Spooky sights (and sightings) in Webster Groves

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This Halloween, don’t lament if you’re too old to walk around trick-or-treating. While getting candy and telling jokes in costume can be a fond childhood memory, there’s still one aspect we can all still enjoy: getting scared in your own neighborhood.

A spider, cat, Oogie Boogie and Grogu standing in front of 233 S. Elm Ave. Photo by Craig Reynolds.

Just on the Webster University home campus alone, there are quite a few spots rumored to have some scares in store. Established in 1915, the former Loretto College and Webster College has over a hundred years of history. With all that history comes stories of ghosts and ghouls haunting certain areas. 

Author Patrick Dorsey collected stories from the university for his 2015 book, “Haunted Webster Groves.” Through his search for ghosts in Webster Groves, he found two places on Webster’s campus with a long history of being haunted: the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts and Loretto Hall. 

The Loretto-Hilton Center is the home of multiple theater companies, including the St. Louis Repertory Theatre and the Sargent Conservatory. When the cast and crew aren’t in the theater, a few characters seem to remain. 

In Dorsey’s book, he outlines the stories of two ghosts that remain in the Loretto-Hilton Center. Both are former workers at the theater, a construction worker and electrician. The construction worker helped build the theater in the ‘60s, falling to his death on the job. His spirit is said to have remained there ever since, with reports of thumps and shaking doors when no one is around.

Patrick Dorsey’s “Haunted Webster Groves” pictured with pumpkins. The book features stories of hauntings and legends all over Webster Groves, including Webster University. Photo by Alexandria Darmody.

The electrician passed away in the ‘80s during a run of “Tartuffe,” taking a nap on the catwalk and never waking up. In the book, Dorsey outlines reports of students being caught by the ghost when they slip on the catwalk or lights being adjusted (for the better) during shows. 

In Loretto Hall, however, ghosts can supposedly be seen. Dorsey interviewed former students and employees about their experiences in the building both during its time as a dorm, as well as an office.

The ghost that haunts Loretto Hall may be an old employee just like at the Loretto-Hilton Center—though this time, it’s rumored to be a nun pregnant with a priest’s child. Dorsey explains that legends differ whether the nun jumped from the fourth-floor window of the dorm or if she was pushed. Nevertheless, students and faculty for years have reported seeing her roaming the halls and vanishing into walls. When she’s not seen, lights have been known to flicker and doors slam by themselves. 

Off campus, spooky sights can be found, too. If you want to explore Webster Groves a bit—or are maybe too afraid of ghosts—plenty of homes in the area provide fun Halloween displays. 

On a walk over to Schnucks in Webster Groves, make sure to peer across the street at the scene from a horror movie set up in the yard of 8623 Big Bend Blvd. The home boasts an array of zombies and ghouls scattered throughout the yard and in windows, with more decorations being added as the years go by.

Handmade zombies in the front yard of 8623 Big Bend Blvd. popping out of the ground. Photo by Craig Reynolds.

The owner explains that he has a hobby of making props for a haunted house, which translates well for decorating his own. Each of the props in the yard is homemade, adding an extra level of character to the already impressive display. 

“I just think it’s fun,” he said. “We have kids . . . it’s fun for them, too.”

Ghouls peeking out of the windows of 8623 Big Bend Blvd. Photo by Craig Reynolds.

For less gore and scenes from more family-friendly movies, respite can be found at 233 S. Elm Ave. The yard contains multiple inflatables, a collection of which has been growing since the owners moved into the home in 2016. You might notice that Hermoine occasionally seems to be taking a nap, which the owner said the kids explain happens because she’s “carried the books and movies for so long.” The lore, along with the collection, makes the sight fun for passersby. The owner says he wants “just a smile” from those who see the display.

Harry Potter, Voldemort and Hermione Granger inflatables lit up in the front yard of 233 S. Elm Ave. Photo by Craig Reynolds.

“They can certainly take pictures if they want,” he said. “But just a smile and [to] enjoy it as much as we do.” 

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Alexandria Darmody (she/they) is the editor-in-chief of the Journal, and a fifth-year journalism major and FTVP minor. She enjoys digital art, photography and Gillian Flynn. In her free time, she makes collages from old magazines and collects stickers to decorate surfaces. She's also a writer for the Webster-Kirkwood Times and involved on the university's speech and debate team.