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In 1889 a small group of UNC students founded a club called the Order of Dromgoole. They were likely inspired by the example of secret societies at other colleges, such as the well-known Skull and Bones at Yale. The name came from a former student named Peter Dromgoole, who disappeared from campus mysteriously in the 1830s and was never heard from again. The name was soon changed to the Order of the Gimghoul, "in accord with midnight and graves and weirdness," according to one of the founders. The club was open only to male students, junior class or higher, and to faculty. In its early years the names of the club members were published in the yearbooks; the names of members are now kept secret. There are other long-running private societies on campus, including the Gorgon's Head, another secret society, and the Golden Fleece, an honorary organization. But the Order of the Gimghoul is the only one with a castle.

In 1915 the Order of the Gimghoul purchased a large tract of land east of campus. They sold part of it, gave part of it to the university to be used as Battle Park, and kept the remainder to build a home for the order. Completed in 1926 using designs by architect and UNC alumnus Nathaniel Cortlandt Curtis, the large stone building, known as Hippol Castle, is located at the end of a residential street on the east side of campus called Gimghoul Road. The Order of the Gimghoul still exists, with new members added regularly, but its activities and traditions remain a mystery to the majority of UNC—Chapel Hill students.

Date Established: 1924

Date Range: 1924 – Present

Hippol Castle, home of the Order of the Gimghoul, ca. 1930s. Photo by Bayard Wootten. Bayard Wootten Photo Collection, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library.

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