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Campus haunts: The alleged ghosts that roam Brown’s campus

Ghost tour founder tells haunted histories of Annmary Brown Memorial, University Hall

This Halloween, The Herald explored the histories of supposed ghost hauntings across College Hill.

When British troops arrived at Newport during the Revolutionary War in December 1776, the Rhode Island Legislature took control of University Hall to use as barracks and a hospital for American troops, The Herald previously reported

James Manning, the University’s first president, said the building fell into disarray during this time, according to Encyclopedia Brunonia

It is said that the spirits of some soldiers never left. Courtney Edge-Mattos, owner and co-founder of Providence Ghost Tour, is no stranger to ghosts that supposedly haunt University Hall. 


During her ghost tours, Edge-Mattos takes special note of the variety of energies present in the building, contrasting the prevalent “joys of academia” at University Hall to the devastation the Revolutionary War wrought. 

“This was a time of a lot of bravery in our country, but also a time of terror,” she said. “If you ended up at University Hall, your fighting wasn’t going super well because you were terribly injured or ill.” 

This energy lingers to this day, Edge-Mattos explained. “We get recordings of the staff that have heard the sounds of footsteps moving through the building,” even after they confirmed they were alone, she said.

“We spoke with a woman who was a grant writer … she went in for a weekend because she was up against a deadline,” she said. “She (unlocked) her office, and she (freaked) because there’s a man in (her) office.” 

“He was looking very fervently at the surface of the desk like he was reading paperwork,” Edge-Mattos added. “When she screamed, his head snapped up. And then he vanished before her very eyes.” 

It was only after calming down that the woman realized that the man was dressed in traditional colonial attire, Edge-Mattos said.

Edge-Mattos has utilized various tools to detect spirits, including electromagnetic frequency readers, thermal imaging cameras and a “spirit box,” which she said “allows spirits to talk to you through radio frequencies.”

One time, outside of University Hall, Edge-Mattos spoke with a spirit and asked how he died. “We got this rasping male voice: ‘I bled out,’” she recalled. 

“That's heartbreaking … that somebody is still stuck with the pain of that,” she said.

Located between Keeney and Wriston Quadrangle, the Annmary Brown Memorial is the second University stop on the Providence Ghost Tour. The mausoleum was erected by General Rush Christopher Hawkins in honor of his late wife, Annmary Brown. Both of them are now buried there.


While it is currently closed to the public, the memorial “contains an art gallery and is home to curated collections and other artifacts and artwork gleaned through Annmary Brown’s European travels,” according to a University press release.

“Annmary Brown and her husband … were so deeply in love from everything that we can find,” Edge-Mattos told The Herald. “They had this beautiful relationship, and were very much committed to one another.”

“So, finding that their ghosts remain committed to one another, it's so hopeful … lovely and marvelous,” she added.

But their love does not mean that they welcome all visitors. “Before his death, Hawkins had threatened that if anyone disturbed his wife’s final resting place, they would regret it,” according to a University press release. In the 1960s and ’70s, several items were stolen from the memorial, according to the University and Edge-Mattos.

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After these artifacts were stolen, “staff saw full-body specters of her pacing and fretting,” Edge-Mattos told the Providence Journal in 2019. “There was a terrible atmosphere in the building at that time.”

The Herald could not independently confirm any of these stories.

Although many people may be afraid of ghosts, Edge-Mattos brings a different perspective. “A lot of people think about ghosts as being these dour, scary, angry beings,” she said. But throughout her investigations, she encounters “a lot of love.”

“We find a lot of energetic buoyancy in this world and that's just really revitalizing to me.”

Ryan Doherty

Ryan Doherty is a Section Editor covering faculty, higher education and science & research. He is a sophomore concentrating in chemistry and economics who likes to partially complete crosswords in his free time.

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