Washington Hall, one of the University of Notre Dame’s greatest architectural treasures is built high and wide with breathtaking sculpture and design. Dedicated to the arts and the theatre, it is a home to many students. Suddenly, a dark cloud falls over the beautiful building, ripping away it’s once innocent cover. Unexplained footsteps make their way onto the roof, doors unexplainably slam shut with no one on either side. This is the only the beginning, soon the whole world will know the story of “The Gipper” and most, will wish they hadn’t.
The year was 1920 when George Gipp made his way into the university history books, being the first Irish football player to make an All-American football team. He was known as one of the country’s finest football talents at halfback, setting records from leading his team in rushing and passing that still stand today. He was an all-star rookie, who was rising fast in the football world. Until tragedy struck, and his football career ended just as fast as it had begun.
It was late on the night of December 14, 1920, when Gipp found himself locked out of his building after missing curfew. Feeling the exhaustion from the day, he decided to take a nap on the steps leading up the hall, assuming someone would eventually open the doors. It was then that he had made the deadliest mistake of his life. Yet, there was no way he could have known he was going to catch pneumonia from that cold December night, no way to know that that one choice would end his life at the young age of 25.
It was first around Christmas of 1920, shortly after his death, that people had started reporting sightings of a ghostly figure. Campus newspapers reported, “residents of Washington Hall began to be bothered by night-time visits from a ghost who… blew a French horn with much violence...When they went fearfully to investigate he would be gone.” These were not the only sightings. Throughout the next years, the theatre in the hall was known to have many ghostly occurrences. Props began jumping off the shelves, strange music would be playing with no one around, even phantom footsteps were heard on the stage of the vacant auditorium. The Gipper, however, did not stop there. Still seemingly lurking the halls in 1925-26, a student, Pio Montenegro, claimed to see a ghostly figure described as the ghost of George Gipp riding a white horse through the halls and out onto the steps.
Some say George Gipp’s ghost is stuck in the building, not able to escape to the afterlife due to unfulfilled responsibility. Other say he chooses to stay, wreaking havoc on those who never unlocked the doors, leaving him out in the harsh cold. Few, choose to remember him as the amazing football player who ended his career with a record-breaking 2,341 rushing yards. Most, however, will remember George Gipp as ‘The Gipper’, the ghost who roams Washington Hall.
Sources: “Ghosts Lurk in Football Stadiums with Haunted Histories.” Sports Planning Guide, Publisher Name Sports Planning Guide, 26 Oct. 2016, sportsplanningguide.com/ghosts-lurk-in-football-stadiums-with-haunted-histories/. “Gipp, Ghosts Haunt Campus Lore // The Observer.” The Observer, The Observer, 30 Nov. -1, ndsmcobserver.com/2006/10/gipp-ghosts-haunt-campus-lore/. Woodyard, Eric. “Spirit of Flint Athlete, 'The Gipper,' Haunts Notre Dame Campus.” MLive.com, MLive.com, 30 Oct. 2014, www.mlive.com/sports/flint/index.ssf/2014/10/spirit_of_flint_athlete_haunts.html. “The Ghost of Washington Hall.” University of Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame, 2018, www3.nd.edu/~washhall/ghost.html. Zoey's article was published in Issue 15 of Inspiring Teens Magazine.