The capital city of Wisconsin is known for its thriving arts, vibrant culture scene, engaging college town… and ghosts! As the center of the state’s rich history, it’s no surprise Madison has its fair share of ghost stories and haunted historical landmarks. Although it’s a rather small capital city in terms of size, the amount of paranormal activity reported since 1848 is quite impressive. So, the next time you’re downtown keep an eye and ear out for any paranormal presences. Here are 3 great locations to add to your spirit sighting bucket list:  

The Majestic – The glamorous theater has seen it all since opening on King Street in 1906. In more recent years, The Majestic has operated as a dance club and live music venue, but at one period, it was also known for vaudeville acts, silent films, magic performances (including a historical show by Harry Houdini!) and X-rated films. A vintage venue like this has had its fair share of paranormal sightings over the years. Multiple witnesses claim to have seen a shadowy man roaming about. In the year 2000, cast members preparing for a show reported having their hair pulled by something unseen and heard a ghostly voice shout “Good luck with the show!” 

Sanatorium Hill – From 1930 to 1966, the Lake View Sanatorium housed tuberculosis patients. Over the 36 years it operated as a treatment center, thousands of people succumbed to the highly contagious lung disease. Since then, there have been reports of paranormal activity taking place in the woods behind the old sanatorium and in the graveyard to the west. These reports include strange lights, apparitions, cold and hot spots, odd mists and being touched by phantom hands.

(Lake View Ghost Photo by Patrick Stutz)

Bascom Hill – The heart and historic core of UW Madison’s campus was actually the city’s first cemetery before it became the home to several UW campus buildings. The white settlers who were laid to rest there from 1837 – 1846 were disinterred and moved to make way for the university. Unfortunately, not everybody was successfully removed before the university was built. The remains of 2 men, Samuel Warren and William Nelson, were found in 1922 by excavators installing the statue of President Lincoln.

To honor these men, their final resting places are marked with brass grave markers bearing the initials SW and WN respectively. Phantom figures of an older man and younger man walking near the statue or up and down the stairs at Bascom Hall have been reported by passersby since 1922. 

(Bones Of Men Buried On Bascom Hill Photo by Wisconsin Historical Society)