Penn State is home to a myriad of buildings — each with their own unique architecture and layout.
With a history spanning over 150 years, the classrooms, offices and labs range from premodern to prehistoric.
This wide variety of architecture hosts mostly students and staff during the day, but the buildings are usually quite empty during the later hours of the afternoon and evening, creating an atmosphere that can be most eerie and uncanny.
Without further ado, here are some of the spots on campus that are sure to give you the chills.
Within the heart of Penn State’s Pattee and Paterno Library rests the infamous stacks floors.
A seemingly endless number of bookshelves line each level, making your location in the library nearly indistinguishable from the floors above and below.
The light sources range from the warm and sun-filled windows looking out over Curtin Road, to the spotty and dim fluorescent lights at the opposite end of the floor.
Some rows of shelves lack any lighting at all, sitting in darkness.
The low-hanging ceiling gives me a feeling of claustrophobia and causes me to duck my head down in some areas — even at my height of 5-foot-6.
The cherry on top of this unnerving sundae is the ambience. Almost no sound can be heard from the world outside, and it’s quiet enough to hear somebody typing from the other end of the floor.
Couple this eerie atmosphere with the fact that a student was murdered within the rows of stacks in 1969, and you have a setting straight out of a horror film.
9/10 on the Spooky Meter.
As mentioned earlier, Penn State is home to buildings that come from across decades and decades of American history.
One such building is the Osmond Lab, which finished construction in 1949 and was heavily renovated in 1974.
This mish-mosh of design makes the lab feel as though it was plucked straight from the middle of the 20th century, with no room better reflecting this sentiment than the men’s bathroom on the first floor.
Upon entering, guests are immediately greeted by an unnaturally high wall meant to keep hallway pedestrians from seeing the stalls.
Hidden from the entrance view and opposite the stalls are a trio of urinals, placed in descending order from most to least ridiculously designed.
Together the three urinals — Larry, Curly and Moe, as I have taken to calling them — stand proudly and without dividers between them, inviting guests to do their business without an iota of privacy.
Regardless of how scary the lack of privacy is, the dated installments make for an uncanny feeling when entering the restroom at night.
I would liken it to being in a bad dream. The setting is a location that is both familiar and alien at once — and everything just feels a little bit… off.
5/10 on the Spooky Meter.
3rd floor of the HUB-Robeson Center
Wikipedia defines liminal space as “the physical spaces between one destination and the next.”
In more recent years, posting photos of liminal spaces online has given birth to a small subculture.
This community focuses on highlighting the creepiness of old or abandoned buildings when left empty or shown without any context.
One such liminal space hovers ominously over the tens of hundreds of students within the HUB.
Connecting the lower and first floor of the HUB are the two staircases visible to all guests: one across from McAlister’s Deli and the other across from the HUB lawn entrance.
However, two more staircases exist that lead directly up to the second and third floor. One is next to the HUB Starbucks while the other is tucked between Panda Express and Sbarro.
Upon discovery of these two extra floors, one is teleported to a deathly silent world that starkly contrasts the lively center below, with all sounds of chatter and music seemingly evaporating as one climbs the staircase up.
The quietest of these floors all the way at the top contains a long and empty hallway that stretches almost its entire length.
With its linoleum tile flooring and a line of overhead fluorescent lights, this hallway seems like it belongs on the first floor of an elementary school.
The interminably long and windowless walk along this corridor, coupled with its lack of sound and life, creates an odd experience of walking forward while seemingly gaining no distance.
By the end of what is merely a short walk, I feel the urge to run the last few feet to escape this hypnotic feeling.
7/10 on the Spooky Meter.
As a freshman during spring 2021, I spent much of my free time wandering across campus and memorizing the layout of all the buildings.
Due to the cold weather and smaller population of students on campus, it wasn’t common to see many pedestrians sharing the sidewalk.
One area in particular that seemed devoid of life was North Halls.
Merely a block down, East Halls would still buzz with life, with students constantly filing through Findlay Commons and commuting between classes.
No such activity was evident at North Halls. In fact, I had almost no clue I was in a housing area until after I had left and read the entrance sign.
Throughout the current semester, I have visited the North Halls area at night to meet up with some of my friends.
During each of those visits I am repeatedly given the creeps by the darkness and emptiness of what is supposed to be the living space of many students.
North may be a good place to live if you want a good study area, but its atmosphere feels closer to that of an abandoned city than a college dorm for student life.
6/10 on the Spooky Meter.