Renowned folklorist Charles Edwin Price described the ETSU campus as “absolutely infested with ghosts, ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.” The eve of the school’s centennial seems like an opportune time to review some spectral stars.
Gilbreath Hall is home to ETSU’s most famous ghost, the spirit of the man the building is named for: Sidney Gilbreath, the school’s first president. Uncle Sid is know as a helpful — even green — spirit, turning off lights in empty rooms and closing windows when storms approach. He’s been described as a “fussy custodian,” taking special care of his namesake property.
Carol Fox leads a class called ETSU 101, which includes a ghost walk. “I had a student who worked in the computer lab in Gilbreath Hall and would often have trouble with the elevators or lights when he was leaving late at night,” Fox said. “He would say, ‘I’m just a student, sir, and I’m supposed to be here.’ Then things would work.”
Burleson Hall reportedly also shares its name with a long-term ethereal resident. Acclaimed English professor and Shakespeare scholar Christine Burleson, in the throes of a crippling illness, committed suicide in 1967. That much is fact. Legend says that Professor Burleson’s spirit remains attached to the building named for her father, animating a large photograph of him with her large beautiful eyes, which follow visitors as they pass by on the second floor.