Haunted places and stories in Madison, WI


The old tuberculosis home on Sanatorium Hill | Photo by @wemurkve

Table of Contents

As the days tick down to All Hallows’ Eve, we’re digging up some of Madison’s most haunted places for those brave enough to explore. Read on for some paranormal sites + spooks in the city.

🕷️ Sanatorium Hill

Nestled in the Northport neighborhood, the old tuberculosis sanatorium houses secrets from its past. The building is currently home to the Dane County Human Services Dept., but from 1930-1966, it was home to tuberculosis patients, with 1,514 residents dying from the disease in 1930 alone. The graveyard behind the building has had reports of cold and hot spots, strange lights, and odd mists from those who stroll through.


The art deco theater | Photo by @photographybyabhishel

🕷️ Orpheum Theater

The prominent theater on State St. holds close ties to the art deco era since its completion in 1926. Visitors to the grand space have seen apparitions in roaring 20s apparel that vanish quickly. Many have also reported seeing the ghost of an usher who passed away after falling off the upper balcony + the spirit of a former projectionist who committed suicide inside the theater.

🕷️ Wonder Bar

The prohibition-era bar that was recently saved from demolition is famous for its ties to Chicago mobsters. The space was used for bootlegging alcohol by Roger “The Terrible” Touhy — a rival of Al Capone — and even once had a tunnel to Lake Monona. Spirits might be about in this 1929 building after a fireman reported footsteps and voices during a building inspection.


The side of the Great Dane restaurant | Photo by @byronlhobbs

🕷️ The Great Dane

The classic brewpub was originally the Fess Hotel — which you can see the remnants of on the side of the building — and an office space before its current restaurant occupancy. During this time, phone calls would come from rooms that didn’t exist + switchboard operators were unable to connect them. Current employees report phantom phone calls coming from the in-house line and “spooky room” used for storage.

🕷️ Bascom Hill

The famous UW-Madison landmark was the city’s first cemetery from 1837-1846. The gravesites were moved as the university started to grow, but when the Abraham Lincoln statue was moved in 1918, two bodies were discovered. Both Samual Warren + William Nelson are still buried on the hill with small bronze plaques marking their remains. Let’s just say we won’t be walking alone on Bascom at night any time soon.

🕷️ Wisconsin State Capitol

Our iconic capitol building has a reputation for supernatural events. When the roof collapsed in 1909 over the 4th floor on the south wing during construction, it is rumored that those killed in the accident still roam the building. And for an added spook, the “Wisconsin” mural — painted in 1913 — is starting to fade + the badger painted over a Civil War soldier is fading away to reveal the ghostly looking soldier.


The building was completed in 1888 | Photo by @a.linds

🕷️ Science Hall

The legend of hauntings at UW-Madison’s Science Hall trace back to rumors of a crazed professor + a secret lab in the attic filled with twisted experiments. To add to the horrors, a human foot was found in the wall in 1974. The bone belonged to a cadaver from the old anatomy lab that was left behind, but the mystery still leads to intrigue. Students frequently report sounds that shouldn’t be there — which could be chalked up to the ventilation system... or not.

More from 608today