The story of Isabella


Valentina Herazo-Alvarez

The portrait of Isabella at the Sylvan Friedman Student Union created by Camilo Mantilla, a graduate student from Cienfuegos, Cuba.

Ghost stories are nothing out of the ordinary for students and faculty of Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

The legend of Isabella is the story of a ghost that has haunted NSU’s grounds for almost two centuries.

Isabella’s story begins at the Bullard Mansion, the first building on NSU’s grounds when it was established as the Louisiana State Normal school in 1884, which was built in 1832.

Isabella was a young French woman who lived in the Bullard Mansion when it was being used as a convent in 1856.

She was known for her beauty and had many young suitors, but her heart was already spoken for. Isabella was to be married to a man who had to come to Louisiana on business from the east. However, shortly before the day of her wedding, the man was killed in a duel, supposedly over another woman.

Isabella, then, became a nun and it is said her beauty was wasted away as people believed she had gone mad after losing her love.

Overcome by grief, one night Isabella took a dagger to her heart and was found dead the following morning with a bloody handprint on the wall.

After her passing, other nuns of the convent believed Isabella continued to roam their halls. She would leave bloody handprints on the walls and sing in the night to showcase her presence.

The Bullard Mansion was torn down in 1932, with the only remaining pieces being the columns that are still on campus today. Her spirit continued to roam the grounds near the columns and into the east hall and music hall. Students, at the time, coaxed Isabella out of the music hall just before it was torn down in 1946.

From there, Isabella wandered around east Varnado and Caldwell Hall due to their close proximity to the original Bullard Mansion. Supposedly, she left a letter with drops of blood on the steps of Caldwell Hall in 1949.

Caldwell Hall burned down in Oct. 1982 and a group of 750 students gathered to perform an official moving ceremony on Halloween night to bring Isabella to her current residence.

Isabella currently roams the third floor of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training beside Varnado Hall.

Today, many students believe Isabella’s story to be true and that she roams the grounds of NSU.

Diamond Johnson, sophomore music business major, had a chilling experience that she believes to be a sign of Isabella’s presence.

“I was staying in Varnado and my roommate went home for the weekend. Later that night, I heard breathing on her side of the room,” Johnson said.

In fact, Johnson has had more than one occurrence she believes to be from Isabella.

“One time, I was going to take a shower and I was letting my roommate know not to lock the door,” Johnson said. “When I came back the door was locked, but she never touched the door and while we were trying to figure out what happened, my toaster oven timer went off and I haven’t touched it in a month.”

Shantae Romero, a freshman psychology major, also had a possible run-in with Isabella.

“There was one day that I was on the stairs of Kyser and I heard weird noises that sounded like a female’s voice and there wasn’t anyone else on the staircases but me,” Romero said. “The sound was like ‘whooooo,’ but in a creepy voice.”