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Haunted at Marquette: an investigation into the paranormal

Posted on 31 October 2010 by Melanie Pawlyszyn

“All right! You, sir! How about a shave? Come and visit your good friend Sweeney! You sir, too sir? Welcome to the grave! I will have vengeance – I will have salvation! Who sir? You sir? No one in the chair, come on! Come on! Sweeney’s waiting! I want you bleeders.”

No, this is not the same Sweeney you know from Sweeney’s College Books, but Sweeney Todd. This Demon Barber of Fleet Street played by Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s 2007 film, notoriously gave his customer’s “the cleanest shave they’ve ever seen” – slitting their throats, sending them down a shoot to his basement and cooking their bodies into meat pies.

This is obviously not a situation we would encounter in our everyday lives, but when leaves on campus start turning red, orange and yellow, and Halloween is just around the corner, we start to think of the things that really scare us.

Marquette University may not have a Demon Barber of Wisconsin Avenue, but in many of its dormitories, buildings, apartments and neighboring buildings linger restless spirits of souls that remained on earth. Witnesses and legends give us stories of their hauntings.

Many people think that seeing is believing, but maybe after hearing these stories, you’ll think twice before walking alone on campus at night.

Humphrey Hall

The student apartments at Humphrey Hall at the corner of    Wisconsin Avenue and 17th Street was the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital until 1988.

The hall’s lobby remains virtually the same, and that same level used to contain the hospital’s kitchen and morgue. The kitchen was renovated in 1989 and became Sodexo’s bakery, where all of the Brews’ pastries and bagels are made.

According to Rick Arcuri, the associate dean for administration in the Office of Residence Life, Sodexo’s renovated kitchen is only in the area of the old hospital kitchen. Later on, he said, Sodexo decided to use the old autopsy and embalming room to store baking racks. To this day, imprints on the floor designate the former locations of the autopsy and embalming table and fridge where dead bodies were stored.

Children who died in the old hospital are said to haunt the building, according to legend and resident accounts.

One angry ghost, a young girl in a white hospital gown who died in the hospital, is rumored to haunt the elevators at night.

Mary Zuidema, a graduate student in the College of Education and resident of Humphrey Hall, said, “If you’re riding on the elevator supposedly at midnight and later by yourself, she’ll shut the elevator down and look you deep in the eyes with her bloodshot eyes very creepily.”

“The only thing I’ve really experienced (on the elevator) is sometimes at Humphrey on the sixth floor after midnight, there’s like a really weird feeling right on the elevator if you’re by yourself,” Zuidema said. “There’s a bell ringing right when you are either getting on or getting off the elevator onto the sixth floor.”

Zuidema also said electronics will unexplainably turn on and off in her room on the second floor and her microwave will stop working.

Residents have reported hearing laughing, crying, screaming and singing as well as seeing the ghosts of children.

In addition to the ghost inside the building, desk receptionists at Humphrey Hall have heard and seen children on security cameras playing at the back exit where there used to be a play area. The Department of Public Safety would come to check it out and find no one there.

Straz Tower

Straz Tower was formerly East Hall and a YMCA. Back then, a little boy named Petey drowned in the Rec Plex pool, located in the building’s lower level, and haunts the pool area and locker rooms to this day.

Nicknamed “Whispering Willie,” the boy likes to swim next to patrons in the pool when they are alone.

Patrons and Plex employees have witnessed doors opening and closing, unrolling toilet paper in empty stalls and most famously, a whispering voice saying their names or mocking what they say.

Recreation facilities building supervisor Nicole Schneider, 22, said that Willie greets her every time she opens up the Rec Plex alone at 5 a.m.

Even though the pool area is dark and scary in the morning, Schneider said, she likes to mess with Willie. She walks in and says, “‘Good morning Willieee!’ And if the pool chemicals are off, the water will be boiling a little and you’ll talk to him and there’ll be waves in the pool… The pool bubbles a little.”

Schneider said her friend’s sister was swimming alone once in the Plex pool and heard someone whisper her name. She stopped and looked around, but no one was there. When she started to swim, she heard the whispering voice say her name again.

Johnston Hall

Johnston Hall, the first building erected on campus, is home to a few different ghosts.

In the early 1960s, two Jesuit priests allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the fifth floor balcony. They now haunt the building’s top floor and the old elevator that will be replaced by a new elevator January 2011.

Witnesses of these ghosts get an eerie feeling when alone on the fifth floor, in the elevator or in the stairwell. Some said the area would dramatically change temperatures. Some have even heard unexplainable footsteps and voices.

The old elevator installed in 1938, witnesses said, rattles while ascending, opens when elevator buttons are not pushed, skips over floors where it should have opened and frequently breaks down.

Legend says that a Native American man haunts the building’s basement, where The Marquette Tribune and Marquette Radio offices are located. The spirit is said to be angry that Johnston Hall sits on top of land that was once a burial ground for the Mascountens tribe. Witnesses of the ghost have experienced extreme cold and seen pale blue light.

Cobeen Hall

Cobeen Hall’s friendly ghost is said to be an art critic who pulls down posters off dormitory walls of residents he does not like.

Sophomore Carly Kroll said her friend who lived in Cobeen last year would find her Twilight posters ripped off the wall every morning when she awoke. Strangely, all of her other non-Twilight posters remained attached to the wall.

Senior Nicole Schneider said that when she lived in Cobeen, she would hear water dripping randomly during the day and night and hear noises from the bathroom.

Schneider said her colleague, Liz Miller, who used to live in Cobeen, would go home each weekend and return to find all of her posters ripped down. Her roommate would stack up the pictures on her desk every week.

Carpenter Tower

Carpenter Tower dormitory used to be a hotel in the 1950s. Legend says that a boy of around seven or eight years was killed in a fire years ago. Stories say the boy can be seen looking out a top floor window of the building or heard calling for help to people on the street below.

Varsity Theater

Stories say that a projector operator was smoking a cigarette during a break and accidentally fell into a huge metal ventilation fan in a hallway off the balcony. His clothes got caught in the rotating fan, and he was sliced into pieces. Janitors in the past reported receiving help from the young man’s ghost, who completed forgotten tasks, such as locking doors and turning off lights.

Helfaer Theater

Helfaer Theater is said to be haunted by a former artistic director who died in studio 13, a strangely inauspicious number. Witnesses have seen his apparition in the studio.


Marquette’s campus has quite a few old haunted buildings, but few people know that several buildings near the university are also haunted.

The Rave / Eagles Club

The Rave and Eagles Club was built in 1926 as an all male athletic club. A men’s shelter took up residence for a while in the basement after the athletic club closed. The building has been a concert hall since 1980.

Online sources say that haunting witnesses have experienced an overwhelming coldness, a strong odor of starch or bleach, a strong sense of negative energy, shuffling feet and loud bangs.

The pool room in the basement and The Eagles Ballroom are said to be the most haunted rooms in the building.

A Rave employee ostensibly heard laughter of a young girl coming from the rear hallway and upon feeling a gust of wind blow through the room, was filled with dread.

There have been reports of someone throwing things off the roof. Security guards investigated the scene and found no one there. They did however find empty beer cups and ashtrays on the ground below.

There are numerous stories circling deaths and witnessed apparitions at The Rave and Eagles Club. Despite this, a woman at the box office neither confirmed nor denied its truth. “We don’t associate ourselves with haunting,” she said.

The Pfister Hotel

Charles Pfister, a smiling, portly man who has been seen wandering the hallways of the third floor with his dog, looking to see that hotel guests are enjoying their stay, haunts the Pfister Hotel, located at Wisconsin Avenue and North Jefferson Street.

A Pfister Hotel concierge who has worked at the hotel for twelve years said: “The hotel is 117 years old. And my own personally feeling is that I wouldn’t be surprised (if) there’s some sort of energy left over after all those years because we have a great number of VIPs here. We had every president here since McKinley.”

All the visiting baseball and basketball teams stay at the Pfister, the concierge said. Last year, members of the Florida Marlins baseball team said they had some ghostly experiences while rooming at the Pfister.

“One of the players claimed that something spooky had happened in his room and that he had left his room in the middle of the night and spent the night sleeping in our lobby lounge in his boxer shorts,” the concierge said. “I can tell ya, nobody spent the night in their boxer shorts in our lobby lounge. Our security guards would have bounced them out immediately.”

The concierge said that an older baseball player may have been hazing a younger player by banging on the walls and pretending to be Charles Pfister.

He said: “The coach for the Marlins did a press release one day saying, well, he had never encountered a ghost at the Pfister, but he said, ‘I’m sure if I did it would be a friendly ghost because everybody at the Pfister is very friendly.”

“The people who actually see it, they believe it without question,” the concierge said. “Those of us who haven’t seen it, we have trouble believing it.”


Sources of Marquette legend information in this article are Ghosts of the Prairie (, Haunted Places in Wisconsin ( and Marquette Magazine.

Melanie Pawlyszyn
[email protected]

2 Comments For This Post

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  2. Jimmy Says:

    I don’t know what the building is used for now, but in the late 80’s the ASF (Academic Support Facility) on the Marquette Campus, also once part of the Old Children’s Hospital, was used for TA’s offices among other things. I knew many TA’s who would never be there at night when the building was empty. There were always stories of kids wandering the building. These sightings were always attributed to children that died of cancer when the building housed a Children’s Cancer Center.

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