Friday, June 11, 2010


On May 15, 1928, fire swept the Woodlawn Hall womens' dormitory at Wittenberg College, killing Hilda Sipes, 20, of Shelby, Ohio, according to a dispatch from the Associated Press.

Other women were injured jumping from windows early that Tuesday morning, the campus newspaper, The Torch, reported two days later.

Over the years, the tragedy contributed to ghost stories about Woodlawn Hall.

Ms. Sipes died in a lavatory across from her room, No. 11.

Firefighters located her body, clad in a nightgown, in a bathroom "stretched flat on the floor between the bathtub and the wall," said Fire Captain Ed Garrity of the Central Engine House, quoted by the Springfield Daily News.

The fire was discovered by Lilly Myers, house mother for the 20 residents, at about 2 a.m., according to The Torch.

The Associated Press identified three of the injured students as Alice Olde of Detroit, Helen McClain of Troy, Ohio, and Marie Schneider of Indianapolis.

The AP also reported: "More of the girls might have been trapped in bed had not most of them remained awake longer than usual to listen to a midnight serenade of a campus fraternity."

The AP dispatch was published in the May 16, 1928 edition of the Hartford Courant newspaper of Hartford, Connecticut. The headline of the story on page 6 of the newspaper read: "Co-Ed Killed in Dormitory Fire in Ohio."

The AP reporter identified the dormitory as "Woodland Hall."