Meet Henry, the alleged ghost of Shryock Auditorium

We take you inside the 100-year-old auditorium

On campus, students are learning, and ghosts might be lurking. Consequently, creepy stories fill SIU’s Shryock Auditorium.

The building, built in 1918, is at the center of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

“At the time it would’ve been the biggest, most impressive auditorium south of St. Louis,” Aaron Lisec said, a research specialist for the university.

The auditorium was dedicated by Ex-President William Howard Taft, who gave the first lecture in the theatre. He used the visit to clearly, forcefully and patriotically discuss the “Great World War.”

Since then, it’s been used to host chapel, pep rallies, symphonies, comedians and more.

It was also the site of a tragedy.

Rewind to April 1935, University President Henry Shryock was at his desk inside the auditorium.

He was getting ready to come down to the chapel, where students were assembling when he had a heart attack.

Shryock subsequently died at his desk.

It was a shock to the student body to be sure.

“He was a pretty beloved president,” Lisec said. “… Everybody talked about how compassionate he was, what a friend to students he was, what a great sense of humor he had.”

Is Shryock haunted?

There is a chance, some say, President Shryock’s spirit still fills the auditorium today.

“If there is a ghost it would make some sense, the fact that he was president of the university and he died at his desk,” Lisec said.

Further, there are plenty of stories about a “ghost light” inside the building.

In fact, some folks say they’ve seen someone standing on stage like a “Phantom of the Opera” kind of thing.

But it could be nothing…

“I keep coming back to the fact though that (President Shryock) had a great sense of humor so I think he might find it amusing that he’s haunting Shryock,” Shryock.

In truth, we’d like to hear what these walls would say if they could talk.


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