The Gates of Hell

Everybody who has shuffled along the gravelly length of Middle Path knows about the Gates of Hell. But nobody seems to know how the stone pillars at the entrance to the south campus got the name.

The story I've heard falls into the undocumented "it is said" category. It is said that writer Anthony Burgess, who spoke on campus during the late seventies, later appeared on the Phil Donahue Show and told a national audience that Kenyon College was home to the Gates of Hell and the most intense evil energy that he had ever experienced. Hearing about this, the College requested a videotape of the show, but when it arrived there was no mention of evil at Kenyon, or of any hellish gates. Some cite this "excision" as eerily suggestive in itself. Others scoff, raising the obvious question of whether Burgess ever said any such thing at all.

There are other tales. According to one, it was a psychic who identified Gambier as home to the Gates of Hell. Another insists that the evil portal is actually the old gated entrance to the Bishop's House, in the densely wooded lower reaches of Brooklyn Street.

Whatever the case, superstitions have grown up around the gates. Some say that you shouldn't walk between the gates when the bells in the Church of the Holy Spirit are chiming midnight, or you might be transported to Hell itself. Others warn that you shouldn't look into the trees shading Middle Path there. Because of their shape, they're considered "pitchfork trees."