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The Tempest Oyster Bar

Tempest Oyster Bar in Madison

What do Oysters and cults have in common? Well, other than Blue Oyster Cult, not much. Unless you are talking about Tempest Oyster Bar in Madison, Wisconsin, where a supposed member of Heaven’s Gate, the cult that shocked the nation in 1997, committed suicide. 


The basement, where the body of the missing 40th member of Heaven’s Gate was found, is now inextricably cold. To top things off, the home once functioned as a funeral parlor! Countless bodies were beautified right here for their family members and loved ones before being put six feet under. 


It would be foolish to think that all of these souls were prepared to leave this mortal coil. Many of them have seemingly stayed behind. 


Strange happenings occur here between the merriment and delicious seafood. Phantom whispers bounce around the hallways, dishes clatter around the kitchen late at night, and doors slam shut on their own. And it’s only the beginning at the Tempest Oyster Bar.


Take a journey with us into the hauntings of the Tempest Oyster Bar. And, next time you are in Madison, take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures! 


Funeral Home Turned Oyster House


Tempest Oyster House, the popular eatery on 120 East Wilson Street, opened in 2011 to rave reviews. Today, it is one of the most sought-after choices for fresh seafood, especially Oyster on the half shell, in downtown Madison. 


The celebrated seafood house has always held a place of respectability among Madisonians but for other, more macabre reasons. From 1929 to 1971, this building was home to Frautschi Funeral Parlor


The Frautschi Family had been in the coffin-making business since 1869. Swiss immigrant Christian Frautschi came to America in search of a new life. A skilled carpenter, he found work with a coffin and cabinet-making company. Eventually, in 1869, he purchased the company, beginning a long history of entrepreneurship. 

Frautschi bought a home on King Street, where he lived and worked until he died in 1912. His son Emil took over the coffin and cabinet-making business along with his own enterprise, the Madison Fuel Co. Emil’s brother, Arthur, was the first licensed undertaker in Madison.


The Madison’s had a monopoly on the business of death in Madison and on King Street, eventually owning 176 feet of storefront on the street! In 1929, the company moved into the building where Tempest Oyster House now operates.


Death at The Oyster House 

A grate, once used to drain bodily fluids, still remains in the basement of the upscale but casual restaurant. Thousands of Madisonians were embalmed and beautified in the building’s basement, and now thousands flock here to eat. 


Before Tempest Oyster House opened in 2011, the building owners rented out the first floor to businesses and the upper floors to tenants. Everything was seemingly normal here until 1997, when a man’s body was found hanging in the basement. 


A few months before this tenant’s death, the nation was shocked as 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were found dead inside a home in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Led by cult leader Marshall Applewhite, they committed group suicide, believing it would lead them to spiritual sanctity. 


There were indications that a 40th member was supposed to join the group on the Hale-Bopp comet, the comet that would take them to their new alien home. It is believed that the mysterious suicide that took place at the former Funeral Home was that of the alleged 40th member. 


Hauntings of The Tempest Oyster House 


With so much death and residual trauma floating around 120 East Wilson Street, it is no wonder Tempest Oyster House is so haunted. The spirits of possibly hundreds of Madisonians create chaos in the restaurant. 


Dishes ominously break when no one is around, doors mysteriously slam shut on their own, and disembodied voices can echo through empty dining rooms. One employee even reported a fire extinguisher flying off the wall on its own! 


But the worst and most terrifying place in the restaurant is the basement, the very place where the supposed member of Heaven’s Gate committed suicide. 


It is unreasonably cold at all times, and a dreadful feeling overcomes any unlucky enough to have to go down there. Many employees avoid it when they can, but the restaurant business can be cruel. 


Haunted Madison 


The story of 120 East Wilson Street and the hauntings of the Tempest Oyster House are shocking but not unusual in “Mad City.” The city’s progressive past and entrepreneurial spirit have created many such stories. 


Just within a few blocks of the state capitol are a handful of haunted locations and stories waiting to be heard. 


To hear them all, take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures! Our experienced tour guides will guide you through shocking stories of love, misdeeds, and death. Book your tour today!


In the meantime, follow us on FacebookInstagram, and TikTok to stay updated on the latest spooky content. Our blog is also a treasure trove of haunted tales, folklore, and mysterious activity. 



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