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Editorial: Our famous campus myths, rumors and tales

gimghoul castle
Gimghoul Castle is the headquarters of the Order of Gimghoul, a secret collegiate society in Chapel Hill. Signs posted outside of the castle warn people to stay off of the property on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.

Attending the first public university in the nation has its perks (besides the lead-ridden pipes). For example, admission to UNC comes with access to over 200 years of campus lore. From haunted buildings – yes, "buildings" is plural – to zany characters.

Come along with the Editorial Board as we share our favorite myths, legends and rumors surrounding UNC.

The Legend of Gimghoul

Sitting on the far east side of campus, Gimghoul Castle stands tall. 

Built in the early 1920s, the building is said to be home to one of campus’ most secret societies, the Order of Gimghoul. This organization inspired the legend of Peter Dromgoole, a student who is said to have mysteriously disappeared from UNC's campus in 1833. 

While the legend is eerie, the organization is probably even more so. More recent archival records are closed off to the public, but by looking at older records, one begins to recognize the names of deceased members: Wilson, Kenan, Carmichael, Ehringhaus, Craige. The list goes on. 

Some of the university’s most prominent alumni were part of this elite, secret society. Well, here’s where this tale takes a sharp turn. While this society seems to be reminiscent of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, their quest for honor is tainted by an unsightly symbol seen in photos, icons and even their original emblem: 

The devil. 

The personification of sin himself shows up repeatedly throughout photos and paintings of the society. What does this mean? Could the secrets lie inside Gimghoul Castle?

(The Editorial Board does not condone the invasion of private property — no matter how cool it is — and advises its readers to visit the castle with caution.)

Drainage tunnels … or a world waiting to be explored?

You know the answer to this one, but we'll indulge anyway. 

Massive drainage tunnels, meant to collect water from storms, are a sight to see. But in 2013, the University had to caution curious students not to explore them as they are, in fact, sewage and drainage facilities. Could they have been hiding something? 

UNC Reddit users – to no one’s surprise – suggested yes. One user even suggested climbing through them, starting your route at Ehringhaus and ending up on Franklin Street. 

While the Editorial Board does not endorse crawling through underground tunnels, we love the enthusiasm.

Nuclear safe zone

The brutalist design of Greenlaw Hall, built in 1970, inspires a few head scratches and eyebrow raises from us. Its blunt edges and concrete slab sides, coupled with unexplainably thin windows, begs the question of why we would need an absolute unit of a building amongst the otherwise beautiful buildings that grace our campus. 

Our theory was that it was built to survive nuclear war, but the true safe haven for your Cold War-era anxieties lies in Phillips Hall. A bunker designed to house 20-30 people for up to four weeks was installed in 1959, but not just to protect its human inhabitants. This bunker was home to a UNIVAC 1105 computer – one of only three in existence – that calculated data for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Old Well Site

There are rumors (facts?) that the current Old Well site is not its original. 

In the 1990s, students on campus were given permission to dig up random campus locations for their archeology class. Legend has it, they proposed a certain location that was said to possess the former remnants of the original Old Well. 

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What is the University hiding? Why did they change the Old Well site? Does your drink from the old well on the First Day of Classes actually guarantee you a 4.0 GPA, or have you been drinking from the wrong location this entire time?

The (Haunted) Carolina Inn 

Dr. William Jacocks supposedly haunts room 256. Jacocks lived in room 252, which is now room 256, for 17 years. He moved into the room after retiring from his career in medicine. 

Visitors have reported several incidents while staying in this room, including being locked out of the suite, returning to messy bath mats and sheets that were previously tidy and suddenly feeling cold when standing in certain parts of the room. Guests have also reported fixtures in the room randomly breaking, including one reported incident of the handles on the faucet breaking without intervention, causing water to spray everywhere. 

Whether they be true or not, the legend of these campus rumors lives on — for one more year, at least.