Would you believe it if we told you there was a tomb on Transy’s campus?
Yep, inside Old Morrison, the big white building that faces W. Third Street, is the tomb of early 19th-century professor Constantine Rafinesque.
Today, we’re sharing with you the spooky story of the man whose name has made a lasting impression on this historical Lexington university.
- Constantine Rafinesque, originally from Turkey, was a professor of botany and natural science at Transylvania University from 1819-1826.
- During his time there, he published scientific names for thousands of plants + hundreds of animals. One of those was the Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat.
- Legend has it, Constantine often showed up late to classes or skipped them completely. He was eventually fired by then-college president Horace Holley.
Quote: Upon his departure, the eccentric naturalist said, “I took lodgings in town and carried there all my effects: thus leaving the College with curses on it and Holley.”
Vice President of Marketing + Communications Megan Moloney noted, “The curse was said that something bad would befall the university every seven years.”
- Horace Holley died in 1827, just one year after Constantine’s firing.
- The old Main Campus building, where Old Morrison stands today, burned down.
- There were cholera + influenza outbreaks on campus.
Constantine died in Philadelphia in 1840. In an effort to pay tribute to the professor, a group exhumed his body + moved it to Lexington in 1924. It now rests in the tomb inside Old Morrison.
Here’s how he is remembered + celebrated on campus today —
- A grab + go café called the Rafskeller
- The mascot, Raf
- Raf Week — which kicks off this Sat., Oct. 22 + runs through Sat., Oct. 29 — features hauntingly-fun student events including PumpkinMania + a raffle to spend the night in the tomb.