Sinister spirits and ungodly creatures own the darkest corners of Wisconsin’s capital. Follow their trail of terror and uncover the legacy of hauntings that give a heart-pounding new meaning to Madison’s nickname “Mad City.”
From the bloodshed of the Civil War to its ominous connections to the Heaven’s Gate cult, the beauty of Madison’s outdoor scene is shrouded in darkness from a litany of evil and its victims. Join Madison Ghosts to discover why the city’s turbulent and brutal past continues to curse its present.
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The gorgeous lakes that surround Lake City act as a conduit for the dead, helping them taunt the living. Discover the heavy energy that engulfs Madison’s most haunted locations and the ghosts that emerge from the depths of the city’s dark underbelly.
Madison is known for its outdoor beauty, serving as a place of tranquility and serenity for those looking to recharge their batteries with the help of Mother Nature. But the unsuspecting visitors are far from a place of peace. Lake Monona may be a sight to behold, but it’s also the site of some of the city’s most unusual and unexplained activities.
Take a spine-chilling stroll to Monona Terrace Community Center, where you’ll hear unbelievable tales that will keep you looking over your shoulder, just like the locals. The rise of terror began when the graves of Ho-Chunk tribe members were destroyed in the building of Madison – a horrific act that continues to this day. The nonstop disturbances of the dead now create nonstop disturbances for the living.
For years, those who live close to the lake claim to experience constant unexplained activity, including moving and shaking furniture, odd noises, and the sight of floating orbs. Several people have claimed to have seen the apparition of a Native boy and his pony walking along the Seminole highway, hearing the distinct sound of the pony’s hooves. And it only gets more sinister from here.
Reports of a large, nightmarish creature with blazing eyes and a large jaw have been a staple since 1892. And then there is the case of the lake’s UFO. In the 70s, a couple was attacked by an oval-shaped craft one evening while on their boat. At the same time this occurred, four women near Bridge Road saw the same object hovering overhead. Its origin remains unknown, but the fear it evoked is still felt to this day.
In Madison, there’s no end to the otherworldly sightings you might experience on any given night. The strange and the unexplained don’t take a night off here in Madison. And tonight, you might just experience them yourself. Welcome to Madison Ghosts.
Visit Madison’s Most Haunted Locations, Including:
It’s not every day that a popular bar and grill’s backstory includes serving as a funeral parlor. But that’s the origin story of the Tempest Oyster Bar. Established in the early 1900s, Frautschi Funeral Home was the most successful in the city. This building once housed funeral parlors, embalming rooms, offices on the ground floors, and apartments for rent upstairs. 1997 however, would be the year that the building turned eerie.
Prepare to get the creeps as you hear the hair-raising details of the 40th member of the Heaven’s Gate cult who was found dead, hanging in the basement. His death was all but forgotten when the Tempest Oyster Bar opened in 2011. Since then, the dead have never been more alive than in this former funeral home.
Poltergeist-type activity has terrified staff members for years, spooking them with flying plates and a fire extinguisher launched in an employee’s direction. Doors open and close on their own, objects slide across tables, and, creepier than this, disembodied voices can be heard in the hallways and even inside the apartments. The Tempest is a great place to grab a drink and some good food; just be sure to be on your guard. You never know when the spirits might be feeling mischievous.
Most patrons don’t think about the establishment they’re dining at to also be the place of someone’s final demise. In Madison, it’s a part of being a local. Walk with Madison Ghosts to the Draper Brothers Building, where the chophouse steaks are hot, and the otherworldly cold spots are chilly.
Constructed in 1867, the building has been home to numerous businesses, including a meat market, a dry cleaner, a rooming house, and a variety of restaurants. Today, a popular chophouse occupies the building, hoping to break the curse that has claimed so many other businesses. It could just be a string of bad luck. Or it could be the construction worker who died in the building during one of its renovations.
Experience a chill run down your spine when you uncover the sightings of his spirit by both employees and patrons. The construction worker’s apparition has been striking fear in those he appears to, as he’ll show himself at any given time. As you pass by this building, be sure to look up. He’s been known to stare out of the second-floor window.
The stunning aesthetics of Madison are enhanced by the well-preserved buildings of its ominous past. And though they may possess the same charm and history of their inception, they also harbor the entities that once frequented these old haunts. You’re about to embark on a journey to one of Madison’s most haunted buildings, the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.
Prior to becoming a hotspot for paranormal investigators, the building operated as the Fess Hotel, a place considered to be every man’s hotel that sheltered everyone from travelers to legislators. The hotel stayed in the family until 1972, but its original owner, George Fess, has remained since he died in the hotel in 1875.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company opened in 1994, and aside from its amazing brews, it is known for its numerous hauntings. Items eerily move around on their own with one incident, including the spine-chilling sight of pool cues falling from the rack, one by one. One employee claimed to have seen an apparition walking up the stairs before he completely vanished. Disembodied voices can be heard, and cold spots accompanied by a deep feeling of dread keep employees avoiding the storage room, appropriately called the “spooky room,” located in the basement.
But the real unexplained activity that gives the staff a daily dose of scare is the phone calls from nowhere. They began in 1973 when staff members would receive phone calls on the old hotel switchboard from rooms that were no longer hotel rooms. Even with the newest technology, the phantom phone calls continue to this day – and their origins are still believed to be from the other side.
In most cities, theaters are the places you go to see your favorite acts. In Madison, they’re where the spirits run the show. Embark on a journey to the magnificent Majestic Theater, Madison’s oldest theater which is also one of the most haunted. Almost from its inception, the Majestic was subject to mysterious and eerie happenings.
In April 1912, the theater was set to show a film that featured the construction of the Titanic and its maiden voyage. However, the tragedy of the Titanic would alter their plans, and the macabre events would continue from there. One of the most horrific was that of a former performer who hung himself from the balcony.
Though it would undergo makeovers throughout the years, its reputation would continue to deteriorate. It would make a comeback in 2007, but the damage had been done; the spirits were the real owners of the theater. And these entities are unlike any that haunt Madison. Uncover the tale of the Putty Man, an entity that appears as a tall man with a rubber-like body that moves as though it’s boneless. Discover the popular theories of this creature, including the theory that it’s the spirit of a performer from the vaudeville days.
Just as ominous as the Putty Man is the waving ghost. Like a scene from a horror film, a former employee saw a shadowy figure on the balcony, waving at her. Believing it was an audience member, she asked it to leave, but the figure continued waving and disappeared before the employee could reach the balcony. She would soon discover that the waving entity had been busy making its presence known to other employees. So, be wary of who you wave back at when you’re walking with Madison Ghosts.
Madison Ghosts takes you to some of Madison’s oldest locations that helped establish the city and continue to play an integral role in its operation today. There is an endless amount of history in the building of Madison, but not all of it is as sunny as the city’s beautiful weather. Visit the Madison Municipal Building, home of Madison’s Post Office and Federal Courthouse, and some terrifying spirits.
Get a history lesson in the macabre and unveil the origins of this site. Learn more about the old jail where the only thing more terrifying than the prisoner’s crimes are the ghostly stories from the former prisoners themselves. Stories of prisoners witnessing phantom lights in front of their cells were passed down, adding a touch of fear to their punishments.
These stories and true accounts from Madison’s infamous Sanitorium Hill are just a few of the petrifying tales you’ll hear with Madison Ghosts.
Madison is the type of city that offers a variety of events and reasons to visit. From its amazing craft beer and events such as Great Taste of the Midwest to worldwide competitions such as the No Bull CrossFit Games, Madison is known for its accommodating and inviting atmosphere, making it the perfect spot for these affairs. But the inviting nature of the city extends beyond the living.
Since 1926, the Orpheum Theater has been a beacon for the otherworldly. Join Madison Ghosts to see the city’s premier music venue, which is also the ghostly home for its former manager, an usher, and a popular projectionist who tragically lost their lives in the theater. Keep your eyes on the windows, as their spirits have been known to attract attention with their paralyzing poltergeist activity. You won’t soon forget what you’ll see and hear with Madison Ghosts.
From the stunning architecture and haunted stories of the Wisconsin State Capitol to the Old Jail that still imprisons the tortured souls of former prisoners, you’ll see and hear it all with Madison Ghosts. Here, you’re part of a growing community of those who want to lift up the veil of what’s possible and take a peek into the other side. Like you, they want to experience the otherworldly side of the city and learn about the unbelievable they know to be true. It’s all here with Madison Ghosts. Book your ghost tour today!
* This is a walking tour and we do not enter privately-owned buildings or private property *
One of a few theaters where the living aren’t the only ones that put on a show. Built in 1906, the Majestic Theater hosted some of the nation’s most famous acts, including Harry Houdini. But the good times wouldn’t last, and the theater would soon be filled with mischievous spirits that inhabit it to this day.
A landmark brewery and restaurant today, the Great Dane Pub was once the site of the Fess Hotel, the longest-running family-owned business in the city. One could argue that the family still technically owns it since the original owner George Fess died here and is believed to still reside in his beloved hotel.
It’s a fun Friday night at your favorite neighborhood bar, that is, until you discover it was once a funeral home that doubled as an apartment complex. And then you find out a former Heaven’s Gate member died in this very building. That’s exactly what you can expect from Tempest Oyster Bar.
If there’s one thing Madison is known for, it’s for having the world’s best cheese curds. As amazing as they are, though, let’s be honest, we can only eat so much. If you’ve had your fill of cheese curds and are ready to walk them off, book a tour with Madison Ghosts! Our mile-long walk will help alleviate the guilt of your indulgence with some frightening tales and the brooding locations from which they came.
Madison is home to a variety of notable figures, with some calling the city home and some being recognized for their involvement in particular events while here. Elvis Presley is said to have broken up a street fight in 1977. Otis Redding tragically passed away in a plane crash in Lake Monona. Nirvana recorded their album Nevermind in Madison. And one of the city’s most notable and beloved actors, Chris Farley, grew up here.
Whether you’re visiting or just want to learn more about the city you reside in, a ghost tour with Madison Ghosts will take you on a trip through a unique side of the city where you’ll discover a history that you won’t typically see in a “Fun Facts” article. Learn more about Madison in a unique and spooky way with Madison Ghosts.
When we say, “There’s a little something for everyone in Madison,” we mean it. The list of otherworldly beings that thrive in the shadows of Madison’s darkest corners includes everything from spirits to serpents. And UFOs are very much a part of that “everything.” It may not be widely known that Madison has had experiences with the phenomenon, but the fact is the city has had its share of UFO activity. Madison Ghosts takes you to the area where the encounters occurred, giving UFO hunters another place to search and another reason to believe.
As creepy as these locations and stories sound, we assure you, they’re perfectly fine for the kids. Madison offers plenty to do for the adults, but if it’s the kids’ turn to be entertained, book a ghost tour with Madison Ghosts. Our kid-friendly ghost tour will keep them entertained and engaged and give your family something to discuss the rest of your Madison trip!
There are plenty of ways for a couple to get closer. But there are none quite like the jump scares from an authentic Madison ghost tour. Think about it. Your heart is racing, you’re looking over your shoulder, terrified of what might be behind you. What better way to alleviate that panic than enlisting the help of a firm grab of your loved one’s arm? Movies, dinner, and dancing – they’ve all been done! Make it a date night you both won’t soon forget. Book a ghost tour with Madison Ghosts tonight!