Founded in 1851, Coe College is a private, four-year, liberal arts college in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This ghost story is about a young freshman woman from Strawberry Point, Iowa named Helen Roberts, who died in Voorhees Hall.
Voorhees Hall is one of the oldest and most admired buildings on Coe’s campus. It was built due to the generosity of Ralph and Elizabeth Voorhees in 1914. It was a state-of-the-art dormitory for women, with single and double rooms, as well as two apartments, guest suites, a full kitchen, a dining hall and even a swimming pool in the basement.
Also located in the residence hall, on the third floor on the east side of the building, was an infirmary. This infirmary was used to treat students who had become ill during the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918. Helen Roberts was one of those students. She passed away in the infirmary on October 19th, 1918. She is now said to haunt the corridors of Voorhees hall in an attempt to live out the college years that her early death robbed from her.
After the young girl’s death, Helen’s parents donated a grandfather clock to the college in her memory. It was originally housed in Voorhees Hall and has since been moved around to other female dorms on campus. It currently resides at Stuart Hall, a place where classes are held, as well as the headquarters for academic departments.
It’s said that Helen’s ghost actually lives within the clock itself. The legend goes that she leaves the clock at night to roam the halls, and when the clock was still in her old dorm, she would leave the clock late at night to play the piano in the dorm’s lobby. Or, she would travel upstairs to her old dorm room.
There have been reports of Helen’s ghost appearing as a full apparition by dorm room beds, slamming doors and even pulling the covers off of sleeping students.
In the 1960s, Helen's memorial clock began to do strange things. The time was often wrong, and it would chime at unexpected times. Some have reported that the clock's hands often stopped at 2:53, the time that Helen died. Many attempts were made to fix the clock, but it eventually stopped working altogether.
Although the clock now resides in Stuart Hall rather than the women’s dorm, Helen’s ghostly activities have continued, although not in Voorhees Hall. People began reporting ghostly occurrences in Stuart Hall, the new home of the clock.
In one particularly chilling incident, two security officers were crossing campus in an underground tunnel that connects the campus buildings when they heard the sound of a string instrument playing through the wall. Because the area was closed off, there was no way a human could be making the sounds deep down under the campus grounds.