Mary Frances Hall - Clarke College

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Called Mary Fran by students, this hall was built in 1924 and is said to be haunted by school founder Mary Frances Clarke. Students have experienced unexplained footsteps in the hall and an uneasy feeling of being watched, and they have seen a shrouded apparition near the chapel. In other reports, the fourth floor, used for storage, is haunted, and there is a ghostly nun who once hanged herself who bleeds on the floor. Students also have reported an etching on the window that reads “Help Me.” It is said that the paranormal activity decreases proportionately as more students occupy the dorm.

Also, reports say Mary Benedict Hall, built in 1965, is the site of spiritual activity. It’s said to be haunted by ghosts of former students and the founding sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Students say books and tickets have been tossed from shelves, a shrouded figure appears in the hall on the 3rd floor (west wing) and water runs in the nearby bathroom in the middle of night. To boot, there have been unexplained footsteps in the tunnel connecting the Mary Benedict and Mary Josita halls.

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Geographic Information

Clarke Dr.
Dubuque, Iowa
United States

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42.51034395542177, -90.69122743605476
Dubuque County, Iowa
Nearest Towns:
Dubuque, IA (1.5 mi.)
East Dubuque, IL (2.8 mi.)
Sageville, IA (3.1 mi.)
Asbury, IA (3.1 mi.)
Sandy Hook, WI (4.7 mi.)
Durango, IA (5.5 mi.)
Kieler, WI (6.7 mi.)
Centralia, IA (7.9 mi.)
Sherrill, IA (8.0 mi.)
Menominee, IL (8.2 mi.)


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Comments (4)

  1. I lived in Mary Ben, 3rd floor, west wing, next to an unoccupied room. Sometimes at night, my roommate and I would hear the sink in that room running by itself, or would hear things falling on the floor. We even had my friend, who was a RA on that floor, check the room to make sure no one was in there, and it was always empty.

    • Carley:

      I am a teacher with Dubuque Community School District. My students are currently studying Mysteries of Dubuque. Their job is to be an investigative reporter, reporting on these mysteries. They are videotaping the locations and providing facts for their audience. Do you think we could get a tour of this building? Do you know who I would talk to about it?

      Any help would be appreciated!


  2. As a former student of the Clarke,

    most of the “activities” were over active imaginations and or others trying to “fit in” – or other students playing tricks on each other. In fact, I still think it was the nuns living on campus getting back at the students in the dorms! why? because they could/can

    in all, old buildings creek, tweek, and pipes drip and toilets flush…
    I lived on campus for 4 years during the school year, stayed for two summers, and was in the dorms during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks for Basketball. No experiences of any paranormal activities.

    I do admit, the scariest times where during winter breaks… being in the various areas reported (or the rest of campus for that matter) by yourself with no others around… does give its own freaky feeling…

  3. When I attended Clarke in the early ’80’s, I had a dorm room right next to the “haunted” chapel. My room even had a door that connected to it, always locked. I never saw or heard anything unusual, but many of the other students who lived on that floor claimed all kinds of visions. Back then, the TV rooms were on the top floor and we spent a lot of time up there. Again, I never experienced anything in the least paranormal, but virtually everyone else who spent any time at all on the top floor reported seeing “the nun” and/or a phantom priest, seeing blood on the floor, feeling cold spots, etc. Maybe I’m too much of a skeptic. Also, many of the experiences seemed to a happen over the weekends, when a lot of people were partying. I partied, but did not (and do not) drink. To me, the basement of the old library (years before the fire, btw) was way more creepy.

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Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.