The Handprint – Columbus, Ohio - Atlas Obscura

The Handprint

A single handprint, which, according to Ohio State University legend, cannot be scrubbed off. 


Right on Ohio State University’s famous Oval stands what some believe to be a spectral reminder of an unfortunate happenstance.

As the legend goes, a girl, staying late in Hopkins Hall to work on a project one night, got stuck in an elevator while attempting to return home. She screamed for help over and over again, slamming her hands against the walls of the elevator, doing whatever she could to make herself heard. She carried on like this all night, but apparently, no one could hear her.

Supposedly, she was found the next morning, physically in perfect order, but emotionally imbalanced. By the time the elevator was up and running again, there was no indication that anything unusual had happened, save for the student’s handprints, which covered the walls.

The student in question, name long since forgotten, is rumored to have died in a car accident later in life. Some blame her death on the depression which occurred as a result of that night spent in the elevator, and it is even said that she never forgave the university for what it did to her.

Today, the handprints in the elevator are long gone, but outside of the main entrance to the building sits a single black handprint, which, according to legend, cannot be scrubbed off. The obvious answer to this mystery is that it is the product of spray paint and a stencil (Hopkins Hall is one of the art department buildings), but the mystery will have to endure, regardless.

Update September 2018: A second, less obvious handprint has been found on the same column as the painted one. This handprint appears to have been made by a real hand as opposed to a stencil, and it is probable that this handprint is the source of the legend. The other handprint is most likely a student prank, perpetrated when some student/ghost hunter couldn’t find the original. The creepiest part about this new handprint? It’s tinged reddish-brown, almost as if it was made with blood.

Update October 2018: Two new black handprints have been spotted, one directly below the original and one to the left of it, as well as some finger streaks found on a nearby pillar that seem to be of the same substance as the September bloody print.

Know Before You Go

When going up the stairs to the main entrance of Hopkins Hall, turn left before entering through the doors and look at the columns by the stairs that lead down. Both handprints are on the column closest to the side of the building. When facing the oval, the "bloody" handprint will be on the side right in front of you, and the painted one is on the side to the right.

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