre is an old one,” Jascenna Haislet-Carlson, Theatre UNI marketing director and publicist said. “I don’t have any Zelda stories, but students do. We’re working on an alumni newsletter and asking alumni about their encounters with Zelda, so hopefully we’ll get some good stories.”

Tales of Zelda’s antics abound. Many theatre students and faculty say that she appears when all the lights are shut off. According to some, Zelda also yells insults, open and closes, plays the piano and sounds like a baby crying.

The theatre department has given “Zelda Awards” to those who have had strange experiences in the theatre. 

As legend states, during World War II, UNI became a training camp for Navy WAVES and Lawther served as an infirmary for wounded soldiers. Augie is believed to be a World War II soldier who died in the building when it was an infirmary. 

“I’ve heard that he was in love with one of the nurses that treated him,” Joe Haeffel, first-year Lawther Hall Coordinator, said. 

In year’s past, residents of Lawther have celebrated Augie’s presence by creating haunted houses in the attic. Unfortunately, due to fire restrictions, the houses have ceased to exist. 

At first, it was thought that Augie lived in the building of the attic, but now many believe that he wanders throughout the entire building.

“I have not had any encounters with Augie,” Haeffel said, “but people blame Augie on lots of strange things that happen in the building. A light switch will be on or a tv will be on when they thought they had turned it off and they’ll say “it must be Augie the ghost.” 

Haeffel said that the hall keeps a record of residents the friendly ghosts. 

According to university archives, in 1992, a resident assistant claimed to have seen a man in a striped outfit walking down the hall while the building was closed. She said the man vanished into the women’s restroom. When the resident assistant went into the restroom