Florida Southern College, which now resides in Lakeland, is the oldest four year private college in the entire state.
First founded in 1883, this prestigious and private institution moved three times before settling into its present day location in 1922.
Many Floridians attend Southern for an outstanding education.
Updated 2/10/2020 – In the bright light of day, cheerful students rotate between their class schedules, slowly building a future for themselves.
But the college at night is a different story altogether.
Is There a Haunting in Lakeland?
It has been said that many staff members that work on the grounds at night have experienced paranormal activity.
The cleaning crew in particular has claimed to have experienced feeling a strange presence around them as they work their ways through the campus.
Many can’t quite articulate what they encountered…just an eerie, and sometimes terrifying, presence that felt altogether unfriendly.
A handful of students have heard these ghastly tales, but Lilly still lived with her parents her freshman year, and thus had no knowledge of what was happening at her school.
“It was years ago, but I can still remember being equal parts nervous and excited when I drove to Florida Southern on my first day,” Lilly said, struggling to hide her nostalgic smile.
You had no prior knowledge of the supposed haunting on campus?
Lilly shook her head vigorously.
“None whatsoever…there’s a lot of tales, that students miss when they don’t live in the dorms.
I had yet to make any friends at school, and my professors never spoke of it, of course.
Honestly, I think I spent the first month of school without uttering a single syllable to anyone besides my teachers.
“I felt so disconnected, you know?
So I decided to volunteer to work on set designs for the drama department,” she said.
“I spent countless hours at the Buckner Theatre, pretending that I was okay at painting backdrops and such,” she laughed.
“…But all it took was one horrible experience to change my memories about that place forever,” she quietly added, suddenly solemn.
Terror in the Buckner Theatre
What did you experience?
“I had been volunteering with the theatre group for about a month,” she said.
“I felt like it was very obvious to everyone else on crew that I had no prior experience with sets.
“A majority of the hours I worked were actually spent correcting mistakes I had made with various backdrops.
And that is precisely what I was doing when I had the most frightening experience of my life,” she whispered.
“It was late, and everyone else had gone home or back to their dorms.
I had just finished some detailing on a backdrop and I was the only one left at Buckner.
The painting was finally finished, and I grabbed the supplies to take to the backstage area.
“I had my arms full of paint cans and brushes when I walked off the stage.
As I passed by the curtains, the fabric seemed to move toward me in a swift lunge,” she said, with her hands out in the air.
“It scared the crap out of me, so I began to run towards backstage—whatever it took to put the supplies away and get out of there.
“Furniture props were scattered everywhere, and as I scurried past a chair, numerous hands seemed to reach out and grab at my ankles,” she said, teary eyed.
I fell and the paints went flying everywhere, but I was beyond caring at that point.
I honestly can’t even recall driving out of Lakeland that night…and I never went back to work with the drama department again.”
111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr
Lakeland, FL 33801