Haunted Mills: Lisser Hall

Mills College is well known for being home to a wide array of ghosts, perhaps due to its long history: 160 years is a lot of time for scary stories to collect along with the campus’s history. The ghostly tradition at Mills is mainly oral, with the local ghosts and their stories being passed down from one generation of students to another; the college even has an annual ghost tour to give new students a taste of the supernatural.

Although the campus boasts several haunted locations, the most well-known is Lisser Hall, the campus theater—although the identity of the incumbent ghost is a matter of some debate. The ghost is generally agreed to be either Louis Lisser, the music teacher for whom the building was named, or Susan Mills herself, one of the college co-founders. According to one legend, the two used to use Lisser Hall as a stage for their arguments about the fate of the college—and the stage still echoes with the sound of their angry pacing. Unlike some of the other campus ghosts, this one is invisible: no one ever actually seen the spirit, adding the mystery surrounding its identity. Its presence is only noticeable as the sound of footsteps pacing across the stage but, when one goes looking for the source, there is only the empty theater and a haunting but nonthreatening feeling that one should be elsewhere.

Historically, the stage in Lisser Hall was used to lay out the bodies of recently deceased people for viewing before the burial; Susan Mills was one such person, leading to the belief that her spirit simply never moved on. She is also one of the few people who were buried on campus who was buried on campus, in the small Mills cemetery; but according to school legend, her spirit never made it there and instead lingered in the place where her corpse was viewed by her colleagues and students, and where she spent so much time and emotion arguing for the future of her school.

Cite this Page:

Savannah Stelzer, “Haunted Mills: Lisser Hall,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/38.
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